Last updated: 1 week ago
Launched in 2015, the iPad Pro packed more features, more storage, and a brand new accessory -- the Apple Pencil -- into Apple's beloved tablet line. It is designed to help users do more with features like an edge-to-edge display, Face ID, USB-C, and support for external storage thanks to iPadOS.
● Slim design
● Available in Silver or Space Gray
● 12.9-inch or 11-inch edge-to-edge display
● A12Z processor
● Face ID and TrueDepth Camera
● Dual lens rear camera system with LiDAR
● Up to 1TB of storage
● Compatible with Apple Pencil 2
● Liquid Retina with ProMotion Display
Initially announced at Apple's September event in 2015, the iPad Pro is the premium entry into Apple's iPad line. The larger screen, increased storage capacities, and higher-end hardware make It a great device for those seeking a little more from their tablet experience.
The iPad Pro can function as a tablet, laptop, or even a desktop with a dedicated monitor depending on your personal use case. A feature in macOS Catalina called Sidecar introduced the ability to use your iPad as a second screen for the Mac. Apple has positioned the tablet as "the future of computing" and a direct competitor to its own MacBook lineup.
Common uses for Apple's tablets include watching video, reading books and magazines, taking notes, and general web browsing. Its portability and power have made it popular with college students and those who frequently travel. Thanks to the Apple Pencil, many digital artists have begun using it as their primary tool for digital drawing and painting.
The iPad Pro is great even for some professional work, unless you find yourself performing more complex tasks, need specific apps not present on iPadOS, or want to create apps in Xcode.
All generations of the pro tablet have been widely praised by reviewers and the general public, though often have been docked for their higher than average cost. The price rivals a base MacBook Air or even MacBook Pro by the time you've bought an Apple Pencil and keyboard, upgraded the storage, and added cellular.
Apple threw a curveball into the iPad lineup with the iPad Air 4. While those who already own an iPad Pro will not move to the iPad Air, it is a serious contender for new iPad buyers.
The iPad Pro boasts better graphics capabilities, ProMotion, and Face ID, but not much else to differentiate. Unless buyers want a larger display, they may choose the iPad Air 4 instead.
Models and Features
Future iPad Pro Rumors
Apple is bringing mini LED to their products over the next year according to Ming-Chi Kuo. The iPad Pro is expected to receive the new screen technology first, with industry analysts pointing to a March 2021 release window.
Multiple sources have pointed to an early 2021 launch of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro with mini LED and an improved processor. Apple could update the 11-inch iPad Pro at a later date to reduce initial demand of the new display technology.
Fourth-generation iPad Pro
Apple announced the fourth-generation iPad Pro in mid-March with new updates to its cameras and processors. The two sizes come with up to 1TB of internal storage and a cellular option.
The latest A12Z Bionic processor is optimized for more powerful graphical applications and better AI for camera operations. The eight-core GPU and eight-core CPU with improved thermals mean more performance than ever, and all models have 6GB of RAM. Apple says the processor is faster and more powerful than most Windows laptops.
Early benchmarks showed little improvement in processing and graphical power compared to the A12X. The A12Z is a rebinned version of the A12X, which means an inactive GPU core is in use now that was not before and explains the unimpressive benchmarks.
The fourth-generation iPad Pro has a new dual-camera system with a built-in LiDAR scanner. A 12MP wide-angle and 10MP ultra wide-angle camera will allow for improved photography and depth capture. The camera system uses a similar sensor to those found in the iPhone XR series of phones, so don't expect iPhone 11 levels of quality, and no night mode.
The LiDAR will be used for 3D environment mapping that will allow for AR to be massively improved. The scanner works from up to 5 meters away and gets results instantly, which makes AR apps much easier to use and more accurate.
There are now five independent studio-quality microphones on the device for capturing the best audio possible without the need for extra equipment. While this might be useful for better call quality or recording a quick tune on your guitar, don't expect to launch a Podcast using just the built-in mics.
The wireless capabilities have also improved, with WiFi 6 and improved LTE coverage with 30 bands vs 29 in previous generations. The U1 chip was notably absent from this updated model.
Alongside the new iPad comes a new Magic Keyboard designed to transform the tablet into a laptop. It features a floating hinge mount with a scissor switch keyboard and a trackpad. The Magic Keyboard with trackpad works with the third and fourth-generation models, and the iPad Air 4.
Third-generation iPad Pro
Apple's third-generation pro tablet was announced during the Apple Special Event in 2018 and featured the classic 12.9-inch size and a new 11-inch model that would replace the second generation's 10.5-inch model.
Both devices received a new edge-to-edge Liquid Retina display, ProMotion with 120Hz screen refresh rate, improved front and rear cameras, and the Apple A12X Bionic chip.
The third-generation was the first to use Face ID and remove Touch ID just like the iPhone X. Face ID on the third-generation iPad Pro is capable of working in any orientation. They also boast tap-to-wake, allowing a user to wake an iPad via touching the screen rather than pressing a physical button.
The third-generation models are also the first iPads to use USB-C ports instead of Apple's proprietary Lightning port.
The maximum storage capacity of the third generation doubled that of the second generation, with a maximum of 1TB of storage possible on both models. Interestingly, installing 1TB of memory will also gain you more RAM, maxing out at 6GB in both models.
The 11-inch model originally released for $799 for the most basic model, with additional configurations driving the price upward to $1699. The 12.9-inch model could be bought for $999 at the cheapest, with the one terabyte cellular-enabled model priced at $1899. Because of reductions in memory pricing across all Apple products since their 2018 launch, the 12.9-inch and 11-inch now max out at $1499 and $1699 respectively.
Second-generation iPad Pro
The second-generation iPad Pro models were announced at Apple's WWDC event in 2017 and saw significant upgrades over their predecessors. Replacing the 9.7-inch model was the new 10.5-inch model, though the size of the 12.9-inch would remain unchanged.
Both second-generation models featured an A10X Hex-core CPU and a 12-core GPU, ProMotion display, and a True Tone display that was 50% brighter than the previous models.
The second-generation models also boasted a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera, a 7-megapixel front-facing camera, and storage capacities up to 512 GB.
At launch, the 10.5-inch model started at $649 and could cost as much as $1079. The 12.9-inch second-generation model could be purchased for as low as $799 or as much as $1299, depending on the configuration.
The second-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro was discontinued in October of 2018, then the 10.5-inch model was later discontinued in March of 2019.
First-generation iPad Pro
Released on November 11, 2015, the first-generation iPad Pro featured a 12.9-inch display and was available in silver, gold, and space gray. It could be purchased for $799 to $1299, depending on the size or cellular connectivity.
In March of 2016, Apple released the smaller 9.7-inch model, which featured an additional rose gold color to its line. It was available for $599 to $1129, depending on the buyer's chosen configuration.
Both models included Apple's A9X system-on-chip and the Apple M9 motion co-processor, and both featured Touch ID and Retina Display. A smart connector allowed users to connect Apple's Smart Keyboard, and both models were compatible with the first generation Apple Pencil.
Both first-generation iPad Pros were discontinued in June of 2017.
The Apple Pencil is an Apple-developed wireless stylus that works with various models of the iPad, including all models of the iPad Pro. It is a low-latency stylus that features pressure sensitivity and angle detection, and when used, the iPad will reject a user's palm input.
The first-generation Apple Pencil was released alongside the first-generation iPad Pro. It connects to compatible iPad models via Bluetooth and can be charged using the iPad's Lightning port, or via a Lightning cable when used in conjunction with the included adapter. On a full charge, the Apple Pencil will last for roughly 12 hours. 15 seconds of charging time enables the Apple Pencil to perform for up to 30 minutes.
The second-generation Apple Pencil works with the third-generation and fourth-generation iPad Pro. It features a flattened section to prevent the stylus from rolling when placed on a flat surface and eschews the Lightning connector for wireless charging. It also boasts tap-sensitive areas that can be configured to perform functions within apps.