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Comparing M4 iPad Pro and M2 iPad Air: Which Tablet is Right for Your Business Needs?

More than 18 months since Apple last introduced a “new” iPad update, they have launched not 1, not 2, but FOUR new iPad Models all at once, at their recent Apple Event on May 7 2024.

But what exactly have they launched at this event? Why should any business user care? And, most importantly, which is now the best iPad for the majority of business users in 2024? Well, let’s take a look at the new range of iPads and see if we can find the perfect answer.


M4 iPad Pro with Ultra Retina XDR Display
M4 iPad Pro comes in 11" and 13" sizes and for the first time, both sizes get the same screen: a brand new "Tandem OLED" Ultra Retina XDR Display

Let’s start at the top with the brand new, mildly redesigned iPad Pro range. Coming in slightly larger 11” and 13” sizes, the big talking point for these new iPad Pro models is actually their lack of size. The 11” iPad Pro M4 measures in at just 5.3mm thick, while the 13” is a scarcely believable 5.1mm. It’s the big buzz talking point of the week but yes that is in fact thinner than the old iPod Nano…technically. Apple is only measuring the core chassis of the iPad and conveniently not including the camera bump. But, whatever, the main body is crazy thin and you just know someone has already ordered one for the sole purpose of bending it like a spoon.

The new iPad Pro range also now comes with OLED displays Apple is calling “Tandem OLED” - essentially 2 OLED screens stacked on top of each other to give incredible colours, rich deep blacks, and the same levels of brightness we’ve come to enjoy from Apple’s previous MiniLED displays. Also interestingly is that Apple are, for the first time, putting the exact same screen in both sizes of the iPad Pro - taking cues from the MacBook Pro lineup - meaning the 11” also gets the stunning OLED benefits, where before it was stuck with an LCD panel while customers were left to fork out top dollar for the 12.9” to enjoy the MiniLED screens.

Finally then is the new “Rocket Chip” (their pun, not mine) which they’ve stuffed into these minuscule tablets: the new M4 chip. What happened to M3 you might be asking? Well…yeah so am I. M3 only debuted in MacBooks at the tail end of 2023 but Apple have apparently already outpaced it and decided to skip straight to M4. On a serious note, it is likely down to upcoming AI features expected in the next iterations of iPadOS and other operating systems which should be launching at WWDC in June. M4 seems to have been designed with these powerful new tools in mind and Apple is already lagging behind in this space so it does make a certain amount of sense to fast-track the new chips into their newest “pro” device.

M4 iPad Pro Specs
The specs of the new M4 iPad Pro models put it on par with modern MacBooks...except that it still has a huge weakness in iPadOS's numerous flaws and limitations.

Is it overkill? Yes. Unquestionably. Unless you’re the literal 1 person on Earth wanting to use an iPad Pro to edit massive photo or video files, instead of a cheaper MacBook, then yes the power is utterly redundant in an iPad. At this point, the power capabilities of iPads do not matter while iPadOS is still so limited. More on this later in an upcoming feature but for now just know that no business user in the galaxy will ever be able to push the M4 to it’s limits and it will last you 10+ years comfortably (if you don’t bend it).

One final final note on the Pro is that there is now a new version of the iPad’s Magic Keyboard solely for use on these new Pro models. It is bigger, with a function key row, larger trackpad, and more Mac-like aluminium finish. But if you already had a previous version of the Magic Keyboard…well, “tough, Buy the new one”, says Apple.


M2 iPad Air
2024 M2 iPad Air comes in 11" and, for the first time ever, 13" sizes. Saving €600 for those who want a big screen but not the iPad Pro's insane price tag.

On to what I consider to be the far more interesting of the new iPads launched: the M2 iPad Air lineup. Again taking cues from recent MacBooks and iPhones, the Air model of the iPad now comes in 2 sizes: 11” and 13”. This new larger size plugs a similar gap that Apple have been closing in other categories for some time now with the recent introductions of the 15” MacBook Air and the iPhone 14+ and 15+ - allowing consumers to enjoy a larger screen device without having to shell out insanely high amounts for the large “pro” devices such as the 16” MacBook Pro or iPhone Pro Max models. This new iPad does the same thing for tablet users and brings the benefits of the 13” screen for €600 less than the new 13” iPad Pro.

Specs wise not too much has changed beyond the larger screen option. The screens themselves are still standard Retina LCD panels locked, annoyingly, at 60hz refresh. Any hopes that older pro model screens with the 120hz ProMotion might make their way to the Airs have been dashed for at least another generation. The Air also sticks with Touch ID rather than FaceID and now comes with the M2 Chip, rather than the M3 or M4. On a big plus side though, base storage has finally been increased from an unusable 64gb to a much more palatable 128gb.

M2 iPad Air Specs
Tech specs for the new M2 iPad Air show it's absolutely no slouch.

Sounds like a massive downgrade from the M4 iPad Pro right?


The M2 chip is also still utter and complete overkill for any tablet user - particularly a tablet handcuffed by the restraints of iPadOS. And while yes, even cheap Samsung tablets have had high refresh rate screens for years, you’d have to be a serious tech geek to spot the difference unless holding them side by side.


Well, objectively, the 13” M4 iPad Pro with 2TB of storage and a Magic Keyboard is the best iPad ever made…if you’re a tech YouTuber whose entire existence is based on Cinebench scores.

But for normal humans, well now that’s a harder one to answer. So let’s do it in 2 parts.

Firstly, which of the new iPads makes for the best all-round iPad for business-based user. Someone who has a Mac and wants an accompanying device for note taking, having an external monitor while traveling, or attaching it to a keyboard and using it as a sole device while travelling (this is my personal use-case for an iPad for Business). And of course, occasional content consumption.

M2 iPad Air 13"
New iPad Air 13" M2 takes the cake of the new generation of iPads. Perfect combination of power, size & price.

For anyone in this category, the new 13” iPad Air is the king, hands down. It starts just shy of €1000, yes, but is is compatible with the older Magic Keyboard which you can get refurbished for about €200 if you shop around enough; while still being compatible with the phenomenal new Apple Pencil Pro - giving you a “best of both worlds” setup. The big screen, coupled with the ridiculous power of the M2 means this is, for all intents and purposes, a touch-screen MacBook Air. If your primary work computer is an iMac, MacMini or a larger/heavier model of MacBook (essentially anything other than the 13” Air) - this is the iPad for you.

(And if you do have a 13” air, get the 11” iPad Air…simples).

10th Gen iPad
2023 10th Gen iPad still packs a punch with the A14, making is a great budget option for everyday tasks.

If, however, the price of the new models is still out of budget or simply seems not worth it to you (you’d be right), there are of course alternates. The 10th Gen iPad can be got brand new from Amazon for under €400. For basic note taking, file & excel creation or editing, as an additional screen for a Mac, watching Netflix, you really can’t go wrong with this one. And the A14 chip which originally powered the iPhone 12’s has at least another 3-5 years of updates in it yet!

I’ll leave you, though, with my personal recommendation: the 2021 M1 iPad Pro. This is, simply put, the best iPad ever made. Arguably the best tablet ever made (if iPadOS was better). It’s the one I’ve been using for 3 years since I bought it refurbished just before the M2 models were announced. Why? Well, as I’ve said multiple times above, the current family of Apple Silicon chips are simply overkill for tablets. My old man has a 2019 A12Z iPad Pro and it still feels brand new…the power was overkill 6 years ago. The 1 benefit of M1 over A12Z is that all the new suite of “pro” apps are available from the M1 model onwards. Meaning you can (if you need to) use Final Cut, Logic, DaVinci, etc on the M1 iPads.

iPad Pro M1
The 2021 M1 iPad Pro is available refurbished in both 11" and 12.9" sizes

Buy refurbished for between €600-€750 depending on the screen size. I promise you won’t need an upgrade until at least 2030! I’ve written, edited, uploaded and published this entire article on my 11” M1, and, just to prove it can be done, I’ll be recording & editing the accompanying YouTube video on it too.

But tell me, which iPad (if any) do you use to help run your business? Are you getting any of the new models? If so, which one and why? Let me know below.

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