Both the 11-inch iPad Pro 2020 and the iPad Air 4 are two of the new products within the iPad line of tablet computers introduced by Apple Inc. in 2020. These two feature notable hardware and design upgrades from the previous generations.
Note that the Cupertino company made a drastic design revamp on the iPad Air 4. It now features slimmer bezels with almost equal sizes on all sides and round edges similar to the iPad Pro. Both the Pro and the Air now look identical from the get-go.
Both devices also support the 2nd generation Apple Pencil, the Smart Keyboard Polio, and the Magic Keyboard. They also run the latest version of the iPadOS and exhibit the same features, capabilities, and all of the advantages of the operating system.
Furthermore, despite the fact that the 11-inch iPad Pro 2020 is the most expensive and more premium device between the two, it only features the A12Z processor compared to the latest A14 Bionic Processor of the iPad Air 4.
Choosing between the two devices could be tough for average consumers. This review article compares the 11-inch iPad Pro 2020 and the iPad Air 4 in terms of hardware capabilities, quality of the display panel, price points or value for money, and use-case scenarios.
11-Inch iPad Pro 2020 and iPad Air 4 Comparison: Which One is Better?
Reasons Why the 11-Inch iPad Pro 2020 is Better than the iPad Air 4
1. Better Overall Hardware Capabilities
The A14 Bionic might be newer, but the A12Z Bionic is the better processor for multitasking and high-performance applications. Specifically, the A14 has a 6-core CPU and a 4-core GPU, while the A12Z has an 8-core CPU and an 8-core GPU.
Note that each of the A14 core is better than each core found in the A12Z. However, the A12Z has more cores. Hence, the newer Bionic chip in the Air is faster and more power-efficient, but the existing ones in the Pro collectively handle resource-intensive tasks better.
There are more reasons why the Pro is better for heavier use. It has 6GB of random access memory and solid-state storage capacity variants of 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB. The Air only has 4GB of RAM and storage variants of 64GB and 256GB.
2. Display Quality and Performance
Another key difference between the 11-inch iPad Pro 2020 and the iPad Air 4 is display quality and performance. Both feature a Liquid Retina Display based on IPS LCD and have laminated screens that provide better picture quality and user experience than non-laminated displays.
However, in terms of actual brightness, the Pro can reach up to 600 nits while the Air has a maximum brightness level of 500 nits. This distinction can be substantial, especially when both devices are used outdoors or in broad daylight.
Another advantage of the Pro is the ProMotion display that provides an adaptive refresh rate of up to 120Hz. The Air only has 60Hz. A higher refresh rate allows smoother transitions between moving images, a better gaming experience, and more accurate Apple Pencil input.
3. Superior Speaker Output and Microphone Input
Both devices have four speaker grills. When compared side-by-side, the Pro has deeper bass, fuller mids, and crispier highs than the Air. Take note that despite having four grills, the Air only has two speakers, and the other grills do not produce an audio output.
The Pro has two dedicated speakers for the bass and the mids and another two speakers dedicated for sounds with higher speakers. The listening experience in this device is more immersive. Sounds are louder and clearer compared to most devices with two speakers only.
Microphone input is also louder and clearer in the Pro than the Air because it has two microphone modules. Nevertheless, the Pro is more ideal for content consumption and web conferencing because of these superior speaker and microphone components.
4. Camera with Flash and LiDAR Sensor
Rear cameras on tablet devices are relatively immaterial. It is rare to find a user who would use his or her tablet to take photographs or portraits as he or she would in a smartphone. However, cameras on tablets have specific use-case scenarios.
The fact that the Pro has a built-in flash means that it is more suitable for scanning documents in a low-light environment using the rear cameras. The Air will struggle in producing scanned documents under the same low-light setting.
Another key feature of the iPad Pro 2020 is the LiDAR sensor. The mobile applications of LiDAR include more realistic and accurate support for augmented reality and scanning and converting objects into 3D models, among others.
Reasons Why the iPad Air 4 is Better than the 11-Inch iPad Pro 2020
1. The Processor Remains Capable
Remember that the A12Z Bionic chip has more cores. However, the A14 variant is based on the 5-nanometer manufacturing process. It inherently has better performance capabilities and power efficiency because it has more transistors packed in a smaller area.
The A14 is also about 20 percent faster than the A12Z in single-core based on benchmark test results. Hence, apps or tasks requiring only a single core would perform faster and smoother in the iPad Air 4th generation than the 11-inch iPad Pro 2020.
Based on the specification sheets of the two chipsets, the A14 has a base CPU frequency of 1.80 GHz and a base GPU frequency of 1.80 GHz. The A12Z has a base 1.59 GHz CPU frequency and a base 1.59 GHz GPU frequency.
2. Looks and Works Almost Like the Pro Variant
The design revamp of the iPad Air 4 makes it almost indistinguishable from the iPad Pro 2018 and the iPad Pro 2020. It now ditches the home button. The rounded corners and thinner bezels on all sides make the new Air look sleeker and more modern.
It also supports sketching and digital painting using the Apple Pencil 2 and other alternative stylus inputs similar to the Pro. Furthermore, it is also compatible with the new Magic Keyboard and the Smart Folio Keyboard.
The Air also drops the Lightning connector for USB-C, thus allowing faster charging and data transfer, as well as support for dongles and other peripherals such as external solid-state drive storage or USB flash drive that were once available solely to the Pro variant.
3. More Affordable than the 11-Inch iPad Pro 2020
Note that the iPad Air 4 is about as good as the 2018 Pro and even the 2020 Pro. However, it costs less. The price point sits between the standard eight-generation iPad variant and the Pro variants, thus giving consumers an additional budget-related option.
Starting from a base model of 64GB, this device is more accessible to budget-constrained consumers who want to have almost the same features and performance as the Pro. Storage issues can be resolved by cloud storage services such as iCloud or Google Drive.
The iPad Air 4 is essentially the best tablet device for people who want a little more than the standard eight-generation iPad but find the Pro variant too expensive. Note that it has better cameras, faster Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 5.0 compared to the previous generation.
Why Should You Buy the 11-Inch iPad Pro 2020? Or Why Should You Buy the iPad Air 4 Instead?
In a nutshell, the advantages of the 11-inch iPad Pro 2020 rests on the fact that it is designed and built for power users. The A12Z processor remains better than the newer A14 when it comes to multitasking and multi-thread applications. In addition, the ProMotion feature that gives the device an adaptive refresh rate of up to 120Hz and a considerably brighter Liquid Retina display based on IPS LCD technology provides a smoother and better content-consumption experience.
The iPad Air 4 remains a capable device for entertainment such as media consumption and gaming and productivity tasks to include word processing, notetaking, video conferencing, messaging, and web browsing, among others. When stretched beyond these day-to-day use-case situations, it can decently handle photo editing and video editing. The A14 processor gives it a performance boost and some future-proofing.