The rise of the iPad has raised an interesting question: “MacBook Air or iPad Pro?” And that question has never been more relevant, as Apple’s new MacBook Air with the M1 chip (which is the best tape for the MacBook) sees the Mac revolutionize with more speed and endurance than ever.
While the iPadOS 14 and Magic Keyboard make the iPad Pro a laptop more than ever (and its A12Z chip is also quite fast), Apple is redefining the iconic MacBook Air in ways no one expects. So we decided to do what we do best: point these devices at each other in a MacBook Air parsing against the iPad Pro to see who your next computer should be.
Of course, some may say it̵
That didn’t stop many people I know, including a friend who is a video and podcast producer, from thinking that the iPad Pro was their next main computer. But should it be yours?
Let’s find out.
MacBook Air vs. iPad Pro: Specifications
|MacBook Air (M1, 2020)||12.9-inch iPad Pro (2020|
|Starting price||$ 999 ($ 899 for education)||$ 999 ($ 1348 with Magic Keyboard)|
|Screen||13.3 inches (2560 x 1600)||12.9 inches (2732 x 2048)|
|Processor||M1 chip (8-core, 7/8-core graphics processor)||A12Z Bionic chip with Neural Engine|
|Storage||256GB to 2TB||128GB to 1TB|
|Cameras||0.7 MP webcam||12MP Wide + 10MP Ultra Wide (rear), 7MP TrueDepth (front)|
|Video recording||1080 x 720 pixels||Up to 4K at 60 fps|
|Security||Tap ID||Face ID|
|Apple keyboard support||Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio||Magic Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio|
|Pencil support||Apple Pencil (2nd generation)||Apple Pencil (2nd generation)|
|Dimensions||12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches||11 x 8.4 x 0.2 inches | 11 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches with Magic Keyboard|
|Weight||2.8 pounds||1.4 pounds | 3 pounds with Magic Keyboard|
MacBook Air vs. iPad Pro: Design and Ports
While the Mac1 Air with the M1 chip presents itself as the MacBook of the future, it still looks like the MacBook of the past. This is not exactly a bad thing, as it still has a wedge-shaped design that is strong and iconic. However, its 0.5-inch and 0.3-inch frames look outdated and give it a bigger footprint than we would like in a laptop.
Conversely, the 0.2-inch frames of the iPad Pro (on all sides) give it a look that feels more modern and hopefully the MacBook Airs of the future will learn. The iPad Pro also has this flat-edged design, which Apple has returned to its iPhone 12 line, which looks pretty nice.
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro (11 x 8.4 x 0.2 inches) has a smaller footprint than the 13.3-inch MacBook Air (12 x 8.4 x 0.6 inches), but the thinner body The iPad Pro will be a plus for many. However, those who get an iPad Pro with a Magic Keyboard (a must-have for a laptop-like experience) add a thickness of 0.4 inches, making it equal to the Air.
Similarly, the iPad Pro weighs 1.4 pounds – which is half the weight of the MacBook Air of 2.8 pounds. Until, that is, you add the Magic Keyboard, which brings it to 3 pounds – which makes it heavier than the MacBook Air. The MacBook Air rarely wins the battle for ports, but its 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports and headphone jack are the only small USB-C port on the iPad Pro.
So, the design advantages of the iPad Pro are really only useful when you just use it as a tablet. And that’s great for those who can make the Apple Pencil sing, but those of us who want writing experience may prefer the Air, as you’ll still need a stand or base to use the iPad Pro.
Winner: I draw
MacBook Air vs. iPad Pro: Display
The iPad Pro may have its design flaws when you touch the Magic Keyboard, but its screen is a superb display in every way.
We measured the 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2020 as producing 122.9% of the sRGB range and 559 nits of brightness, which makes it a little more colorful and much brighter than the MacBook Air (114.3%, 365.8 nits).
The iPad Pro also beats the MacBook Air on display technology. Both offer True Tone white balance, but only the iPad has a 120 Hz ProMotion display refresh rate, which allows everything on your screen to move smoother and look much nicer. The MacBook Air, like all Macs, has a refresh rate of 60Hz. This may still not matter to you, but if you see a 120Hz screen, you will see the light.
There’s another major plus to the iPad Pro’s screen: it allows touch input. Apple has not yet provided touch screens on its Mac, although this is something that macOS Big Sur it seems as it should maintain.
Winner: iPad Pro
MacBook Air vs. iPad Pro: Magic keyboard and pencil
It’s funny that Apple gave the same name to both the MacBook Air and the iPad Pro writing interface: Magic Keyboard. And while both are easy to write, with such feedback they have two huge differences.
For starters, the iPad Pro Magic keyboard isn’t included – it’s an optional accessory for $ 349. Secondly, the iPad Pro’s magic keyboard can be detached, which is a nice convenience.
And then there’s the Apple Pencil (also an optional accessory that costs $ 129) that only works on the iPad Pro, not the iPad Air.
Creative and handwriting enthusiasts will love the stylus, but there are WACOM tablets and pens for the Mac as well, so it’s not like the Mac is off here.
Winner: I draw
MacBook Air vs. iPad Pro: Performance
The best way to compare the performance of the MacBook Air’s M1 chip and the iPad Pro’s A12Z Bionic chip is within a comparable performance benchmark that works on both systems: Geekbench 5.
In this test, the iPad Pro posted a solid 4635 rating, which the MacBook Air surpassed with its 5,925. Still, the iPad Pro is not dirty and is still good for video editing in its own applications.
A more drastic victory comes in the GFXBench Metal Aztec Ruins graphics test, which doesn’t run on the iPad Pro. Meanwhile, the MacBook Air posted a strong 54,332.
Winner: MacBook Air
MacBook Air vs. iPad Pro: Battery Life
The MacBook Air outperforms the iPad Pro from a lot. In the Tom’s Guide battery test (surfing the 150 nits), the MacBook Air posted an epic time of 14 hours and 41 minutes, while the iPad Pro discharged at 10:16.
Winner: MacBook Air
MacBook Air vs. iPad Pro: Software and applications
Inside the new MacBook Air you have the combination of Apple Silicon and macOS Big Sur processors, which unlock the ability to launch iPhone and iPad apps on macOS apps.
It should be noted that macOS applications currently consist of natural universal applications that are written to run on the M1 chip, and converted Intel-based applications that run through Rosetta 2. The latter may have some performance issues in more sophisticated application level programs such as Adobe Premiere Pro.
And while the MacBook Air can run iPhone and iPad apps, not all of them will be written for the Mac. This means that you receive applications designed for a touch phone or tablet, but you will interact with them using the touchpad. Also, some video streaming programs can’t run in full screen, which feels like a mistake made by app makers that needs to be fixed soon.
As for the iPad Pro, it will work with iPadOS apps properly and naturally, and we haven’t noticed any signs of it working with macOS apps. However, universal applications must make this possible in the future.
Winner: MacBook Air
MacBook Air vs. iPad Pro: Cameras
We like the fact that the MacBook Air has a slightly better webcam, thanks to the image signal processing, but it’s still a 720p, 0.7MP webcam.
The iPad Pro has a 7MP front camera and a pair of rear cameras (12MP Wide + 10MP Ultra Wide), which are actually great.
Winner: iPad Pro
MacBook Air vs. iPad Pro: Value and price
Both the MacBook Air and the iPad Pro start at $ 999, but that’s not the fairest comparison, as it leaves the iPad without its $ 349 keyboard. Plus, the iPad Pro starts with half the storage space. So, this is a point in favor of Air to begin with.
And if you want to make them comparable in specifications, the price of the Pro reaches 1099 dollars with 256GB of memory – and 1448 dollars with the magic keyboard.
If you want an 8-core graphics processor in your MacBook Air, it costs up to $ 1,249 and its memory reaches 512GB. Then the comparable iPad Pro is still more expensive – at $ 1648.
Winner: MacBook Air
MacBook Air vs. iPad Pro: Sentence
|MacBook Air||iPad Pro|
|Design and ports (10 points)||8||8|
|Display (20 points)||15||19.|
|Magic keyboards and styluses (10 points)||8||8|
|Performance (10 points)||10||8|
|Battery life (20 points)||20.||13|
|Software and applications (5 points)||5||3|
|Cameras (5 points)||3||5|
|Value and price (20 points)||18.||13|
|Overall (100 points)||87||77|
And so, Apple Silicon and the M1 chip give the MacBook Air much of the performance, durability, and even flexibility needed to support the iPad Pro.
But for those who want a touchscreen device that really sings and feels integrated with your work – not a WACOM tablet you’ve attached to your Mac – Apple’s decision to keep touch screens outside of its Mac could push you to the iPad Pro. And I couldn’t blame you. Its screen is brighter and its detachment from the Magic Keyboard unlocks more portability.
But when it comes to value, some people will shrink to the high price of the Magic Keyboard of $ 349. That’s more than a third of the price of the original M1 MacBook Air and the money that can be spent upgrading the Air to 8- core graphics processor, more RAM or more storage space.
That’s why we’re very curious about what 2021 has in store for both Mac and iPad. Stay tuned, reader.