iPad Pro (2021): Features, release date, design, and more


New iPad Pro vs 2020 iPad Pro wrap-up

The 2021 iPad Pro has been announced during Apple’s ‘Spring Loaded’ event with a new display technology in the 12.9-inch model, camera improvements, better processor, and more.

Read on for our full roundup of everything we know so far about the 2021 iPad Pro.

Table of contents

Fifth-generation iPad Pro: the M1 iPad

New iPad Pro vs 2020 iPad Pro wrap-up

As Apple has been doing for quite some time with the iPad line, the fifth-generation iPad Pro is simply called iPad Pro.

Formally, it is the fifth-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro and third-generation 11-inch iPad Pro, since the first smaller “pro” iPad had a different screen size, but when Apple updated it with an 11-inch display, it became a newer generation.

2021 iPad Pro Features and specs

In terms of design, the 2021 iPad Pro looks closely to the last model launched by Apple. The only tiny difference is that the 12.9-inch model is 0.5-inch thicker. As usual, the company unveiled two models: one with 11-inch and the other one with 12.9-inch.

Both the iPads are available in two different finishes: Space Gray and Silver. The main camera sensor still looks the same with two lenses and a LiDAR Scanner. Face ID remains as the security system on the 2021 iPad Pro.

Liquid Retina XDR: mini-LED technology

New iPad Pro vs 2020 iPad Pro wrap-up

The 2021 12.9-inch iPad Pro is the first iPad to feature a Liquid Retina XDR Display. That’s the fancy name Apple gives to the mini-LED technology. This panel uses 10,000 mini-LEDs, which provide much greater control of localized backlighting, allowing higher brightness and deeper blacks. The combination boosts the contrast ratio, as well as using less power.

According to Apple, the Liquid Retina XDR display delivers “true-to-life” detail with a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio. It also features 1000 nits of full-screen brightness and 1600 nits of peak brightness.

While the 11-inch model still uses the Liquid Retina display with LCD, both of them have True Tone for comfortable viewing, ProMotion technology with adaptive 120Hz refresh rate, and P3 wide color gamut.

Camera

New iPad Pro vs 2020 iPad Pro wrap-up

The 2021 iPad Pro features a camera system with two lenses and a LiDAR Scanner. With a 12MP wide camera with ƒ/1.8 aperture and a 10MP ultra-wide camera with ƒ/2.4 aperture and 125° field of view, it’s possible to record 4K video at 24 fps, 25 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps.

The main difference with this iPad is on the TrueDepth system with a 12MP ultra-wide camera. With that, Apple was able to introduce a feature called Center Stage, giving more naturality in a video call. In previous models, when you call someone in landscape mode, it feels like the only thing the other person can see is your chin.

With Center Stage, it doesn’t matter where the user is on a video call, the camera always puts the person in the center, and with the Face ID system, it can track the user while it’s moving. Center Stage API will also be available for third-party developers to implement in their apps.

Performance

New iPad Pro vs 2020 iPad Pro wrap-up

While we expected the 2021 iPad Pro to feature the A14X chip, Apple decided to use the marketing name of the M1 chip to power the iPad Pro.

With an 8-core CPU with 4 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores, 8-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine, the 2021 iPad Pro is 50% faster than the previous A12Z chip.

For the first time, Apple highlights that the models with 1TB or more of storage have 16GB of RAM, while the models with less than 1TB have 8GB of RAM.

Connectivity

New iPad Pro vs 2020 iPad Pro wrap-up

As the iPhone 12, the 2021 iPad Pro is the first iPad with 5G support with 4x more bandwidth. In the U.S., Apple will sell the fifth-generation iPad Pro with mmWave support.

The iPad Pro uses 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6, simultaneous dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz); HT80 with MIMO, and Bluetooth 5.0 technology.

Thunderbolt port

Another major update for the 2021 iPad Pro is its port replacement. Apple ditched the USB-C for a Thunderbolt port.

Thunderbolt ports are available on the Mac and enable iPad Pro users to connect to additional displays and other accessories, as well as transfer files faster.

Apple says that this Thunderbolt port “works with existing USB-C connectors and opens up an extensive ecosystem of high-performance accessories for iPad Pro. Transfer huge assets or even drive the Pro Display XDR at full 6K resolution.”

Storage options

New iPad Pro vs 2020 iPad Pro wrap-up

Apple updated the 2021 iPad Pro storage options with up to 2TB of SSD. As mentioned, the models with 1TB and 2TB have 16GB of RAM. Here are the storage options Apple offers:

Accessories: Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil

New iPad Pro vs 2020 iPad Pro wrap-up

Another selling point for the iPad Pro is its accessories. The most important ones are the Magic Keyboard and the Apple Pencil.

As Apple did not change the iPad’s form-factor, the company will sell the same Smart Keyboard and Magic Keyboard it’s already selling for the fourth-generation iPad Pro and fourth-generation iPad Air.

With the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which is 0.5mm thicker, it has a new Magic Keyboard that is also compatible with older 12.9-inch iPads. Both models offer a new white model.

The Apple Pencil is also the same. The fifth-generation iPad Pro uses the second-generation Apple Pencil that charges when attached to the tablet.

2021 iPad Pro Magic Keyboard controversy

After Apple announced the fifth-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro, people started wondering whether the older Magic Keyboard would be compatible with the new tablet. Yes, it is, and also not exactly. Here’s what Apple says:

“The first generation of the Magic Keyboard (A1998) is functionally compatible with the new iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation) with Liquid Retina XDR display. Due to the slightly thicker dimensions of this new iPad Pro, it’s possible that the Magic Keyboard may not precisely fit when closed, especially when screen protectors are applied.

Apple does say the new Magic Keyboard works with the new iPad but it would rather expect users to spend another $349 for a better fit when closed.

iPadOS 15

New iPad Pro vs 2020 iPad Pro wrap-up

The M1 iPad Pro runs iPadOS 15. Previewed during the WWDC21 keynote, the operating system brings a redesigned Home Screen with widgets and App Library support.

In the productivity section, Apple, unfortunately, didn’t bring all the features pro users wanted to take full advantage of their new M1 iPad Pro, even though, later this year, it will be possible to create apps using Swift Playgrounds, as you can learn more about it here

There’s a new multitasking menu on the top of the screen. When you click there, it’s possible to see what configurations you can use on Split View or just go to Slide Over with just a tap.

The experience with an external keyboard allows users to get more done with all-new keyboard shortcuts and a redesign of the menu bar.

With the Quick Note feature, users can use the Apple Pencil to add a quick note. They just need to slide the pencil through the bottom right corner to the center of the screen and start writing.

iPadOS 15 is already out, with version 15.0.1 also available. Learn more about it here. In a future update, Apple will bring SharePlay for the iPad, which will let users share their screen, listen to Apple Music songs together, or watch Apple TV+, HBO Max, Disney+, and others while in a call.

iPadOS 14

Apple releases iPadOS 14 for iPad

iPadOS 14 brought a redesigned widgets section for the Home Screen, a new enhanced sidebar, compact calls function, and Scribble. With this function, you don’t have to put Apple Pencil away to do other things. You can write by hand in any text field across iPadOS, and your words automatically convert to text.

Messages received pinned conversations, group photos, and inline replies. It’s possible to mention people in iMessage now and give your Memoji a more personalized look.

As for now, the iPad runs iPadOS 14.7.1, but was with iPadOS 14.5 that Apple brought one of the most important updates:

Although iPadOS 15 is already available, users can stay with iPadOS 14.8 with important security patches and bug fixes.

Release Date: When will the 2021 iPad Pro come out?

The 2021 iPad Pro is now available for all customers. Orders started on April 30 and it was officially launched on May 21.

Price: How much will the 2021 iPad Pro cost?

Apple releases iPadOS 14 for iPad

The 2021 iPad Pro prices have been announced. While nothing changed with the 11-inch iPad Pro, the 12.9-inch saw a $100 increase in its starting price.

Lower prices may be available from Apple’s official Amazon store.

Fifth-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro review

Apple releases iPadOS 14 for iPad

In our video review of the fifth-generation iPad Pro, we say this is the perfect model to upgrade if you want the power of the M1 chip on the iPad but it still needs a better software update to unleash its full power.

Hardware-wise this is the complete package. The 2021 iPad is basically a Mac computer without macOS. But it’s so much more than a Mac, and that’s what makes the iPad such a compelling product. The iPad has a display that’s better than any MacBook, can connect to the Internet independent of Wi-Fi, has a better speaker system, features easy Face ID authentication, works with the Apple Pencil, and so much more.

If Apple can provide big enhancements in areas like multitasking, external display support, and file management, I think the iPad will finally be able to compete with the Mac and be the laptop replacement that so many people have wanted it to be.

Deals

Over at 9to5Toys, you can find the best deals on the iPad Pro and other Apple products. Download the 9to5Toys iPhone app to receive push notifications for new deals as well.

Wrap-up

Apple releases iPadOS 14 for iPad

The 2021 iPad Pro doesn’t have a major design upgrade as the 2018 iPad Pro, had but it brings important changes, like the mini-LED display technology, 5G connectivity, and a Thunderbolt port, especially on the 12.9-inch model. The Center Stage function is also a great feature for all iPad users.

Apple releases iPadOS 14 for iPad

As my colleague Zac Hall detailed in his hands-on yesterday, one of the highlights of the M1 iPad Pro is the front-facing camera technology. The new iPad Pro is equipped with a new front-facing ultra-wide to power the Center Stage software technology.

The experts over at Halide have gotten their hands on the new iPad Pro and published an in-depth breakdown of the new iPad Pro camera hardware, including a “hidden superpower” with the rear camera.

Apple releases iPadOS 14 for iPad

After Apple unveiled the M1 iPad Pro last month, speculation about the future of iPad software went rampant. Some people speculated that the solution to the iPad’s current software limitations could be support for running macOS, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. Here’s why.