Review: Apple unleashes the M1-powered iPad Pro
The last iPad Pro was already a monster in itself, and we wouldn’t blame anyone (including ourselves) if it’s a worthy challenger to a laptop (spoiler alert — it is). And with Apple’s new season in full swing, the new iPad Pro’s in town — this time, even more supercharged with Apple’s very own M1 chip.
The M1 iPad Pro — officially, the fifth generation — retains the good looks of its predecessor (and that of the iPhone 12) — a flat-edged, round-cornered machine that’s portable and light enough to carry around. It still comes in 11- and 12.9-inch models, but the latter (which we have for this run) now has a Liquid Retina XDR display with a one-million-to-one contrast ratio, Apple’s best and brightest on its tablet.
The button setup remains the same, with the power-on/lock/wake and volume buttons in their usual top-right and right locations. And again, there’s no 3.5mm audio port, so be ready with your USB-C (technically, Thunderbolt/USB-4) headset.
M1’S THE ONE
If you’ve been following the M1 saga, you probably know what it’s done for the MacBook. On the iPad Pro, well… pretty much the same — a steroid-level bump-up, as we’d like to describe it. With the M1’s CPU and GPU having eight cores each, the new iPad Pro promises up to 50 per cent faster performance and 40 per cent speedier graphics. And don’t forget about the 16-core Neural Engine, bringing even more ‘smarts’ for machine learning. That already lethal combination also comes with up to 2TB of storage and either 8GB (128/256/512GB) or a ridiculous 16GB (1/2TB) of RAM.
You also get four speakers — two each on top and below — for surround sound, which is another neat feature. And further below on the right is a SIM card tray that internally supports 5G.
It’s silky-smooth. This metric may not be noticeable with the naked eye, but the improvements contained within all combine to (once again) ensure using the iPad Pro is smooth. Editing photos and videos, for example, comes at desktop-level performance. You can also see and feel the natural response when using the Apple Pencil.
And while it’s a no-brainer that its display is great for watching video, it’s also equally amazing for playing games; titles from the Arcade library just flow smoothly.
IS IT GOOD AS A LAPTOP?
This will depend on where you’re coming from. Obviously, with smart keyboard and mouse support, it does act like one. But needs and wants vary with each user. Not a few have suggested that iPads and MacBooks may be cannibalising each other, but Apple has already gone on record that they’re not afraid as such. The iPhone chewed away at the iPod, yet everything’s fine — even went way better, actually, in Apple land.
The Apple iPad Pro with the M1 chip raises the bar even higher not just for itself, but definitely for the rest of the field. Interesting to see how much more intensive apps will be coming on board to take advantage of this versatile machine and, more importantly, how its next iteration will top this one.