Powerful as a full laptop
Apple is back with a brand new iPad Pro, and this latest tablet really is as powerful as a full laptop. That’s because the new iPad is powered by the proprietary M1 processor – the same silicon brain that’s in the MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac mini, and the all-new iMac.
Unsurprisingly, those MacBook brains ensure the new iPad Pro is super-fast – not that it would have been a dud with last year’s A12Z Bionic chip – but is it really time to ditch all other devices and focus entirely on the iPad? 33shoop.com tried out the new iPad Pro ahead of its launch. Here’s what we think of Apple’s most powerful tablet yet.
Design hasn’t changed
When you unbox the latest and greatest 12.9-inch iPad and take it out of the box, the first thing you’ll notice is that the design hasn’t changed a bit. That’s not a bad thing, because this tablet still looks stunning. The premium aluminium body and edge-to-edge display still make it the best looking iPad on the market.
So, if the looks haven’t been updated, what’s new? The new iPad Pro‘s major changes become obvious as soon as you hit the power button and boot up this new tablet. Perhaps the biggest upgrade is the Apple-designed M1 chip.
This processor was announced last year and is already in the latest MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. It even powers the newly launched iMac and as you can read in our review, it has made this desktop PC more responsive and faster than ever.
There’s hardly anything this device can’t handle with the new M1 processor in the iPad Pro. We tried everything from Photoshop to memory-hogging games to running multiple apps side-by-side and more – the new Pro handles it all with flying colours.
The new Pro is about 50 per cent faster than its predecessor, which is a huge gain considering how fast the 2020 iPad Pro felt (and still feels!). If you’re a true “pro” user, this extra boost will be a very welcome addition, as the iPad will go through tasks like a hot knife through butter.
But even though it feels counterintuitive to whine about having so much power at our disposal, we wonder if the average iPad Pro owner will ever really take advantage of this immense engine. But even if you don’t really feel the M1’s advantage when you’re watching Netflix, answering emails, and shopping from the couch … the powerful M1 should at least ensure that this iPad Pro continues to receive the latest software updates for years to come.
Now, when you first turn it on, you may not really notice much of a difference between old and new – as the previous iPad, Pro still looks really great. However, when you watch HDR 4K content, you’ll suddenly realize how much better this updated screen as compared to last year’s standard Liquid Retina model.
Colours look much richer on this mini-LED panel, and blacks get more punch. It’s also brighter than before, which is a bonus for anyone using their iPad Pro outdoors.
And that screen isn’t the only bonus. If you like to take your iPad with you when you travel, it also has 5G network technology. That means you can insert a 5G SIM card and enjoy speeds of over 300 Mbps. That’s about four times faster than the average broadband speed at home, and should be more than enough for collaborating on documents, participating in video conferences, and more while on the road.
Of course, buying the cellular model costs $1215 more ((Price Match Guarantee), but having 5G in an iPad makes a lot of sense and we can imagine this becoming a very popular addition as this next-generation cellular signal improves in the US.
If you opt for the more expensive model, you get the clever eSIM inside, which lets you instantly connect to networks around the world without having to buy a local SIM card.
The next upgrade that is definitely worth mentioning is the new Ultra Wide front camera, which now gets a clever feature called Center Stage.
This option allows the camera to track your movements when you make video calls, so you’re always in the picture as you move around the room.
The camera even detects when someone else enters the room and joins the conversation – the camera then immediately switches to a wider angle to make sure everyone is seen. This is a really clever system, and we wonder how long it will be before more Apple products get similar technology.
It’s worth noting that the rear dual-lens camera with the clever LiDAR sensor remains the same as last year’s iPad Pro. Although the images have been slightly improved thanks to some clever AI. This is especially evident in night shots, as the new Pro handles low-light shots much better than before.
If you’re worried about battery life, there’s good news and bad news. Unlike the new MacBooks, which saw a huge boost in battery life with the addition of the new M1 chipset, the numbers are pretty much the same for the new iPad.
While the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro now have industry-leading battery life, the iPad Pro has the same 10 hours on a single charge as last year. That’s still amazing and easily enough for a long-haul flight – if we all fly again – but don’t expect to head into the weekend without a USB-C charger in your bag.
Faster data transfer
Other upgrades worth mentioning are much faster data transfer speeds thanks to a Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port and, if money isn’t an option, you can now add a whopping 2TB of built-in storage – although this model will set you back $1800 if you include 5G.
For those who want a more laptop-like experience, the iPad Pro is still compatible with numerous keyboard options, including Apple’s Magic Keyboard. Some reports have claimed that last year’s Magic Keyboard won’t work with the new 2021 Pro, but in our testing, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
If you’re flirting with buying one of these accessories, it’s worth noting that the Magic Keyboard is now available in white and looks very smart.
Fast Face ID unlock
Besides all these new features, there is still a fast Face ID unlock, full compatibility with the new Apple Pencil, four great speakers and studio-quality microphones. So those are the best parts of the latest iPad Pro model, but is there anything not to like?
Our main problem is that while it’s an incredible achievement that Apple is using the same powerful chip in the iPad that’s used in the MacBook Pro and iMac, some find that all that power makes little sense in a tablet.
Apple is pretty sure that the new iPad Pro 12.9-inch is not meant to replace a laptop, and we agree. Even with the M1 inside, there’s still a lot this tablet can’t do that a MacBook Air can. Running more than two apps side-by-side would be a breeze for the powerful M1 … but the iPadOS, for example, doesn’t allow that.
The iPadOS software has come a long way in the last few years, but there’s no hiding the fact that this new device is still just a tablet. And if you really want to work… you also need an M1-powered computer on your desk.
That said, if you want to buy a new tablet and really want the best of the best, you won’t find anything as good as the new iPad Pro. For those who want a tablet to do basic “tablet stuff,” don’t forget that Apple brought some of our favourite parts of the iPad Pro design – like the edge-to-edge display – to the new iPad Air last year, and starting at $579, that’s a pretty phenomenal deal.
- Incredibly powerful
- Stunning screen
- Improved front camera
- Now with 2TB of storage.
- Can get very expensive
- Rear camera remains the same
- Is it just too powerful for a tablet?
This is quite simply the most incredible tablet ever built. With the M1 inside, the iPad Pro is now as powerful as Apple’s latest desktop PC, has an improved screen and access to lightning-fast 5G downloads when you’re away from home Wi-Fi.
The new front-facing camera with Center Stage is fantastic for FaceTime calls, and for those who can afford it, there’s now the option to add a whopping 2TB of built-in storage.
Basically, everything we missed in last year’s iPad Pro has now been added. And as such, it’s hard to fault this premium tablet.
The only thing to keep in mind is that Apple sells cheaper iPads, including the truly excellent iPad Air, and we’d make sure you need all that extra power and LiDAR camera before spending more than $1,000 on a tablet (or $2,597 if you want the top-of-the-line iPad Pro with a keyboard and Apple Pencil stylus to boot).