Comparison between M2 MacBook Air and M1 iPad Pro [VIDEO]

After using the M2 MacBook Air for over a week, I’m thrilled to share how it compares to the M1 iPad Pro. Here’s everything you need to know.

Although the M1 iPad Pro is a powerful machine, I still found myself using a MacBook Air for that 5% of tasks I can’t easily do on the iPad. However, I still use both devices for all kinds of businesses, from creative work for YouTube to professional work in corporate suites like Microsoft to custom CRM software and so much more.

For that reason, I feel I’m perfectly positioned to give some in-depth reflections on which “computer” is a better buy for you and your workflow to help you decide between the M1 iPad Pro and the all-new M2 MacBook Air.

For comparison, we’re going to talk about the M1 iPad Pro with 256GB of storage. The base MacBook Air will set you back around $ 1200. This one with the latest M2 chip, 256GB of storage, and 8GB of RAM. The 256GB iPad Pro has 8GB of RAM starting at $ 1200 for the same configuration. To truly be able to compare the M1 iPad Pro and M2 MacBook Air, we’ll also need the iPad Pro Magic Keyboard Accessory, which will add another $ 350 to the base price.

Adding that $ 350 accessory puts the iPad Pro M1 for $ 1550 and the optional Apple Pencil costs another $ 130. Fortunately, there are third-party Bluetooth accessories that are much cheaper and work with the iPad. . As with most Apple products, to get the absolute best usability and functionality, you simply need to get the magic keyboard.

See the table below for a full price comparison:

MacBook Air M2 M1 iPad Pro (Wi-Fi only
Price Warehousing RAM Price Warehousing RAM
$ 1,199 256 GB 8 GB $ 1099 128 GB 8 GB
$ 1,399 512 GB 8 GB $ 1199 256 GB 8 GB
$ 1,599 1 TB 8 GB $ 1399 512 GB 8 GB
$ 1,999 2 TB 8 GB $ 1799 1 TB 16 GB
$ 2,399 2 TB 24 GB $ 2199 2 TB 16 GB

Comparing the M2 MacBook Air directly to the M1 iPad Pro is unfair as the tablet needs a bit more hardware to be considered a “computer” in the same way: think of the Bluetooth keyboard and mouse.

The iPad Pro has some hardware features that might justify the price increase depending on how you use the tablet. The first is the 12.9-inch miniLED display. The 120Hz ProMotion display has a base brightness level of 1000 nits and a peak brightness level of 1600 nits. For this reason, you don’t have to worry about using the iPad Pro in bright or sunny environments. Furthermore, the iPad Pro’s miniLED screen is still the cheapest way to reach Apple’s Pro Display XDR level of quality. This puts the display in a league of its own.

In comparison, on the MacBook Air M2, you get a 13.6-inch IPS Retina LED display. In itself, it’s great. When compared directly to the iPad Pro’s display, you’ll easily notice the 60Hz refresh rate and 500nits maximum brightness.

M1 iPad Pro vs M2 Macbook Air
M2 Macbook Air on the left, M1 iPad Pro on the right

When it comes to cameras, the iPad Pro easily wins. While you may not use the dual rear cameras, you still have access to enabled photo and video sensors. Even if you don’t initially intend to use the rear camera setup, it is available as an option and is more than capable if you need to use it.

Obviously, the MacBook Air M2 has no rear sensors. The new MacBook Air has an all-new updated 1080p webcam, and while it’s a great update, the selfie camera on the iPad still revolves around the MacBook Air’s camera. In addition, the iPad has the integrated Center Stage. For security, the iPad benefits from FaceID, but the MacBook Air M2 includes Touch ID. Both biometric security options are very fast, but FaceID is passive and requires no user action to unlock the device.

Hear yourself in the video below and you can hear that the iPad’s speakers are fuller, louder, and provide more base than the MacBook Air. Technically they both have a four speaker system, but the iPad is just a better speaker system.

If you appreciate ports and expansion, the MacBook Air M2 is the obvious choice. Apple has reintroduced MagSafe on the MacBook Air and this frees up an additional Thunderbolt port. This means you can have two devices or accessories connected, while on the iPad you only have access to one port. This needs to be shared with power and data passthrough, but can be expanded with compatible USB-C hubs.

If you take the Magic Keyboard, it’s worth noting that there is a power port. However, it is only usable for power access and cannot be used as an additional access or expansion port for the iPad Pro. Even though there are two ports, the MacBook Air still supports only one external display with resolution up to 6K. The same is true with the iPad Pro, thanks to the addition of Stage Manager with iPad OS 16.

IPadOS 16 scene manager
iPadOS 16: Stage Manager

When it comes to charging, battery life is one area where you will notice the biggest difference. The MacBook Air is an absolute champion when it comes to battery longevity. Apple’s website states that the M2 powered laptop has a maximum of 18 hours of life. In our tests, we didn’t manage a full 18 hours, but after a full day of heavy use with third-party apps like Google Chrome and Microsoft Suite apps, the MacBook Air has no problems. With this use case, we were still able to end the day with around 50% battery remaining. In our opinion, you can take it for a weekend of heavy use and you don’t need to bring a charger.

Unfortunately, the iPad Pro cannot compete here in the stakes of life span. Under heavy use with the Magic Keyboard, we regularly run five to six hours before needing to look for the charger.

When it comes to battery longevity, the MacBook Air M2 is a clear winner. Additionally, the iPad Pro’s maximum charging speed is 33W compared to the MacBook Air which can charge up to 67W via MagSafe.

The iPad Pro with the optional Magic Keyboard combo makes the iPad heavier and thicker than the MacBook Air. While it’s heavier, it’s hard not to look towards the iPad Pro, at least in terms of versatility and overall portability. Not only is it a tablet for entertainment purposes, it is also starting to become a powerful business tool for many.

In many ways, the iPad is still the “must have” device on the market. Having owned the iPad since 2018, I have personally made this decision based on aesthetics. It is incredibly light, thin and powerful. In many ways, it still sounds too good to be true. Sure, the new MacBook Air design is stunning in its own right, but something of the iPad when paired with the Magic Keyboard and its unique floating hinge design feels like a better package.

So from a pure hardware standpoint, price aside, I feel the iPad Pro has the edge. With great versatility, better integrated cameras, and arguably a better display, it’s a top-of-the-line piece of tech, which is why Apple dominates this section of the market.

Bottom line, which device is right for you is still solely based on preference and price. In my opinion, I’d go for the iPad Pro for its portability, usability, and the fact that it’s generally more fun to use. You have millions of apps to choose from on the App Store, so you can always find something useful or fun. It’s simply more versatile – it’s a tablet, digital notepad, computer, and game console all rolled into one.

It’s hard to argue with the fact that many people just want a laptop that is familiar, works with everything from work to productivity, is usable on a daily basis, and has great battery life. For this group, I’d usually recommend the MacBook Air purely for cost-performance and familiarity.

If you can afford both, the M1 iPad Pro and M2 MacBook Air complement each other perfectly thanks to features like side car, universal control, and the Apple ecosystem.

While the iPad Pro M1 is a great choice for me, if I were to recommend a computer to use exclusively for the next five years, it would be hard to look beyond the M2 MacBook Air. It delivers powerful desktop-level performance in a portable chassis, with real-world desktop applications, a great keyboard, touchpad, and uncompromising external display support.

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