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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

With the same design, display size, camera systems, and more, the entry-level iPad is now a formidable rival to the iPad Air at a markedly lower $349 price point. With $250 between these two iPad lines, how different are they and which should you buy?


Upon the discontinuation of the ninth-generation iPad, Apple dropped the price of the 10th-generation iPad from $449 to $349. This means that the 10th-generation iPad is now $250 less than the $599 starting price of the iPad Air that Apple just released.

The 10th-generation model completes the transformation of the iPad product lineup toward a flat look with squared-off edges, no home button, and an all-screen design with curved corners. With the exact same display size and identical features like a Touch ID top button, USB-C port, and 5G connectivity, many prospective customers may now be considering a purchase of the standard iPad instead of the iPad Air – but there are more differences between the devices than immediately meets the eye.

The M2 chip and double the amount of memory make the iPad Air much more powerful than the 10th-generation iPad. Combined with a more advanced display in two size options, support for Apple Pencil hover and the Apple Pencil Pro, a thinner and lighter design, and even a different selection of color options, many users still have good reasons to prefer the iPad Air.

So should you consider buying the 10th-generation iPad to save money, or do you need the iPad Air instead? This breakdown serves as a clear way to see all the differences between the two devices.

iPad (10th Generation, 2022)iPad Air (Sixth Generation, 2024)
10.9-inch display11- or 13-inch display
sRGB colorP3 wide color
Fully laminated display
Anti-reflective coating
A14 Bionic chipM2 chip
6-core CPU8-core CPU
4-core GPU9-core GPU
Media Engine
Hardware-accelerated H.264 and HEVC
Video decode engine
Video encode engine
4GB memory8GB memory
Smart HDR 3 for photosSmart HDR 4 for photos
Wi‑Fi 6 connectivityWi‑Fi 6E connectivity
Apple Pencil hover
Supports Apple Pencil (USB‑C) and Apple Pencil (first generation)Supports Apple Pencil (USB‑C) and Apple Pencil Pro
Supports Magic Keyboard FolioSupports Magic Keyboard
7mm depth6.1mm depth
Starts at $349Starts at $599
477 gram weight462 gram or 617 gram weight
Available in Silver, Pink, Blue, and YellowAvailable in Space Gray, Starlight, Blue, and Purple
64GB or 256GB storage128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB storage
Starts at $349Starts at $599

A key difference between the devices is their chips and amount of memory, so if you plan on using your iPad for more demanding tasks like 3D graphic design, advanced photo editing, and gaming, the iPad Air will be the better choice by far. The M2 chip's dedicated media engine is also be particularly helpful when video editing, and supports Stage Manager, Apple's multitasking system for the iPad.

The 10th-generation iPad's display lacks P3 wide color, full lamination, and an anti-reflective coating. While these aspects are unlikely to be major reasons to preference the iPad Air, they are worth bearing in mind when trying to justify the $250 leap to the more expensive device. The iPad Air is also available in an all-new 13-inch size option, which is more suitable for multitasking and using the device as a laptop-replacement, but this pushes the price difference up to $450 – more than the cost of the 10th-generation iPad itself.

The iPad Air is marginally thinner and lighter, with differences that are so minor as to be unimportant to most customers, but the more muted tones of its color options may make it more or less appealing based on your personal preferences.

Apple Pencil support is also a key consideration. While the 10th-generation iPad supports the first-generation Apple Pencil, the Apple Pencil with USB-C is a better choice due to easier charging. However, this lacks advanced features like pressure sensitivity, haptic feedback, and barrel roll that you get with the iPad Air's Apple Pencil Pro support. People who plan to use the Apple Pencil heavily for tasks like note-taking and illustration will undoubtedly have a significantly better experience with the iPad Air, which supports both the Apple Pencil with USB-C and the Apple Pencil Pro.

While both devices support external keyboards, they have different strengths. The 10th-generation iPad's Magic Keyboard Folio will be better for table-typers, those who prefer function keys, and those who want to easily detatch the keyboard but keep the iPad propped up on a surface, while the iPad Air's Magic Keyboard is better for lap-typers and those who want backlighting.

In theory, the iPad Air is a more compelling overall package with the M2 chip, 4GB of additional memory, a dedicated media engine, Stage Manager for multitasking, a better display, and a much better Apple Pencil experience, but in practice, users with basic requirements are unlikely to notice a massive amount of difference between the devices. Unless you have specific need for the iPad Air's added features or its larger display size option, it may be worth saving the $250 and buying the 10th-generation iPad.

Article Link: iPad 10 vs. iPad Air Buyer's Guide: Is the $250 Difference Worth It?
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macrumors Penryn
Nov 14, 2011
These two products need to be combined into one. There is no reason for both of them to exist. It was Apple’s decision to create this ‘pro’ tier with their iOS products. That doesn’t mean they need to fill the price gap with a product. Who cares if there’s a big price gap between a pro product and non-pro product? The people who need the pro machine will spend the money for it and everyone else will get the non pro machine.
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macrumors 6502
Dec 13, 2021
iPad 10th Gen should have been $400 (if they truly wanted to up the price) and had Pencil 2 support. I feel those two points are the weakest aspects of an otherwise... okay release.

At $600, the iPad Air is a much better purchase in every way, with the only reason not to being you genuinely cannot afford the extra $150.

... and you really don't have to get it at $600, since it's on sale for $520, so $70 difference at this point!


macrumors newbie
Jan 22, 2021
Appreciate the camparison MacRumors, but PLEASE cant you make actual tables where things line up... it's like playing a game of match the items between sides I had to do in elementary school! Just throw some "n/a" into the mix where needed and help us out :)


macrumors regular
Sep 8, 2016
The appeal of the entry level iPad has been its low price. Apple knows this, and most likely why they kept the 9th Gen available for sale. Not really sure how the 10th gen will fare at this price point, its kind of in an awkward place in the lineup.


macrumors 604
Apr 11, 2005
If only the person making the side by side comparison would put the items that are both lists first so that one can look directly across at the corresponding comparable difference. And then list the items that are not on the other list towards the bottom which will highlight the differentiation.
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