For years now, we’ve been recommending the MacBook Air for users who need a premium, portable and reliable MacBook for simple tasks like web-browsing, video streaming, typing and using basic apps.
But in the past year, the iPad Pro has been getting a whole lot better thanks to the release of iPadOS and general software improvements. And from the looks of it, the iPad Pro is gonna get even better with the next version of iPadOS coming this year, so in this video, we’re gonna see if it actually makes sense to buy an iPad Pro for basic computing tasks instead of the MacBook Air. Now while the MacBook Air hasn’t really changed in the last year, the iPad Pro has changed a lot, mainly in terms of software support, but before we get into that, let’s take a look at the general differences between the two, starting with the prices.
The iPad Pro retails for $800, but it’s currently on sale for $735, and the Macbook Air retails for $1100, while also being on sale for $1,036, so you can save around $300 by going with the iPad Pro. And to make it more like a laptop, we added the Brydge Pro keyboard which is the overall winner of our recent Best Keyboard Cases comparison which you can check out at the end of this video. It’s currently on sale for $100 on Amazon and really makes a night and day difference if you’re trying to use your iPad Pro like a laptop. Brydge is also coming out with their Pro Plus keyboard soon, which actually packs a trackpad, so hit that subscribe button if you want us to review that soon! Using the Brydge Pro keyboard case is as simple as sliding your iPad Pro onto the hinge and connecting it using bluetooth.
Now you’ve got a solid, premium and aluminum laptop replacement with the Brydge Pro’s row of convenient iOS shortcut keys at the top, 12 months of battery life and a USB-C port for charging. The iPad Pro’s display is 11”, quite a bit smaller than the 13” display on the MacBook Air, but it’s got a few perks which I’ll mention in a minute, but of course, you can get the 12.9” iPad Pro for $200 more if you’d like. The benefit of the Brydge Pro keyboard case is that it’s one of the only ones that allows you to adjust the angle of the display anywhere from 0-180 degrees, even more so than the MacBook Air. Now before we get into comparing things like the displays, battery life and speakers, I want to give you guys a sneak peak at one of the ways the iPad Pro has greatly improved in recent months, and that’s software support. I’ve personally used Squarespace, our sponsor for this video, to create a website for my wife’s cleaning business with no prior web-making experience at all.
The iPad Pro’s display is not only brighter than the one on the MacBook Air, but it’s also more color accurate, with P3-wide color gamut support, so it’s a much better choice for photo or video editing, which we’ll get into in a minute. The iPad Pro also has the massive benefit of ProMotion technology, which allows the display to dynamically adjust from 24 to 120hz based on the content you’re viewing, compared to the MacBook Air’s static 60hz display.
This not only makes it feel super fluid and lets you play certain games at 120 frames per second, but it greatly reduces the lag of the Apple Pencil for note-taking and drawing, something that you can’t get on the MacBook Air since it doesn’t have a touch screen. The iPad Pro also uses face ID to unlock, which I prefer compared to Touch ID on the Air. Now this feature doesn’t really matter much, but the FaceTime camera on the iPad Pro is MUCH better than on the Air, just see it for yourself.
On top of that, the iPad Pro gets the rear-facing camera for shooting 4K video. However, when comparing speakers, the MacBook Air sounds much better! The MacBook Air is also rated for 12 hours of battery life compared to 10 on the iPad Pro, and while both of them can connect to external displays, the Air can connect up to two of them.
Now the biggest difference between these two is the performance. In terms of processing power, the iPad Pro completely blows the MacBook away in Geekbench 5’s CPU test. And the story’s the same for graphics performance as well, being so much more powerful than the MacBook Air.
While this isn’t an apples-to-apple’s comparison since the software is different, the iPad Pro truly does pack a lot more performance. Even though the Air is newer, the iPad Pro actually has newer wireless specs, like bluetooth 5.0 and simultaneous dual-band WiFi.
But on the other hand, the MacBook Air gets a headphone jack, which was ditched on the 2018 iPad Pro. The MacBook Air also gets two Thunderbolt 3 ports which are great for using super fast SSDs, like our custom SSD we built that’s faster than any other portable SSD we’ve ever seen.
You can check out how we did that at the end of this video! While it seems like a downside for the iPad Pro to only have one USB-C port, there are now tons of hubs available on Amazon that give the iPad Pro a bunch of extra ports. Now let’s get into the biggest difference between these two computers, software support. While the iPad Pro does get mouse support, it doesn’t get a cursor like you get with macOS on the MacBook Air. This is so much more convenient for file management and basically anything else. But of course, the MacBook doesn’t get touch-screen support, so that’s a win for the iPad.
The biggest deal is that there are a lot of apps for macOS like Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro X, and Xcode, and you just can’t get apps like that on the app store. However, there are a lot of new alternatives for the iPad that have recently been getting a lot better. For photo editors, we now have many photo editing apps including the full versions of Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, right on the iPad Pro. And photoshop has recently received a major update, adding a brand new object selection tool that greatly increases productivity on the iPad.
They’ve also finally added a bunch of type setting features for the iPad as well, which is great for designers. Lightroom has also recently been updated to finally add split-view support on iPad. For video editors, Lumaforge has recently been updated with a new Final Cut Pro XML export feature. This is incredibly useful because it allows you to do your basic cutting and editing on your iPad Pro while on the go, before exporting it to an XML file which you can then open up on your Mac to add the final finishing touches and plugins.
For those who use apps like Word, Excel and PowerPoint, Microsoft Office has recently been released, which combines those three apps into one, using less storage space and coming with new mobile features. So far, the excellent ratings show that it works incredibly well, especially since they recently added split-view support. For those into stock trading, the Robinhood app for iOS has recently been updated with new mobile features, making it easier to trade stocks. Facebook has also recently released their new creator studio app, allowing users to easily manage their page content right on their mobile device.
The Soundcloud app for ios now integrates with the Files app, making it easier to upload tracks right on your iPad. The Gmail app is adding Files app integration so you can add attachments directly from the Files app instead of just the camera roll. The Ferrite recording studio app has added new features for iPadOS. Microsoft’s Project xCloud streaming game service is now available for testing on iOS. Microsoft is also working on bringing their antivirus app to iOS some time this year.
And to be honest, this is only the beginning of the trend to add more software support for the iPad, so if you choose the iPad Pro over the MacBook, it will only get better over time, especially when Apple releases the next version of iPadOS. Now a lot of people will argue that these alternatives just aren’t the same as apps like Logic pro X and Final Cut Pro, but to be honest, the people who use those professional apps should be buying the MacBook Pro instead of the Air for the much better performance.
The Air is meant for basic computing tasks like web browsing, video streaming, typing documents and working with apps like Microsoft Excel, and you can do all of those things on the iPad Pro, maybe even better than on the Air. Plus, you get Apple Pencil support so you can easily sign and mark up documents. And when your work is finished, the iPad Pro gets access to the massive iOS app store filled with tons of games that you just can’t get or even run smoothly on the MacBook Air. But on the other hand, the MacBook Air gets cursor support, which you just can’t get on the iPad Pro, at least not yet.