11-inch iPad Pro
The 11-inch iPad Pro was updated in April 2021 to add Apple's M1 processor, a USB 4/Thunderbolt port, and 5G wireless connectivity. The edge-to-edge ProMotion display, Magic Keyboard support, and Apple Pencil are still part of Apple's smaller pro-level tablet computer.
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Instead of offering a Mac with a touchscreen and changing macOS to be suitable for touch, Apple did a major overhaul of its iPad line with new hardware and software. Following the mixed success of Windows 2-in-1s like the Microsoft Surface, Apple hopes the iPad Pro will capture the laptop and tablet markets with a single device.
11-inch iPad Pro Features
The smaller iPad Pro has gone through multiple changes since its inception. In 2017, it received a bezel-shrinking update that raised the screen size from 9.7 inches to 10.5 inches. Then, in 2018, Apple removed the home button to increase the screen size again to 11 inches.
The uniform bezel accompanied by speakers at each corner gave this device an agnostic physical orientation.
The 11-inch iPad Pro also has flat sides, making it easier to grip on the edge and allowing Apple Pencil's inductive charger to sit on one side of the device. The iPad Pro's back is perfectly flat, too, housing a Smart Connector and protruding camera, as well as 90 magnets for case attachment.
The smart connector's location on the 2018 and later models requires that keyboard accessories fit as a case around the device.
Perhaps one of the most important features is the USB 4/Thunderbolt Type-C port, which allows for easy connection to many devices without needing a proprietary cable. Users can connect a USB-C hard drive, an external monitor like the LG Display, or charge an iPhone with this port. USB-C helps make the iPad Pro a Mac alternative for many people.
In the 2021 model, Apple made the port compatible with USB 4/Thunderbolt. Reaching up to 40Gbps, the new port gives the latest model up to four times more bandwidth for wired connections than its predecessor.
The2020 iPad Pro added a dual-camera system with built-in LiDAR. The sensor is used for 3D environment mapping, allowing for improved AR. It works from up to 5 meters away and gets results instantly, making AR apps more accurate and easier to use. The fifth-generation model also includes LiDAR.
Apple is well-known for the power of the Apple Silicon ARM chipsets powering all of its mobile devices and latest Macs. They are custom 5-nanometer or 7-nanometer chipsets with an 8-core GPU.
The chip’s benchmarks outscore all Intel MacBooks and most Intel desktop Macs. The eight-core processor and eight-core GPU will combine in the iPad Pro to provide a significant performance boost over the A-series chips in earlier models.
The base model has 8GB of RAM. The more expensive models with 1TB or more storage receive 16GB of RAM.
While touted as a pro device, the 11-inch iPad Pro is also a competent gaming machine. Games are beginning to update to utilize the 120Hz refresh rate for even smoother gameplay, and the M1 handles this without issue. With the introduction of Apple Arcade, the company wants developers to start utilizing its powerful mobile processors for more advanced gaming apps.
5G in the 11-inch iPad Pro
The cellular variants of the 2021 iPad Pro now support 5G wireless connectivity. It joins the iPhone 12 series as the first group of Apple devices with 5G cellular.
5G speeds are theoretically faster than LTE, although many users won't see much real-world difference today.
U.S. variants of the 2021 iPad Pro support millimeter-wave technology, the higher-frequency version of 5G. It can reach speeds as fast as 4Gbps. Apple describes the 5G-equipped iPad Pro as offering "the most 5G bands on any device of its kind" and "the broadest 5G coverage worldwide."
The 2021 models include the Apple SIM, allowing users to sign up for or transfer 5G service without inserting a physical SIM card.
Previous cellular iPad Pro models maxed out at LTE speeds. However, older LTE versions running on the AT&T variant use a misleading "5GE" logo to denote optimized 4G technology.
The 2021 iPad Pro models include a feature called Center Stage that uses a new 12MP Ultra Wide front camera with a 122-degree field of view. It uses that wide field of view with the M1's machine learning capabilities to keep users in the shot even when moving around.
When users move around during a video call, Center Stage pans automatically to keep them in the frame. If others join in, the camera detects them and zooms out smoothly to fit everyone into the frame.
Due to the smart connector's location on the current-generation iPad Pro, Apple is the only company with compatible accessories: the Smart Keyboard and Magic Keyboard. Other keyboards will connect over Bluetooth or USB-C and attach directly to the iPad Pro to form a clamshell design.
The second-generation Apple Pencil is compatible only with 2018 and later iPad Pro models. This limit is because the first-generation Apple Pencil pairs through Apple's Lightning port, which the modern iPad Pros do not have. The second-generation Apple Pencil uses a magnetic mount on the iPad Pro for storage, wireless charging, and pairing.
The Logitech Crayon also works with the iPad Pros since Apple included the proprietary pairing tech in the 11-inch iPad Pro.
The USB-C port offers many other accessory options like external drives, monitors, keyboards, controllers, and hubs. Many devices use this standard, opening the door to iPad owners using accessories they already own. The USB-C port also lets users charge an iPhone via the iPad's battery.
In the fifth-generation model Apple announced in April 2021, the port now supports the Thunderbolt and USB 4 standards. It's still backward-compatible with USB-C.
The Magic Keyboard launched in May 2020 with an all-new design derived from the Smart Keyboard Folio. The iPad sits on a magnetic mount, hovering above the keyboard and trackpad. It works with the third-generation and newer iPad Pros and the iPad Air 4. In May 2021, Apple launched a white version of the Magic Keyboard.
A USB-C port in the keyboard's base allows for pass-through charging while the iPad is connected, leaving the port accessible on the iPad itself. The keyboard's port does not support data transfer.
11-inch iPad Pro (2020) Review
The 2020 refresh of the iPad Pro was more about spec bumps than new features or redesigns. We think the 11-inch iPad Pro is still one of the best tablets you can buy, but maybe hold off on this one if you've already purchased the 2018 model.
Apple didn't change much about this iPad — it has a slightly improved processor, LiDAR, and a new ultra-wide camera. It also has Wi-Fi 6, 6GB of RAM, and the base storage is 128GB instead of 64GB. For most users, these changes are not significant and don't warrant an upgrade from the 2018 models.
If you're new to iPad or have one pre-redesign then these are an amazing upgrade. Apple made this hardware release all the more exciting by releasing the Magic Keyboard for iPad and iPadOS 13.4.
The Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro is an amazing accessory that transforms the iPad Pro into a small laptop, complete with a trackpad. The iPadOS 13.4 update brought full-fledged cursor support as well, making this an even more compelling upgrade.
The hardware itself doesn't stand out, however, as the A12Z is just a re-binned A12X. The improved graphics performance, addition of LiDAR processing, and 6GB of RAM are not enough for 2018 iPad Pro owners to upgrade.
That being said, the iPad Pro was already at a sort of performance ceiling for its paired software without the A12Z. App Store games, professional apps, and system functions already ran flawlessly on the older chip generation so the small processor bump may be justified.
The LiDAR scanner provides a unique experience for Augmented Reality applications. This system was a precursor to the iPhone 12 LiDAR and gave developers a chance to develop apps for the platform ahead of time.
LiDAR is a novel feature you'll likely not use on a day-to-day basis, but it does offer some practical advantages. It allows developers to create apps allowing users to place virtual objects in environments without scanning first. It allows AR applications to use walls for the first time.
While the updates are incremental they add an all-new dimension to the device. While owners of the 2018 model won't need to upgrade new customers will find this to be a worthy purchase.
The 11-inch iPad Pro with the Magic Keyboard may well be the device that replaces your aging laptop. At the very least it will augment your workflows with its portable nature and Apple Pencil support.
- Still a great-looking tablet
- Better graphics, albeit not by much
- Wi-Fi 6 support
- Both the 2018 and 2020 will support Magic Keyboard
- iPadOS 13.4 is a great update for iPads across the board
- Revamped Measure app is much better
- LiDAR is a game-changer, but only if you use AR
- Ultra-wide lens is great for those who need the camera
- Incremental update
- Smart Keyboard Folio still has problems
- LiDAR has no user-facing app and relies on developers to use
- No notable speed improvements
11-inch iPad Pro Pricing
You can purchase the 11-inch iPad Pro in space gray or silver. It is configurable to have 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB of storage. This model is priced $799, $899, $1099, or $1299 respectively. Add $130 to the total if you want to add cellular to any option.
M1 iPad Pro 11-inch Prices
|Apple Pencil (2nd Gen)||$129.00||$0.00|
|Apple Magic Keyboard for 11" iPad Pro (Black)||$299.00||n/a||$10.00|
|Apple Magic Keyboard for 11" iPad Pro (White)||$299.00||n/a||n/a||n/a||$0.00|
|128GB, Wi-Fi, Space Gray||$799.00||$54.00|
|128GB, Wi-Fi, Silver||$799.00||n/a||$59.45|
|256GB, Wi-Fi, Space Gray||$899.00||n/a||$54.00|
|256GB, Wi-Fi, Silver||$899.00||n/a||$54.00|
|512GB, Wi-Fi, Space Gray||$1,099.00||n/a||$88.00|
|512GB, Wi-Fi, Silver||$1,099.00||n/a||$80.00|
|1TB, Wi-Fi, Space Gray||$1,499.00||n/a||$200.00|
|1TB, Wi-Fi, Silver||$1,499.00||n/a||$100.00|
|2TB, Wi-Fi, Space Gray||$1,899.00||n/a||$120.00|
|2TB, Wi-Fi, Silver||$1,899.00||n/a||$120.00|
|128GB, Wi-Fi + Cellular, Space Gray||$999.00||n/a||$50.00|
|128GB, Wi-Fi + Cellular, Silver||$999.00||n/a||$34.00|
|256GB, Wi-Fi + Cellular, Space Gray||$1,099.00||n/a||$96.01|
|256GB, Wi-Fi + Cellular, Silver||$1,099.00||n/a||$50.00|
|512GB, Wi-Fi + Cellular, Space Gray||$1,299.00||n/a||$70.00|
|512GB, Wi-Fi + Cellular, Silver||$1,299.00||n/a||$64.00|
|1TB, Wi-Fi + Cellular, Space Gray||$1,699.00||n/a||$84.01|
|1TB, Wi-Fi + Cellular, Silver||$1,699.00||n/a||$84.01|
|2TB, Wi-Fi + Cellular, Space Gray||$2,099.00||n/a||$149.01|
|2TB, Wi-Fi + Cellular, Silver||$2,099.00||n/a||$104.01|