iPad Pro M4 vs. iPad Air 6: Which new iPad will be right for you?

ipad pro m4 vs ipad air 6
(Image credit: Apple)

Ah, the age-old debate: Apple's new iPad Pro vs. its new iPad Air

The iPad Pro has a gorgeous new OLED display and features the powerful M4 chip to offer top-tier AI experiences, but it's also at the top of the price range. Alternatively, the iPad Air is a more affordable option, but you'll get a past-gen M2 chip and a run-of-the-mill LED display.

There's no denying that Apple's new iPad Pro is objectively the better tablet than the iPad Air, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's the best option for you

Apple just revealed its new generations of the iPad Pro and iPad Air on Tuesday at its "Let Loose" special event. Let's dive into how exactly the iPad Pro M4 differs from the iPad Air 6 and how to determine which one's right for you

iPad Pro M4 vs. iPad Air 6: Specs

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Header Cell - Column 0 iPad Pro M4iPad Air 6
DisplayOLED, 11- and 13-inch sizesLED, 11- and 13-inch sizes
Storage256 GB - 2TB128 GB - 1 TB
ColorsSilver, space blackBlue, purple, starlight, space gray
Price$999, $1,299$599, $799

iPad Pro M4 vs. iPad Air 6: Price

With its OLED display and upgraded chipset, Apple’s new iPad Pro was inevitably going to get a price hike. The new iPad Pro M4 starts at $999 for the 11-inch model, while the larger 13-inch model will cost you $1,299. 

Meanwhile, the smaller 11-inch iPad Air 6 remains at $599, the same price as base models of Apple’s iPad Air 5th and 4th generations. The larger 13-inch iPad Air is slightly more expensive, with a starting price of $799.

iPad Pro M4 vs. iPad Air 6: Design

The iPad Pro M4 debuted with a much thinner design and smaller bezels, allowing that glorious OLED display to shine as much as possible. The 11-inch model is only 5.3mm thick and weighs only 0.98 pounds, while the 13-inch model is even thinner at 5.1mm thick and weighs just over 1 pound.

Screenshots from Apple "Let Loose" May 7 2024 event

(Image credit: Apple)

You’ll also find a new “nano-texture glass” option on the new iPad Pro, which helps “reduce glare by scattering ambient light.” This thin, aluminum tablet from Apple comes in two classic colors: Space Black and Silver.

Aside from the iPad Air 6 gaining a new display size, its design remains relatively unchanged. The 6th generation iPad Air shows off a flat recycled aluminum exterior with rounded edges, and comes in slightly different colors compared to the 5th generation: Space Gray, Starlight, Purple, and Blue.

iPad Pro M4 vs. iPad Air 6: Display

Apple's new iPad Pro has a definite edge over the Air 6 with its OLED display upgrade. The iPad Pro uses two OLED panels that “[combine] the light from both to deliver phenomenal full-screen brightness.” Apple calls this display tech “Tandem OLED,” and with it, the iPad Pro can support 1000 nits of “full-screen brightness for SDR and HDR content” and up to 1600 nits of peak HDR brightness.

Screenshots from Apple "Let Loose" event on May 7 2024

(Image credit: Apple)

The iPad Pro’s OLED display — with rich, true blacks and vividly bright colors — is perfect for binging your latest obsession on Netflix or working with photo editing or graphic design projects. 

Right now, you have the option of an 11-inch or 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but Apple may be working on a larger 15-inch OLED iPad Pro in the future.

Screenshots from Apple "Let Loose" May 7 2024 event

(Image credit: Apple)

The iPad Air 6 debuted a new 13-inch display size as well as its typical 11-inch option. While the iPad Air 6 is sticking with the Air Air 5's LED Liquid Retina display, it still looks great — just not as good as Tandem OLED.

iPad Pro M4 vs. iPad Air 6: Features

The 12MP front-facing camera on both the iPad Pro M4 and the iPad Air 6 is switching to the landscape edge rather than the portrait edge. Then, the iPad Pro's rear camera array features Adaptive True Tone flash, a LiDAR scanner, and a five-element lens for its 12MP main camera.

Screenshots from Apple "Let Loose" event May 7 2024

(Image credit: Apple)

Another major difference between Apple's new iPad Pro and iPad Air models is performance capability, particularly with AI. With the M4 chip, the iPad Pro will be way more capable of on-device AI features than the iPad Air with an older M2 chip.

Screenshots from Apple "Let Loose" event May 7 2024

(Image credit: Apple)

According to Apple, the M4 chip contains an "up to 50% faster CPU than M2" and an "up to 4x faster GPU than M2." The iPad Pro can support hardware-accelerated mesh shading, dynamic caching, and other features that the iPad Air 6 just can't.

Both iPads will be able to utilize the new Apple Pencil and aluminum Magic Keyboard that Apple announced at the 'Let Loose' event.

iPad Pro M4 vs. iPad Air 6: Which should you buy?

Like previous battles over Apple's new iPad Pro and iPad Air models, your decision will mainly depend on how you plan to use your tablet. 

If you want to use your tablet like a laptop and need top-notch performance, the iPad Pro will be your best option. Objectively, the iPad Pro is a better tablet, with its sharp OLED display, M4 chip, and plenty of usable storage — but not everyone needs to spend $1,000 on a tablet that can double as a laptop.

If you only need a tablet to browse the internet, answer emails, stream media, or hop on video calls, the iPad Air 6 will work perfectly for you. It'll come with a less powerful chip, less storage and memory, and a less impressive display, but you'll save about $400 - $500 compared to the iPad Pro.

We'll continue to update this face-off as we gain new information to help you make the best choice.