You might think that the iPad Air 5 vs iPad Pro 2022 dilemma isn’t really much of a dilemma; after all, the new iPad Pro (2022) – launched alongside the new iPad 10.9 (2022) – brings top-grade laptop performance to the tablet format. But the iPad Air (2022) – Apple’s other big tablet launch from earlier in the year – is no slouch either.
In fact, when the fifth-generation iPad Air launched, we were a little concerned that it was encroaching on the iPad Pro 2021’s turf, when it came to pricing and feature set. So how does it stack up now that a newer, fresher Pro model is upon us?
We’ve put both tablets through full reviews, so based both on specs and our experiences, here’s how they stack up.
iPad Air 5 vs iPad Pro 2022 price and availability
The iPad Air 5 shipped on March 18, 2022, and prices currently start from $599 / £669 / AU$999 for the 64GB Wi-Fi model. This moves up to $749 / £849 / AU$1,249 for the 256GB unit. There’s also a 5G cellular option that costs $749 / £669 / AU$1,249 for 64GB and $899 / £1029 / AU$1,499 for 256GB.
It should be noted that this pricing has received a huge bump for the UK and Australian markets since launch, thought to be driven by global economic pressures.
The iPad Pro 2022, meanwhile, launched on October 18, 2022 in two sizes. Prices for the 11-inch model start from $799 / £899 / AU$1,399, while prices for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro start at $1,099 / £1,249 / AU$1,899.
Those prices are for the 128GB Wi-Fi-only models, it should be noted; adding cellular connectivity and more storage (256GB, 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB) will bump the fee up significantly. At the very top of the scale, a 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2022 with 2TB of storage and cellular connectivity will cost you $2,399 / £2,679 / AU$4,099. Ouch.
iPad Air 5 vs iPad Pro 2022 design
The iPad Pro 2022 and the iPad Air 5 sport very similar designs indeed. Both have flat surfaces and sharp, all-aluminum bodies, with uniform display bezels.
In terms of size, the iPad Air 5 is again very similar to the 11-inch iPad Pro 2022. The cheaper tablet measures 247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1mm, while the 11-inch Pro measures 247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9mm. Other than a 0.2mm difference in thickness in favor of the Pro, they’re identical.
The iPad Air 5 is fractionally lighter than its Pro brother, however we’re talking 461g vs 466g, so you’re unlikely to notice it in the hand.
Of course, there’s also a 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2022, and this measures 280.6 x 214.9 x 6.4mm and weighs 682g, so it’s significantly bigger than both of the above.
All three of these tablets have ditched Apple’s creaky old Lightning connector in favor of a universal USB-C port, though the Pro models use the faster Thunderbolt 4 standard. Also not readily visible is the difference in biometric authentication systems. While the iPad Air 5 stashes a Touch ID sensor behind its power button, the iPad Pro 2022 packs in Apple’s brilliant Face ID system using its front camera and sensors.
One way in which the iPad Air 5 hits back is through its color choice. The cheaper tablet comes in an impressive selection of Space Gray, Starlight, pink, purple, and blue. The iPad Pro 2022, on the other hand, only offers silver and Space Gray.
iPad Air 5 vs iPad Pro 2022 display
The iPad Air 5 and the smaller iPad Pro 2022 have similar displays, though they’re not identical. You’re looking at 10.9 inches and 1640 x 2360 for the Air, whilst the Pro gives you 11 inches and 1668 x 2388. Meanwhile, the larger iPro scales things right up to 12.9 inches and 2048 x 2732.
Both Pro displays distinguish themselves with a 120Hz ProMotion adaptive refresh rate, while the iPad Air 5 is stuck at 60Hz. The 11-inch iPad Pro 2022 also gets slightly brighter than its cheaper brother, to the tune of 600nits rather than 500nits.
However, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2022 tops both by switching from standard IPS LCD technology to a mini-LED LCD panel. This brings a number of benefits, including a much higher typical brightness of 1,000 nits and a much more vibrant, contrasty color output.
This upgrade pays off, with us noting in our iPad Pro 12.9 (2022) review that its screen stands “head, shoulders and torso above anything else.”
If anything, we’re disappointed that the 11-inch iPad Pro 2022 hasn’t joined its super-sized brother in the mini-LED department. Its screen is better than the iPad Air 5’s, but not by that much.
iPad Air 5 vs iPad Pro 2022 camera
While the iPad Air 5 packs in a single 12MP wide camera, the iPad Pro 2022 tablets feature dual-camera set-ups made up of a 12MP wide and a 10MP ultra-wide. The latter also incorporates a ToF 3D LiDAR scanner, completing a much more comprehensive package for the Pro that complements AR (augmented reality) experiences.
Both Air and Pro give you 12MP selfie cameras, though as we’ve already mentioned, the Pro is a TrueDepth camera that supports Face ID authentication. Both support Center Stage, which tracks your face in video calls.
Together with the more advanced processor (more on which in a moment), we’d back the iPad Pro 2022 to feature the better all-round camera system than the Air 5.
That said, our iPad Pro 2022 review notes that its cameras are no real upgrade on the previous model, and are good rather than great. So neither of these slates match the best iPhone cameras.
iPad Air 5 vs iPad Pro 2022 specs and performance
Apple has bumped up the power of its two iPad Pro 2022 models, equipping them with the laptop-class Apple M2 chip. Not that the iPad Air 2022 is anything to be sniffed at, with its slightly-older-laptop-class Apple M1 chip.
Both the M1 and the M2 feature 8-core CPUs, but while the M1 has an 8-core GPU, the M2 gives you a 10-core graphics processor. Apple claims that the M2 CPU is 15% faster than the M1 equivalent, while the M2 GPU is 35% faster than its M1 equivalent.
This pays off, with our review finding the iPad Pro 2022 is massively powerful and almost impossible to make stutter. That said, the iPad Air 5 also offers speedy performance, so the extra horsepower in the Pro won’t be essential for everyone.
Besides a simple performance boost, the M2 gives the iPad Pro 2022 an improved ‘media engine’ and better image processing chops than the iPad Air 5. It can record ProRes video this time, rather than simply transcode.
We have a bit of an issue with the iPad Air 5’s storage provision. As entry models go, 64GB simply isn’t enough in this day and age, especially when the only other option is a full 256GB. The iPad Pro 2022 has no such issues, with 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB options all on the table.
Elsewhere, the iPad Pro 2022 gives you Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3. That’s better than the iPad Air 5’s Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0. Both cellular variants supply 5G connectivity, however.
Although both tablets are compatible with the Apple Pencil 2, the iPad Pro 2022 packs in enhanced connectivity for the stylus, boasting the ability to detect its nib when it gets within 12mm of the screen. This means that when you hover the Pencil over a text box, it will expand, to name one example. On that front, the new iPad Pro 2022 also features enhanced handwriting recognition.
iPad Air 5 vs iPad Pro 2022 battery
The iPad Air 5 has a 28.93Wh battery, which equates to 7,606mAh. That’s fractionally bigger than the 11-inch iPad Pro’s 28.65Wh, or 7,538mAh, battery, and much smaller than the 12.9-inch Pro’s 40.88Wh or 10,758mAh cell.
Differing sizes aside, Apple makes exactly the same stamina claim of “up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi‐Fi or watching video” for each model, as well as “up to 9 hours of surfing the web using cellular data network” on each of the 5G variants.
In practice those estimates felt a bit optimistic with both models, though the iPad Pro 2022 in particular struggled to last that long, with HDR video for example draining it in around 6 hours in our tests.
Apple has now completely refreshed its tablet range for 2022, with both Air and Pro models offering laptop-level performance, sleek flat-edged designs, and 5G connectivity options.
The iPad Pro 2022 is (unsurprisingly) the better, more capable of the two. Its new Apple M2 chip means a healthy bump in performance, and its display – whichever size you opt for – is brighter, more fluid, and (in the case of the 12.9-inch Pro, at least) more vibrant.
The Pro also gives you a more advanced camera system, Face ID authentication, improved connectivity, and enhanced Apple Pencil interactivity.
But is all that worth the $200/£200 premium that Apple is charging for the 11-inch Pro? For most people, we suspect that it won’t be, as they’re functionally very similar. Indeed our review of the latest Pro notes that the iPad Air 5 offers the vast majority of the Pro’s features for a lot less.
In any case, if you’re ready to buy one of these slates, we’ve got a constantly-updated best iPad deals feature and – as we approach November 25 – a best Black Friday iPad deals piece for your perusal.