iPad Air 2024 vs iPad Pro 2024: Biggest differences explained

iPad Air 2024 vs iPad Pro 2024
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

If you're on the fence about which new iPad to buy — or you just want to know what sets them apart — our iPad Air 2024 vs. iPad Pro 2024 comparison will break everything down for you.

The new iPad Air 2024 has arrived with an M2 chip, repositioned front camera and a larger 13-inch size option that joins the 11-inch model. Then there's the more advanced iPad Pro 2024, which comes in the same two sizes but stands out with its new OLED display, super-thin design and powerful new M4 chip.

The price difference ($799 to start for the iPad Air vs. $999 for the iPad Pro) is another clear differentiator. I'll walk you through all the other major differences between these new tablets so you can decide which is the best iPad to buy. 

iPad Air 2024 vs iPad Pro 2024: Price and specs

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Row 0 - Cell 0 iPad Air 2024 (11"/13")iPad Pro 2024 (11"/13")
Pricefrom $599/$799from $799/$1,299
Display11-inch LED (2360 x 1640 pixels) / 13-inch LED (2732 x 2048 pixels)11-inch Tandem OLED (2420 x 1668 pixels) / 13-inch Tandem OLED (2752 x 2064 pixels) 120Hz ProMotion
Colors Blue, Purple, Starlight, Space GraySilver, Space Black
Chip M2M4
Storage128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB
Cameras 12MP front landscape, 12MP rear12MP front landscape, 12MP rear
WirelessWi-Fi 6E, 5GWi-Fi 6E, 5G
Size9.7 x 7 x 0.24 inches / 11.04 x 8.5 x 0.24 inches 9.83 x 6.99 x 0.21 inches / 11.09 x 8.48 x 0.2 inches
Weight 1.02 pounds / 1.36 pounds 0.98 pounds / 1.28 pounds

As you can see from the specs above, the biggest difference between these two tablets is price and power. 

Both come in the same sizes (11-inch and 13-inch) and are roughly the same size, but the iPad Pro 2024 is actually thinner than the iPad Air 2024 now that Apple has redesigned it. In fact, this is the thinnest device Apple makes. 

Both tablets also come with basically the same connectivity options and cameras, though the iPad Pro has a LiDAR scanner in its rear-facing camera array, which is designed to sense depth and distance to objects in the room, so it's ideal for augment reality apps — more on that below.

However, the iPad Air 2024 is available in more interesting colors (Blue, Purple) than the iPad Pro 2024, which is limited to silver or black (sorry, Space Black).

iPad Air 2024 vs iPad Pro 2024: Design

iPad Air 2024

The iPad Air 2024 looks an awful lot like the iPad Pro at first glance. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The 2024 iPad Air looks an awful lot like the 2024 iPad Pro, for good reason: Apple has basically standardized the design of iPads across the entire line now that the base iPad 2022 has been updated with an iPad Air-like design that sports thinner bezels and a relocated camera array.

So it shouldn't be surprising that the iPad Air 2024 and iPad Pro 2024 look awfully similar, especially now that both come in both 11-inch and 13-inch sizes. 

iPad Pro 2024

The iPad Pro 2024 is the first to ship with an OLED display, and in person it's quite striking. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

But you may still be able to identify the iPad Pro 2024 at a distance because it's the first iPad to ship with an OLED screen. Not just one, either; Apple claims there are two layers of OLED screen built into the screens of the iPad Pro 2024, which is why the company calls it a Tandem OLED display.

I've always liked OLED screens on TVs and laptops because they tend to deliver picture quality that looks a lot better than non-OLED displays, with brighter brights, perfect blacks and compelling contrasts between the two. 

So while these two new series of Apple slates look awful similar design-wise, there is one key difference that gives the iPad Pro 2024 an edge over the competition.

Another important design difference is that the iPad Pro 2024 uses FaceID to log you in, while the iPad Air uses a TouchID sensor built into the power button. The former method is faster and less fuss. 

iPad Air 2024 vs iPad Pro 2024: Display

iPad Air 2024 with Apple Pencil

The iPad Air 2024 might not sport an OLED screen, but it's still great for everyday use. (Image credit: Apple)

So let's dig into the difference between these two tablets' displays in detail.

The iPad Air 2024 sports the same 11-inch (2360 x 1640 pixels) LED display as its predecessor, so I expect that it will perform about the same as it did on the old iPad Air 2022. The larger model will likely offer the same performance except bigger, thanks to its 13-inch (2732 x 2048 pixels) LED screen.

Apple iPad Pro 2024 new OLED screen displaying a mountain in front of a colorful meadow.

The iPad Pro's Tandem OLED panel should help colors pop and contrasts really shine, plus it may help save battery since OLED panels create black by turning individual pixels off entirely. (Image credit: Apple)

The iPad Pro 2024, by comparison, ships with the Tandem OLED displays that Apple claims are capable of achieving 1,000 nits of peak brightness, or 1,600 nits when viewing HDR content. 

The iPad Pro 2024 displays also offer a 120Hz ProMotion refresh rate and slightly higher resolutions than the iPad Air 2024, as you can see from the specs table above. The faster 120Hz refresh rate can make scrolling feel smother than on the iPad Air 2024's 60Hz screen, and some games may play smoother if they can run faster than 60 frames per second. 

The iPad Pro 2024's screens are also slightly higher resolution than what you get on the iPad Air 2024, and you can order the iPad Pro with an optional (and expensive) anti-reflective nano-texture coating. It's a very minor difference, so small you almost certainly wouldn't notice it unless holding multiple tablets side-by-side, but it's still worth noting since it helps justify the Pro's $200-$500 extra cost.

iPad Air 2024 vs iPad Pro 2024: Performance

iPad Air 2024

The iPad Air 2024 should be more than fast enough for everything you do on an iPad thanks to the M2 chip inside. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Here's the other big area where you start to see how the iPad Pro 2024 justifies its higher price: Performance.

The iPad Air 2024 tablets ship with an Apple M2 chip, which is an upgrade from the M1 powering their predecessors. The M2 is no slouch, and it should make the new iPad Airs feel plenty fast and powerful enough. 

No matter how good the M2 chip in the iPad Air 2024 turns out to be, however, it almost certainly won't compete with the all-new Apple M4 chip powering the iPad Pro 2024. 

iPad Pro 2024

The iPad Pro 2024 is the first Apple device to ship with an M4 chip, so it should achieve new heights of performance. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

This is the latest slice of Apple silicon, and for now you can only get it in a new iPad Pro 2024. These new chips come with a 10-core GPU and up to a 10-core CPU, though the cheaper iPad Pro 2024 models (those with less than 1TB of storage) get the slightly weaker Apple M4 chip with a 9-core CPU.

The amount of RAM on the M4 chip also changes depending on how much you spend, though Apple doesn't make this clear up front. The iPad Pro 2024 models with 1TB or 2TB of storage come with 16GB of RAM, while the cheaper models have just 8GB of RAM. 

All models of iPad Air 2024 come with just 8GB of RAM, so the pricier iPad Pro 2024 models ought to have a significant performance advantage over the iPad Air 2024 since they'll have a chip two generations better as well as double the memory.

iPad Air 2024 vs iPad Pro 2024: Audio

iPad Air 2024

The iPad Air 2024 has the same dual-speaker complement as its predecessors. (Image credit: Future)

The iPad Air has always had fewer speakers than the iPad Pro, and that hasn't changed with these new tablets.

The iPad Air 2024 offers the same landscape stereo speakers (that is, two speakers inside the tablet that are spaced out to deliver optimal stereo sound when holding it like a landscape painting) as its predecessor, which sounded pretty good to our ears. 

If the new 2024 models sound any better, we'll have to wait until we test one ourselves to hear it. 

iPad Pro 2024 front camera

The iPad Pro 2024 has double the speakers and double the mics of the iPad Air 2024, so it should deliver better-sounding calls and audio quality. (Image credit: Apple)

The iPad Pro 2024 also doesn't deviate much from its predecessors, but it should still sound better than the iPad Air 2024 because the Pro has double the speakers. There are four built into the iPad Pro 2024, so it should be able to deliver richer, better-sounding audio.

The iPad Pro 2024 also has double the mics as the iPad Air, since the cheaper tablet has two while the Pro has four. So if you plan to do a lot of video calls or recording on your tablet, you should notice better recording quality on the Pro.

iPad Air 2024 vs iPad Pro 2024: Cameras

iPad Air 2024 front and back

The iPad Air 2024 has basically the same complement of 12MP cameras as its predecessor. (Image credit: Apple)

The cameras on these new iPads are basically the same as they were on the old models, but the old models were just fine (and who takes photos with an iPad anyhow?) so there should be nothing to complain about here.

The iPad Air 2024 has a 12MP rear camera, plus an ultra wide front camera that's now positioned above the display in landscape mode, which can be easier for video calls. And it runs on Apple silicon the front-facing camera iPad Air cam also supports Apple's Center Stage feature. The rear camera is also capable of capturing up to 4K video.

iPad Pro 2024

The iPad Pro 2024 can record video at up to ProRes resolution, which no other iPad can do. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The iPad Pro 2024 also has basically the same cameras as its predecessor, and they're slightly better than what's on the iPad Air 2024. 

While the iPad Pro has basically the same 12MP ultra wide front camera and 12MP rear camera, it also has a TrueDepth camera which allows it to support FaceID (aka logging in with your face). The rear camera on the iPad Pro 2024 can also record video in up to 4K or ProRes resolution, which could be a big deal for video pros. 

iPad Air 2024 vs iPad Pro 2024: Accessories

iPad Air 2024

The iPad Air 2024 has its own Magic Keyboard that starts at $299, and it looks pretty comfy. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Both the iPad Air 2024 and the iPad Pro 2024 support some of Apple's best iPad accessories, but you have to buy different keyboards depending on which tablet you purchase.

The iPad Air 2024 is designed to work with Apple's Magic Keyboard for iPad Air M2, and this slick keyboard case costs $299 for the 11-inch model or $349 for the 13-inch variety. The Air also supports both the existing Apple Pencil (USB-C)  ($79) and the all-new Apple Pencil Pro ($129), which has extra features like a squeezable, rotatable barrel that you can use to do things like change brush size or scroll down a page.

If you just want an official Apple case for the iPad Air 2024, it also supports the new Apple Smart Folio ($79/$99 for 11-inch/13-inch). 

iPad Pro 2024 with Magic Keyboard

The iPad Pro 2024 can be purchased with the new Magic Keyboard Pro, which adds (among other things) a function row. (Image credit: Future)

The new iPad Pro 2024 also supports both the Apple Pencil (USB-C) and the Apple Pencil Pro. Plus, Apple is selling it alongside a new Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro ($299/$349 for 11-inch/13-inch) specifically designed for these new tablets.

This new Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro has 4 key improvements, including a larger glass trackpad than the existing Magic Keyboard, a new aluminum palm rest and a new row of function keys that make it a bit more like a laptop. 

All together, these improvements should make the experience of typing on a Magic Keyboard Pro a bit more pleasant, which is great to hear since the Magic Keyboard is already a great accessory.

iPad Air 2024 vs iPad Pro 2024: Outlook

The simple truth is that the iPad Pro 2024 is more expensive but also more capable than the iPad Air 2024. That's not hugely surprising given that Apple charges $200-$500 more for the Pro over the Air. What is surprising, I think, is that in some ways the iPad Air 2024 is still better for some folks than the Pro.

Besides the obvious savings you get by going with the Air, you also get more fun colors (why no colors for Pros, Apple?), a powerful-enough M2 chip and the ability to use TouchID. Overall, the iPad Air 2024 looks like a great tablet.

But there's no way to miss all the extra upgrades you get by splurging on an iPad Pro 2024. You get a more future-proof M4 chip — especially for machine learning and AI tasks — a much more vibrant OLED and a shockingly thin design. And the speakers on the Pro are better to boot.

It's clear that the iPad Pro 2024 remains the most impressive iPad you can buy. And the fact that you can get an 11-inch model for the same price as a 13-inch iPad Air 2024 makes it a pretty easy buying decision if you don't need the larger screen. But overall the iPad Air 2024 looks like a great value. 

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Alex Wawro
Senior Editor Computing

Alex Wawro is a lifelong tech and games enthusiast with more than a decade of experience covering both for outlets like Game Developer, Black Hat, and PC World magazine. A lifelong PC builder, he currently serves as a senior editor at Tom's Guide covering all things computing, from laptops and desktops to keyboards and mice. 

  • Rajkumarm
    It’s sad to see 11” iPad Pro price quoted incorrectly as $799 when it is actually $999 - by such a reputed site.