Apple today announced all-new iPad Pros featuring the same M1 chip found in the company’s latest Macs along with several other new features, including a Thunderbolt-compatible port, 5G connectivity on cellular models, updated cameras, and on the 12.9” model, a Liquid Retina XDR display that shares many of the specs as the company’s Pro Display XDR.
The iPad Pro update starts with the M1 chip that already provides fast, quiet performance in the new Mac mini, MacBook Air, and 13” MacBook Pros introduced last fall. Apple says the 8-core M1 provides up to 50% faster CPU and 40% faster graphics performance than the previous model’s A12Z Bionic. To put things into even further perspective, that’s 75 times the CPU performance of the original iPad and an astonishing 1500 times the original iPad’s graphics. The iPad Pro also incorporates a 16-core Neural Engine, a new image signal processor, up to two times faster storage, and up to 16GB of memory, with other models being limited to 8GB, a big jump over previous models. The top-tier storage option has been doubled to 2TB of storage capacity.
The 12.9” iPad Pro received a new screen not found on the smaller model. Apple’s calling it the Liquid Retina XDR display, and it uses 10,000 mini LEDs organized into over 2500 dimming regions to deliver 1000 nits of full-screen brightness with 1600 nits of peak brightness and a 1 million-to-1 contrast ratio. Both iPad Pro models also feature ProMotion, True Tone, and P3 wide color along with HDR and Dolby Vision support.
Mobile connectivity has been enhanced on both iPad Pros with worldwide 5G support and millimeter wave support in the US. eSIM support is included too.
The USB-C landscape is a confusing mess, but the bottom line is that the iPad Pro’s USB-C port is now substantially faster because it supports Thunderbolt and USB 4. That allows for data transfer speeds of up to 40Gbps and Ethernet transfer rates of 10Gbps. The new connector means more powerful accessories can be driven by the iPad Pro, including Apple’s own Pro Display XDR at 6K resolution. However, external display support has not changed, meaning that if you spring for that Pro Display XDR, you’ll be running your iPad Pro in mirroring mode, unless the app you’re using supports Apple’s special full-screen APIs.
The front-facing True Depth camera of the iPad Pro got an upgrade too. The new 12MP ultra-wide camera enables a feature called Center Stage that automatically pans as you move from side to side on a video call, keeping you centered in the shot. The feature is not limited to Apple’s FaceTime app. If someone else comes into view, the camera zooms in to accommodate them in the frame too. The M1’s image signal processor and Neural Engine also enable Smart HDR 3, and along with the LiDAR Scanner, the ISP helps the iPad Pro’s rear-facing camera focus quickly.
The Magic Keyboard got a cosmetic update, too, with a white option. It will be interesting to see how well the new color holds up under long-term use.
The 11” iPad Pro starts at $799, and the 12.9” model starts at $1099. Configured to the maximum specs, though, the 12.9” iPad Pro will cost you $2399. Apple will begin taking orders on April 30th, with deliveries starting in the second half of May.