Our Verdict

The 12.9-inch iPad pro is the pure best tablet Apple or anyone rather has ever before made. Yet with a beginning price of $1,099, it’s difficult to introduce buying it.

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There’s no denying the the 12.9-inch iPad agree is a gorgeous and also incredibly powerful piece of hardware. It’s conveniently one of the nicest piece of technology I’ve ever before held and the more quickly iPad ever before made, and also it’s tough to imagine any tablet released in the next five years doing much to top it.

Of course, I could have written the very same thing about the 2020 model. The 2021 iPad pro doesn’t look all the much different than the model it replace instead instead or the 2018 iPad Pro prior to that. And the upgrades the brand-new model brings—most notably, the Retina XDR display, 5G modem, and also M1 processor—won’t be immediately noticeable come anyone making use of it. Uneven you’re comparing it side by side to the 2020 model, in fact, you more than likely won’t be able to tell i m sorry iPad agree you’re in reality using.


The M1 iPad agree (right) is impressive, however the improvements over the 2020 model (left) aren’t instantly obvious.

Michael Simon/IDG

And even then, it’s hard to tell lock apart. The shouldn’t it is in the just reason not to purchase one, and also if you’re willing to spend virtually $3,000 on a tablet, that absolutely won’t be. But since money will certainly most likely be one object, you’ll be just as happy spending less on last year’s design or just buying an iPad Air.

Center the attention

It might be weird to begin an iPad evaluation by mentioning the camera, however it represents whatever that’s great and frustrating around the iPad Pro. Apple insists on offering the iPad as a portrait device like the iPhone, also though the organic inclination is to choose it up and hold it lengthwise.

After much more than 10 years and dozens of iterations, i don’t know when apple is walking to admit that the iPad is a see device. I shed track of how plenty of time ns picked up the iPad Pro and blocked the camera v my thumb, for this reason blocking challenge ID and also forcing me come either change my tight or input my passcode. When picked up horizontally, the iPad’s camera is in the perfect clues to be blocked and it’s somewhat infuriating that no one at Apple appears to think this is one issue.


The camera ~ above the brand-new iPad pro (top) is far superior come the 2020 version (below).


As much as the prior camera itself, Apple has actually upgraded the from a plain ƒ/2.2 7MP camera to an ƒ/2.4 12MP ultra vast camera through 2x optical zoom out. The difference is large and if you take it a the majority of FaceTime calls both you and also the human being on the other end of the speak to will instantly notification the difference. It lastly brings the iPad Pro’s take self camera as much as the level of the iPhone, i m sorry has had a higher-quality camera due to the fact that the iphone 11.

Since the camera is likely to be unnaturally located to the left of her gaze if making a FaceTime call, Apple has actually launched a brand-new feature called center Stage that rather solves that issue. When you change out of the center of the frame, the camera will pan and zoom to keep you in the center of the structure as if someone to be filming you. It’s a fantastic feature that works smoothly and also without distraction, and coupled v Attention Correction, that does nicely to hide the fact that most civilization will it is in looking the dorn way.

But if that’s the only complaint ns have about the iPad Pro’s design, then Apple has acquired a lot of right. Move the camera and also rotate the to apologize logo, and also the iPad Pro’s style is fantastic, if no a little stale. The design of the iPad pro hasn’t readjusted much at all due to the fact that the 2018 fluid Retina redesign, and there’s a factor for that—it’s usually perfect. It’s a touch heavier and also thicker 보다 last year’s model but not something people are likely to notice, specifically when the ergonomics room so good. It’s so comparable to the 2020 model, in fact, the the old keyboard case folds just fine, also with 0.5mm the extra girth.


The style of the iPad agree is a bit stale in ~ this point, but it’s hard to uncover much fault v it.

Michael Simon/IDG

The bezels are little enough to not be distracting yet broad enough to hold (thanks come top-notch leaf rejection), and also the bent corners ~ above the display nicely reflect the contours of the machine itself. Ns wouldn’t be opposed to a brand-new color—once again, silver and space gray room the only options—but the architecture of the iPad agree is still good years later.

A fantasticer display

If you’ve offered the largest iPad pro before, the display screen is going to seem an extremely similar. It’s the very same 12.9 inches as it’s constantly been and doesn’t show up to it is in much different at very first glance, also though to apologize is currently using mini-LED tech and also changes $100 more.

That’s no necessarily a criticism. Although the prior iPad Pro display screens were all LCDs, castle were amongst the finest in the business, rivaling some competitors’ OLED screens. While friend can definitely see the distinction in the Retina XDR display screen when you to compare it side by next to the fluid Retina screen on the previous model, the visual distinction isn’t practically as stark as the specs would have actually you believe.


Unless you’re straight comparing the 2021 iPad agree (top) versus the 2020 version (bottom), it’s extremely complicated to see the improvements.

Michael Simon/IDG

It’s definitely brighter (Apple says it deserve to hit 1,600 nits yet I couldn’t obtain it come go past 900 no matter exactly how bright the neighboring light was), despite most world will most likely keep it at a much an ext visually palatable level. There’s also far far better contrast that’s in line v OLED high quality (1,000,000:1 versus 1,800:1), however again, unless you’re law very certain tasks or city hall very specific HDR movie scenes, you probably won’t notice.

The upgrade will likely be an ext noticeable for creative professionals who use the to apologize Pencil often and also whose eyes will certainly appreciate the type of crisp shade accuracy the Retina XDR display screen provides. If you have the need—and much more importantly, the money—the 12.9-inch iPad Pro’s screen won’t be a disappointment, however it also won’t be the remarkable visual update the leap come Retina or OLED was on the iPhone.

Speed to spare, literally

The various other upgrade Apple carried to this year’s iPad pro is an M1 processor as with the one in the apologize silicon Macs. And also just choose the one in the apologize silicon Macs, it’s stunner fast.



If you’ve checked out benchmarks because that the 24-inch iMac or 13-inch MacBook Pro, you’ll know specifically what the iPad pro brings. Contrasted to the A14 in the iPad Air, it’s also faster 보다 a theoretical A14X, with a remarkable all-around speed, particularly in Geekbench’s Compute tests. And also the M1 totally blew far the vault iPad Pro once it comes to graphics.

Despite the brand-new chip, however, you’re not gaining much far better battery life. Apple has rated every iPad it’s ever before made by the very same 10 hrs of battery life, provide or take it an hour or so, and also the iPad Pro drops firmly in ~ that variety in my testing. That’s come say friend won’t need to worry around plugging it in uneven you usage it for hours on end or leaving it unplugged because that days.

Speaking of plugging the in, you’ll get the same 18W rapid charging as you go on the 2020 model—sadly there’s no wireless charging or MagSafe yet—but the port now supports Thunderbolt devices for quicker data transfers and also higher-resolution monitors. The only trouble is Apple still hasn’t upgraded iPadOS to match, particularly when it involves external displays. The only option is to mirror the iPad Pro’s display screen to a second monitor, i m sorry is a less-than-ideal suffer that drops woefully quick of a dual-screen workstation.

This year’s cellular design uses a 5G modem instead of an LTE one, for this reason speeds will be quicker in areas where 5G networks are available. That’s nice to have but not all that necessary, specifically if you have actually an iphone 12 nearby. I tested Verizon’s 5G network and also with top speeds around 80Mbps, the was quicker than critical year’s LTE model. Yet I gained the results using my iphone 12’s hotspot, for this reason I’m not sure the extra expense and monthly fee is precious it now. It’s nice to have and offers a little of future-proofing, however much choose the screen, it’s not essential—or worth the $200 update fee to apologize is charging (versus $130 previously).

Held back by the very same constraints

For the an initial time apple is listing lamb specs because that the iPad Pro and also it starts at the same 8GB as the basic M1 Macs through 16GB available at the 1GB and 2GB warehouse tiers. That’s a many RAM for an iPad—previously iPad agree models topped the end at 6GB and the iPad air only has 4GB—and like the screen and the chip, I’m not fairly sure all the memory is needed.

On a Mac, much more RAM is constantly good, but iPadOS isn’t macOS. Apps room currently minimal to 5GB of lamb each, and also even despite iPadOS 15 will readjust that for some apps, it’s i can not qualify you’re ever before going to carry out so much with her iPad pro that you require 16GB of RAM. And also with simplified multitasking, it’s unlikely because that the mechanism to ever use anywhere near the available memory. Some civilization will scoff at that notion, but the fact remains the you deserve to do as much on the iPad Air, which has lesser specs and costs hundreds less.

Apps open up in one instant, scrolling is extremely smooth, and also Safari feel super snappy. So the 2021 iPad Pro certainly is fast—but so is the 2020 model. With benchmarks and specs that absolutely blow away the previous model, the 2021 iPad Pro should be leaps and bounds better than the predecessor. The factors why it’s not aren’t have to a failing the the iPad Pro but rather the way Apple has set up iPadOS. Regardless of breaking it away from the iPhone two years ago, the iPad’s operating mechanism is still stuck in other of a rut, through no real advantage to pro individuals or gamers. The iPad Pro will run everything better, but the speed and graphics boosts just don’t make as lot of a difference as they could.


The M1 iPad agree (top) is very similar to the 2020 model, but the USB-C port is currently Thunderbolt and the antenna lines support 5G networks.

Michael Simon/IDG

And other than increasing RAM limits, the iPadOS 15 update stops working to take benefit of the tremendous rate in the iPad Pro. We’re still waiting for skilled apps like Final cut Pro and Xcode, and Apple doesn’t provide power users any type of compelling factor to jump to the Pro. Some may argue that challenge ID, the rear camera system and also larger display screen justify the cost, but the fact remains the the tangible benefit that you gain when using a Mac Pro rather of a Mac mini simply isn’t there once switching in between an iPad Air and also iPad Pro.

Should friend buy a 12.9-inch iPad Pro?

The 12.9-inch iPad agree is without doubt the best tablet computer Apple has ever made. There’s a lot come like around it—the screen is gorgeous, the processor is desktop caliber and the former camera is rather good—but the also an ext expensive 보다 ever.

Yes, you’re getting more speed and pixels for her money, but whether that’s evident in your day-to-day use is one more question. If you don’t psychic spending $1,099 and also up on a tablet, the 12.9-inch iPad agree is the pure cream the the tablet crop with much more power, pixels, and performance 보다 you’ll ever need. There yes, really isn’t something in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro’s class, consisting of its 11-inch sibling. Fairly frankly, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro has actually reached a allude where Apple could take a break from updating the for 3 years and it would still operation circles around any type of other tablet.


The 2021 iPad pro comes in silver and space gray, i beg your pardon are starting to feel a small stale.

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Michael Simon/IDG

But despite few negatives and a 4-star score in this review, i wouldn’t actually recommend the 12.9-inch iPad pro to anyone who wasn’t already dead set on to buy one. The display screen is nice yet not noticeably much better than critical year’s. The chip is fast but not noticeably much faster than last year’s. The prior camera is improved but not noticea—OK, the prior camera is a lot better. But that’s no really a reason to spend a thousand-plus dollars come upgrade.

If you want one, gain one. If you must stretch your spending plan to purchased one, however, just obtain last year’s model. Or far better yet, get an iPad Air.