New iPad Pro
Apple releases a new iPad Pro about every 18 months with one or two major changes each time. The fourth-generation iPad Pro is the latest model released in 2020 with a LiDAR scanner and A12Z Bionic processor. An updated model is expected in 2021 with mini LED and a new A-series processor.
● fourth-generation iPad Pro announced in March 2020
● Expected mini LED model in spring 2021
● Cameras, processors, and screen technology are upgraded most often
Page last updated:
If you're in the market for a new iPad Pro, you're either looking for the latest release or making sure something else isn't coming soon. This guide will highlight the latest release and any future update rumors surrounding the iPad Pro.
2020 iPad Pro
The two iPad Pro models differ only in size. Every other feature is shared between the devices, so customers are left with the simple decision of how big their iPad needs to be.
Apple first introduced the new iPad Pro design with the third-generation models introduced in 2018. The design moved to flat sides, slim bezels, and no Home button for a much more sleek look and feel.
The fourth-generation models continued the design with only a small change to the camera module. The addition of LiDAR and an ultra-wide-angle camera made the camera bump into a much larger square.
Apple included over 90 magnets in the rear of the device for better case mounting. They are primarily used for the Apple Smart Keyboard Folio and Magic Keyboard.
Dropping the Home button meant moving to Face ID from Touch ID just like Apple did with the iPhone X. The front-facing camera and True Depth system reside in the thin bezel surrounding the iPad Pro screen.
Apple uses the same Liquid Retina Display technology in the iPhone XR to enable a wide spectrum of color in an LCD display. It supports the P3 color gamut, so editing photos and videos will be more accurate.
The iPad Pro also has ProMotion, which means it has a 120Hz display. A faster refresh rate means better response to scrolling and navigation, better animations in games and software, and improved Apple Pencil response.
The displays are laminated as well, which means that content will appear closer to the screen's surface. This also aids in making the Apple Pencil feel more natural when in use.
The new iPad Pro models have LiDAR alongside two cameras. The wide-angle camera is 10MP, and the ultra-wide-angle camera is 12MP. They use similar processing found in the iPhone XR, so no new features like night mode are possible.
Apple never introduced any special features for the LiDAR system, but some apps could take advantage of it for AR experiences built for the iPad. It is speculated that Apple only added LiDAR to give developers a head start building for the platform since it would be more important in the future iPhones.
The first iPad to get USB-C was the pro models. It was a sign of embracing pro workflows and accessories.
USB-C was introduced alongside iPadOS, the updated version of iOS that drives iPad-specific features. Users can connect peripherals like docks, monitors, and external SSDs via the USB-C port. Connect a dock, and you'll be able to connect several devices at once and charge your iPad all at once.
The second-generation Apple Pencil connects and charges on the new iPad Pro with flat sides. The magnetic attachment doubles as a conductive charging plate for the Apple Pencil.
Thanks to ProMotion and a laminated display, the Apple Pencil feels natural when writing directly on display. The input lag is only 9ms, which is better than most dedicating drawing tablets on the market.
If you want to use your iPad as a companion to your Mac, you can use SideCar to draw in certain apps rather than relying on a separate drawing tablet.
Apple introduced the Magic Keyboard alongside the fourth-generation iPad Pros. The keyboard case uses the Smart Connector to connect and power the keyboard and trackpad.
The iPadOS 13.4 update added full trackpad support, complete with an all-new mouse cursor. The Magic Keyboard is the perfect companion to the new iPad Pro models as it completes the modular computing experience.
The Magic Keyboard uses scissor switches and has backlit keys. The iPad "floats" above the keyboard due to a cantilever hinge mechanism.
The iPad can be charged via the Magic Keyboard through an integrated USB-C port, freeing up the iPad's port for an additional accessory.
11-inch iPad Pro
As previously mentioned, the iPad Pros only differ in size. The 11-inch iPad Pro is physically the same size as the iPad Air 4 but has smaller bezels. This means the Magic Keyboard works for either tablet, and customers can choose the cheaper iPad Air with some feature differences if desired.
Until Apple updates the 11-inch iPad Pro, customers are not likely to choose this model. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro has more screen real estate, and the iPad Air 4 doesn't sacrifice many features for a much lower entry price.
The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $799 for 128GB of storage. All models come with the A12Z Bionic and 6GB of RAM. Customers can configure the tablet with up to 1TB of storage for $1299.
12.9-inch iPad Pro
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is Apple's flagship tablet. It has the biggest display and resembles a MacBook Air when paired with the Magic Keyboard. The introduction of the M1 processor in the MacBook Air makes the decision harder than ever.
The iPad Pro is more expensive than the MacBook Air once you've purchased the $350 Magic Keyboard. The power of the M1 processor means the baseline MacBook Air is much more performant than the previous Intel model, blurring the lines between the top-end iPad and low-end MacBook.
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $999 with 128GB of storage. All models come with the A12Z Bionic and 6GB of RAM. Customers can configure the tablet with up to 1TB of storage for $1499.
2021 iPad Pro
Apple is expected to release a new iPad Pro in 2021 with mini LED and an improved processor. The design will likely remain much the same as the previous generation, since the redesign was relatively recent.
The most rumored change coming is the shift of screen technology to mini LED. Apple is expected to move all of its large-screen devices to mini LED, with the new iPad Pro being the first to receive it. It will behave similar to OLED but will be much cheaper to implement.
The mini LED technology packs LEDs into much smaller and tighter areas and does the same with the backlight. Doing this means targeting more specific areas for dimming or brightening, which means much better black levels and color accuracy across the display.
The supply chain reports that the next iPad Pro may be delayed due to a shortage of mini LED components. Apple may announce the tablets in April.
Little else is known about the 2021 iPad Pro. Apple will certainly introduce a new processor, likely an A14X variant, with better graphics and overall performance.
Other changes could include improved USB-C speeds, adding Touch ID to the top button, and better Apple Pencil responsiveness.
The new iPad Pro will come in 12.9-inch and 11-inch variants with the same storage capacities and cellular options. Apple will likely keep the pricing identical too since the new technologies are not expected to add too much additional cost.