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Apple used its April 20 ‘Spring Loaded’ event to announce a new iPad Pro with some exciting new features, including a fundamental shift in power. Here’s everything you need to know about Apple’s latest Pro tablet.
New M1 processor
The iPad Pro’s new Apple-designed M1 chip is the same one that powers the new iMac, as well as the latest Mac Mini, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro.
Apple is promising a “huge jump in performance” from its new chip, with a CPU that’s up to 50 percent faster than the preceding A12Z Bionic, alongside a 40 percent faster GPU. And the A12Z was no tortoise to begin with, so that’s some serious speed.
The M1 chip also includes a next-generation 16-core Apple Neural Engine and an advanced image signal processor (ISP). It comes with either 8GB (for the 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB models) or 16GB (for the 1TB and 2TB models) of RAM, which is decent even by Mac standards. Meanwhile the storage is twice as fast as before.
Despite this impressive performance boost, the M1’s energy efficient nature means that you can expect all-day battery life, with 10 hours on Wi-Fi models and 9 hours on cellular.
12.9-inch mini-LED display
The iPad Pro still comes in 11-inch and 12.9-inch variants, but only the latter gets the benefits of the new Liquid Retina XDR mini-LED technology.
By employing 10,000 LEDs across the back of the display, the larger iPad Pro can get considerably brighter, with up to 1000 nits of full-screen brightness and 1600 nits of peak brightness. In addition, mini-LED enables a vast 1 million-to-1 contrast ratio for extreme amounts of dynamic range. This translates to more color gradients, deeper blacks, and brighter whites.
Apple was at pains to point out that this will make the iPad Pro 12.9-inch even more appealing to creative professionals such as photographers, videographers, and filmmakers. They will now be able to view and edit true-to-life HDR content on the go.
Previous iPad Pro display standards are included across both models, including ProMotion, True Tone, and P3 wide color support.
Apple finally went big on 5G with the announcement of the iPhone 12 family late last year, and now it’s bringing 5G to the iPad Pro.
There isn’t much to be said for Apple’s 5G implementation – it’s still very much dependent on network availability in your area – but Apple did say that the iPad Pro supports the most 5G bands on any device of its kind. In the US, that includes super-fast millimeter wave (mmWave) for download speeds of up to 4Gbps.
In terms of physical connectivity, the iPad Pro adds support for Thunderbolt 3 and USB 4, making the solitary USB-C port on the bottom of the iPad Pro even more versatile. It sees a 4x bandwidth increase compared to previous models.
Thunderbolt 3 in particular enables a 10Gbps Ethernet connection, not to mention support for faster external storage and higher resolution external displays – including Apple’s 6K Pro Display XDR.
Ultra-wide front camera with Center Stage
With video calling more important than ever, Apple has upped the iPad Pro’s TrueDepth camera game.
It incorporates a completely fresh 12MP ultra-wide camera that enables a new feature called Center Stage. Using the new camera’s wider 120-degree field of view in conjunction with the M1 chip’s AI smarts, your view will automatically shift and pan to keep you centred in frame.
Center Stage can even detect when other people come into the picture, and will zoom out to keep everyone framed.
New iPad Pro release date and pricing
The new iPad Pro will be available to order on Friday, April 30, from Apple’s website. Actual device availability has been given as a slightly vague “second half of May”.
Thanks to all that power, prices are a little steeper than the previous-generation iPad Pro. For the headline 12.9-inch model will start from $1,099/£999 for the 128GB model, stretching up to $1,199/£1,099 for 256GB, $1,399/£1,299 for 512GB, $1,799/£1,649 for 1TB, and topping out at a mighty $2,199/£1,999 for 2TB.
For the 11-inch model, you’re looking at $799/£749 for 128GB, $899/£849 for 256GB, $1,099/£1,049 for 512GB, $1,499/£1,399 for 1TB, and $1,899/£1,749 for 2TB.