M4 iPad Pro vs M2 iPad Air

The 2024 iPad Pro levels up performance as the first Apple device with the M4 chip. And the new mid-tier Apple tablet is the M2 iPad Air which comes in two sizes for the first time. So what is all different between these 2024 iPads and is the high-end worth the extra money? Here’s our detailed look at the M4 iPad Pro vs M2 iPad Air.

The 2022 iPad Air 5 with M1 blurred the line between the mid and high-end iPads, giving an incentive for many to buy the Air that started at $200 (or more) below the $799 11-inch iPad Pro. 

Now the 2024 M2 iPad Air lineup (6th gen) offers even more choice and power than the M1 iPad Air.

However, the new iPad Air models are contrasted with the M4 iPad Pro devices – but they are more expensive this year with starting prices of $999 and $1,299 – making the difference between an iPad Air and Pro $300-400.

M4 iPad Pro vs M2 iPad Air

Performance

The big differentiator in performance between the new iPad Pro and Air is thanks to the upgrade of the M4 chip. Apple says it delivers up to a 50% faster CPU, 4x faster GPU, and a boost in memory bandwidth from 100GB/s to 120GB/s over the M2.

M4 iPad Pro vs M2 iPad Air performance
image via Apple

Along with the new GPU comes a media engine that offers hardware-accelerated 8K H.264, HEVC, ProRes, and ProRes RAW support – joining the Mac as a device able to handle 8K video.

Other new features include 38 trillion operations per second with the M4 Neural Engine, hardware-accelerated ray tracing, and more.

Note: iPad Pro models with 128, 256, and 512GB storage have 8GB RAM, 1TB and 2TB models have 16GB RAM.

11″ M4 iPad Pro 11″ M2 iPad Air 13″ M4 iPad Pro 13″ M2 iPad Air
Chip M4 M2 M4 M2
CPU 9 or 10-core 8-core 9 or 10-core 8-core
GPU 10-core 10-core 10-core 10-core
Hardware-accelerated 8K H.264, HEVC, ProRes, and ProRes RAW support
Hardware-accelerated H.264 and HEVC
Hardware-accelerated ray tracing
Neural Engine 16-core 16-core 16-core 16-core
Storage 256GB – 2TB 128GB – 1TB 256GB – 2TB 128GB – 1TB
RAM 8 or 16GB 8GB 8 or 16GB 8GB
Memory bandwidth 120GB/s 100GB/s 120GB/s 100GB/s
Thunderbolt/USB 4
USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 only
Cellular 5G (sub-6 GHz) 5G (sub-6 GHz) 5G (sub-6 GHz) 5G (sub-6 GHz)

Other upgrades with the Pro are Thunderbolt/USB 4 and hardware-accelerated ray tracing.

One loss is mmWave connectivity for 5G with the 2024 iPad Pro models (2022 versions had this). That matches the 5G radio in the 2024 iPad Air.

Display

The new M4 iPad Pro models surpass the iPad Air with a new “Ultra Retina XDR Display.”

It’s the first to use Tandem OLED compared to the Liquid Retina Display that uses LED in the M2 iPad Air devices.

M4 iPad Pro vs M2 iPad Air display
image via Apple

Apple says the benefits of the new OLED display are brighter specular highlights, deeper true blacks, better detail in shadows and low light, and more.

Both the smaller and larger iPad Pro feature the new OLED display and you can also now upgrade the 1 or 2TB M4 iPad Pro with nano-texture display glass.

You also get brighter SDR content up to 1000 nits with the M4 iPad Pro models (600 nits for M2 iPad Pro SDR content). That’s 2x brighter than the 500 nits for SDR with the iPad Air.

11″ M4 iPad Pro 11″ M2 iPad Air 13″ M4 iPad Pro 13″ M2 iPad Air
Display 11″ OLED 10.86″ LED 13″ OLED 12.9″ LED
Resolution 2420 x 1668 2360 x 1640 2752 x 2064 2732 x 2048
PPI (pixels per inch) 264 264 264 264
Display brightness 1000 nits SDR, 1000 nits max full screen XDR, 1600 nits peak (HDR only) 500 nits brightness for SDR 1000 nits SDR, 1000 nits max full screen XDR, 1600 nits peak (HDR only) 500 nits brightness for SDR
True Tone
P3 wide color
ProMotion (120Hz)
Anti-reflective and fingerprint-resistant coating
Fully laminated display
Nano-texture display glass Optional on 1TB and 2TB models Optional on 1TB and 2TB models
Liquid Retina Display
Ultra Retina XDR Display
Apple Pencil Hover

Shared display features across all M4 iPad Pro and M2 iPad Air models include P3 wide color, fully laminated displays, anti-reflective coating, Apple Pencil Hover, and True Tone.

Design, dimensions, weight, colors

M4 iPad Pro vs M2 iPad Air design
image via Apple

The M4 iPad Pro is the “thinnest product Apple has ever created” at 5.1mm for the 13″ model and 5.3mm for the 11″ version.

Along with that, the new M4 iPad Pro is lighter than ever, under 1 pound for the 11″ and 1.28 pounds for the 13″.

That’s ironic since the “Air” version of Apple’s iPad and Mac usually claim the title for thinnest and lightest.

11″ M4 iPad Pro 11″ M2 iPad Air 13″ M4 iPad Pro 13″ M2 iPad Air
Height 9.83 inches (249.7 mm) 9.74 inches (247.6 mm) 11.09 inches (281.6 mm) 11.04 inches (280.6 mm)
Width 6.99 inches (177.5 mm) 7.02 inches (178.5 mm) 8.48 inches (215.5 mm) 8.46 inches (214.9 mm)
Depth 0.21 inch (5.3 mm) 0.24 inch (6.1 mm) 0.20 inch (5.1 mm) 0.24 inch (6.1 mm)
Weight 0.98 pounds (446 grams) 1.02 pounds (462 grams) 1.28 pounds (582 grams) 1.36 pounds (618 grams)

New this time around is the Space Black finish replacing Space Gray for the M4 iPad Pro while silver remains the other choice.

Meanwhile, the M2 iPad Air is available in four color choices: Space Gray, Starlight, blue, and purple.

M2 iPad Air colors via Apple

Connectivity and accessories

The new iPad Pro and Air models work with the same type of Apple accessories. Those come in the form of a new Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil Pro – or you could opt for the mid-tier Apple Pencil with USB-C.

M4 iPad Pro vs M2 iPad Air accessories
image via Apple

The other main I/O upgrades with the iPad Pro are Face ID and Thunderbolt connectivity.

11 and 13″ M4 iPad Pro 11 and 13″ M2 iPad Air
Apple Pencil Pro support
Apple Pencil gen 2 support
Apple Pencil USB-C
Magic Keyboard support
5G ✅ (sub-6Ghz) ✅ (sub-6Ghz)
WiFi 6E
SIM eSIM only eSIM and nano-SIM
Bluetooth 5.3 5.3
USB-C ✅ USB 4 ✅ USB 3.1 Gen 2
Thunderbolt
Face ID
Touch ID
image via Apple

Beyond the drop of mmWave for 5G, the M4 iPad Pro and M2 iPad Air devices also only have an eSIM, no physical nano-SIM slot.

Battery life

The 2024 iPad Pro and Air models come with the same battery life as previous iPads:

  • 10 hours of web or video use on WiFi
  • 9 hours of web use with cellular

Storage and price

Storage is been updated with the M4 iPad Pro starting with 256GB and going up to 2TB models. And the nano-texture glass is another $100 upgrade.

Storage also gets bumped for the M2 iPad Air starting with 64GB and going up to 1TB.

11″ M4 iPad Pro 11″ M2 iPad Air 13″ M4 iPad Pro 13″ M2 iPad Air
128GB WiFi $599 $799
128GB + cell $749 $949
256GB WiFi $999 $699 $1,299 $899
256GB + cell $1,199 $849 $1,499 $1,049
512GB WiFi $1,199 $899 $1,499 $1,099
512GB + cell $1,399 $1,049 $1,699 $1,249
1TB WiFi $1,599 $1,099 $1,899 $1,299
1TB + cell $1,799 $1,249 $2,099 $1,449
2TB WiFi $1,999 $2,299
2TB + cell $2,199 $2,499

Cameras, video, and audio

M4 iPad Pro vs M2 iPad Air cameras
M4 iPad Pro rear camera image via Apple

On the M4 iPad Pro rear camera system, you’ve got a 12MP wide lens, LiDAR Scanner, and a Retina Flash with True Tone.

Interestingly, the M4 iPad Pro has ditched the 10MP ultra wide lens of the M2 iPad Pro. That means the M4 iPad Pro and M2 iPad Air are more similar in camera capabilities.

On the front, you get a 12MP ultra wide lens with Center Stage support that’s now centered on the long landscape edge instead of the short edge with the 2024 M4 iPad Pro models.

11 and 13″ M4 iPad Pro 11 and 13″ M2 iPad Air
12MP wide lens
10MP ultra wide lens
LiDAR
4K video
ProRes video up to 4K 30 fps
Extended dynamic range
Slo-mo video
Rear camera flash
TrueDepth with Face ID ✅ (landscape edge)
Ultra wide 12MP front camera ✅ (landscape edge) ✅ (landscape edge)
2x optical zoom out
Smart HDR 4 photos
Center Stage auto-tracking
4-speaker audio
Stereo recording
Studio-quality mics 4
Standard mics 2

M4 iPad Pro vs M2 iPad Air conclusion

M4 iPad Pro vs M2 iPad Air conclusion
image via Apple

Why buy M4 iPad Pro?

Choosing between the M4 iPad Pro and M2 iPad Air, it may make the most sense to only buy the new model if you’re a pro or aspiring pro with workflows that will benefit from the M4 chip. Or you’re just fine with spending the money on the latest and greatest from Apple 😁.

Upgrades include the new OLED display with a nano-texture option and higher brightness, higher top storage, Thunderbolt, a more powerful chip, and a slimmer design.

The M4 iPad Pro is available at Apple, Amazon, soon Best Buy, and more.

Why buy M2 iPad Air?

When you can get many of the M4 iPad Pro core features with the M2 iPad Air and the processor difference not being a limiting factor for many users, saving the money could be a nice move. Or you could keep your current iPad.

Also, at a discount, the M1 iPad Air is a great choice for people with light to medium workflows or casual use. It’s got many of the great features of the modern M2 iPad Air/Pro and the same design.

Thanks for reading our guide one the M4 iPad Pro vs M2 iPad Air

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