iPad Pro (2020) vs iPad Air (2020) – Which Is The Better Tablet?

By Michael Grothaus •  Updated: 11/02/20 •  9 min read

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

iPad Pro (2020) vs iPad Air (2020) – Which Is The Better Tablet?
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Design

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.

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.

Displays

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.

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.

More: Is The iPhone 12 Worth It? Let’s Investigate ALL The Updates…

CPU/Processor

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.

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.

2020 iPad Pro
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Camera

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.

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.

Storage Options

No contest here. The iPad Pro has much better storage options.

MORE: Best Black Friday iPhone XR Deals

Battery Life

A bit of a surprise here. Both iPads will get you about the same amount of battery life. Each gets you about 10 hours.

Winner? Draw – The battery life is identical in both iPad models.

2020 iPad Pro
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Price

Shop & View Prices For Apple's 2020 iPad Line-Up
Apple's iPad Range
View Prices & Specs For Apple's iPad Range...

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… 

VIEW ALL MODELS & OPTIONS

Verdict?

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.

MORE: iPhone 12 vs iPhone 12 Pro Max – Which Should You Get?

iPad Pro (2020) vs iPad Air (2020): Specs

iPad Pro (2020) vs iPad Air (2020) – Which Is The Better Tablet?
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Here are the specs for the iPad Pro (2020):

And here are the specs for the iPad Air (2020):

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!

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Michael Grothaus

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.
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