Last year, the iPad Pro inched closer to becoming an actual laptop replacement with Apple’s Magic Keyboard accessory. This year, the Pro’s flagship feature is a new screen powered by miniLED technology. If you don’t nerd out on displays, you might be wondering what the upgrade would mean for your actual life. Well, Apple promises that the 12.9-inch Pro’s miniLED panel will deliver 1,000 nits of full-screen brightness and the incredible contrast ratio of Apple’s Pro XDR Display.
This is especially useful for videographers and photographers, giving them the ability to see more detail on a Liquid Retina XDR display that’s more portable than a Mac—the iPad Pro is 6.4mm thin and weighs in at 1.5 pounds. I do wonder if creative professionals will actually rely on the iPad Pro for their workflows, but the specs are definitely impressive.
The bad news is that miniLED display is only included in the larger 12.9-inch Pro. The 11-inch Pro Apple announced today will sport the same old LCD screen as last year.
The move from LCD to miniLED has been long-awaited. There are several benefits to miniLED tech due to the many small LED lights that can be packed into one display. Brightness, contrast ratios, and color are on par or better than OLED panels at a lower cost than those premium screens. And miniLED screens are an improvement over LCDs, so it looks like the larger iPad Pro could be worth the splurge.
Aside from size and display type, the 12.9-inch Pro and 11-inch Pro share many of the same features. The new iPads both support Thunderbolt 4 accessories instead of just USB-C ones, which opens up a whole new world of productivity. Both are also built on Apple’s M1 chip, which powers new MacBooks and iMacs and should deliver a slew of performance advantages over older iPads. Apple said the 8-core CPU performance from the M1 chip sees a 50% jump, and the 8-core GPU delivers 40% faster graphics.
And the iPad Pro now has 5G, which is useful for future-proofing, but obviously will depend on how strong your 5G signal is where you live. The Pro supports all flavors of 5G, including the ultra-fast millimeter-wave spectrum that can get you gigabit download speeds.
The iPad Pro also supports the new PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X game controllers with haptics, so gaming on the iPad should be a more immersive experience. There’s also a 2TB storage option for those who require a lot from their iPad.
The cameras are also upgraded. The upgraded 12-MP TrueDepth ultra-wide selfie lens has a feature called Center Stage, which will follow you as you move around in FaceTime video calls. The lens is still in an incredibly awkward spot—on the side when used in landscape mode—but hopefully, the motion-tracking will solve some of the issues with that placement.
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $1,099 and will be available to preorder April 30. The 11-inch model starts at $799, and both models start shipping in the second half of May.