Apple has been making some of the highest-performance ARM-based processors for years. Initially the company used those chips in mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad, but last year the company released its most powerful ARM chip to date and it debuted in the most powerful MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13 laptops to date.

Now that same chip is making its way to Apple’s tablets. The new 2021 iPad Pro is both powered by an Apple M1 processor, which the company says brings up to a 50-percent increase in CPU performance over the Apple A12Z Bionic chip used in the previous-gen iPad pro. Graphics performance is also up by as much as 40 percent.

The new iPad Pro comes in two sizes, with the 11 inch model selling for $799 and up and a 12.9 inch version (with a higher-quality display) starting at $1099. They both go on sale April 30 and ship in the second half of May.

The Apple M1 processors used in the new iPad Pro tablets features an 8-core CPU, 8-core graphics, and a 16-core neural engine. But this isn’t the only upgrade in this year’s tablets.

Apple’s new iPad Pro models are the company’s first tablets to support up to 16GB of RAM and up to 2TB of storage, and the storage is twice as fast as previous-gen tablets.

Basically you get all of the performance you’d expect from a MacBook Pro 13, but in a tablet form factor. But Apple still draws an increasingly arbitrary distinction between its laptops and tablets – Macs run macOS and iPads run iPadOS. While you can now run iOS apps on Macs with M1 chips, you cannot run macOS apps on iPads, even if they have the same processor.

There are at least five other things that set this year’s iPads Pro apart from their predecessors:

  • The new models are available with optional support for 5G connectivity. Just note that you’ll need to pay an extra $200 for this feature.
  • Apple upgraded the USB-C ports to Thunderbolt 3/USB 4 ports with support for 40 Gbps data transfer speeds and 10 Gbps Ethernet connections.
  • There’s a new 12MP ultra-wide TrueDepth front-facing camera that can automatically “pan” to follow you as you move using a “Center Stage” feature.
  • The Pro camera system and M1 Neural Engine and ISP enable new features including Smart HDR 3, improved low-light scanning, and enhanced augmented reality, green screen, and other effects.
  • Apple’s new 12.9 inch iPad Pro is the first with a Liquid Retina XDR display.

That last one is worth examining in more detail. As long rumored, Apple is bringing mini LED technology to the iPad series, starting with the 12.9 inch iPad Pro. While last year’s model had 72 LED lights, this year’s has more than 10,000 tiny LED lights spread across the display and arranged into nearly 2,600 local dimming zones.

Apple says the system allowed the company to match the quality of its Pro Display XDR in a more compact device like the 1.5 pound iPad Pro which measures just 6.5mm thick. You get extremely high dynamic range, 1000 nits of brightness or 1600 nits of peak brightness, a million-to-one contrast ratio, and wide color gamut.

And if you want to use either the 11 inch or 12.9 inch iPad Pro models with an external display, they both now work with Apple’s 6K Pro Display XDR now that they have Thunderbolt 3 ports with support for 4X the data transfer bandwidth of previous-gen iPad Pro tablets.

The 12.9 inch iPad Pro has a 2732 x 2048 pixel display with 264 pixels per inch, and the tablet measures 11.04″ x 8.46″ x 0.25″ and has starting weight of about 1.5 pounds. It has a 40.88 Wh battery and the tablet comes with a 20W USB-C charger.

Apple’s 11 inch model is a 1.03 pound tablet that measures 9.74″ x 7.02″ x 0.23″ and which has has a 2388 x 1668 pixel (264 ppi) LED backlit display and a 28.65 Wh battery.

Despite the differences in battery capacity, Apple says both tablets should get up to 10 hours of battery life while web surfing over WiFi or playing video, or 9 hours when doing those things over a mobile data connection if you opt for a model support for cellular networks.

 

press release

 

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  1. Without MacOS this is just a huge waste of money.

    Ipad OS isn’t nearly functional enough for this product. Give me a functional file explorer, the ability to side-load applications, and virtual memory. Then I would consider this a “Pro” product.

    Ipad OS just doesn’t do what people need.

  2. With Specs like this, it won’t not run MacOS apps forever.. There must be a plan in the works to make porting them easier or something

    1. I agree. I foresee either a keyboard dock turning it into a Macbook Pro when docked, or a DeX style MacOS Lite that can be activated.

  3. 20W charger is bullshit for a device with 40Wh battery even if it sips the juice and can most likely run and charge at the same time from the 20W under most loads even if not very quickly. (im not entirely sure if you were rendering with display on full brightness if it could hold its charge on 20W )

    1. The M1 in an apparently fanless tablet is a major achievement. As a hater of the iPadOS Walled Garden and restrictive file management, macOS would be a great selling point but insufficient for me.

      I also need no camera bump and – for an expensive device – replaceable battery to justify the expense on average per year of use.

      16GB RAM is the low end of what I would need for such a device; 32GB would be very much better. While 128GB / 8GB cost €1199, 1TB / 16GB cost €1969. This is €770 more for a mimimum configuration with 16GB.

      As typical for Apple, excess prices are extremely excessive and greedy. I do not spend them.

      I rather wait for the next Nvidia RTX generation becoming available at hopefully MSRPs then. A desktop with an RTX 3080-level GPU and 64GB RAM costs the same. I will have to sacrifice mobility but get very much more work done.

      1. What can you possibly do that requires a tablet with 32GB of RAM?
        You can’t find the M1 power ratio within this price bracket anywhere, as you say at the end of your e-mail, what you need is a desktop.
        On other news, the Caterham Super 7 is useless as a Truck.

        1. My use for much RAM is artificial intelligence (in my case: Go playing programs) run throughout a night to answer difficult analytical questions. (I suppose others have other uses for much RAM including VMs or advanced graphics / video rendering.)

          As to pure calculation power, desktop would suit me better but currently GPUs are essentially unavailable. Therefore, a compromise device is an option. I would prefer today’s desktop GPU power in a mobile device but for this dream I need to wait a couple of further years.

          1. “I need an ARM powered tablet with 32gb of Ram, to run AI software to compute moves in a board game”

            Once again, Apple is just blind to the true demands of the professional market…

  4. Sorry for hating, but… I really wish Apple would sell their 5nm fab capacity to AMD and Nvidia to build more GPU cards. I seriously doubt they will sell enough m1 products to break even.

    1. Apple hasn’t got fab capacity, they just buy some space on TSMC production line. They sell about 45 millions iPads a year and 25 millions Macs a year. Assuming less than half of these will require M1, we’re looking at 30 Millions chips a year. They then require another 200 millions chips for their other devices. A14, A13, A12 with the main one, the A14 also printed on 5mn. There is no spare capacity to sell to anyone.