Welcome to our iPad Pro (2020) vs iPad Air (2020) comparison! For the last few years, the iPad Pro has been Apple’s top dog tablet. Its incredibly powerful processor, rear camera setup, and beautiful all-screen design just blew away the offers of Apple’s other iPads, which were still stuck with a physical home button.
But with the introduction of the iPad Air (2020), the iPad Pro has some SERIOUS competition. Both iPads now feature all-screen designs–though they go about achieving that in completely different ways. But how else do they compare? Let’s find out.
iPad Pro (2020) vs iPad Air (2020) Quick Comparison
If you just look at the new iPad Pro and iPad Air from the front they both look VERY similar. That’s because both iPads feature all-screen designs. Yep, there’s no Home button on either iPad, which lets Apple narrow their bezels dramatically.
However, though neither iPad has a Home button, they both have a biometric authentication system. However, the authentication system on each is very different. The iPad Pro uses Face ID. This is the facial recognition system built into the bezel of the iPad Pro. You just have to look at the iPad Pro and it will unlock for you.
The iPad Air, on the other hand, still has Touch ID–the fingerprint reader that has been on many Apple devices since at least 2015. But if the iPad Air has no Home button, where is Touch ID? Apple’s done something really clever and built it directly into the power button on the side of the iPad Air.
Other than that–from a design perspective–both iPads are very similar–for example, both support the Apple Pencil 2 and the new trackpad Magic Keyboard case. However, the iPad Air does come in many more color options than the iPad Pro.
- iPad Pro (2020) – The iPad Pro (2020) features a glass and aluminum body. It also features Face ID and support for the Apple Pencil 2. Additionally, it also includes support for the new trackpad Magic Keyboard case (which is an additional purchase). It comes in silver or space grey.
- iPad Air (2020) – The iPad Air (2020) features an aluminum body. It features Touch ID built into the side power button and supports the Apple Pencil 2. It also supports the new trackpad Magic Keyboard case (which is an additional purchase). Finally, it comes in silver, space grey, green, rose gold, or sky blue.
Winner? Draw – Both iPads look nearly identical. They both feature all-screen designs, but they go about it in different ways. The Pro uses Face ID, while the Air uses Touch ID built into the power button.
When you get to the display technology, that’s where things start to differ between the iPad Air and iPad Pro. The first big difference is that the iPad Pro comes in TWO display sizes–an 11in or 12.9in screen. The iPad Air only comes in a 10.9in model.
However, the big advantage with the iPad Pro is that the display technology supports what Apple calls “Pro Motion.” This is display tech that enables 120Hz refresh rates. These faster refresh rates mean graphic applications and games will run more smoothly. In other words, yes, the iPad Pro does have better display technology than the iPad Air.
- iPad Pro (2020) – The iPad Pro (2020) comes in two models: an 11in model with a 2388 × 1668 pixel display at 264 pixels per inch, or 12.9in model with a 2732×2048 pixel display at 264 pixels per inch. The displays are Pro Motion displays.
- iPad Air (2020) – The iPad Air (2020) sports a 10.9in 2360 × 1640 pixel display at 264 pixels per inch.
Winner? iPad Pro (2020) – The iPad Pro wins here for a few reasons. First, the iPad Pro gives you the option of two display sizes–each of which are larger than the iPad Air. Second, those displays are Pro Motion displays, which means they are capable of 120Hz refresh rates, which are much better for gaming and video applications.
When we get to the CPU things can be a bit deceiving. That’s because based on the naming convention of the chipsets used in the iPad Air and the iPad Pro, you would think the iPad Air has the faster chip.
The chip in the iPad Air is called the A14 Bionic. It was released in 2020 and is also the same chip featured in the iPhone 12 series. However, though the A14 is the newer chip, it’s actually not faster than the older chip found in the iPad Pro.
The iPad Pro’s chip is called the A12X and the reason it is still faster than the A14 is that it offers an additional core, which allowed for advanced graphics support and better augmented reality features.
- iPad Pro (2020) – the iPad Pro (2020) features the A12Z chipset. The A12Z has an 8-core graphics processor, which enables advanced augmented reality features.
- iPad Air (2020) – the iPad Air (2020) features the A14 Bionic chipset.
Winner? iPad Pro (2020) – You wouldn’t think it, but technically, the A12Z is still the faster and more powerful chip. Its additional core offer improved graphics support for advanced augmented reality features.
It’s probably no surprise that the iPad Pro has a better camera system. While both the iPad Pro and iPad Air have the SAME front selfie camera–a 7MP 1080p HD camera–the iPad Pro features a radically better rear camera.
That’s because the iPad Pro has a dual-lens rear camera. It sports a 12MP Wide and 10MP Ultra Wide lens, which can also shoot 4K video. Additionally, it has a Quad-LED True Tone flash system and a LiDAR scanner, which helps with augmented reality features.
The iPad Air features a single-lens 12MP Wide camera, but it can also shoot 4K video, too. However, the iPad Air does NOT have the LiDAR scanner.
- iPad Pro (2020) – the 2020 iPad Pro features a front 7MP 1080p HD camera and a rear dual-lens 12MP Wide and 10MP Ultra Wide system, which can shoot in 4K HD, and sports a Quad-LED True Tone flash. The rear camera module also has a built-in LiDAR sensor, which enables new augmented reality content creation features.
- iPad Air (2020) – The iPad Air (2020) features a front 7MP 1080p HD camera and a rear single-lens 12MP Wide camera. It can shoot 4K HD video, too. However, it lacks a LiDAR sensor.
Winner? iPad Pro (2020) – The dual-lens rear camera system is far superior. It also features that LiDAR scanner, enabling better low-light photos and advanced augmented reality applications.
No contest here. The iPad Pro has much better storage options.
- iPad Pro (2020) – 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB
- iPad Air (2020) – 64GB or 256GB
A bit of a surprise here. Both iPads will get you about the same amount of battery life. Each gets you about 10 hours.
- iPad Pro (2020) – The iPad Pro (2020) will get you about 10 hours of battery life with mixed usage.
- iPad Air (2020) – The iPad Air (2020) will get you about 10 hours of battery life with mixed usage.
Winner? Draw – The battery life is identical in both iPad models.
- iPad Pro (2020) 12in – 128GB $999, 256GB $1099, 512GB $1299, 1TB $1499 (add $150 on for the cellular model).
- iPad Pro (2020) 11in – 128GB $799, 256GB $899, 512GB $1099, 1TB $1299 (add $150 on for the cellular model).
- iPad Air (2020) – 64GB $599, 256GB $749 (add $130 on for the cellular model).
Apple now makes several iPads. You have cheap iPads, mid-range iPads, and small iPads. Apple’s iPad is the #1 tablet you can buy. And there is an iPad for all types of users – from casual (the iPad) to professional/power-users (the iPad Pro). Bottom line? If you want a tablet, an iPad is the only way to go…
Look–you probably guessed this already from the name–but the iPad Pro is still the technically better iPad. That “Pro” gets you a dual-lens rear camera system, a LiDAR scanner, and Face ID. It also offers a better CPU and way more storage options. And, yes, technically its all-screen design sports the better display too, thanks to its 120Hz refresh rate.
All that being said, for most people considering between the two, the iPad Air is going to be the much better option. It’s much more affordable for one–but you still get the same all-screen design. It also supports the same new trackpad Magic Keyboard case as the iPad Pro. The iPad Air even has some advantages the iPad Pro does not–notably, five gorgeous color options.
But at the end of the day, while the iPad Pro is the better tablet–it’s really only better if you take advantage of all it has to offer–and not many users besides those in the professional graphics and video content creation fields will do that. For everyone else, the iPad Air is the one to get.
iPad Pro (2020) vs iPad Air (2020): Specs
Here are the specs for the iPad Pro (2020):
- Display: 11in 2388 × 1668 pixel at 264 pixels per inch or 12.9in 2732×2048 pixel at 264 pixels per inch; True Tone display; Wide color display, ProMotion technology.
- Colors: Silver or Space Grey
- Storage: 128, 256, 512GB or 1TB
- Processors: A12Z Bionic with Neural Engine
- Cameras: front 7MP 1080p HD camera and a rear dual-lens 12MP Wide and 10MP Ultra Wide, 4k HD camera with Quad-LED True Tone flash
- Size: 280.6 mm x 214.9 mm x 5.9 mm (12.9in) or 247.6 mm x 178.5 mm x 5.9 mm (11in)
- Weight: 641 grams (12.9in) or 471 grams (11in)
- Speakers: 4
- Other: Face ID, LiDAR Sensor, USB-C, Apple Pencil version 2 support, Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio support
And here are the specs for the iPad Air (2020):
- Display: 10.9in 2360 × 1640 pixel at 264 pixels per inch; True Tone display; Wide color display
- Colors: Silver, Rose Gold, Green, Sky Blue, or Space Grey
- Storage: 64GB or 256GB
- Processors: A14 Bionic chip with Neural Engine
- Cameras: front 7MP 1080p HD camera and a rear 12MP Wide 4K HD camera
- Size: 247.6 mm x 178.5 mm x 6.1 mm
- Weight: 458 grams
- Speakers: 2
- Other: Touch ID, USB-C, Apple Pencil version 2 support, Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio
Don’t forget to check out how long iPads last here. Also, be sure to check out all the new features coming to iPadOS 15! And check out Apple Pencil Tips & Tricks: Get The Most Out Of The Apple Pencil!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Which is better iPad Pro 2020 or iPad Air 2020?
The iPad Pro is the better tablet. Its main improved benefits are the dual-lens rear camera, the Pro Motion display, Face ID, and more storage options.
Q: Is iPad Pro 2020 worth it?
Yes, absolutely–if you need all that it offers. The iPad Pro can be a true creativity device that will appeal to many people in the entertainment and graphics industries. However, for the “average” tablet user, the iPad Pro is probably overkill. If you just want an iPad for playing games and browsing the web, an iPad Air is the better option for most.
Q: Which is the best iPad to buy in 2020?
That’s a fairly subjective question. But our personal favorite is the 2020 iPad Air. It’s got the beautiful all-screen design, but won’t set you back the amount of money an iPad Pro costs.
Apple expert and novelist, Michael Grothaus has been covering tech on KnowYourMobile for the best part of 10 years. Prior to this, he worked at Apple. And before that, he was a film journalist. Michael is a published author; his book Epiphany Jones was voted as one of the best novels about Hollywood by Entertainment Weekly. Michael is also a writer at other publications including VICE and Fast Company.