The rise of the iPad has generated an interesting question: “MacBook Air or iPad Pro?” And the question has never been more topical, because Apple’s new MacBook Air with M1 chip (which is the best MacBook bar none) sees the Mac revolutionized with more speed and endurance than ever before.
While iPadOS 14 and the Magic Keyboard make the iPad Pro more of a laptop than ever (and its A12Z chip is also pretty fast), Apple’s redefined the iconic MacBook Air in ways that no one expected. We decided to do what we do best: put the devices against each other in a MacBook Air vs iPad Pro showdown to see what should be your next computer.
Obviously, some may say that this is like comparing apples and pineapples. The MacBook Air is a full-fledged laptop, while the iPad Pro is a tablet that Can Be a laptop replacement (if you pony up more money).
This may not stop many people I know, including a friend who is a video producer and podcaster, from thinking the iPad Pro is their next major computer. But should it be yours?
Let’s find out.
MacBook Air vs. iPad Pro: Specs
|MacBook Air (M1, 2020)||12.9-inch iPad Pro (2020|
|Starting price||$ 999 ($ 899 Educational)||$ 999 ($ 1,348 with Magic Keyboard)|
|Screen||13.3 inches (2560 x 1600)||12.9 inches (2732 x 2048)|
|Processor||M1 chip (8-core, 7/8-core GPU)||A12Z Bionic chip with neural motor|
|Storage||256GB to 2TB||128GB to 1TB|
|Cameras||0.7 MP webcam||12 MP width + 10 MP rear width (rear), 7 MP TrueDepth (front)|
|Video recording||1080 x 720 pixels||Up to 4K at 60 fps|
|Security||Touch ID||Face ID|
|Apple Keyboard support||Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio||Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio|
|Pencil support||Apple Pencil (2nd Generation)||Apple Pencil (2nd Generation)|
|Dimensions||12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches||11 x 8.4 x 0.2 inches | 11 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches with Magic Keyboard|
|Weight||2.8 pounds||£ 1.4 | £ 3 with Magic Keyboard|
MacBook Air vs iPad Pro: Design and ports
While the MacBook Air with M1 chip performs like the MacBook of the future, it still looks like the MacBook of the past. This is not exactly a bad thing, because it is still the wedge-shaped design that is strong and iconic. However, the 0.5 inch and 0.3 inch bezels look outdated and give it a bigger track than we would like in a laptop.
Conversely, the 0.2-inch bezels of the iPad Pro (on all sides) give it a look that feels more modern and we hope that the MacBook Airs of the future learn from. The iPad Pro also has the flat-edge design that Apple’s brought back into its iPhone 12 lineup, which looks pretty nice.
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro (11 X 8.4 X 0.2 inches) has a smaller footprint than the 13.3-inch MacBook Air (12 X 8.4 X 0.6 inches), but the Tinder chassis of the iPad Pro will be a plus for many. However, those who get the iPad Pro with the Magic Keyboard (a must to make a laptop-like experience) add on 0.4 inches of thickness, which makes it straight to the air.
Similarly, the iPad Pro weighs 1.4 pounds – which is half the 2.8-pound MacBook Air weight. Until, that is, you add the Magic Keyboard, which brings it to £ 3 – making it heavier than the MacBook Air. The MacBook Air rarely wins a ports battle, but the 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports and headphone jack Trump the iPad Pro’s single bit USB-C port.
So, basically, the perks of the iPad Pro design really really useful when you just use it as a tablet. And this is great for those who can make an apple pencil sing, but those of us who want a typing experience may prefer the air, because you still need something of a stand or base to use the iPad Pro.
MacBook Air vs iPad Pro: Display
The iPad Pro may have disadvantages when ordering the Magic Keyboard, but its screen is the excellent display in every way.
We measured the 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2020 as producing 122.9% of the sRGB range and 559 uses of brightness, making it a little more colorful and much wider than the MacBook Air (114.3%, 365.8 uses).
The iPad Pro also beats the MacBook Air on display technology. Both offer true tone white balance, but only the iPad has the 120 Hz promotion display speed, which allows everything on your screen to smoothly move and look so much nicer. The MacBook Air, like all Macs, has a 60Hz refresh rate. That may not matter to you yet, but if you see a 120 Hz screen, you will see the light.
The screen of the iPad Pro is one of the other main perks: this allows touch input. Apple has yet to give touchscreen to its max, though this is MacOS Big Sur Looks As it should support.
Winner: IPad Pro
MacBook Air vs iPad Pro: Magic Keyboard and Pencil
Hilariously, Apple has been given the same name for the typing interface of MacBook Air and iPad Pro: the Magic Keyboard. And while both are convenient to print, with similar feedback they have two giant differences.
For starters, the iPad Pro Magic Keyboard is not included – this is an optional $ 349 accessory. Secondly, the Magic Keyboard of the iPad Pro can be detached, which is a nice convenience.
And then the Apple Pencil (also an optional accessory, which costs $ 129) that works only on the iPad Pro and not on the iPad Air.
Creatives and enthusiasts of hand writing will love the stylus, but there are WACOM tablets and pens for Max, so it’s not like the Mac is here close.
MacBook Air vs iPad Pro: Performance
The best way to compare the performance of the MacBook Air’s M1 chip and the iPad Pro’s A12Z Bionic chip is the comparable benchmark that works on both systems: Geekbench 5.
On that test, the iPad Pro posted a solid score of 4,635, which the MacBook Air jumped over with its 5,925. Still, the iPad Pro is not slouch, and is still good for video editing in its own applications.
A more drastic gain was shown in the GFXBench Metal Aztec Ruins graphics test, which did not run on the iPad Pro. Currently, the MacBook Air posted 54,332.
Winner: MacBook Air
MacBook Air vs iPad Pro: Battery life
The MacBook Air outlaws the iPad Pro by A lot. On the Tom’s Guide battery test (web surfing at 150 uses of brightness), the MacBook Air has an epic time of 14 hours and 41 minutes, while the iPad Pro is idle at 10:16.
Winner: MacBook Air
MacBook Air vs iPad Pro: software and applications
In the new MacBook Air, you have the combination of Apple Silicon processors and MacOS Big Sur, which unlock the ability to run iPhone and iPad apps on MacOS apps.
It should be noted that the MacOS apps are currently comprised of native universal apps that are written to run on the M1 chip, and the converted Intel-based apps that run through Rosetta 2. The latter may have some performance issues in more complex pro- Applications, such as Adobe Premiere Pro.
And although the MacBook Air can run iPhone and iPad apps, they are not all written for the Mac. That means you get apps made for a touchscreen phone or tablet, but you will interact with them with a touchpad. Some video streaming programs cannot run in full screen, which feels like a mistake made by app makers, which should be corrected soon.
As for the iPad Pro, it will run iPad apps correctly and native, and we have not seen any signs that it run MacOS apps. However, universal applications should provide an opportunity for this in the future.
Winner: MacBook Air
MacBook Air vs iPad Pro: Cameras
We like the fact that the MacBook Air has a slightly better webcam, thanks to the image signal processing, but it’s still a 720p, 0.7MP webcam.
The iPad Pro’s got a 7MP front facing camera and a pair of rear cameras (12MP wide + 10MP ultra wide), which are actually large.
Winner: IPad Pro
MacBook Air vs iPad Pro: value and price
Both MacBook Air and iPad Pro start at $ 999, but that’s not the most beautiful comparison, as it leaves the iPad without its $ 349 keyboard. Plus the iPad Pro starts with half storage. So, this is a point in favor of the air to begin with.
And if you want to make them comparable in specs, the Pro’s costs up to $ 1,099 with 256GB of storage – and $ 1,448 with the Magic Keyboard.
If you want an 8-core GPU in your MacBook Air, the price is up to $ 1,249 and the storage up to 512GB. Then again, a comparable iPad Pro is even more expensive, for $ 1,648.
Winner: MacBook Air
MacBook Air vs iPad Pro: Verdict
|MacBook Air||IPad Pro|
|Design and ports (10 points)||8||8|
|Display (20 points)||15||19|
|Magic Keyboards and Styles (10 points)||8||8|
|Performance (10 points)||10||8|
|Battery life (20 points)||20||13|
|Software and applications (5 points)||5||3|
|Cameras (5 points)||3||5|
|Value and price (20 points)||18||13|
|Overall (100 points)||87||77|
And there you have it, Apple Silicon and the M1 chip give the MacBook Air a lot of the performance, endurance and even versatility it needs to keep the iPad Pro at bay.
But for those who want a touchscreen device that singly sings and feels integrated with your work – and not a WACOM tablet that you deliver to your Mac – Apple’s decision to keep touchscreens from its Macs may push you to the iPad Pro. And I can not blame you. Its screen is brighter and unshaking it from the Magic Keyboard unlocks more portability.
But when it comes to value, some people will cringe at the hedged price of $ 349 Magic Keyboard. This is more than a third of the cost of the M1 MacBook Air, and money that could be spent upgrading the air to the 8-core GPU, more RAM or more storage.
Which we are very curious about why 2021 has a store for both the Mac and the iPad. Stay tuned, readers.