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 high-end laptop performance to the tablet format. But the iPad Air (2022) — another big tablet from Apple that launched earlier in the year — isn’t slow either.
In fact, when the fifth-generation iPad Air launched, we were a little concerned that it was infringing on the field of the 2021 iPad Pro, when it came to pricing and feature set. So how does it stack up now that we have a newer and newer Pro model?
We’ve put both tablets through full reviews, so based on the 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 March 18, 2022, and prices currently start at $599 / £669 / AU$999 for the 64GB Wi-Fi model. That moves 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 / £1,029 / AU$1,499 for 256GB.
It should be noted that this price has received a significant jump in the UK and Australian markets since its launch, and is believed to be driven by global economic pressures.
Meanwhile, iPad Pro 2022 was launched on October 18, 2022 in two sizes. Prices for the 11-inch model start at $799 / £899 / AU$1,399, while the 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $1,099 / £1,249 / AU$1,899.
It should be noted that these prices are for 128GB Wi-Fi models only; Adding cellular connectivity and more storage (256GB, 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB) will increase the fee significantly. At the top of the scale, the 2022 12.9-inch iPad Pro with 2TB of storage and cellular connectivity will set you back $2,399 / £2,679 / AU$4,099. Ouch.
iPad Air 5 vs iPad Pro 2022 design
The iPad Pro 2022 and iPad Air 5 have 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 very similar to the 2022 11-inch iPad Pro. 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 thickness difference in favor of the Pro, they’re identical.
The iPad Air 5 is only slightly lighter than its Pro sibling, but we’re talking 461g versus 466g, so you’re unlikely to notice it in the hand.
Of course, there’s also the 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2022, which measures 280.6 x 214.9 x 6.4mm and weighs 682g, so it’s much larger than both.
All three of these tablets have ditched Apple’s old brittle Lightning connector in favor of a universal USB-C port, though the Pro models use the faster Thunderbolt 4 standard. Also, the difference in biometric authentication systems is not readily visible. While the iPad Air 5 hides the Touch ID sensor behind its power button, the iPad Pro 2022 packs in Apple’s impressive Face ID system with its front camera and sensors.
One of the ways the iPad Air 5 falls behind is in the color selection. The cheaper tablet comes in a nice selection of Space Gray, Starlight, Pink, Purple, and Blue. On the other hand, the iPad Pro 2022 only offers silver and space gray.
iPad Air 5 vs iPad Pro 2022 screen
The iPad Air 5 and the smaller iPad Pro 2022 have similar displays, although they are not identical. You’re looking at 10.9 inches and 1640 x 2360 for Air, while the Pro gives you 11 inches and 1668 x 2388. The larger iPro, meanwhile, measures in at 12.9 inches and 2048 x 2732.
Both Pro displays feature a 120Hz ProMotion adaptive refresh rate, while the iPad Air 5 is stuck at 60Hz. The 2022 11-inch iPad Pro also gets a little brighter than its cheaper sibling, coming in at 600nits instead of 500nits.
However, the 2022 12.9-inch iPad Pro tops both by switching from standard IPS LCD technology to a small LED LCD panel. This brings a number of benefits, including a much higher typical brightness of 1,000 nits and more vibrant color output and contrast.
This upgrade pays off, as we noted in our review of the iPad Pro 12.9 (2022) that its screen stands “head, shoulders, and torso above anything else.”
If anything, we’re disappointed the 2022 11-inch iPad Pro didn’t join its ultra-compact sibling in the mini-LED department. Its screen is better than the iPad Air 5, but not by that much.
iPad Air 5 camera vs iPad Pro 2022
While the iPad Air 5 packs in a single 12MP wide camera, the 2022 iPad Pro tablets feature dual camera setups of 12MP ultrawide and 10MP ultrawide. The latter also includes a ToF 3D LiDAR scanner, completing a more comprehensive package for Pro complementing AR (Augmented Reality) experiences.
The Air and Pro both give you 12MP selfie cameras, although as we already mentioned, the Pro is a TrueDepth camera that supports Face ID authentication. Both support Center Stage, which tracks your face on video calls.
Together with a more advanced processor (more on which will be available shortly), we’ve boosted the 2022 iPad Pro to offer an all-around camera system better than the Air 5.
However, our iPad Pro 2022 review notes that its cameras aren’t a real upgrade over the previous model, and they’re good, not great. So none of these panels are a match for the iPhone’s best cameras.
Specifications and performance of iPad Air 5 vs. iPad Pro 2022
Apple has stepped up the iPad Pro 2022 models by providing them with the Apple M2 laptop-class chip. Not that the 2022 iPad Air is anything to sniff at, with Apple’s slightly older laptop-class M1 chip.
The M1 and M2 both feature 8-core CPUs, but while the M1 has an 8-core GPU, the M2 gives you a 10-core GPU. Apple claims that the M2’s CPU is 15% faster than its M1 equivalent, while the M2’s GPU is 35% faster than its M1 counterpart.
This pays off, as our review found the iPad Pro 2022 to be very powerful and almost impossible to cause a stutter. However, the iPad Air 5 also delivers snappy performance, so the extra horsepower in the Pro won’t be necessary for everyone.
Besides a minor performance boost, the M2 gives the iPad Pro 2022 an improved “media engine” and better image processing clips than the iPad Air 5. It can record ProRes video this time, rather than just transcoding.
We had a little problem with the iPad Air 5’s storage space. As with entry-level models, 64GB simply isn’t enough in this day and age, especially when the only other option is a full 256GB. The 2022 iPad Pro has no such issues, with 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB options.
Elsewhere, the iPad Pro 2022 gives you Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3. That’s better than Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 in the iPad Air 5. Both cellular options offer 5G connectivity.
Although both devices are compatible with the Apple Pencil 2, the 2022 iPad Pro packs an improved connection for the stylus, and features the ability to detect the nib when it’s 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 this front, the new iPad Pro 2022 also features improved handwriting recognition.
iPad Air 5 battery vs iPad Pro 2022 battery
The iPad Air 5 has a 28.93Wh battery, which is equivalent to 7,606mAh. That’s partially larger than the 2022 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 battery.
Regardless of the different sizes, Apple makes exactly the same endurance 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 a cellular data network.” on both 5G variants.
In practice, those estimates seemed a little optimistic with both models, though the iPad Pro 2022 in particular struggled to last long, with HDR video for example draining in around 6 hours in our tests.
Apple has now refreshed its entire line of tablets for 2022, with both the Air and Pro models offering laptop-level performance, sleek designs with flat edges, and 5G connectivity options.
The 2022 iPad Pro is (unsurprisingly) the better and more capable of the two. The new Apple M2 chip means a healthy uptick in performance, and the display—whichever size you choose—is brighter, smoother, 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 improved Apple Pencil interaction.
But is all this worth the $200 / £200 premium that Apple charges for the 11-inch Pro? For most people, we suspect it won’t be, as they are functionally very similar. In fact, 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.
Anyway, if you’re ready to buy one of these lists, we’ve got a constantly updated featurette of the best iPad deals and — as we head into November 25 — the best part of Black Friday iPad deals to check out.