We are reader supported. When you buy through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

iPad 4 vs iPad Air (2020): Same Screen Size, Lighter Build

When it was first released, the iPad Air was considered Apple’s lightest, thinnest and most powerful flagship tablet yet. It initially served as a replacement for the then-discontinued iPad 4 hence its other name of iPad 5. The fourth-generation tablet has since returned to the market as a lower-end offering, but is it worth buying over the newer version? Let us help you decide.

iPad 4 vs iPad Air Comparison Chart

Model iPad 4 iPad Air

Weight1.46 lbs1.03 lbs
Dimensions 9.50 x 7.31 x 0.37 inches 9.45 x 6.67 x 0.30 inches
Battery11,560 mAh8,600 mAh
Runtime10 hours10 hours
Rear Camera5MP5MP (upgraded sensor)
Front Camera1.2MP1.2MP
Display9.7-inch Retina9.7-inch Retina
Screen Resolution 2048×1536 pixels 2048×1536 pixels
Color Options space gray, gold & silverblack & white


As its name suggests, the iPad Air has a lighter, thinner and less boxier build than the iPad 4.

ipad 4 design
The iPad 4 looks boxy and thicker

ipad air design
The iPad Air is more curved and thinner

Weighing only 1.03 lbs, the iPad Air is 28 percent lighter than the iPad 4 and is closer in weight to the iPad Mini. It also has a more curved design featuring dual speakers relocated to either side of the Lightning port. Its dimensions are 9.45 x 6.67 x 0.30 inches so it’s slightly smaller than the iPad 4 at 9.50 x 7.31 x 0.37 inches.


The iPad Air sports the powerful A7 chip which is a major upgrade from the A6X in the iPad 4.

ipad air a7
The iPad Air features a more advanced A7 chipset for faster processing

The iPad 4 uses a 32-bit Apple A6X chipset with a quad-core graphics card. While it delivers decent performance when running apps, it can hardly compete with the 64-bit A7 processor in the iPad Air. There is an apparent difference in graphics rendering, gaming performance and even photo capturing.

Moreover, the iPad Air also has an M7 coprocessor for monitoring movement data from the compass, gyroscope and accelerometer. This results in more precise data for fitness and location apps.


In spite of a smaller capacity battery, the iPad Air has the same runtime as the iPad 4.

In exchange for a thinner and lighter body, the iPad Air is equipped with a smaller capacity 8,600 mAh battery equivalent to 32.4 watt-hours. The iPad 4 has a larger 11,560 mAh battery equivalent to 42.5 watt-hours. There is an obvious reduction in capacity but greater power demand from the A7 processor. Even so, these two tablets have the same runtime of 10 hours of music, videos and WiFi usage.


The iPad Air features a nicer 5-megapixel sensor than the iPad 4.

Despite rumors of an upgrade to an 8-megapixel camera, the iPad Air actually comes with the same 5-megapixel iSight lens as the iPad 4. The front camera also remains the same at 1.2 megapixels although there is an improvement in low-light captures. Maximum aperture for the rear camera is still f/2.4 with HD video recording, panorama, face detection and autofocus. However, the sensor is said to have been upgraded to offer higher image quality.


The iPad Air has the same size screen as the iPad 4 but also has more color options.

ipad air colors
The iPad Air 1st Generation is available in three colors

The screen in the iPad Air has not changed from that of the iPad 4; it’s still a 9.7-inch Retina display with 2048×1536 pixel resolution. Sharpness, color reproduction and contrast are good in their IPS-type panels allowing for comfy angled viewing. This is referring to the first generation iPad Air, of course, as the latest has a 10.5-inch display.

The iPad Air also comes in more color finishes, namely space gray, gold and silver. The iPad 4 is only available in black or white. Hence, there is little similarity when you compare these models from the back.


The iPad Air offers better performance and a lighter build making it the better buy.

The iPad 4 is more affordable but it doesn’t deliver the same level of performance and portability as the iPad Air. It’s definitely better to buy the newer version with an upgraded camera sensor and processor as well as a more compact design. All of these allow you to enjoy better gaming and app experience.

Last update on 2020-09-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

RELATED  iPad Pro vs Cintiq (2020): How The Cheaper Cintiq 16 Beat Out The iPad Pro
Andy Mathews
Andy Mathews

Lead Editor at Compare Before Buying. Product researcher and tech enthusiast passionate about consumer products, comparison charts and surfing.