iPad Pro vs MacBook Air – what should you buy?

Two iconic Apple devices go head to head


PC Guide is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices subject to change. Read More

Last Updated on

Welcome to the iPad Pro vs MacBook Air throw-down. When it comes to choosing between the iPad Pro and the MacBook Air, it can be a tough decision. Both devices offer unique features and capabilities that cater to different needs. In this post, we will compare and analyze the specifications, performance, display, software, cameras, battery life, and overall value of the iPad Pro and the MacBook Air. 

By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of which device is the better fit for you.

iPad Pro vs MacBook Air specs

SpecificationiPad Pro (12.9 inch)MacBook Air
Price$999, $1348 with Magic Keyboard$999 ($899 for education)
ChipApple A12Z BionicApple M1 chip
Storage128GB – 1TB256GB – 2TB
Display12.9 inches (2732 x 2048 pixels)13.3 inches (2560 x 1600 pixels)
CamerasRear: 12MP wide, 10-MP ultra-wide; Front: 12MP Ultra Wide front camera720p camera
Battery Life10 hours and 16 minutes14 hours and 41 minutes
Size11. x 8.5 x 0.2 inches (0.6 inches thick with Magic Keyboard)12 x 8.4 x 0.2 – 0.6 inches

iPad Pro vs MacBook Air features

Let’s take a closer look at the features of both devices.

Display comparison

The iPad Pro has a slightly smaller touchscreen Liquid Retina XDR display at 12.9 inches compared to the MacBook Air’s 13.3 inches. However, the iPad Pro’s display has a higher resolution of 2732 x 2048 pixels, offering sharper images and text. Additionally, the iPad Pro’s display has a faster refresh rate of 120Hz, which provides a smoother and more responsive experience. The MacBook Air’s display, although slightly larger, has a lower resolution of 2560 x 1600 pixels.


If you’re interested in content creation, the iPad Pro has the upper hand with its superior camera system. It features a 12MP wide camera and a 10MP ultra-wide camera, allowing you to capture a wide range of shots. The iPad Pro also supports 4K video recording at up to 60 frames per second. In comparison, the MacBook Air has a lower-resolution 720p camera for video chats.

Performance comparison

The iPad Pro is powered by the Apple A12Z Bionic chip, which is a powerful processor for a tablet. However, the MacBook Air takes the lead with the Apple M1 chip, which offers even faster performance and better power efficiency. The M1 chip in the MacBook Air outperforms the A12Z Bionic chip in both single-core and multi-core benchmarks.

Software comparison

The software experience is another significant differentiating factor between the iPad Pro and the MacBook Air. The iPad Pro runs on iPadOS, which is a touch-first operating system that supports cursor input. It offers features such as multitasking, split view, and slide-over, making it ideal for productivity on a tablet. The iPad Pro also supports Apple Pencil, which is great for note-taking and drawing. 

On the other hand, the MacBook Air runs on macOS, which provides a more traditional desktop experience. macOS offers a wide range of desktop applications and software options, providing more flexibility and versatility. 

Both devices offer software which connects seamlessly with iPhones via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. 

Battery life comparison

The iPad Pro offers a respectable battery life of 10 hours and 16 minutes, which is more than sufficient for a day’s use. However, with the introduction of the Apple M1 chip, the MacBook Air’s battery life has improved significantly. It now lasts an impressive 14 hours and 41 minutes, making it an ideal choice for users who require long-lasting battery performance.

iPad Pro vs MacBook Air price

The iPad Pro starts at $999 for the tablet itself, but the costs can quickly add up once you start adding accessories such as the Magic Keyboard and the Apple Pencil. In contrast, a new MacBook Air starts at the same price of $999, but it includes a keyboard. Overall, the MacBook Air offers a better value for money as it provides more storage and a keyboard without additional costs.

Is the iPad Pro better than the Macbook Air?

The iPad Pro excels in areas such as display quality, camera capabilities, and touch-first experience. It is the perfect choice for content creators and users who prioritize versatility and mobility. On the other hand, the MacBook Air offers superior performance, longer battery life, and a more traditional desktop experience. It is the ideal option for users who require a powerful and reliable laptop for everyday productivity tasks.

Ultimately, which device is best for you depends on your needs. The iPad Pro is a good lightweight laptop replacement, but in terms of pure power and performance, the Macbook Air is the clear winner.