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iPad Pro (2024) vs. iPad Air (2024): Which Apple tablet is best for you?

Should you spend more for the Pro or kick back with the Air? Here are the most notable buying reasons for the latest duet of Apple tablets.
Written by Kerry Wan, Senior Reviews Editor
iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil
Jason Hiner/ZDNET

Apple this week announced two new iPad models, two size options each, and a bundle of revamped accessories during its "Let Loose" event. With the iPad Pro, both the 11- and 13-inch sizes now come with "Tandem OLED" displays that get surprisingly bright with better contrast for visual applications. There's also a new M4 chipset on them, while the more affordable iPad Air line gets bumped up to the M2 processor. 

Oh, and Apple unveiled the Apple Pencil Pro, which works with both the Air and Pro iPads.

Also: I've used every iPad since the original. Here's my buying advice for the new 2024 models

That's all to say the iPad lineup is more convoluted than ever, and choosing the right one for you may not be as straightforward as you think. To help, I've rounded up the key buying reasons for the iPad Air and iPad Pro so you can best decide which of the two is ideal for your needs, use cases, and budget.


iPad Pro (2024)

iPad Air (2024)


11-inch and 13-inch OLED with 120Hz

11-inch and 13-inch Liquid Retina LCD with 60Hz


444 and 579 grams

462 and 614 grams


Apple Silicon M4

Apple SIlicon M2

StorageStarting at 256GB, up to 2TBStarting at 128GB, up to 1TB
BatteryUp to 10 hours of surfing the webUp to 10 hours of surfing the web
Camera12MP wide (4K, ProRes), Landscape 12MP ultra wide12MP wide (4K), Landscape 12MP ultra wide
AccessoriesMagic Keyboard, Apple Pencil Pro/USB-CMagic Keyboard, Apple Pencil Pro/USB-C
PriceStarting at $999
Starting at $599

You should buy the iPad Pro (2024) if...

iPad Pro in two sizes

1. You want the best-looking, most useful display available

Apple made it very clear during its half-hour keynote that the iPad Pro now touts the company's best display on a tablet ever, with a Tandem-OLED panel that the company calls Ultra Retina XDR Display. By stacking the OLED panels underneath the glass, Apple says it's solved one of the biggest pain points with the organic light-emitting diode technology: lack of brightness.

Also: Everything Apple announced at its iPad event: iPad Pro, Air, Pencil, and more

Thanks to the enhanced luminance, contrast, and dynamic range that comes with the new OLED display, the iPad Pro is better purposed for consumers watching content, editing photos and videos, and handling other use cases that involve attention to visual detail.

Compared to the LCD display found on the iPad Air, Apple also offers the Pro the option to apply a layer of nano-texture glass, further reducing glare and other light reflections. That'll come at a cost, an extra $100 to be exact, but should be worth the investment for users who work in brighter environments or are often outdoors.

2. The M4 processor inspires you

In what was one of the more surprising announcements during the iPad keynote, Apple unveiled the company's next-gen M4 chipset, succeeding the M3 that had only just made its way onto the MacBook Air line a few months ago. In the context of the iPad Pro, the new processor is a major leap from the 2022 model's M2 chip, delivering up to 1.5x faster CPU performance and up to four times faster pro rendering performance, according to Apple.

Also: Apple nears deal with OpenAI to power upcoming iPhone features with ChatGPT, says Bloomberg

In practice, the spec bump should be most noticeable when tasking the iPad Pro (2024) with graphics-intensive apps like Final Cut and LumaFusion. The M4 also comes bundled with a dedicated Neural Engine, benefitting AI and machine-learning tasks such as Live Captions, Visual Look Up, identifying objects in photos and videos, and more.

If you could see yourself leveraging the performance gains from the M4 chip, you'll want to opt for the iPad Pro versus the less-capable iPad Air. And if you want the most powerful configuration of the iPad Pro, go with the 1TB or 2TB storage sizes, which come with twice the RAM (16GB instead of 8GB) and one extra CPU core (10 instead of nine) as the 256GB and 512GB variants.

You should buy the iPad Air (2024) if...

iPad Air

1. You're shopping on a budget (and don't need the Pro features)

There are several differences between the iPad Air and iPad Pro this year, but lightness and portability are not on the list. Instead, iPad shoppers should consider the lower cost of entry and essential features that the Air model provides. At $599, $400 less than the base model of the iPad Pro, the Air provides all the Apple tablet fundamentals like Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil support (including the new Pencil Pro), the same Landscape FaceTime camera as the iPad Pro for video calls, a reliable M2 chip for work and play, and more.

Also: iPad Air 6: These 4 best new features make for one tempting tablet

There are also improved landscape stereo speakers on the iPad Air this year, supporting Spatial Audio playback. That should make the Air just as enticing for media lovers and entertainment buffs.

Alternatives to consider

View at Apple
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