Is the pro worth the extra $400 over AIR?

Discussion in 'iPad' started by roadkill401, May 14, 2019.

  1. roadkill401 macrumors 6502


    Jan 11, 2015
    Our family uses their iPads for just about everything. We bought the original AIR about 5 years ago and they have been working more or less great since. But it's apparent they are on their last legs now. The home button on one is almost shot. Mine, most of the apps crash more than they work. Lag is a big problem with many apps.

    I am looking to purchase 3 new iPads, so the cost does come into play here.

    I'd love to get a 12.9" iPad Pro with 256, but I know that likely is not going to happen.

    The 2019 Air is on paper one hell of a good deal. it has a much faster processor than the basic iPad, better screen, more memory and with 64gb storage, should be all that we need. The touchid is a nice feature but I know my mother has issues with touch ID on her iPhone5s as it just doesn't seem to like her finger. I don't know if it's her bad arthritis that stops her properly pressing the button.

    In the pro, you gain a far better camera. You get pro-motion. a faster screen refresh. FaceID that might solve the touch problem. You don't need a home button nor get one. usb-c so faster charge and likely far more advancements in the future IOS builds. But it costs 50% more than the air.

    So is the Pro a far more powerful and better iPad that justifies the added cost, or would getting a new AIR be likely just as good. I know from what we are using now, both will be lightyears faster.
  2. Ds6778 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 9, 2016
    I mean, you’re asking a question with no right/wrong answer.

    I’m the furthest thing from a “pro” user, so I’m not gonna try and justify it for you since use cases vary. I know a lot of people bend over backwards to justify their “pro” needs when in reality, they could do the same thing on a regular iPad. I have the 12.9 256 WiFi+Cellular and it’s like 95% a consumption device. Yeah, I’ll do some emailing and research on it but I think 80% of people buying these iPad pros could get away with a regular iPad. I also can’t go back to any tablet that doesn’t have 120hz display.
    I’d probably pickup the regular iPad and save the 400$
  3. baypharm macrumors 65832


    Nov 15, 2007
    Since your second paragraph essentially tells it all, I would recommend going for the least expensive tablets.
  4. roadkill401 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jan 11, 2015
    I get that the new AIR is likely the best value for the money. Where I am stuck is longevity. We have pushed the original air to the limits of function and got about 5 year out of it. (well, 3.75 good years and 1.25 of knowing it needs to get replaced but waffling about doing it).
    It is the question that likely cannot be answered and nobody but Apple will know. I don't mind spending money for value. I don't like wasting money for no real gain. I would hate to purchase the Air to find out that Apple takes the side that in future IOS they are going to give real functionality to the PRO iPads only and limit it in the non-versions. Like get proper file management like copy files to and from externally attached drives, printer support etc making the PRO like a laptop function, but have the IOS stop that same function on the less expensive AIR.
    I don't know if that is something that Apple would do? I would gladly pay the extra $3-400 if I will get a better iPad that will give me 5 years of far better functionality.
  5. jmiddel macrumors regular

    Mar 3, 2010
    Land of Enchantment
    Any iPad you get will last on average the same as any other one. The extra $$ get you better specs, not better quality.
  6. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    I just opted for the new Air over the pro. The extra cost was not worth it to me, and I actually prefer the Air for several reasons. First, my wife and I have all lighting-connector iOS devices. USB-C would have been a pain at this point. Second, I still like a home button and use it all the time on my iPad. Third, no camera bump on the Air. (Since I never use the rear camera anyway, I'd much rather the flush design.)

    Promotion is great, but hardly essential. FaceID is also great, but then again, so is TouchID gen 2 - basically instantaneous on the new Air.

    Both are good choices, but I just don't see added value in the pro. Not for what it costs.
  7. rui no onna macrumors 603

    rui no onna

    Oct 25, 2013
    For this reason alone, I'd actually get the Pro (at least for your mom). Seems like it would be a better fit in terms of accessibility.

    Assuming you're in the US, maybe wait for Memorial Day sales. Just recently, Best Buy had the 64GB Pro 11 for ~$650-$675 and other retailers followed suit.

    Mind, Apple can choose to withhold features from existing for whatever reason so even if you do get the Pro, they still may not receive all the features that newer Pro models do. Don't count your chickens until they hatch and all that.
  8. RobbieTT macrumors 6502


    Apr 3, 2010
    United Kingdom
    The Touch ID improved dramatically after the 5S. The later devices are almost instant and far more tolerant of sub-optimal finger placement, so I would not use Touch vs Face ID as a major discriminator between iPad models. The latest crop of MacBook Pros still use Touch ID (blazing fast too) so it continues to be developed and refined.
  9. Digitalguy macrumors member

    Apr 15, 2019
    Concerning longevity, there is something you need to take into account. The original idea of ipad (and iphone) was a simplified and optimized OS that could work with low hardware resources, notably low RAM. So Apple has been very stingy with RAM. However IOS has received new functionality and particularly IOS 9 gave it new multitasking functionality that, even if partially disabled in 1GB RAM devices like the Air 1, slowed them down terribly... Well in reality that's not just the OS. Also the move to 64 bits apps (as 32 stopped working with ios 11) increased RAM requirements... As I said elsewhere, any device with 2GB of RAM today will do many times better than than the original Air. A8 for instance is not much faster in terms of CPU than A7 but the mini 4 is much more usable than the air 1 or mini 2/3.
    Will this happen again with 2GB devices in the future? Or even with 3GB like the air 3?
    Maybe with 2GB, with 3GB not before many years IMO. Moving from 1 to 2 GB of RAM is not like moving from 500MB to 1GB. IOS will still be an optimized system and the move to 64bit has already been done, so I don't expect any 2GB to slow down anywhere near as much as the original air did during their upgrade cycle. And anything more than that will probably be perfectly usable throughout the 4-5 year upgrade cycle... So while the 2018 ipad may at some point slow down a bit (but not as much as the air 1), the air 3 will very likely be very fast for the next 5 years. Again moving to 3GB from 2 is even more than moving from 1 to 2, even if it seems less in percentage terms, since IOS will not become Windows that alone can take 2 GB of RAM and IOS RAM management is based on memory compression, not on paging, so more refreshes, probably, a noticeable slowdown, probably not. The worst that can happen is that some heavy multi-tasking features will not be available on some lower RAM devices.
  10. AutomaticApple macrumors 65816


    Nov 28, 2018
    Get the iPad Air 3 for longevity.
  11. The Game 161 macrumors P6

    The Game 161

    Dec 15, 2010
    It’s worth it for me so much that I now have two iPad pros
  12. sracer macrumors 604


    Apr 9, 2010
    Apple just released the Air 3. It is going to be a viable tablet for quite a few years. My Mini 4 is 3 years old and I'm still using's fine... so much so that I'm not in a hurry to upgrade it to a Mini 5. (and I was eagerly waiting for it). One reason for the Mini 5 was Apple Pencil/Logitech Crayon support. But the Adonit Dash 3 stylus works so well with the Mini 4 (even for handwritten notes in GoodNotes 4), that I'm not feeling the need as much.

    My 12.9 Pro is 3 years old and still going strong. My 2018 iPad w/Apple Pencil gets heavy daily use and is actually a better experience than that 1st gen 12.9 Pro even though it cost less than half the price.

    The thing that is preventing me from using my iPads for more than light productivity tablets is not the hardware... it's iOS.

    As for hypothetical features of a future iOS version, it is not financially wise to buy something today with the hopes of something tomorrow. It is painfully obvious that Apple is slow-walking these features and doing them in a half-hearted way (eg. and (USB-C being little more than a format-shift from the lightning port).

    The things that you are looking forward to in iOS aren't going to come for a long time (if ever). Apple has no competition anymore in the tablet space so there is no incentive for them to enhance the iOS tablet experience. That could change in a cycle if Chrome OS tablets take off.

    The best bang-for-the-buck iPad, IMO, is still the 2018 iPad...especially when on sale for $249/$329 (128GB). But the Air 3 is a close 2nd.
  13. CalMin macrumors 6502a


    Nov 8, 2007
    The truth of the matter is that as nice as the iPad Pro is, it doesn't enable you to do anything that you can't do on even the cheapest of iPads. Looking at your list of IPP Pro features

    "A far better camera." / OK, but the Air 3 is decent, and really, stop taking photos with your iPad. :p

    "You get pro-motion. a faster screen refresh." / Pro-Motion is nice, but it adds no functionality

    "FaceID that might solve the touch problem."
    / TouchID is generally more reliable. I keep blocking the camera with my thumb, then it forces me to enter the PIN. This happens way more with FaceID than TouchID.

    "usb-c so faster charge"
    / Yes, but you'll have to buy all new cables for everyone. It's also not radically faster, so just charge overnight and you will never notice.

    "far more advancements in the future IOS builds."
    / perhaps, but there's always something better around the corner and no guarantee that Apple won't require a newer IPP for these features too. e.g. I bought iPhone X, but ended up getting iPhone XS for Smart HDR photos. Don't put it past Apple to introduce a killer new feature in IPP v2.0 that is not supported by current hardware...
  14. roadkill401 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jan 11, 2015
    Yes. I would not put it past Apple to make it a new feature inside of IOS13..or 14 and limited to that newest released hardware to take advantage.

    Likewise being in Canada, I upgraded from IOS7 to 8 with the promise of the announced NEWS app. And that has only just come to Canada with IOS12.1, so even anounced features doesn't mean they will be availible to you.

    Thanks for the help and giving me the arguments devil on the sholder to think about. I will likely get the Air 3.
  15. turbineseaplane macrumors 601


    Mar 19, 2008
    If I were buying now, it’d be hard to pass up the latest Air.

    The only thing they did they bums me out is not put the 4 speaker arrangement in there.

    That’s not a pro thing (or shouldn’t be) and would greatly enhance the audio experience in a way than all users would love. It’s a shame they didn’t include it.
  16. Digitalguy macrumors member

    Apr 15, 2019
    I agree, but honestly, I guess many more people would skip the pro then. Personally I don't care about pro-motion and I don't like the lack of the audio jack since I do music among other things with my ipads. The only big difference for me is the speakers. Personally if someone wanted to exchange an air 3 with my ipad oro 9.7 I would keep my 9.7...
  17. turbineseaplane macrumors 601


    Mar 19, 2008
    Oh me too on all that.

    I guess I just wish Apple would make the best ipad they could for more people and worry a little bit less about trying to gouge people into the pro on something like speakers, especially with their focus on services over hardware sales numbers.

    I just look at somebody like the grandmother in our family who uses her iPad constantly for watching video and FaceTime with kids and it’s a use case where better audio would be amazing and really appreciated by basically every iPad user…

    I’m still on my 9.7” iPP and love it.

    I briefly flirted with a 10.5 pro....but very quickly realized in the analysis that there is just no point to making that switch
  18. nburwell macrumors 601


    May 6, 2008
    The iPad Air should more than suffice for the OP. That doesn't go to say the 2018 Pro's wouldn't be overkill. I mean, if money isn't an issue, why not go with the Pro's?

    But in all seriousness, the Air should be perfectly fine. But it's ultimately up to the OP. I have the 11" Pro and absolutely love it. Even though I don't need all of the advanced features. But at least I know the iPad will last me a good amount of time before I'll have to upgrade.
  19. steve knight macrumors 68030

    steve knight

    Jan 28, 2009
    I pretty much only watch shows in my ipad on a stand under my imac. so I don't need a lot but having face id and a active touch screen would be a big step as touch id seldom works with the ipad on its side and the angle I end up putting my finger on the home button.
  20. rowspaxe macrumors 68020


    Jan 29, 2010
    The 2018 is an elegant premium device. But if your on a budget I would recommend the Air.
    You won't miss promotion and the thumb recognition works very well
  21. bluespark macrumors 68000

    Jul 11, 2009
    Apple has built up a pretty good reputation for supporting whatever devices it can, so I'd be surprised to see future Pro-only features that aren't driven in some way by hardware requirements. My sense is that the current Air basically tracks the current Pro except for relatively minor feature differences known already. That leaves the different design between the two products, which I suspect is driving most of the price difference.

    If you aren't pulled in by the Pro's new design and its features aren't worth $400 to you as you understand those differences today, then the Air seems like a solid choice.

    BTW, for your mother's TouchID difficulties, have her enter her usual finger in a second of the available slots in Settings. Having the same finger stored twice can help with difficult finger recognition situations.
  22. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    Hmm, that’s odd - I’ve never had that issue on any iPad. Have you tried re-registering your thumbprint? It should work equally well in either configuration.
  23. MisterSavage macrumors 6502a


    Nov 10, 2018
    This is completely a guess but I wonder if this could be related to why she's having issues with Touch ID.

    I think there's pros and cons to both decisions. Personally I would never get a Touch ID device again. I love the bigger screen and instant unlock with Face ID with my iPad. It almost never fails to unlock for me which was definitely not the case with Touch ID.
  24. roadkill401 thread starter macrumors 6502


    Jan 11, 2015
    I drove out to the local apple store and picked up an Ipad Air for my mother. We took a look at my fathers ipad and it seems to be working flawlessly. It also turns out that he had totally ignored the pressures to upgrade IOS and still has IOS 7.03 installed. As he mainly just uses the ipad for email, web browsing about boats and political blogs, it is serving his needs perfectly.

    That then just leaves me with the choice of what I want. I did take a look at the Pro 11" and found it likely is a better size for me over going with the 12.9". There is not really any perceivable size difference between the 11" and 10.5" of the air for the screen point of view. Running apps, the two seem to be identical. The only real difference was if you are going to link up a pencil with the unit. the Pro does work far better than the air with responsiveness, and the pencil2 just feels far better than the version1.

    Up until now, I have had no ability to do sketching with the iPad. I have had some past experience with a Watcom tablet on a PC, but never got around to hooking it up to my mac. At the time, I really wanted the Cintiq but they were simply too expensive to consider so I had an intuos. Based on that side, I thought why not for the $300 just splurge and that way if I got back into mainstay photo editing touchup I could just do it on the ipad rather than having to go back home and load up the photo on the mac.

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25 May 14, 2019