Nine months after Apple banished the iPad Pro into irrelevance with the release of the fourth-generation iPad Air, the new Apple iPad Pro has arrived with the incredible M1 CPU to claim its spot as the best tablet on earth.
The M1, if you remember, is the same system on a chip (SoC) that turned the laptop world on its head last November. More powerful than anything except the most powerful Intel Core i9 CPUs, the M1 MacBook Air left reviewers in awe as it easily outclassed more expensive laptops that were theoretically more powerful.
But with the M1 now featured in the iPad Pro, Apple is not only opening up a world of possibility for what tablets can be capable of, but also hybrid devices at large.
iPad Pro with M1 (2021)
That’s because when paired with the Magic Keyboard, the iPad OS software is built to work just as well with a cursor and trackpad as it is a touchscreen and your finger.
But it’s not just a flashy CPU that is underpinning this device. In addition to the M1, the iPad Pro now has improved cameras, 5G connectivity and an all-new mini-LED display.
Of these additional features, the Liquid Retina XDR screen is the most impressive. Incorporating mini-LED backlighting into the display panel promises to not only improve image quality overall but really add some serious punch to the iPad’s HDR performance. Able to generate 1,600 nits of peak brightness, the Liquid Retina XDR will surely be a dream for creatives when combined with Apple’s ProMotion, True Tone and P3 wide color gamut technologies that offer unrivaled detail and accuracy.
Meanwhile, the iPad Pro’s front camera has been revamped with a 12.3-megapixel ultrawide lens. And it’s this camera that allows for a new feature on the iPad Pro: Center Stage. Essentially, when you’re on a video call, the front camera can now follow you as you move around the frame, digitally zooming and panning without having to move itself.
And for those who will eventually go back to working outside of the home or office, the iPad Pro now features 5G wireless support, which means that you can have blazing fast internet speeds anywhere you have coverage.
In addition, the iPad Pro also features the same powerful Lidar camera as before, which has some useful applications for creatives, such as enhanced low light performance, augmented reality capabilities and the ability to effortlessly incorporate green screen effects.
But it’s the M1 chip that is still the star of the show here, and that’s because it’s signaling a shift in what computing devices are going to look like going forward.
Why Does the M1 CPU Make the New iPad Pro So Special?
Apple has long resisted the idea of creating a true laptop/tablet hybrid device because traditionally, too many compromises were necessary. Combining the two would result in devices that were too heavy, too thick, too small, too underpowered or too difficult to use.
But over the years, Apple has quietly been nudging the iPad and MacBook lines closer to one another. As their tablets got more powerful, Apple outfitted iPads with a keyboard case that featured a trackpad and could be placed on your lap. Meanwhile, Apple has continued to find ways to make Mac OS look and feel more like iOS. Putting the M1 CPU in the iPad Pro is a logical progression.
If you had told Apple a decade ago that they would eventually release a device that could fully function as a laptop or a tablet, they would have laughed you out of the room. But fast forward to today, and the new iPad Pro is perhaps the closest thing we’ve ever seen to a two-in-one hybrid device that makes no compromises.
And while companies like Microsoft have certainly made great strides in this department with products like the Surface Pro, there has been nothing that has threatened to be as compact, as powerful and as usable as the new iPad Pro is threatening to be.
Imagine being able to have a device that lets you watch movies in Dolby Vision while in bed, and then also be able to edit photos with a full-fledged version of Photoshop. Likewise, you could use the same device to shoot and edit a short film with your friends, and then use it to write a midterm paper.
And while we might not be fully at that point quite yet, the new iPad Pro is proof that we are not too far off.
So How Do I Buy the New iPad Pro?
As with previous iPad Pros, it will be available in two sizes.
The 11-inch model starts at $799, which includes 128GB of storage. If you’re willing to spend more, you can bump the storage up to 2TB and opt for 5G connectivity. The 12.9-inch model also has the same configuration options and will start at $1099.
Both models are currently available for pre-order, and will release on May 24.