Apple has announced an update to its iPad Pro that will bring the powerful Apple M2 chip from the MacBook Air (M2, 2022) to the tablet. The new Pro tablet won’t have the fancy colors of the new 10th generation iPad models, but it will have some fancy new features for the Apple Pencil 2, as well as improvements to media recording and playback, thanks to the M2. The iPad Pro is available for pre-order now and will hit stores on October 26.
The iPad Pro is powered by the Apple M2 chip, which will include new image and media processing engines that allow for improved video capture and editing. The iPad Pro will be able to capture ProRes video, but the cameras themselves haven’t received an upgrade from the latest model’s Pro Camera set. You still get the same 12MP main camera and 10MP ultra wide-angle lens, with a 12MP selfie camera on the front.
The Apple Pencil 2 gets some new tricks with the updated iPad Pro. When the pencil is 12mm above the screen and closer, the iPad Pro can detect its presence and enable new Hover features. They seem aimed primarily at art and drawing types, but Apple says the iPad Pro will enlarge a text box when it detects the pencil, giving you more space to write.
The new iPad Pro will convert writing to text faster, thanks to the performance of the new Apple M2 chip. The processing cores will only be 15% faster, which is an imperceptible upgrade, but there will also be more improved Neural Engine performance. The Neural Engine is the part of the chipset that handles machine learning tasks, which include tasks like speech recognition and handwriting detection.
Apple has made significant updates to the iPad’s networking capabilities. The new tablets will support Wi-Fi 6E, a ‘fast lane’ flavor of Wi-Fi 6 that uses its own radio band. Even the iPhone 14 Pro lacks this Wi-Fi feature, although other new phones like the Google Pixel 7 Pro support it. The iPad Pro also gets more radio bands for 5G compatibility.
The iPad Pro is an expensive beast, perched atop Apple’s sizable tablet pyramid. The 11-inch model starts at $799 / £899 / AU$1,399, or you can get it with 5G network for $999 / £1,079 / AU$1,649. For the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, you pay $1,099 / £1,249 / AU$1,899 to get started or $1,299 / £1,429 / AU$2,149 with 5G.
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro offers a more advanced display than the 11-inch iPad Pro. You get Apple’s XDR branding, which includes mini-LED backlighting with local dimming. Both displays have the same pixel density of 264ppi.
Review: An iPad Pro update to support an advanced operating system
The iPad Pro update isn’t the most exciting. The processor is only marginally faster. The pen focus capabilities are similar to what we saw on the Samsung Galaxy Note II phone in 2012, and we didn’t find them very useful either. What’s new?
The Apple M2 chip is not an arrogant chipset, but it will provide support for the key new features of iPad OS 16.1. The new Stage Manager feature will make useful multitasking on the iPad a historic struggle. The new support for external displays will allow you to connect a display to an iPad, rather than just using the iPad as an external display.
Apple has been saying the iPad has been a complete computer for a long time, now we’re seeing them getting closer and closer through the updated operating system. Of course, all the new iPads will have the same iPadOS, but the new iPad Pro will do a better job at the things that help the iPad tablet get closer to the iPad’s desktop status.