iPad Pro (2020) vs MacBook Air (2020) – Which Is The Best “Laptop”?

By Michael Grothaus •  Updated: 04/07/20 •  5 min read

For years people have been wondering when the iPad Pro will become a MacBook replacement. Many are hoping the just-updated 2020 iPad Pro model with its support for mice and trackpads could be the one.

The thing is, the most popular Mac Apple sells is the MacBook Air, which has also just been updated. And it’s popular for a reason: it’s light, thin, and powerful. But let’s face it, both are great mobility machines for outside of the house.

So, how do they compare and which should you get? Let’s take a look at them.

MORE: How To Make A FaceTime Video Call – On iPhone, iPad & Mac

iPad Pro (2020) vs MacBook Air (2020) Quick Comparison

iPad Pro (2020) vs MacBook Air (2020)
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Design

Winner? iPad Pro (2020) – From a design perspective, we think the iPad Pro just looks cooler than the MacBook Air–especially with that optional Magic Keyboard.

Displays

Winner? iPad Pro (2020) – The iPad Pro gives you the option of two display sizes, each of which, while smaller than the MacBook Air’s display, have a higher pixel density and thus a technically better display. Those displays are also edge-to-edge thanks to Face ID. It also sports a True Tone display with a wide color gamut.

CPU/Processor

Winner? MacBook Air (2020) – But just barely. Intel’s Core i series is still a bit faster at most tasks than the A12Z found in the iPad Pro, but the iPad isn’t far behind.

2020 iPad Pro
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Camera

Winner? iPad Pro (2020) – It’s got a dual-lens rear camera setup and also sports a new LiDAR sensor for augmented reality tasks. That’s not even to mention that the iPad Pro’s FaceTime camera is 1080p while the MacBook Air’s is only 720p.

Storage Options

MORE: A Brief History Of The iPad – It’s Still The World’s #1 Tablet

Battery Life

Winner? MacBook Air (2020) – It’ll eek out an extra hour of battery life on average.

macbook air 2020
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Price

Verdict?

Look, this is a hard call. The iPad Pro clearly wins in design and display technology. But the MacBook Air wins when it comes to internals. But those aren’t the most glaring differentiators between the devices. That would be the OS they run.

The iPad Pro runs iPadOS 13. iPadOS is a very capable operating system, especially for a tablet. This is even more true considering Apple added mouse support into iPadOS 13.4. On the other hand, the MacBook Air uses macOS, arguably the best operating system on the planet.

As both devices now offer mouse support, your choice between the two may come down to which OS you’re more comfortable using for your work. But if you don’t already own a Mac or another PC, you may want to avoid the iPad Pro. It’s a great hybrid, but it’s not as good as a standalone computer yet (it’ll get there eventually). But if you already have a separate computer and just want a light and thin device to take with you outside of the home, the iPad Pro can’t be beaten on size and weight.

MORE: Apple’s A12Z Bionic Chip DETAILED: The New iPad Pro 2020’s CPU

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

Here are the specs for the iPad Pro (2020):

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

iPad Pro (2020) vs MacBook Air (2020)
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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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