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All iPads Still debating between the iPad Air 4 and the iPad Pro. Coming from the iPad Air 2 (with usage explained)

Which one should I choose?


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    144

mguzzi

macrumors regular
Sep 12, 2014
227
124
Columbia SC
I would wait until after the Mac announcement to see what direction Apple is going with the A14 chip which is in the New iPad Air. The Pro currently uses the A12Z. If you are not going to be doing a lot of graphic design and drawing I would go with the Air as I don't think you will notice that much of a difference between the 60hz and 120hz display under normal day to day usage.
 
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wetrollerskate

macrumors member
Oct 20, 2020
36
32
If you need to buy now I think the consensus is to buy the iPad Air 4. If you do decide to upgrade to the 2021 Pro when it releases you'll be able to demand a higher resell value than the current Pro since the Air wont be refreshed for another year.

And judging from your usage you probably won't desire an upgrade when that time comes since the Air 4 will be more than sufficient.

In my opinion the 6GB Ram & higher multiscore on the Pro offers little benefit as single core is arguably more important, plus based on the reviews coming out today the Air can easily handle complex tasks. Touch ID vs Face ID are based on personal preference. ProMotion isn't worth $200, personally. Speakers are only a little bit better on the Pro. LIDAR/Cameras are more useful on the iPhone. I think the double amount of storage at 256GB for $50 cheaper than the 128GB Pro is a much better value, and even more so at 64GB.
 
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Crow_Servo

macrumors 6502
Feb 17, 2018
256
208
America
I’m on a Mini 5, which I upgraded from a Mini 4, which I upgraded from a first gen Air. I like my choices so far, but my next iPad has been a topic of much internal debate.

So I definitely can empathize with the OP over this decision.

I actually upgraded to the Mini 4 once it had been out for 2 1/2 years, just because I liked the form factor and it was on sale. It wasn’t until I started playing games on it like PUBG Mobile that I realized it wasn’t going to satisfy me long-term. I had to play on one of the lowest settings. Had I known it would be used for games when I was planning to buy it, I probably wouldn’t have bought it.

My original plan before the Mini was to wait for what was rumored to be an OLED iPad Pro. It actually reminds me of right now. It’s like we’re at a crossroads, where the current Pro is great, but something even greater is on the horizon. If form factor and all-around solid performance is all that matters, the Air is a fine choice.

I guess it depends a little on how often you plan to upgrade your iPad. If you’re on an Air 2, well, you don’t plan to upgrade often. The Air 2 is 6 years old. It undoubtedly won’t receive the iPadOS update next year. That’s driving a car until the wheels fall off. Not a bad mentality at all, but just make sure the next iPad you get is something that lasts you again. In 6 years, the RAM has gone up by 2GB in the most recent Air. It’s increased 4GB in the most recent Pro. I’ve heard some speculate that the next Pro could be 8GB (so a 6GB increase over the Air 2), but I’m not sure what they’re basing that speculation on.

The RAM situation is a major concern when buying an iPad. 2GB has lasted a long time. 3GB will probably be relevant a bit longer, but 4GB is more comfortable long-term. 6GB is considered pretty future proofed right now. The iPhone 12 Pro has 6GB RAM, aligning it with the latest iPad Pros. Buying an iPad right now with 4GB should be plenty for many people for the next five years, but 6GB will probably keep it snappier longer.

Not to belabor the RAM point, but 2GB was the most RAM in any of Apple’s mobile devices back in 2014. I made the mistake of buying the Air in the summer of 2014, not knowing then that an Air 2 was right around the corner. That device lost support last year I believe. So these choices do matter.

Just more food for thought.
 
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Broadus

macrumors 6502a
Oct 26, 2011
956
528
Upstate SC
If you need to buy now I think the consensus is to buy the iPad Air 4. If you do decide to upgrade to the 2021 Pro when it releases you'll be able to demand a higher resell value than the current Pro since the Air wont be refreshed for another year.

And judging from your usage you probably won't desire an upgrade when that time comes since the Air 4 will be more than sufficient.

In my opinion the 6GB Ram & higher multiscore on the Pro offers little benefit as single core is arguably more important, plus based on the reviews coming out today the Air can easily handle complex tasks. Touch ID vs Face ID are based on personal preference. ProMotion isn't worth $200, personally. Speakers are only a little bit better on the Pro. LIDAR/Cameras are more useful on the iPhone. I think the double amount of storage at 256GB for $50 cheaper than the 128GB Pro is a much better value, and even more so at 64GB.

I have to agree with this. I have a 10.5" iPad Pro. The camera doesn't work and there's a relatively small white area on the display (I backed over my computer bag a year ago, destroying my 2012 MacBook Pro but only causing this damage to my iPP which was buffered by a couple of thick music books in the bag's back pouch). Still, the tablet works well enough to get me past the initial drooling over the 2020 Air. :)

But I've thought about this a good deal since the Air was announced. Unless one has particular needs, I just don't see the difference for the 2020 Pro over the 2020 Air, and I, too, would prefer the extra storage of the 256GB Air to the benefits of the iPP. And, for me, an 11" screen is too small for multitasking.

As much as I would like to see the iPP as a laptop replacement, it's simply not there for me, so most of the time I'm one my 2018 MacBook Pro, and even then I do little multitasking unless I have it hooked up to my 24" external monitor.

For a nice tablet that can sub for my MacBook Pro in a pinch, the 2020 Air is more than sufficient. Really, if the 2020 iPad had a laminated and larger screen, I could probably be satisfied with that.
 
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sigma8

macrumors regular
Feb 2, 2005
120
3
I'm in a similar position myself. I nearly added the Air4 to my cart, and hesitated after realizing that its 256GB is half of what my iPhone XS has (512GB). That caused me to review the differences: 4GB vs 6GB ram, ProMotion, FID, speakers, number of cores, and of course the scant benchmarks we'd been seeing, which was: Single Core: Air4 / Pro2020: 1583 / 1118; Multi-Core: 4198 / 4564.. That sounds like about a 300ish point wash, and all in all, made me think I should I should wait for the next-gen pros.. Or that perhaps I had erred by missing out on the Back to School promo, with the price discount + the AirPods (which I'd need to upgrade to Pros and pray...because I know the standard shape falls right out of my ears--no clue if the Pros are better or worse for my ear shape).

My use case is to have the iPad be usable as a mobile device for fun and for work. My current Air2 is a maxxed out cellular model, so I'd be aiming for an up-to-date version the same theme. I'd love to stall a bit longer, but my Air2 feels very aged and sluggish to me. For anything other than very simple use cases, I often purposely avoid it. I could still suffer it if I was confident we'd get a absolutely amazing next-gen iPP for a similar price point in March, but that's just so much guesswork.

So, basically, I want an upgrade ASAP, but care a lot about about future-proofing since I tend to own stuff for at least 5 years. My MBP (2014) is also aging, but aging far better than my Air2. I have to assume, for now, that an iPad will not be able to be a complete laptop replacement, though I suspect that may change (at least somewhat) with the CPU transition. Some of my speculation/observations:

Given the existence of the Air4, its similarities to the pro, and the fact that all the rumors we have (so far) about the next iPP's seem to focus on the larger-screen version...I've half a mind to wonder if the Air4 will take over the 11" iPP slot, and maybe the next iPP will be big-only? Other dissuading factors for me would be noticeable price increases or a longer gap time (waiting until summer would be difficult).

I've been pretty dismissive of the A12Z..maybe wrongfully? If you are looking at its benchmark numbers proportionately, the A12Z has a 9% better multi-core score, but a 41% worse single-core score. I know multi- is a big advantage for multi-tasking and heavy computation apps that take advantage, but if it's only a 9% better, for that stuff, and 40% worse for "most" stuff, it seems like a performance bottleneck waiting to happen.

I sought a side-by-side ProMotion with normal motion, but only found an opportunity to compare a 2020 Pro with my XS (very imperfect, I know). I could see a difference, but it didn't seem critical or huge. What I should say, is that with how people had talked it up, I actually expected more from the iPP...but even with 120Hz, text could get a little shimmery while scrolling. It was noticeably more shimmery on my phone, but I would probably stop scrolling on either device before actually reading...at which point I'm not benefitting from the 120hz. I couldn't test games or movies, unfortunately.

After fearing I'd missed out on the back-to-school chance, writing this up has caused me to persuade myself back towards the new Air.. I'm definitely interested in further thoughts/opinions, and am reading some of the new reviews right now..
 
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Kjs100

macrumors regular
Jun 9, 2020
198
173
If it’s anything like that Clear Motion feature on TVs, I hate that with a passion. I guess it’s supposedly good for video games, though.
I found promotion was very obviously smoother when checking it out at the store. I'd read it was like moving a bit paper with text and that was exactly what it looked like to me. No blur at all.

I've ordered an iPad Air and I'm curious to see if the A14 gets anywhere near promotion. Maybe the processor won't make much of a difference to smoothness but I'm hoping it does. If you were doing a lot of scrolling through text when browsing I suspect the promotion is less fatiguing on the eyes.
 
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Kjs100

macrumors regular
Jun 9, 2020
198
173
I picked up the 11" pro last weekend during the AirPods promo and ordered the Air 4 today. Both are 256/cellular, and with the promo price I paid for the pro they are both about the same amount of money. One is getting returned of course - I like the a14 in the Air, but the pro has 6gb ram vs 4gb and I think that's likely to be a bigger differentiator as time goes on. Glad I've got a week to think about it...
I'd be interested to hear from you how smooth the Air is v the Pro's promotion.
 
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wetrollerskate

macrumors member
Oct 20, 2020
36
32
I'm in a similar position myself. I nearly added the Air4 to my cart, and hesitated after realizing that its 256GB is half of what my iPhone XS has (512GB). That caused me to review the differences: 4GB vs 6GB ram, ProMotion, FID, speakers, number of cores, and of course the scant benchmarks we'd been seeing, which was: Single Core: Air4 / Pro2020: 1583 / 1118; Multi-Core: 4198 / 4564.. That sounds like about a 300ish point wash, and all in all, made me think I should I should wait for the next-gen pros.. Or that perhaps I had erred by missing out on the Back to School promo, with the price discount + the AirPods (which I'd need to upgrade to Pros and pray...because I know the standard shape falls right out of my ears--no clue if the Pros are better or worse for my ear shape).

My use case is to have the iPad be usable as a mobile device for fun and for work. My current Air2 is a maxxed out cellular model, so I'd be aiming for an up-to-date version the same theme. I'd love to stall a bit longer, but my Air2 feels very aged and sluggish to me. For anything other than very simple use cases, I often purposely avoid it. I could still suffer it if I was confident we'd get a absolutely amazing next-gen iPP for a similar price point in March, but that's just so much guesswork.

So, basically, I want an upgrade ASAP, but care a lot about about future-proofing since I tend to own stuff for at least 5 years. My MBP (2014) is also aging, but aging far better than my Air2. I have to assume, for now, that an iPad will not be able to be a complete laptop replacement, though I suspect that may change (at least somewhat) with the CPU transition. Some of my speculation/observations:

Given the existence of the Air4, its similarities to the pro, and the fact that all the rumors we have (so far) about the next iPP's seem to focus on the larger-screen version...I've half a mind to wonder if the Air4 will take over the 11" iPP slot, and maybe the next iPP will be big-only? Other dissuading factors for me would be noticeable price increases or a longer gap time (waiting until summer would be difficult).

I've been pretty dismissive of the A12Z..maybe wrongfully? If you are looking at its benchmark numbers proportionately, the A12Z has a 9% better multi-core score, but a 41% worse single-core score. I know multi- is a big advantage for multi-tasking and heavy computation apps that take advantage, but if it's only a 9% better, for that stuff, and 40% worse for "most" stuff, it seems like a performance bottleneck waiting to happen.

I sought a side-by-side ProMotion with normal motion, but only found an opportunity to compare a 2020 Pro with my XS (very imperfect, I know). I could see a difference, but it didn't seem critical or huge. What I should say, is that with how people had talked it up, I actually expected more from the iPP...but even with 120Hz, text could get a little shimmery while scrolling. It was noticeably more shimmery on my phone, but I would probably stop scrolling on either device before actually reading...at which point I'm not benefitting from the 120hz. I couldn't test games or movies, unfortunately.

After fearing I'd missed out on the back-to-school chance, writing this up has caused me to persuade myself back towards the new Air.. I'm definitely interested in further thoughts/opinions, and am reading some of the new reviews right now..

I think it's fair to consider that the next Pro may get a price bump.

I would say the A14 is more future-proof than the A12Z, even though the differences are marginal at best. I've read that RAM space doesn't matter as much on iPadOS and that single-core performance is the more important spec. And with a multi-score disadvantage of ~300 I don't think you'll be missing out much on the Air 4 but the same can be said for the Pros for having less single-core. It won't make much of a difference either way. My deciding factor when it came to the processor was that if the iPad puts more of an importance on single-core performance all around I would benefit more from that.

Now all of this is guess-work, because the OS may make significant upgrades in the coming years. But based on previous releases, this is what I'm betting on.

I completely relate to what you said about 120hz being talked up so much. After having used the 2020 iPad Pro for a couple days I realised it didn't make a big difference for me and my eyes were able to adjust accordingly. It looks nice, but I don't think I'll miss it if I didn't have it. The screen still looks great at 60hz. Again, I feel like this is personal preference.

If you're looking to upgrade immediately, I would go for the 256GB iPad Air 4. It's still a better value for storage if you don't need anything above that, plus you get Pro performance. It'll definitely last you five years in my opinion.
 
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sigma8

macrumors regular
Feb 2, 2005
120
3
@wetrollerskate: I haven't actually posted in the forums in a while, and the quoting system changed, so I'm not sure if I've actually quoted anything at all...though the main reason I hit the button was just to make sure it got "addressed" to you.

I like your assessment. Choosing is always a (usually fun?) challenge. I definitely feel more comfortable comparing things that are available right away...but I always have a hard when I have to factor in time-to-wait. I don't have a good handle on what "weight" to assign to that. I do feel very inconvenienced by my current iPad Air 2. Several times over the past few months, I've even thought about buying the cheapest regular iPad, just to use as a stopgap until a suitable Pro upgrade was available, but I think that's really throwing money (that I don't have) around.

I also tend to max out my Apple purchases (barring insanity upgrades, like 2TB storage circa 3 years ago), which has been getting more difficult as they've diversified their offerings. Buying a maxxed out iPad Air 2 at around ~$700 was pricey but an easy choice.. And there was no room for buyer's remorse. However, a maxxed out iPad Pro, even a step down from max storage, around ~$1300?.. it has way more overlap--in functionality and price--with a laptop. The lines are blurring...
 
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S1njin

macrumors 6502a
May 3, 2010
805
35
NJ
@wetrollerskate:
I also tend to max out my Apple purchases (barring insanity upgrades, like 2TB storage circa 3 years ago), which has been getting more difficult as they've diversified their offerings. Buying a maxxed out iPad Air 2 at around ~$700 was pricey but an easy choice.. And there was no room for buyer's remorse. However, a maxxed out iPad Pro, even a step down from max storage, around ~$1300?.. it has way more overlap--in functionality and price--with a laptop. The lines are blurring...

I already crossed this bridge too. I was going to consider a 13” MBP - but now Apple is going to its own silicon so I already know I’m behind the 8 ball right out of the gate. Plus, I started thinking about the fans spinning up, dust getting ingested, etc. The iPad is just an appliance. I like that.

I just got back from Best Buy - I was able to look at all the iPads. For my particular use case, the 12.9” screen is simply beautiful. I just wish it wasn’t so end of life already before the next one comes out.
 
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Kjs100

macrumors regular
Jun 9, 2020
198
173
So I guess long story short, my question is does the 4 speakers, 120Hz display and FaceID worth $180 extra for just browsing, streaming, reading and light non-action based gaming...

Thanks.

Dave Lee compared the Air with the Pro in his Air review. He reckons the 120hz is recommended for the pencil and gaming (think he was referring to action games where response was critical). Notably he didn't find much difference between the Pro's 4 speakers v the Air's 2 speakers.

 
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wetrollerskate

macrumors member
Oct 20, 2020
36
32
@wetrollerskate: I haven't actually posted in the forums in a while, and the quoting system changed, so I'm not sure if I've actually quoted anything at all...though the main reason I hit the button was just to make sure it got "addressed" to you.

I like your assessment. Choosing is always a (usually fun?) challenge. I definitely feel more comfortable comparing things that are available right away...but I always have a hard when I have to factor in time-to-wait. I don't have a good handle on what "weight" to assign to that. I do feel very inconvenienced by my current iPad Air 2. Several times over the past few months, I've even thought about buying the cheapest regular iPad, just to use as a stopgap until a suitable Pro upgrade was available, but I think that's really throwing money (that I don't have) around.

I also tend to max out my Apple purchases (barring insanity upgrades, like 2TB storage circa 3 years ago), which has been getting more difficult as they've diversified their offerings. Buying a maxxed out iPad Air 2 at around ~$700 was pricey but an easy choice.. And there was no room for buyer's remorse. However, a maxxed out iPad Pro, even a step down from max storage, around ~$1300?.. it has way more overlap--in functionality and price--with a laptop. The lines are blurring...

The lines are definitely blurring. I think one thing you can count on is that Apple delivered a great option for you with the Air, and it just so happens that you're looking for a new device right now. Coming from the Air 2, it seems like a perfect time to upgrade seeing as you made good use of it already.

There's still 5 months left and possibly more for the next Pro's to come out. And it'll be more expensive. I don't think the Air will dissapoint you at all with it's capabilities, and I definitely don't think its a compromise to the 2021 Pro considering the price gap.

Future-proofing can only be done to a certain extent and I don't think waiting for the 2021 Pro would provide that much benefit. That new iPad would also need to be replaced 5-6 years after its release.
 
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sigma8

macrumors regular
Feb 2, 2005
120
3
The lines are definitely blurring. I think one thing you can count on is that Apple delivered a great option for you with the Air, and it just so happens that you're looking for a new device right now. Coming from the Air 2, it seems like a perfect time to upgrade seeing as you made good use of it already.

There's still 5 months left and possibly more for the next Pro's to come out. And it'll be more expensive. I don't think the Air will dissapoint you at all with it's capabilities, and I definitely don't think its a compromise to the 2021 Pro considering the price gap.

Future-proofing can only be done to a certain extent and I don't think waiting for the 2021 Pro would provide that much benefit. That new iPad would also need to be replaced 5-6 years after it's release.
I just finished my preorder. Shame it'll take a while. I didn't go for any fancy colors, but even the boring ones are pushed into November. It will give me time to procure some kind of protective measures for it before it arrives.

Thanks for your thoughts!
 
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sigma8

macrumors regular
Feb 2, 2005
120
3
I already crossed this bridge too. I was going to consider a 13” MBP - but now Apple is going to its own silicon so I already know I’m behind the 8 ball right out of the gate. Plus, I started thinking about the fans spinning up, dust getting ingested, etc. The iPad is just an appliance. I like that.

I just got back from Best Buy - I was able to look at all the iPads. For my particular use case, the 12.9” screen is simply beautiful. I just wish it wasn’t so end of life already before the next one comes out.
Meant to get back to you yesterday but ran out of time. Obviously, this is straying off-topic, but yet...not entirely, since I think it's easy to identify Apple's trying to converge laptops and ipads...to what extent, we can't immediately say. In a year, maybe I'll be able to run MacOS on my iPad...and maybe I'll just not buy a new laptop--missing out only on the extra built-in ports, extra RAM, and whatever the latest speed-bump is. Or maybe iPads stay iPads, due to either real or artificial limitations. The transition is definitely a major monkey wrench for planning...it's both exciting and annoying.

Earlier this year, I finally decided to buy into eGPU's, and bought a Razer Core X to use (with a TB2->TB3 adapter) with my old 2014 rMBP. It actually works! Well, in Boot Camp, at least...which was my goal. I thought "Wow, maybe I can ditch my old windows machines, and use this paradigm going forward..." but something tells me we're not going to have Boot Camp on these newer macs, so nope. Not sure what I'll use this thing for, now.
 
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Kjs100

macrumors regular
Jun 9, 2020
198
173
Just got my air 4. Screen has a yellow tinge to it and isn't as white as my original air. True tone on and off. Old air is easier to read and looks the sharper image. My Moto G8 plus is brighter and sharper than both iPads. Well done Apple 😂.
IMG_20201023_184148239_HDR.jpg
 
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AbielM16

macrumors regular
Sep 30, 2019
198
93
Not for me, my 10.5 pro and S7+ don't make me dispise anything. It's a nice bonus, but I am perfectly ok with 60hz as long as the ipad is fast. I move from 120 to 60hz devices with zero issues....
you don’t even have any device that does 120hz so why would your statement even work , when you never used 120hz display
 
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Hadron

macrumors 6502
Apr 13, 2010
283
212
Actually I assume that the S7+ is the Galaxy Tab S7+ (because there wasn't a Galaxy S7+, just an S7 and an S7 Edge). In which case it also has a 120 Hz display (in fact when I briefly played with a Tab s7 next to an iPad Pro the Samsung's smoothness impressed me more).

Maybe it's possible for different people to have different feelings about how essential 120 Hz is without this being due to ignorance? Crazy idea, I know...
 
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Ipadfever

macrumors 6502a
Apr 22, 2012
672
231
Just got my air 4. Screen has a yellow tinge to it and isn't as white as my original air. True tone on and off. Old air is easier to read and looks the sharper image. My Moto G8 plus is brighter and sharper than both iPads. Well done Apple 😂.
View attachment 972704
Mine is the same thing and has bad colour shift when tilting the iPad to any degree. One thing apple has perfected is inconsistent screens since the day they were born. I am returning mine and not playing lottery with these screens, I have no time for this!
 
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scupking

macrumors 6502a
Dec 14, 2010
657
220
Just got my air 4. Screen has a yellow tinge to it and isn't as white as my original air. True tone on and off. Old air is easier to read and looks the sharper image. My Moto G8 plus is brighter and sharper than both iPads. Well done Apple 😂.
View attachment 972704
I remember I had the same issue when the pro 10.5 first came out. Yellow screen and it wasn’t crisp compared to my air 2 at the time. It actually gave me a headach. I returned it waited a few months and bought another one. The second one was perfect until it developed the white spot issue. Sold that and got an iPad 7. I have had the iPad 7 for a year and the display has been great since day one! I think the issue is with the lamination process on the Air and pros. It can be hit or miss if you get a good one.
 
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Kjs100

macrumors regular
Jun 9, 2020
198
173
I remember I had the same issue when the pro 10.5 first came out. Yellow screen and it wasn’t crisp compared to my air 2 at the time. It actually gave me a headach. I returned it waited a few months and bought another one. The second one was perfect until it developed the white spot issue. Sold that and got an iPad 7. I have had the iPad 7 for a year and the display has been great since day one! I think the issue is with the lamination process on the Air and pros. It can be hit or miss if you get a good one.

I just read a thread from 2017 "Do you think the screen on the iPad Pro is too yellowish?" where you posted about exchanging your Pro due to the issue.

The OP of that thread had the tinge issue and said he had discovered "Apple has lowered the white balance level to industry standard 6500K, instead of the 7000-8000K of previous generations. I think this is probably why it looks warmer and definitely not defects.". But your experience suggests they don't all have this warmer tinge, and as someone posted, 6500 should still be quite bluish white rather than warm white. Interestingly, some people found the warmer screen better for their eyes but I personally feel more strain so I'll definitely be returning.
 
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