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Apple MacBook Air M3 vs iPad Pro M2: Which is best for you?

Apple has unveiled the new M3-powered MacBook Air laptops. There are many options to consider across the MacBook range, but the iPad Pro M2 may also suit you. Let’s compare.

It may not be a change-up as extensive as the move from the MacBook Air M1 to MacBook Air M2, which saw the classic wedge look replaced, but a bump up to the latest M3 chip is intriguing nonetheless.

The M3 is yet to arrive on the iPad Pro but, if you’re looking for versatility, the M2 model may be the right pick for you over a MacBook Air. We’re here to set out the key differences, let’s dive in.

MacBook Air gets the M3 chip

We saw the new Apple M3 chip debuted late last year with a new set of MacBook Pro models and a new iMac. Now, it has come to the MacBook Air. Apple says it offers 60% faster performance than the M1 model and touts up to 18 hours of battery life.

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MacBook Air M3
Image Credit (Apple)

The specs add up to an 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU and up to 26GB of unified memory. By comparison, the iPad Pro hasn’t gotten the M3 chip, but rather the M2. It sports a similar setup, with an 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU but only up to 16GB of unified memory. Apple hasn’t made a lot of comparisons between the M3 and M2 in its promotion of the new MacBook Air, which suggests the difference isn’t huge but, when it comes to longevity, it’s always nice to get the latest and greatest if it fits into your budget.

MacOS offers more powerful apps than iPadOS

iPadOS is becoming more and more friendly to those who would like to use it in a portable desktop-like fashion, with powerful applications like LumaFusion, Final Cut Pro, a suite of Adobe apps and more now all being available on the tablet.

The front of Apple iPad Pro M2
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

However, for non-creatives or productivity users who have specific and powerful app needs, MacOS still offers a more wide-ranging and open solution. Along with a broader selection, some apps remain reigned in on iPadOS while MacOS gives you access to a fully-fledged desktop version all of the time.

MacOS still comes out on top for multi-tasking too. iPadOS has aimed to improve this with Stage Manager but, when it comes to working with multiple windows, MacOS and its more traditional PC approach works best. The new MacBook Air M3 also now offers support for two external displays at once (with the lid closed), while the iPad is limited to one.

MacBook Air wins on battery life

This is a straightforward one, the MacBook Air M3 is the one for you if you might be working for long periods away from power. The new 13-inch and 15-inch models tout up to 18 hours of battery life while the iPad Pro M2 comes in at just up to 10 hours of battery power.

iPad Pro can be equipped with a Mini LED display

If you opt for the larger 12.9-inch model of iPad Pro M2 then it comes with a swanky Mini LED-based Liquid Retina XDR display, a luxury option not available on the MacBook Air, whether that’s the 13-inch or 15-inch models. So, you’ll get a brighter and more luscious viewing experience on the larger iPad Pro M2.

iPad Pro M2 no keyboard or pencil
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

The MacBook Air M3 options may suit you better when it comes to size though, with the Liquid Retina panels coming in at 13.6-inch and 15.3-inch. The smaller Liquid Retina iPad Pro M2 measures just 11 inches.

The iPad Pro offers more versatility

The form factor of the iPad Pro M2 is inherently more adaptable than the MacBook Air. Without any accessories, it’s a luxurious viewing portal for your multimedia watching and other mobile apps. But, add a keyboard accessory or stylus, whether that’s a first-party Apple pick or not, and it becomes a strong productivity machine or an ideal tool for creatives.

Of course, the MacBook Air can do all of these things by default but its lack of changeability means it isn’t quite as portable as the remarkable bit of kit that is the iPad Pro.

The iPad Pro starts at a lower price of £899/$799 too, allowing you to then build upon that with the, sometimes pricey, accessories. The 12.9-inch Mini LED model starts at £1,249/$1,099. On the MacBook Air side, the 13.6-inch MacBook Air M3 will cost you £1,099/$1,099 while the larger 15.3-inch comes in at £1,299/$1,299.

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