The iPad Pro has always been Apple’s most capable tablet, but with its latest generation, the company is taking things even farther.
The new iPad Pro, which will be available in the second part of May and will cost $800 for the 11-inch variant, is powered by Apple’s M1 chip, which is also featured in the latest MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models.
In comparison to last year’s model, the 11-inch iPad Pro I’ve been testing has optional 5G connectivity, a better webcam with Apple’s new Center Stage function, Thunderbolt compatibility, and storage capacity options.
Overall, the M1 chip, together with these enhancements, makes the iPad speedier, more durable, and more valuable as a work tablet than before. However, it still has constraints that prevent it from really replacing your laptop, making it more suited to creatives than those with more typical workflows.
Nonetheless, the M1 microprocessor is likely to open up a whole new world of possibilities for creative professions. However, as with Apple’s previous iPad Pro models, you’ll have to pay a premium to get the most out of it.
Specifications for the Apple iPad Pro 11-inch (2021)
|Apple iPad Pro||Specifications|
|Display||11 inches, 2,388 x 1,668 resolution, 120Hz refresh rate|
|Processor||Apple M1 with 8-core central processing unit, 8-core graphics processing unit|
|Main Camera||12-megapixel wide, 10-megapixel ultra-wide|
|Front Camera||12-megapixels with Center Stage|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 6, optional 5G, Bluetooth 5.0|
|Ports||USB 4/Thunderbolt, Apple Smart Connector|
|Battery Life||Estimated up to 10 hours|
|Storage||128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB|
|RAM||8GB or 16GB|
|Colors||Silver or Space Gray|
Design and display
Like the iPad Air, 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and previous-generation iPad Pro, the 11-inch iPad Pro has a bright screen with 264 pixels per inch. Apple’s new mini-LED display, which is said to improve contrast, is only available on the larger iPad Pro models.
The main differences between the 11-inch iPad Pro and iPad Air screens are that the Pro’s display is somewhat larger, brighter, and features Apple’s ProMotion technology. The frame rate is increased to 120Hz, allowing for smoother scrolling and better response.
However, it isn’t obvious enough to influence your purchasing decision. Scrolling is a little faster, but drawing and coloring with the second-generation Apple Pencil on the iPad Air is just as fluid as it is on the new iPad Pro.
The new iPad Pro follows in the footsteps of its predecessor in terms of slimness. That is to say, it is made of a sleek metal with flat corners, making it very small and portable. The iPad Pro, unlike the colorful iPad Air, is only available in silver and space gray.
When it comes to video and photo editing, the iPad Pro‘s M1 CPU is lightning fast. That’s critical for a device aimed towards photographers, video editors, artists, designers, architects, and anyone else who works with 3D renderings, as Apple has done.
In one test, the M1-equipped iPad Pro converted a 10-minute 4K footage to 1080p using Adobe Premiere Rush in roughly half the time it took the iPad Air. It also beat the 12.9-inch iPad Pro from last year by around 20 seconds. The same movie took approximately 20 minutes to export on a Dell XPS 13 with an 11th-generation Intel Core i7 processor.
As indicated in the findings below, the new iPad Pro was a hair faster at exporting a 4.7MB shot using Adobe Lightroom.
|Apple iPad Pro (11-inch, 2021)||Apple iPad Air (2020)||Apple iPad Pro (12.9-inch 2020)||Dell XPS 13|
|Video Export||3 minutes, 25 seconds||3 minutes, 45 seconds||5 minutes, 55 seconds||19 minutes, 58 seconds|
|Photo Export||1.4 seconds||2 seconds||1.8 seconds||3.2 seconds|
The increase in speed over Apple’s previous iPads is noticeable. The way app developers employ the M1 chip’s capabilities in their apps, though, is what will set the iPad Pro apart. StaffPad, for example, is updating its app with a feature that is exclusively available on M1 devices: it automatically detects notes while you play an instrument.
Apple’s goals for the iPad Pro as a computer device are demonstrated by features like these. I’ve always admired the iPad Pro for its speed, battery life, and small size, but I’ve never fully grasped Apple’s vision for it as a new form of computer. As apps like StaffPad demonstrate, this appears to be changing now that the M1 processor has made its way into the iPad Pro.
If you’re seeking for a classic laptop experience, the iPad Pro isn’t for you. Computers with a desktop operating system, such as macOS or Windows, are still considerably easier to use when juggling different workflows.
By displaying Google Docs and Slack in Split View and keeping my email handy in Slide Over, I’m able to get most of my work done (including writing this review) on the iPad Pro.
But the moment I need to use another app or open a new Google Doc, I find myself missing my laptop. You’ll also need to buy attachments if you want to use the iPad for business, as Apple doesn’t provide a keyboard or Apple Pencil in the package. Because the newest Apple Pencil costs $129 and the Magic Keyboard starts at $299, the iPad Pro can rapidly become costly.
In comparison to a typical computer, Apple has solved one of the iPad Pro‘s main flaws. Thunderbolt is now supported on both the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad models, allowing users to connect the iPad to more peripherals as as high-resolution monitors, USB-C hubs, and dedicated cameras.
Cameras in tablets have generally been disregarded, but not so with the iPad Pro. Apple’s next pro-tablet, like its predecessor, contains a LiDAR sensor for measuring depth, as well as a 12-megapixel wide camera and a 10-megapixel ultra-wide angle camera, which could be beneficial for those who want to shoot and edit photographs and movies on the same device.
The front-facing camera, on the other hand, has seen a significant upgrade this time around. The new iPad Pro not only features a 12-megapixel front camera instead of the previous model’s 7-megapixel camera, but it also includes a new feature dubbed Center Stage.
Center Stage, as the name implies, maintains you in frame while moving during video chats, and it works in both Apple’s FaceTime and other video conferencing apps.
Center Stage is pre-installed on the new iPad Pro and does not require any configuration. During FaceTime chats, the camera gradually zooms in to better frame my face and follows me as I move to the left and right. It even pans out when another person joins the scene, allowing them to be included in the image.
Other products that employ motors to track people and keep them in frame, such as Amazon’s new Echo Show 10 and Logitech’s QuickCam webcam, but having it built directly into the iPad makes it feel more practical and widespread.
This is an example of a feature that sets the iPad Pro apart from Apple’s other tablets. It also demonstrates how Apple may use the M1’s power to add capabilities that were previously unavailable. I only wish it had arrived sooner, because I can see it being really handy for the group video conversations I made to friends and family over the 2020 holidays. Hopefully, this capability will be available for M1 Macs as well.
Otherwise, the quality of the new iPad Pro‘s 12-megapixel front camera has been improved. Take a look at the photographs below to see how the iPad Pro’s image is somewhat brighter and more vivid than the iPad Air‘s 7-megapixel front camera.
Time between charges
The new iPad Pro is expected to have the same battery life as the previous-generation iPad Pro and the most recent iPad Air, according to Apple. According to my testing, all three tablets have similar battery life, but the new 11-inch iPad Pro lasted the longest. The new 11-inch iPad Pro lasted nearly six hours while I watched a 1080p video on YouTube with the screen set to full brightness.
Meanwhile, the iPad Air died after just over five hours, while the older 12.9-inch iPad Pro perished after five hours. However, keep in mind that battery life varies depending on how you use your iPad. It’s also plausible that the 11-inch iPad Pro lasted longer because it’s fresh new, although the iPad Air and iPad Pro have both been tested and reviewed previously.
|Apple iPad Pro (11-inch, 2021)||Apple iPad Air (2020)||Apple iPad Pro (12.9-inch 2020)|
|Battery Life||5 hours, 54 minutes||5 hours, 17 minutes||5 hours|
Should you purchase it?
Yes, but only if you’re searching for a tablet to use for multimedia editing and video conferencing. The iPad Air can perform most of the same activities for a lower price, but the iPad Pro‘s M1 CPU, Thunderbolt compatibility, and better cameras are likely to appeal to creatives who need a very portable work tablet.
What other options do you have?
The MacBook Air is a better choice if you’re seeking to spend approximately $1,000 on a work device and have a more traditional workflow that includes doing a lot of research in a web browser, organizing spreadsheets, and writing papers. It still has the M1 chip’s long battery life and rapid performance, but it runs on Apple’s desktop software, which is superior for multitasking.
The iPad Air, which has a comparable look, lots of power because it runs on the same chip as the iPhone 12, and is also compatible with the Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard, is a great choice for light productivity, gaming, and watching movies.
If you really want a tablet for traditional workflows but aren’t a fan of Apple, Microsoft’s Surface Pro 7 is an option. The Surface Pro 7 has a comparable tiny and ultra-portable form, but instead of a mobile-first operating system, it runs Windows.
The new iPad Pro is speedy, has a long battery life, and a great camera that keeps you in focus. But it’s pricey, so it’s only for creative workers who require top-notch performance and portability when working with massive video and photo files in small workplaces or on the go.