Home Tech Apple’s new iPad Pro is thin and powerful, but its true potential is still unknown

Apple’s new iPad Pro is thin and powerful, but its true potential is still unknown

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Close-up of a tablet resting on the desk with a floral background and app icons on the screen

It’s no secret that Apple has mastered the art of smoke and mirrors. When the company unveiled the new iPad Pro, the flashy livestreamed keynote (and hands-on media event afterward) made it seem like the company had finally given its high-end tablet the biggest update in years. And this is technically true. But that’s also because the bar is already set pretty low.

The last two iPad Pros have not been as innovative. In 2021, Apple added an M1 chip and a mini-LED display; in 2022, it came with an M2 and some new minor software features. The latest model, which will be available on May 15, comes with new OLED display technology, a larger 13-inch screen size, an all-new M4 chipset, and some cosmetic tweaks. It’s also thinner: the thinnest product ever created by Apple, to be exact. It also supports new accessories, including a redesigned magic keyboard case and the first apple pencil Pro.

It’s more than they’ve given us in the last two years. And he was really excited about the improvements. But hours after the event, when the adrenaline subsided, my editor looked at me and said, “If you think about it, the new changes to the iPad Pro are not that crazy.” To prove him wrong, I started listing them out loud, only to realize he was right. In general, the iPad Pro’s notable updates are the external changes to its hardware, which were expected and necessary for a such a high-end tablet except the M4 chip. But with nothing to show for its new processor yet, other than a faster CPU and GPU, this iPad Pro feels half-baked.

Light and shine

Instead of recycling the same chassis as it has been doing for the past few years, Apple finally ditched the old iPad Pro case for a completely new one. You’ll now be able to choose between the standard 11-inch screen or a slightly larger 13-inch size. Apple sent me the latter to test for this review. It’s not a dramatic difference. But as someone who stares at a monitor all day, I’m all for it any additional screen space. (I use the 15-inch MacBook Air as my daily driver.) If you plan to work with the iPad Pro full time, I would recommend the larger size.

Apple also upgraded the new tablet from mini-LED panels to OLED panels in both sizes (only the 12.9-inch iPad Pro received the mini-LED treatment in the sixth-generation version). Known as Ultra Retina XDR, it uses a new display technology called Tandem OLED, which consists of two OLED layers fused together, resulting in a brighter display.

Photography: Brenda Stolyar

Compared to mini-LED, OLED offers better contrast ratios, deeper blacks and more vibrant colors. It usually doesn’t get as bright, but the extra layer inside the Ultra Retina XDR display helps produce two times more light like a standard OLED panel. Apple says both sizes can reach 1,600 nits of peak brightness in HDR, which is the same amount as the 12.9-inch sixth-generation iPad Pro. The most notable difference is SDR content: the M4-powered iPad Pro can hit 1000 nits, while its predecessor hits 600 nits.

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