Apple took the virtual stage today at the “Spring Loaded” event to announce an update to the iPad Pro. The big surprise is that the new iPad Pros have the M1 SoC, just like full-fledged Mac computers.
Apple says the eight-core CPU will deliver 50 percent faster performance compared to the previous iPad Pro, and the eight-core GPU up to 40 percent faster graphics performance. Storage is also faster, with a 2x performance boost, and there’s a new 2TB configuration.
The USB-C port is upgraded with Thunderbolt compatibility, allowing the iPad to power additional displays up to 6K resolution and other accessories. There is also optional mmWave 5G on board. The new front camera is a 12MP wide-angle lens. A tracking feature called “Center Stage” will automatically pan a video chat image to keep you in the frame as you move.
While both sizes of the tablet look nearly identical to their 2020 predecessors, there’s one change to the 12.9-inch model that Apple says will make a big visual impression. It features a Mini LED display, an improved variant of the same LCD technology found in previous iPads. Apple calls it the “Liquid Retina XDR display” and it has 1,000 nits of sustained brightness and 1,600 nits of peak brightness. Apple says more than 10,000 Mini LEDs power the screen’s backlight, enabling 2,596 local dimming zones and a contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1. The device also supports True Tone, so it will adjust the white balance according to your lighting environment.
Mini-LED screens replace the single LED backlighting of traditional CD screens with hundreds or even thousands of tiny LEDs, allowing for more detailed control of brightness and contrast for higher picture quality. Apple previously used the technology in its expensive, pro-focused Pro Display XDR monitor. The 11-inch model doesn’t have the same improvement: the screen quality is probably comparable to what we saw in 2020.
This is the first time such a display has been made available in a consumer content creation device, let alone a mobile device. Apple is playing a game for content creators like photographers, YouTube production professionals and others with the iPad Pro. Many of them will eat it because there isn’t much else on the market right now.
The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $799, while the 12.9-inch version with the enhanced display technology starts at $1,099. Pre-orders start on April 30 and will be available in the second half of May.
List image by Apple