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iPad Pro M1 2021 vs Macbook Air M1: Which one to buy?

Better Pepsi or Coca-Cola? It depends on taste.

January 18, 2022
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May 23, 2023
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iPad Pro M1 2021 vs Macbook Air M1: Which one to buy?

In short

  • The iPad Pro is so cool
  • The MacBook Air M1 is very powerful
  • If you have to work avoid the iPad like the plague
  • I got them both, search for Apple Sidecar on Google <3

Let's go deeper

The question of the century: Better iPad or Macbook?

Today I will try to answer this difficult question, which I myself have been asking myself for a long time and which, spoilers, I solved it like this: I bought both iPad Pro M1 which MacBook Air M1 hahahahah.

But let's be honest, as they would say in Rome, Who was born tuna never died painting.

Obviously the Differences between iPad Pro and Macbook Air They are all right and, considering that I have had both for some time already, the time has come to sum up.

Let's go step by step.

Same engine, different body

In 2020, Apple introduced the brand new Apple M1 processors - or chips - which, in short, are an alternative to the “old” Intel mounted on MacBooks until 2019.

The M1 chip is a SoC (System on a Chip), a single block that contains all the important components: CPU, GPU, Neural Engine, I/O and much more on a single, very small circuit. This way the connections are faster and, thanks to the architecture initially developed for iPhones, the Mac is able to achieve exceptional performance while maintaining very low energy consumption.

But what does this whole 'theory' have to do with our comparison?

Well, since 2021, both iPad Pros and MacBooks share, essentially, the same architecture and in fact, theiPad Pro 2021 (11" and 12.9") and the MacBook Air 2020 they are equipped with the same Apple M1 chip, sharing their performance in all respects.

They are two shards, two mines, absurd and very powerful.

The peculiarity of the M1, unlike the old processors, is that they allow these machines to reach exceptional performance with endless battery life; trivially, with both you get along safely 12 Hours of Netflix.

But, if they have the same M1 chip at the base, what are the substantial differences?

Here are the main ones, in my opinion:

  • Design and accessories
  • Operating system
  • Applications

That's it, for the rest they do the same things.


I know you're in a hurry, two lines about the design and let's get right to the heart of the situation.

Design and accessories, everything changes with the pen

Let's be clear, there is no need for a poem to state that, from a purely aesthetic point of view, we are talking about completely different machines.

The first, thePad, comes with a fantastic screen incorporated by thin frames and the aluminum chassis, which we have come to love, of the Pro models.

What makes theiPad Pro unique - and that makes it a valid alternative to MacBook Air M1 - it is the small rear connector that allows you to expand functionality by magnetically attaching external accessories such as, to give the best example, the Magic Keyboard which transforms the iPad, for all intents and purposes, into a laptop.

On the other side we have the fantastic MacBook Air M1 which looks, in terms of design, like a very normal Air of recent years; in short, nothing new or exceptional.

To make it short, what is the real difference in design and, of course, in use?

The modularity some accessories.

The Macbook Air is solid, mature and - at the end of the day - a normal laptop with keyboard and trackpad.

THEiPad Pro is modular. It's a tablet, perfect for playing games and watching movies and TV series and, if necessary, Can it become a laptop by connecting the keyboard magnetically. Really great.

But the most important thing, and one that totally changes the user experience, is the presence of the pen in the iPad Pro.

The Apple Pencil opens the door to everything that, with a normal laptop, you can't do:

  • sign documents, with Adobe Fill & Sign you can sign literally in 3 straight seconds
  • Take notes by hand, Notability docet
  • Draw illustrations, with Procreate you can achieve absurd results with a very high quality
  • model in 3D, NomadSculpt and Sharpr 3D are excellent alternatives to desktop apps and allow you to achieve crazy results with a UX (User-experience) designed to the maximum for Apple Pencil
  • Edit photos, the pen is perfect for photo editing and precise stain removal on Adobe Lightroom

Obviously That glitter isn't all gold, in fact, in none of the previous examples is there the word”vocational“.

We understand why.

iPad OS and applications, a disaster

Although the iPad Pro and Macbook Air both have the Apple M1 chip, there is a Difference not to be underestimated between the two: The operating system.

The MacBook Air comes with the now very consolidated, and timeless, Mac OS that we have all come to love.

THEiPad Pro Instead, unfortunately, mount theUnripe iPad OS Which stands out for its software limitations that make that 'Pro' suffix something too much and almost undeserved:

  • Multitasking is terrible
  • File management is terrible
  • You can't extend the screen via HDMI in an external monitor but, rather, you can only duplicate without adjusting the proportions
  • Apps use a few GB of RAM despite the fact that 16 can be configured
  • last but not least, there are no professional applications.

The main problem with iPad OS, and iPad Pro, what does it do in fact Fail All the enthusiasm for this fantastic machine is precisely the absence of real PRO apps.

Let's be clear, Is there Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom, Luma Fusion, Acrobat, NomadSculpt etc. but these are only “light” versions which collide heavily with the limitations, listed above, of iPad OS.

The Macbook Air M1, on the other hand, allows you to install - and use at full power - all the applications that a professional needs.

The iPad version of Photoshop isn't even a shadow of its Desktop version.

What about the much acclaimed Luma Fusion for video editing? There's no story against Final Cut, Premiere, or Da Vinci.

What about web development? VS Code has its web version but it is very limited. Not to mention the Browser lack of support for builders such as Wordpress, Shopify or Webflow, are terrible to use on iPad.

All this, having understood the real potential of a product like the 2021 iPad Pro, is really frustrating and demeaning for those, like me, who were looking for and are still looking for a compromise between laptop and tablet.

And, unfortunately for us, that compromise It's not iPad Pro 2021 with M1 chip, or at least for now.


But hey! Cheer up, You don't work and that's enough with the PC hahahahah.

Recommended Use Cases and Final Thoughts

We understood two things after all this rant:

iPad Pro is cool, very cool, with pen and Magic Keyboard it rocks but is professionally limited by the OS

Is Macbook Air reliableand, powerful and does everything a laptop should do - including coffee.

But let's see some of the use cases I recommend for both devices.

For the iPad Pro, a lifetime:

  • Mild use, to read, write and enjoy multimedia content; Daje de Netflix
  • It's a bomb to study, with Notability, taking and editing notes becomes a breeze
  • editing and photo editing On the Go, with the pen you retouch like God on Lightroom
  • recommended for artists, whether they are 2D or 3D, between Procreate for illustrations and Nomad for modeling, there is something to indulge in



The MacBook Air, on the other hand, for life:

  • Who is always around for, it has an infinite battery - I'm doing 8 hours of work very well - and it's powerful enough to manage any work workflow
  • at a professional level, supports all desktop applications and with the M1 chip the performance is crazy, for example Final Cut Pro holds up very well long timelines with files ProRes Of the iPhone 13 Pro
  • Obviously it's super even for mild use, it's small and light but at this point the iPad is better if it's just for browsing
  • to use it like... a PC, has been doing everything other laptops have done for decades xD


I mean, I'm two great cars What are going, however, evaluated according to your needs.

My Two Cents:

If you really are curious and you want them both, do like me:

  • Use the MacBook Air As the main PC and theiPad as an external monitor through Sidecar
  • If necessary, uncover the Apple Pencil and use it as a graphics tablet

It's the best compromise ever.

Up to the Internet user view.

written by human, not by AI

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