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Compared: 2017 iPad Pro versus 2020 iPad Pro

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Apple's 2020 iPad Pro lineup may not be that big a difference from the 2018 revision — but there is a much wider gap if you go back to the 2017 model. We compare Apple's newest pro tablet to the popular 2017 line to see how much difference three years can make.

We've already compared the 2020 iPad Pro to the 2018 iPad Pro, but many users out there are still on the 2017 model. After only having the iPad for a year, it was a tough proposition for those 2017 owners to jump to the 2018, despite its gorgeous redesign.

That's all changed.

Internals

Internally, there is a big gap between the 2017 iPad Pro and the 2018 iPad Pro. The newer tablets are more powerful, pack better graphics, and boast more features.

The processor which has gone from the A10X Fusion processor to the A12Z processor. The A10X Fusion is a six-core chip while the A12Z is now an eight-core.

The new 2020 models also come equipped with 6GB of RAM across the board which has practical applications when it comes to a large number of document tabs open or active apps in the background.

Wi-Fi 6 is also included on the new iPad Pros.

Performance

Those internal changes lend themselves to greatly improved performance. On other tablets, this power increase may not be as important, but pro users who push their tablets to the limits, are more likely to notice these gains.

We ran the Geekbench 5.1 benchmark multiple times on each set of tablets.

2017 (left) versus 2020 (right) Geekbench 5.1 scores
2017 (left) versus 2020 (right) Geekbench 5.1 scores

For the CPU benchmark, we were scoring around 754 for the single-core and 2222 on the multi-core when looking at the 2017 model. Running the same test on the 2020, we were seeing spikes up to 1117 and 4690 on the single and multi-core tests respectively. A near 100% gain on the multi-core test due partially to the two additional cores as well as to the more powerful chipset.

2017 (left) versus 2020 (right) Geekbench 5.1 GPU scores
2017 (left) versus 2020 (right) Geekbench 5.1 Compute scores

Turning to graphics, we ran the Compute benchmark. Here, we earned a 6581 and a 9296 on the 2017 and 2020 models — about a 50% increase between the two.

Cameras

It is clear right from the outset once you get your eyes on the tablet that the camera modules of each device are vastly different. The 2017 iPad Pro has a simple round 12MP wide-angle camera lens that sticks out ever-so-slightly and is adjacent to the True Tone flash.

iPad Pro cameras
iPad Pro cameras

That differs from the far more pronounced camera bump on the 2020 model, which matches the iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max in shape. In that new housing is a 12MP wide-angle camera, a 10MP ultra-wide camera, the True Tone flash, and the LiDAR scanner.

The updated model can capture 4K video at 24FPS, 30FPS, and 60FPS compared to only 30FPS on the 2017. It also records slow motion video at at 1080p 240FPS while the 2017 could only record 240FPS slo-mo at 720p.

For audio, there are five "studio quality" microphones, far beyond the dual mics on the 2017 model.

Design

The backs of the 10.5-inch and 11-inch iPad Pros
The backs of the 10.5-inch and 11-inch iPad Pros

When we consider the design, you can see how impactful the designs are. Looking at the 11-inch and comparing it to the 10.5-inch, the tablets are nearly the same size when you look at them from the back.

The fronts of the 10.5-inch and 11-inch iPad Pros
The fronts of the 10.5-inch and 11-inch iPad Pros

But as we turn them around, the amount of additional screen real estate is apparent. Apple kept almost the same size tablet but increased the screen by a half-inch on the diagonal.

The backs of the 2017 and 2020 12.9-inch iPad Pros
The backs of the 2017 and 2020 12.9-inch iPad Pros

That ia a different approach than Apple took with the 12.9-inch mode. Here, Apple drastically cut the size of the device, trimming both its width and its height.

The fronts of the 2017 and 2020 12.9-inch iPad Pros
The fronts of the 2017 and 2020 12.9-inch iPad Pros

As you can tell from the front, the screen size is the same, just with far slimmer bezels.

Obviously ditching the Home button for Face ID helped this transformation as Apple has transitioned to Face ID. Face ID uses the TrueDepth camera system which enables portrait mode selfies to be taken on the 2020 iPad Pros.

Other design changes including ditching the headphone jack on the new models, moving to USB-C, and integrating the inductive charger for the second-generation Apple Pencil.

Finally, while there is a Smart Keyboard for each generation iPad Pro, only the 2018 and 2020 iPad Pros will support the new Magic Keyboard when it launches this May.

Full breakdown

iPad Pro (2017)iPad Pro (2020)
Sizes10.5" & 12.9"11" & 12.9"
Storage64GB/256GB/512GB128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB
ProcessorA10X FusionA12Z Bionic
Geekbench Scores754 Single-core, 2222 Multi-core1117 Single-core, 4653 Multi-core
Geekbench GPU Scores65819296
Rear Cameras12MP12MP wide lens, 10MP ultra-wide lens, LiDAR
Video Capability4K 30FPS, 1080P 30 or 60FPS, Slo-mo 1080P 120FPS or 720P at 240FPS4K 24, 30, or 60FPS, 1080P 30 or 60FPS, Slo-mo 1080P 120 or240FPS
AuthenticationTouch IDFace ID
SpeakersFour SpeakersFour Speakers
MicrophoneTwo MicrophonesFive "studio quality" microphones
Apple PencilFirst-genSecond-gen
KeyboardSmart KeyboardSmart Keyboard, Magic Keyboard
I/O PortsLightning, Headphone JackUSB-C

Apple's iPad Pro line has pushed the tablet space forward, with raw power, impressive cameras, and incredible features. The 2017 iPad Pro is no slouch but compared to the impressive 2020 iPad Pro, it is easy to see why many will elect to upgrade.

Where to save on Apple's iPad Pro

Instant discounts on Apple iPads are going on right now, including 2020 11-inch iPad Pro savings and deals on the 2020 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

Those looking for the steepest markdowns can also save triple digits on closeout 2017 iPad Pros, with a wide assortment of deals available in the AppleInsider iPad Price Guide.

2020 11" iPad Pro discounts

2020 12.9" iPad Pro markdowns

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