The comparison between the MacBook Air and the Pro has evolved over the years, with both laptops now closer than ever in several aspects. Apple’s biggest move was when they decided to develop the Apple silicon and permanently switched away from Intel’s processors. The result of this move is evident for all to see as Apple has never had a faster chip running their laptop.
The M1 chip is not only about speed, but the battery power is also staggering. Now more than ever, Apple has invested a lot into these laptops, even switching from the controversial Butterfly keyboard to the more reliable Magic keyboard.
Although some of Apple’s laptops still have Intel’s processors, there are rumors that Apple is planning on releasing M1X chips of these laptop versions.
The results of the M1 chip have brought staggering results for both the Air and the Pro, but this makes it even more difficult for the average user to make a choice. Here, we compare both Macs in different aspects to help you make a more comprehensive decision when choosing between both.
The MacBook Air and Pro do not only share the same M1 chip, but they also look very similar in terms of design. They both have the machined aluminum build that comes in space gray and silver. The slight difference between these two is how the Pro has a big and impetuous but well-built design, and the Air maintains its tapered-wedge design.
Both laptops have bezels that are a bit large, and could both lose some chinks. In terms of measurement, these laptops are closer than you would expect. Despite the Pro being larger, it shares the same thickness as the Air at 0.6-inches. Although it weighs more than 3 pounds compared to 2.8 pounds in the Air.
Both laptops have the P3 wide-color spectrum, a feature once limited to the MacBook Pro 16. For brightness, the Pro clocked 434.8 nits, while the Air reached a max of 365.8 nits.
They are also close for color output, with the Air reaching 114.3% sRGB while the Pro reached a 110.6% rating on the colorimeter.
Apple has always claimed that the M1 chip means a great leap in performance. In the Geekbench 5 testing, the Air scored 5,962 while the Pro attained a similar score at 5,925.
The Pro came out on top for the time used in converting a 4k video to 1080p (the handbrake video transcoding testing). It did it in 7:44, while the Air had a 9:15 time.
The Pro had the fastest SSD with a 2,824.9 MBps speed rate on the Blackmagic Disk Speed Test. It beat the Air which had a 2,692 MBps speed rate.
One of the major issues on Apple’s MacBooks in recent years has been the ‘butterfly’-style keyboard mechanism which was somewhat shallow and had reliability issues.
After three years of the butterfly keyboard, Apple decided to switch to the Magic Keyboard, which is great to use.
All M1 versions of MacBooks have the Magic keyboard, but there is a slight difference. The Air has the physical function buttons while the Pro has the OLED Touch Bar.
A lot of people, like me, prefer the physical function buttons, which are more difficult to activate by mistake.
One of the major wins of the M1 chip is the battery life. The M1 Air clocked over 14 hours of battery life when put to the test, while the Pro lasted for over 16 hours on the test.
Both the Air and the Pro perform poorly in this aspect, with the Air having not more than two Thunderbolt-3 ports, and the Pro has two USB Type-C ports.
In both cases, the Intel models perform better in this aspect.
Value and Price
Apple decided to break the sub-$1000 barrier with the M1 MacBook Air. While it is only a dollar below $1,000, the major win for users is how Apple doubled the default storage, raising it to 256GB while cutting a hundred dollars off the price.
For the M1 MacBook Pro, the same also occurs for the storage but no price-cutting, rather staying the same despite the improvement – which is also a good win.
This is the closest battle between the Air and Pro since we have been comparing them. The M1 version of these Macs is closer than ever, but we still recommend the Air due to the value it offers. If you don’t like it you can trade your Macbook for cash with us and pick up another one.
Although for performance and battery life, the Pro will be the choice. But the Air offers more value overall to the average user. The Pro is better suited to the professionals.