Just over a year after the 2020 iPad Pro revolutionised the way we played and worked, the 2021 version launched earlier last month to carry on Apple’s mission of marrying mobility with the best performance and efficiency.
This means that what we we have here is the most powerful and advanced iPad Pro ever, and it’s easy to see how the Cupertino-based tech giant really pushed the limits of what’s possible for iPads here, much less tablets.
Here, we dive into what’s new for the 2021 iPad Pro, and why you’ll need one, pronto.
Bigger and better
While you won’t find much difference on the outside — it’s virtually indistinguishable from its 4th-gen predecessor in terms of design — you’ll immediately notice that it’s bigger at 12.9 inches, up from 11 inches previously.
It’s also slightly thicker to accommodate the new display, so expect its weight to be bumped up a tad. However, this gain is small enough to not be immediately noticeable. With a minimal bezel and squared-off sides with flat edges, this tablet continues the industrial-chic look that’s been taking over all the new devices.
The only downside in terms of aesthetics here though is the fact that it’ll only come in two colours — Space Grey and Silver — unlike the iPad Air last year which saw five. Pro tip: The Silver version, in particular, stands out beautifully when paired with the new white Magic Keyboard.
The elephant in the room here is undoubtedly how the M1 chip makes a difference in the iPad Pro, following stints in 2020’s MacBook models and this year, the mighty iMac.
For those not familiar with this evolution, the M1 is the first Apple-designed System on a Chip (SoC), and it marks Apple’s transition away from the Intel chips that the Cupertino firm has been using since 2006. This chip offers a huge jump in performance, delivering up to 50 percent faster CPU performance than the previous A12Z Bionic, as well as 40 percent faster GPU performance.
The M1 might have equipped the tablet with all this power, but besides being faster and more efficient, what else does this mean for you?
For designers, this means that software like Procreate can now support 3D modelling, while Adobe apps now use machine learning techniques to provide a greater bandwidth for creativity. For music lovers, StaffPad uses the device’s neuro engine to listen to music while creating its score in real time. Hardcore gamers will love that the iPad Pro supports high quality gaming (especially those with super dense RPG scenes like Divinity), as well as all the latest controllers like the PS5’s. Even tennis fans have Swing Vision to analyse and umpire games in real time.
Liquid Retina XDR Display
The new iPad Pro expands the 11-inch Liquid Retina Display to an upgraded12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR Display, bringing exceptional graphics to you whether you’re working on a video, watching the latest crime documentary on Netflix, or creating a presentation for work.
This cutting-edge mini-LED design uses over 10,000 LEDs across the entire back of the display, and features up to 1,000 nits of full-screen brightness, 1,600 nits of peak brightness, and a phenomenal 1 million-to-1 contrast ratio. Besides the brightest highlights, the screen also captures the deepest blacks so you can expect the result to be nothing short of a stunning visual experience.
If you dabble in a little photography and film-making, you can also view and edit true-to-life HDR content on a large display that they can take anywhere. This marks a big leap in mobility for creative professionals who are now primed with infinite ways to create, whether at home or on the go.
For better performance and faster download and upload speeds, the 2021 iPad Pro now supports 5G, so projects requiring real-time collaborations or FaceTime in high definition can be carried out without a hitch.
Because it’s got the most 5G bands on any device of its kind, it’ll also offer the broadest 5G coverage worldwide, and can support eSIM so you can easily find a network and sign up for a data plan on the spot when needed.
Those frustrated about not being able to connect their Thunderbolt devices to their existing iPads will also be happy to learn that this will no longer be an issue. For the first time, Thunderbolt will come to the iPad Pro, supporting not only high performance data devices but also high-resolution displays though a single compact port.
This opens up a massive ecosystem of high-performance accessories, like faster external storage and even higher resolution external displays via high-performance cables and docks. The support for these peripherals allows it to fit even more seamlessly into creative workflows.
Another completely new feature for the 2021 iPad Pro is Centre Stage, a particularly useful addition for those whose work revolve around video conference calls. This feature uses the camera’s 122-degree field of view and machine learning capabilities provided by the M1 chip to recognise people in the frame, keeping them in view even when they’re moving around the call. This might be helpful for meetings where moving to a presentation board nearby is necessary.
If more people appear in your frame to join you in the call, the camera automatically pans out to fit the additional faces — particular useful for calls with family near and far.
The new 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at S$1,649 for the Wi-Fi model and S$1,869 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model.
(All images: Apple)