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Apple's new iPad Pro boasts M1, 5G and a mini-LED display

It's taking on tablet competitors with higher-quality displays and raw performance.

Published onApril 20, 2021

apple ipad pro 2021
  • Apple has introduced a new iPad Pro with the M1 chip, 5G, and a mini-LED display.
  • It promises 50% faster performance, Thunderbolt, and storage up to 2TB.
  • Orders start April 30 starting at $799 for the 11-inch model, and $1,099 for 12.9-inches.

Apple is determined to stay on top of the mobile tablet market, and that became clearer than ever at its “Spring Loaded” event. The company has introduced an updated iPad Pro for 2021 with computer-level performance — in part because it’s using more technology designed for computers.

Both the 11- and 12.9-inch iPad Pro for 2021 center on the M1 processor previously found only in the Mac. The chip delivers up to 50% greater performance than in the previous iPad Pro, with as much as 40% faster graphics and up to 16GB of memory. You’ll also get optional 5G data as well as features you might not expect in a mobile tablet, including a Thunderbolt port for high-speed peripherals (including the Pro Display XDR at full 6K) and twice-as-fast storage up to 2TB.

apple ipad pro magic keyboard white

There’s also a stronger incentive to buy the larger iPad Pro in 2021. The 12.9-inch model is Apple’s first device with a mini-LED display, and it promises image quality closer to what you’d get from the Pro Display XDR. The Liquid Display XDR’s 10,000 lights give it 1,600-nit brightness and a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio that’s exceptionally high for a non-OLED screen. You can better rely on this for color-accurate photo and video work.

Even the front camera has received a welcome update in the 2021 iPad Pro. The 12MP ultra-wide front sensor introduces Center Stage, a Facebook Portal-style feature that keeps people in frame as they move around. You don’t have to stand directly in front of the iPad during a work call or a remote family get-together.

See also: The best Android tablets you can buy

As before, though, you’ll be paying a premium. The 2021 iPad Pro will be available to order April 30 starting at the same $799 for the 11-inch iPad Pro with WiFi and 128GB of storage, and a steeper $1,099 for the 12.9-inch edition. That’s before factoring in accessories like the Magic Keyboard ($299 or $349 depending on size, and now available in white) or the $129 Apple Pencil. The two ship later in May.

How do they compare to the Android tablet competition? That’s more difficult than you might think. Simply put, the 2021 iPad Pro starts where Android tablets normally stop. Apple’s slate is much pricer than the $649 Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus, for instance, but it also delivers more processing power, connectivity, and storage options. As the name implies, this latest iPad is focused on creatives and no-compromise enthusiasts where the Tab S7 Plus is aimed more at the mainstream. The iPad Air is more of a direct competitor to most high-end Android offerings.

That makes the 2021 iPad Pro a tough sell if you don’t need its performance or want a more flexible platform than iPad OS. At the same time, it begs the question of why you don’t see higher-powered Android tablets. If you want more than 8GB of RAM and 256GB of built-in storage in a mobile tablet, you’ll likely have to spring for an iPad Pro — and that’s not factoring in perks like a mini-LED display. Like it or not, Apple is likely your best choice if you want a mobile tablet for heavy-duty creative tasks.

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