The iPad Pro 2021 finally debuted on April 20, and while it’s a bit more expensive, it looks amazing. For example, a new leak previews how truly powerful the Apple M1 chip is. This isn’t the only big feature: that makes the iPad Pro 2021 likely to hold on our best tablets list, the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro packs mini-LED technology for XDR quality, making the new iPad Pro more “pro” than ever.
On top of that, the new front-facing TrueDepth camera has an ultra-wide camera with a pretty smart feature called Center Stage to make video calls even better than ever. Oh, and it’s also got 5G connectivity, to sweeten the deal. The only downside? You’ve got to pay a little more than before.
Wondering how different it is to the previous model? Check out our iPad Pro 2021 vs iPad Pro 2020 face-off to find out more.
iPad Pro 2021 cheat sheet: What you need to know
- The iPad Pro 12.9-inch starts at $1,099, and the 11-inch is $799
- Pre-orders are available now
- There’s a new M1 chip that promises much better performance, along with 5G
- The 12.9-inch iPad Pro packs Liquid Retina XDR display that’s super bright and 1 million to 1 contrast ratio.
- The new front cameras follow you on video calls with Center Stage
- Apple’s releasing a white Magic Keyboard
iPad Pro 2021 specs
|11-inch iPad Pro 2021||12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021|
|Display||11 inches (2388 x 1668 pixels)||12.9 inches (2732 x 2048 pixels) mini-LED|
|Processor||M1 (16-core)||M1 (16-core)|
|Storage||128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB||128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB|
|Rear Cameras||12MP wide (f/1.8), 10-MP ultra-wide (f/2.4)||12MP wide (f/1.8), 10-MP ultra-wide (f/2.4)|
|Front Cameras||12MP TrueDepth||12MP TrueDepth|
|Dimensions||9.74 x 7.02 x 0.23 inches||11.04 x 8.46 x 0.25 inches|
|Weight||1.04 pounds||1.51 pounds|
|Port||USB-C with Thunderbolt, USB-4||USB-C with Thunderbolt, USB-4|
|Connectivity||Optional 5G||Optional 5G|
iPad Pro 2021 release date
The iPad Pro 2021 is coming by the second half of May 2021. It is now available to pre-order, as Apple started taking orders on April 30/
However, it looks like the 12.9-inch iPad Pro won’t ship until late June or early July. Apple originally said that the iPad Pro would start shipping in late May, but on the day that preorders began, the shipping estimate was pushed back to new range of between June 24 to July 8.
iPad Pro 2021 price
The iPad Pro 2021 is a little more expensive than the iPad Pro 2020. The 11-inch iPad Pro 2021 starts at $799, $50 more than the 2020 model, while the 12.9-inch model is $1,099, making it $100 more than the previous model.
5G connectivity costs $200 extra, frustratingly.
iPad Pro 2021 mini-LED display
The biggest reason to upgrade to the new iPad Pro 2021 is Apple’s adoption of the mini-LED display — though that’s only in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021. So you’ll want to go big to get improved brightness and contrast, and to make HDR content look more accurate than ever.
So while the 11-inch iPad Pro has a Liquid Retina display with 4 million pixels, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro has the new technology powering its 5.6 million pixels.
Apple’s taken the smarts from its XDR display to make the 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021 more pro-level, giving creatives extreme dynamic range (XDR) wherever they can bring the 1.5-pound tablet. Inside that tablet, there are 10,000 mini-LEDs, which are 120x smaller than the LEDs in the 2020 iPad Pro.
The XDR display is rated for 1,000 nits of full-screen brightness, and 1,600 nits of peak brightness in HDR. The previous iPad Pro maxed out at 559 nits, according to our testing. Apple rates the mini-LED iPad Pro for a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio.
Want to know more? We’ve got all the info about why Mini-LED on the iPad Pro is a big deal.
iPad Pro 2021 M1 performance
Apple has indeed dropped its speedy M1 chip into the iPad Pro. The M1 chip offers 50% faster CPU performance vs the iPad Pro 2020’s A12Z Bionic processor, and 40% better graphics performance over that same tablet.
On Geekbench, according to leaked benchmarks, the M1-based iPad Pro notched a multi-core score of 7,284. That’s well above the 4,720 from the A12Z Bionic-based iPad Pro from last year.
There’s also a 16-core Neural Engine, and Apple’s claiming you’ll see 2x fast storage access. Other performance highlights include the gains you’ll get from the upgraded USB-C port, which has Thunderbolt and USB-4 support. This provides 4x as much bandwidth and support for 6K external displays.
iPad Pro 2021 battery life
Apple rates the iPad Pro 2021 as offering up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, or watching video. That number goes down to 9 hours for cellular.
We look forward to putting it through the paces of the Tom’s Guide battery test, which is based on web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness.
iPad Pro 2021 design
This looks like the same iPad Pro we’re used to. The 12.9-inch model is a little thicker, though at 0.25 inches vs the previous 0.23-inch size. That said, we’ve still got the same black bezels and machined aluminum.
We doubt we’d notice the small shift in thickness (which is rumored to be a result of the new mini-LED display).
iPad Pro 2021 cameras
While the rear cameras of the iPad Pro 2021 are the same as before (12MP wide (f/1.8), 10-MP ultra-wide (f/2.4)), the big change has come to the front-facing TrueDepth sensor. Apple can tell people need a sharper sensor than they did before Zoom Fatigue was a thing, and so we’ve got a 12MP TrueDepth sensor (vs the 7MP sensor of the past) with a cool new feature.
Center Stage makes use of the iPad Pro’s ultra-wide camera, and zooms in on you when you move to the side. If someone else enters the frame, the camera recognizes them and zooms out to capture them as well.
iPad Pro 2021 Magic Keyboard
The leaked Apple Pencil 3 didn’t come out, but Apple did reveal a white colorway for its Magic Keyboard. We’re wondering how well this all-white accessory will age, but it’s stylish enough to raise our interest.
iPad Pro 2021 outlook
The new iPad Pro 2021 has a tough task: getting people to spend even more than ever. That said, the M1 chip performance upgrades, alongside the mini-LED tech in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021 give us reason to believe that Apple’s made another winner.
That said, we’re curious about how much better the mini-LED display looks against previous iPad Pros, which looked amazing in their own right. Also, Apple’s battery life claims aren’t exactly shooting for the moon, and we’re hoping they’re being conservative about these guesses. Stay tuned for our full review.