Pro status

iPad Pro (2020)

Entry-level

iPad Air 3

Apple's 2020 iPad Pro comes with a couple noteworthy features, including an updated camera system with LiDAR sensor, 4K recording capabilities, and an even faster processor for pro users. It's definitely a powerhouse, but do you actually need all it offers?

From $799 at Apple

Pros

  • Larger screen
  • ProMotion technology
  • Improved camera setup
  • LiDAR scanner for AR
  • Faster processor
  • Higher storage options
  • USB-C
  • Face ID

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Slightly less portable

The iPad Air 3 is a solid choice if you're looking for an affordable and lightweight iPad with a fairly large screen, True Tone technology, and fast processing speeds courtesy of the A12 Bionic chip inside. The slimmer form factor also makes it super easy to tote around while on the go, but will it be enough for you?

From $499 at Apple

Pros

  • Super lightweight
  • Budget-friendly
  • More color options
  • Portable

Cons

  • Less screen space
  • No Face ID
  • Slower processor

Apple currently offers four iPads, all of which can be configured with higher specs, and with so many options available, choosing the right one can feel a bit overwhelming. Luckily for you, you've come to the right place.

The iPad Pro comes with a host of great features, including a better camera, a faster processor, and a LiDAR sensor, but it's not for everyone. If you're trying to decide between this model and the iPad Air 3, there are a few things you should know. The differences between the 2020 iPad Pro and the iPad Air 3 are few, but they are significant, so it all comes down to what you're looking to get out of your device.

Do you need something with a ProMotion (120Hz refresh rate) display that'll help you tackle processor-intensive tasks, or would you prefer to spend less money to get something more on the entry-level side? In an attempt to help you make the best decision for you and your budget, I've outlined the differences below.

iPad Pro 2020 vs. iPad Air 3: What are the differences?

11-inch iPad ProSource: iMore

If you're new to the world of iPads and you're looking for an affordable device that'll let you browse the web, game, read, watch videos, or even fire up your text editor of choice to get some work done, then the iPad Air might be the choice for you. On the flip side, if you're looking for something with more power to drive your creative endeavors, maybe you are a content creator or AR developer, then the iPad Pro is likely the one for you…if you have the budget for it. But let's stack them side-by-side to help you decide.

iPad Pro (2020) iPad Air 3
Price From $799 From $499
Screen size 11-inch
12.9-inch
10.5-inch
Display Liquid Retina Retina
ProMotion Yes No
Weight (Wi-Fi) 1.41 pounds
(641 grams)
1.0 pound
(456 grams)
Weight (Wi-Fi + Cellular) 1.42 pounds
(643 grams)
1.02 pound
(464 grams)
Resolution 2732‑by‑2048 at 264 ppi 2224‑by‑1668 at 264 ppi
Storage 128GB
256GB
512GB
1TB
64GB
256GB
Processor A12Z Bionic A12 Bionic
Face ID Yes No
Touch ID No Yes
Camera setup 12MP wide-angle
10MP ultra-wide
8MP wide-angle
LiDAR Yes No
Battery life Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi‑Fi or watching video
Up to 9 hours of surfing the web using cellular data network
Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi‑Fi or watching video
Up to 9 hours of surfing the web using cellular data network
4K recording Yes No
Colors Silver
Space Gray
Silver
Space Gray
Gold
USB-C Yes No
Speakers Four Two
Smart Connector Yes No
Magic Keyboard Yes No
Smart Keyboard Folio Yes Yes
Apple Pencil Support 2nd-generation only 1st-generation only

As you can see, there aren't too many differences between the iPad Pro and the iPad Air 3, but the ones that are present are pretty major. So, before you spend your coin on a new device, you need to ask yourself how these differences will affect the way you use your iPad. Stay with me; we're going to dive deeper.

Breaking down the details

iPad Air 3Source: iMore

If you've seen any of Apple's promotional videos for the iPad Pro or if you've watched any of the countless reviews on YouTube, you'll see that the company is targeting a specific group of people with this model. The 2020 iPad Pro is Apple's most powerful iPad yet, so powerful it could replace your computer. The iPad Air 3 isn't quite as powerful and may not be the best option to replace your computer, but it's the perfect entry-level iPad.

One of the biggest changes on the iPad Pro is the dual-lens setup with 12MP Wide and 10MP Ultra-Wide cameras, along with a LiDAR sensor for AR purposes. The iPad Air 3 is lacking in the camera department with its single rear 8MP camera lens.

When it comes to screens, the iPad Pro comes with an 11-inch or a 12.9-inch display with ProMotion, which Apple describes as "technology that delivers refresh rates of up to 120Hz for fluid scrolling, greater responsiveness, and smoother motion content." Again, the iPad Air 3 comes up just a little short with its 10.5-inch and no ProMotion technology.

But despite the slower refresh rate, the Air's screen is still easy on the eyes and boasts 500 nits max brightness while the iPad Pro offers 600 nits. Both displays are fingerprint-resistant thanks to Apple's oleophobic coating. Plus, they're both antireflective and have True Tone capabilities.

Processing power and battery life

iPad Air 3Source: iMore

As for the processors, the iPad Pro has Apple's latest and greatest A12Z chip, but the iPad Air 3 isn't lagging far behind with its A12 chip. Both devices are equipped with M12 co-processors. Both devices also have Apple Pencil support, but the iPad Pro works with Apple's 2nd iteration of the iconic pencil while the iPad Air 3 only supports the first generation pencil.

If you go with the iPad Air 3, you'll still have the option to draw and take notes more naturally with the pencil, but you won't be able to take advantage of the double-tap feature found on the second-generation tool. You also won't be able to charge your pencil by attaching it to the side of your iPad; you'll have to plug it into the Air 3.

The two iPads are pretty much on the same level when it comes to battery life, offering up to 10 hours of web browsing or media consumption on Wi-Fi or up to 9 hours of the same using cellular data. When your battery does run out, you'll be able to charge your iPad Pro via USB-C while your iPad Air 3 still has Apple's Lightning connector.

So which one should you get?

iPad Pro 2020 Apple Pencil Batman HeroSource: Rene Ritchie / iMore

Again, it all comes down to what you're looking to get out of your iPad. If you want to develop AR apps and games, work with high-res footage as a content creator, or possibly replace your computer, then the iPad Pro is the way to go. You can pick between the 11-inch and 12.9-inch options, depending on how much screen you need. The Pro is also fully compatible with Apple's upcoming Magic Keyboard.

Now, if you aren't planning to use your iPad to create content or work on AR projects, then you may want to consider saving yourself a few hundred dollars and go with the iPad Air 3. The Air 3 is a great buy for a casual user looking to browse the web, play games, read, or watch a few movies. Sure, there are cheaper options available, but the Air 3 is currently the only iPad that combines the A12 chip with a bigger screen and a lower price tag.

Best for pros

iPad Pro (2020)

Apple's latest and greatest splurge-worthy iPad model.

If you need the power of Apple's fastest iPad processor and you've got the cash, the 2020 iPad Pro is the way to go.

Entry-level

iPad Air 3

A great entry-level option.

If you're looking for an iPad that's affordable but fast, then consider the iPad Air 3.

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