Home Tech iPad Pro M4 review: Ridiculously good hardware that’s totally overkill for most

iPad Pro M4 review: Ridiculously good hardware that’s totally overkill for most

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iPad Pro M4 review: Ridiculously good hardware that's totally overkill for most

TOApple’s latest iPad Pro is thinner, lighter, and has a great new OLED display, plus plenty of power to do just about anything. But it’s not just about the super-premium iPad anymore: it also aims to be an impressive tool for the creative industry.

It still looks and acts like an iPad, ready to do regular iPad things like surf the Internet, watch TV, or chat with your family on the other side of the country. But doing just that with such an advanced machine is a total overkill: Apple has plenty of other iPad models suitable for that kind of thing.

This serious tablet comes with a hefty price tag. The smaller 11-inch version starts at £999 (€1,119/$999/A$1,699), while the 13-inch model starts at £1,299 (€1,549/$1,299/A$2,199). That’s already money for a laptop without including accessories like a keyboard or stylus.

The 11-inch iPad Pro is the closest tablet yet to being simply a magical touchscreen panel predicted by science fiction. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Unlike previous iPad Pro generations, the 11-inch and 13-inch models have the same new display technology, making the smaller model reviewed more enticing. Basically, it has two OLED displays layered on top of each other to produce extremely high full-screen brightness of up to 1000.nitsand a peak of 1600 nits in super bright spots in HDR content.

For reference, other iPads max out at 600 nits, while many competing tablets, laptops, or monitors barely hit 400 nits. It runs at up to 120Hz, making it super smooth to operate and has incredible contrast, similar to high-end OLED screens on phones or TVs. The blacks are truly black, the whites are super bright, and they are spectacularly colorful and precise. It surpasses the already excellent previous generation, and will be the best screen in almost everyone’s home.

For those likely to need absolute color accuracy, such as those in the film industry, Apple also offers a special reference mode in settings and sells an anti-glare nanotexture screen coating, similar to its professional monitors.

The tablet feels very solid despite being only slightly thicker than the USB-C port it uses for charging. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The tablet is extremely thin, measuring 5.3mm or less, and is now up to 103g lighter, depending on the model. You’ll need a case to keep it safe and you’ll need to be more careful with it than a cheaper, bulkier tablet. The Face ID selfie camera is now in the right place for horizontal video calls, which is much better.


  • Screen: 11 or 13-inch Ultra Liquid Retina XDR display (264 pixels per inch)

  • Processor: Apple M4 (9/10 core CPU + 10 core GPU)

  • RAM: 8 or 16GB

  • Storage: 256,512 GB, 1 or 2 TB

  • OS: iPadOS 17.5

  • Camera: 12MP wide; 12MP Center Stage Selfie

  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E (optional 5G eSim only), Bluetooth 5.3, Thunderbolt 3/USB 4

  • Dimensions: 249.7 x 177.5 x 5.3mm or 281.6 x 215.5 x 5.1mm

  • Weight: 444g (446g with 5G) or 579g (582g with 5G)

m4 power

Multitasking has improved in iPadOS 17.5, but the iPad Pro is crying out for better software to reach its full potential. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The iPad Pro is the first product to incorporate Apple’s new generation of M4 chips. It’s about 1.5 times the speed of the M2 chip in previous tablets and faster than the M3 in Apple’s latest laptops.

The benchmark puts it on par with the M3 Pro chip in a MacBook Pro, making it more powerful than most slim laptops. In general use, the iPad feels snappy and fluid at all times, handling multitasking and advanced photo editing tools like affinity photo easily.

While the M4 chip is happy to handle documents or play the latest games, it is actually designed for power-hungry creative tools such as 3D sculpting applications, video editors, grading applications and rendering, offering attractive alternatives to the workstations typically used for such tasks.

Fortunately, it’s also a very power-efficient chip, ensuring solid battery life: up to 10 hours. The 11-inch iPad Pro lasted about eight hours of multitasking while writing, editing photos, and doing other light work, more than nine hours of watching HDR movies, or seven hours of gaming on immortal devil.

One thing that sets it apart from other iPads is that a predominantly white screen consumes more power due to the way OLED technology works. Putting the tablet in dark mode with white text on a dark background significantly extended battery life when typing.


The recycled aluminum case comes in silver or space black, as pictured. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Apple doesn’t give an expected lifespan for the battery, but it should last over 500 full charge cycles with at least 80% of its original capacity and can be replaced from £175. The tablet is generally repairable, with a damaged repair out of warranty costing from £819.

The tablet contains at least 20% recycled content, including aluminum, copper, gold, tin, plastic and rare earth elements. Apple analyzes the environmental impact of the tablet in your report and offers free exchange and recycling schemes, even for non-Apple products.

New Magic Keyboard and Pencil Pro

The Pencil Pro’s squeezable barrel proved extremely useful in multiple writing and drawing applications, opening menus to quickly select brush styles and other options. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Apple also has a new version of its Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro, which is the most laptop-like yet. It has a new aluminum platform, row of function keys and trackpad with haptic feedback, like a MacBook laptop. However, the exterior is still soft-touch plastic, which makes it feel less premium and gets dirty quickly.

The 11-inch version of the keyboard costs £299 (€399 / $299 / A$499) and is 25g lighter than its predecessor at around 588g, which, combined with the 11-inch iPad Pro, weighs just over 1kg, or about 200g less than the 13-inch. MacBook Air.

The new £129 (€149 / $129 / A$219) Apple Pencil Pro replaces the second-generation Pencil from previous models. It still magnetically snaps to the side of the tablet for charging and pairing, but it has several upgrades. A small haptic motor on the back now vibrates to let you know you’ve successfully performed certain actions. It also supports pressing the barrel like a button to open menus, such as a selection of drawing tools, which is extremely useful. Rotating the pen between your fingers now also rotates the brush in a drawing application.

Please note that the iPad Pro M4 is not compatible with the second-generation Apple Pencil, Magic Keyboard, or many other accessories designed for previous generations of iPad.


iPad Pro M4 starts in £999 (€1,119/$999/1,699 Australian dollars) for the 11-inch, or £1,299 (€1,549/$1,299/2,199 Australian dollars) for the 13-inch versions with 256 GB of storage. The 5G versions cost £100 (€250/$100/A$350) more. Nano-textured glass costs £100 (€130/$100/A$180) extra on the 1 or 2TB models only.

For comparison, the 10th generation iPad costs from £349the iPad Air M2 costs from £599 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 costs from £799. MacBook Air M3 starts in £1,099.


The iPad Pro M4 is an absolutely stunning piece of hardware. It’s a super thin and light tablet with solid battery life, an M4 chip that makes it more powerful than many laptops, and a screen so good it’ll easily be the best in most homes.

More than previous generations, Apple has leaned toward the “Pro” side of the iPad, giving it advanced features like a color reference mode, the improved stylus, and plenty of power that serves the creative industry in a way that no other tablet maker has done it. What you can do with the right app is absolutely impressive.

Of course, you can still do all the usual tablet things, like browsing and watching TV. But for most it’s simply too expensive for that kind of use, even if everything looks fantastic on the spectacular screen. And like any other iPad with an M-series chip, iPadOS cripples you for general work compared to a laptop. A similarly priced MacBook Air is even more adaptable in software, if not form.

It may be the best and most desirable tablet available by some margin, but the iPad Pro is totally overkill for most people.

Advantages: Stunning OLED display, ultra-fast M4 chip, good battery life, 5G optional, USB4/Thunderbolt 3, Apple Pencil Pro support, great speakers, Face ID, large app library, very long life of software and feature support” “advanced professionals.”

Cons: Too expensive for general use, no stand no case, no headphone jack, iPadOS still needs to work as a laptop replacement, no stylus or keyboard included despite laptop-like price.

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