iPad Pro 2021 (12.9-inch) review

The iPad Pro 2021 (12.9-inch) is faster than any tablet ever, armed with the super-fast M1 processor from the latest Macs, making it able to crunch video for execs around the globe.

This iPad Pro's Liquid Retina XDR display screen has features none of its opponents can fit, getting as much as 200% brighter than the contest. Plus, its Center Stage video conferencing trick is quite impressive. In reality, this tablet is so good it won the award for easiest tablet in our Tom's Guide Awards 2021.

But this iPad Pro 2021 (12.9-inch) review will display that whilst Apple's made any other of the best tablets to be had today (connect a Magic Keyboard and it makes for one of the vital best 2-in-1 laptops, too) it can be iPad overkill for some. And the MacBook Air M1 remains your best choice for multitasking.

The excellent information is that Apple's not too long ago rejiggered iPad lineup implies that you do not wish to spend $1,099 (the 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021's starting worth) to get most of the iPad features you're going to love. But should you get the 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021? Let's in finding out.

iPad Pro 2021 (12.9-inch) review: Price and release date

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021 begins at $1,099, making it $one hundred greater than the previous model. If you need all that velocity and can shave off some display space, the 11-inch iPad Pro 2021 begins at $799. 5G connectivity prices $200 further, frustratingly.

With a Magic Keyboard ($349) and 2d Gen Apple Pencil ($129), you are at a beginning worth of $1,577 — which is so much.

If that each one sounds too rich, check out the $599 iPad Air 2020, which has numerous what we like in regards to the iPad Pro — but at a price many extra can have the funds for. Admittedly, its 10.9-inch screen is somewhat smaller.

The iPad Pro 2021 is about to hit retail outlets on May 21.

iPad Pro 2021 (12.9-inch) review: Specs

11-inch iPad Pro 202112.9-inch iPad Pro 2021
Starting value$799$1,099
Display11 inches (2388 x 1668 pixels)12.Nine inches (2732 x 2048 pixels) mini-LED
ProcessorM1 (16-core)M1 (16-core)
Storage128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB
Rear Cameras12MP large (f/1.8), 10-MP ultra-wide (f/2.4)12MP huge (f/1.8), 10-MP ultra-wide (f/2.4)
Front Cameras12MP TrueDepth12MP TrueDepth
Dimensions9.Seventy four x 7.02 x 0.23 inches11.04 x 8.Forty six x 0.25 inches
Weight1.04 pounds1.Fifty one kilos
PortUSB-C with Thunderbolt, USB-4USB-C with Thunderbolt, USB-4
ConnectivityOptional 5GOptional 5G

iPad Pro 2021 (12.9-inch) review: XDR Display

Watching motion pictures facet by side on both the 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021 and the 11-inch iPad Pro 2021, I began to think I was going loopy. While both monitors offer stellar image quality and crispness, I did not see the drastic distinction between the 2 that I'd expected.  

You won't all the time acquire all of the advantages of the Liquid Retina XDR show if you're no longer staring at HDR content material on the iPad Pro 2021. For instance, once I watched one in all my favorite scenes in Birds of Prey in the HBO Max app, Harley Quinn and the breakfast sandwich of her desires looked similar on both pills. That's for the reason that HBO Max app (identical to the Hulu iPad app) doesn't reinforce HDR. 

So I discovered some HDR-capable apps: Netflix and Apple TV (Prime Video additionally supports it). But watching The Queen's Gambit at the Netflix app, and each Midsommar and Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse within the Apple TV app, I best spotted a slight difference of brightness from the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The fall foliage that Peter and Miles swung via regarded correct and colourful on both, and that you must see all of the little flecks of the timber on its 12.9-inch (2732 x 2048-pixels) display. 

When looking at the brightness outputs of the iPad Pro 2021, we did two rounds of testing: as soon as on HDR and once more with non-HDR content material. Our light gun registered an average of 563 nits of brightness for non-HDR content material, which is analogous to the scores from the 571.3-nit 11-inch iPad Pro 2021 and the iPad Pro 2020 (559 nits). It's additionally brighter than the panel in the iPad Air 2020 (440 nits) and the 430-nit Super AMOLED panel in the Galaxy Tab S7 Plus.

Since the iPad Pro's XDR display makes use of native dimming zones for its 1,000,000:1 distinction ratio, we looked at how bright smaller regions of the show would get, and the results have been astounding. 10% and 40% portions of the iPad Pro 2021's show rated at 1582 and 1588 nits, respectively, whilst the full-screen HDR brightness hit 1251 nits. 

So, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021's show lives up to the hype (Apple rates it for a top brightness of 1600 nits), but perhaps it's just that my eyes are not as finely tuned (I'm a author, no longer a cinematographer). Remember, that is the iPad Pro, it is supposed for the not easy creatives who can use the LumaFusion video editor, and the trade varieties who would watch digital dailies in Frame.io. HDR is not restricted to high-end apps: iMovie also helps it.

I'm hoping other folks learn the HDR-based restraints of this tablet, because it could be aggravating to spend $1,099 and at all times expect great picture high quality, handiest to be told that you're ready on Hulu and others to modify their apps. The gorgeous Super AMOLED screen of the Galaxy Tab S7 Plus, by means of comparability, does not limit its very best symbol quality to just some formats. 

For colour output, the iPad Pro 2021 is still similar to earlier fashions, generating 114.9% of the sRGB gamut (the 11-inch fashion hit a detailed 113.1% mark). That's fairly extra colorful than the 102.9% ranking from the iPad Air, and a little decrease ranking than what the iPad Pro 2020 (122.9%) were given. Samsung continues to go more colourful than the rest, with the Galaxy Tab S7 Plus hitting 210.6% (they tend to move for a wilder fluctuate of colour). Apple does not most likely see this as a problem, as they tend to head for realism and not over-saturated colour. 

iPad Pro 2021 (12.9-inch) review: Performance

The Apple M1 chip in the iPad Pro 2021 is super-fast. How quick? Well, for starters, the whole lot simply turns out even smoother than ever. As I introduced Safari and opened tab after tab, new pages seemed and rendered with a neat snappiness. 

Then I went into multitasking mode, splitting the display between 13 Safari tabs and a 1080p/60fps YouTube video, then pulled up a folder of high-res HDR art by means of slide-over. All went down with nary a hiccup. I assumed, at one point, that the photographs have been slow to load, but the iPad Pro 2021 just wanted me to be stronger with my swipe gestures.

On the Geekbench 5 benchmark test, the 12.Nine inch iPad Pro 2021 pulled in a score of 7,298 (close to the 7,293 from the M1-based 11-inch iPad Pro 2021). That's a huge jump previous the 4,262 from the iPad Air 2020 (A14 Bionic) and the 4,720 from the iPad Pro 2020. The Galaxy Tab S7 Plus (Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+) landed a much lower 2,910.

In phrases of pro-level apps, the M1 took some other win on our Adobe Premiere Rush take a look at, where we add a color filter out and transition to a 4K video, and then export it at 1080p and 30fps. The iPad Pro 2021 completed this in 22 seconds, beating the 34-second time from the iPad Pro 2020 and the 27.2-second time from the iPad Air.

iPad Pro 2021 (12.9-inch) review: Design

The story right here is equal to sooner than. The iPad Pro 2021 is a beautiful sliver of machined aluminum, with thin bezels outlining the show. It appears nearly just like the 2020 iPad Pro and iPad Air fashions (the latter has a smaller digicam bump, and is simplest to be had in a ten.9-inch dimension). 

Apple simplest makes the iPad Pro 2021 in silver and Space Gray, a somewhat restricted range whilst you see the brighter colors of the iPad Air 2020 (which may be to be had in inexperienced, blue and rose gold). 

Measuring 11.04 x 8.Forty six x 0.25 inches and weighing 1.Five pounds, the iPad Pro 2021 is a hair thicker than the 2020 model (11.04 x 8.46 x 0.23-inch, 1.Four kilos) and the Galaxy Tab S7 Plus (11.22 x 7.28 x 0.22 inches, 1.3 pounds). This manner most bags and sleeves will nonetheless have compatibility, but it is reasonably too thick to fit completely in the iPad Pro Magic Keyboard for the former year's style. 

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro's weight is going as much as 3 pounds when you connect its Magic Keyboard — that places it in MacEbook Pro 2020 (3.1 kilos) and Dell XPS 13 (2.9 kilos) territory, making it slightly much less transportable. The 11-inch iPad Pro is a bit of lighter with its keyboard, at 2.Four pounds. The docked Galaxy Tab S7 Plus is also lighter, at 2.5 kilos.

Apple's sticking with the same buttons and port structure of its previous models: you lock the display with the "top" button, regulate volume with the others and fix by way of USB-C. The one improve this yr is Thunderbolt Three and USB 4 improve, which can be neat bonuses for those who attach external gadgets. The pros on the lookout for quicker transfers from drives and toughen for as much as 6K screens for extending your screen are most likely giddy.

iPad Pro 2021 (12.9-inch) review: Cameras, Center Stage and FaceID

Cameras in drugs have by no means been a celebrity feature, however the iPad Pro 2021 changes issues just a little here, too. The iPad Pro 2021 reflects the converting international, as its front-facing 12MP TrueDepth digital camera is crisp sufficient for the video conferencing generation — and its Center Stage function will help make meetings more fluid, conserving your face on digicam as you move.

When I were given on a video name, I noticed how the iPad Pro 2021's wide-angle sensor adopted my face as I stood up, after which kneeled at the floor. Even when I moved left and proper, I stayed within the picture. I basically had to intentionally get out of its field of view — crouching underneath my table like George Costanza — for it to stop tracking me. If that's an excessive amount of to your needs, you can disable Center Stage within the settings of specific programs you're the usage of.

As for the cameras themselves, the rear-mounted 12MP vast and 10-MP ultra-wide sensors take nice pictures. I amazed my mother with the element and vibrance of a shot I took of one in every of her pink and green amaryllis crops. Selfies I shot produced heaps of crisp detail, reminding me of how badly I need to shave. You additionally get portrait mode (nonetheless just on the front-facing digicam), which has gotten lovely great at detecting the perimeters of my clear glasses. 

Apple's still offering Face ID login for unlocking, the use of Apple Pay, and extra throughout the front-facing sensor. However, I wish the iPad Pro also had the Touch ID sensor in its energy button that the iPad Air did. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 Plus offers both fingerprint and facial recognition.

iPad Pro 2021 (12.9-inch) review: Audio

The iPad Pro 2021's speakers are robust enough to make me forget to fee my Bluetooth speaker. Listening to the band Charly Bliss' energy pop album Young Enough at the iPad Pro, I came upon its sound is so huge that my roommates wanted me to turn down the amount. 

But then after they got here in, they had been a little surprised to be told that the thumping drums and the remainder of the sweet sound was coming from a pill this thin. Similarly, Jefferson Starship's "Jane" sounds so sturdy at the iPad Pro 2021 that I felt like I was rewatching Wet Hot American Summer for the 25th time.

iPad Pro 2021 (12.9-inch) review: Battery life

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021 has beautiful damn good battery existence. Our web-surfing-based test took 10 hours and 48 minutes to drain it of a complete fee. That's with reference to the time from the iPad Air 2020 (10:29), while beating the iPad Pro 2020 (10:16) via over half an hour. The Galaxy Tab S7 Plus (8:51) lasted even less time.

That mentioned, the smaller 11-inch iPad Pro 2021 (13:42) lasted longer at the similar take a look at, most likely as it does not have to light up this sort of huge screen. 

iPad Pro 2021 (12.9-inch) review: Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil

The Magic Keyboard for iPad ($349) continues to set the bar for a super external tablet keyboard. Testing it out at the 10FastFingers typing take a look at, I hit a charge of 78 words in keeping with minute, not far from my 80 wpm reasonable. And while the big information of this yr's Magic Keyboard model is just a new colour (white), I'm someway stunned through how a lot better it seems than its black counterpart. 

Also, should you try and use the Magic Keyboard from earlier years' fashions with the iPad Pro 2021 (12.9-inch), you'll be able to find that the two are a decent, however nonetheless purposeful, fit.

The second Gen Apple Pencil ($129) is still a robust stylus, because of its simple charging (it attracts energy when it magnetically snaps to the highest edge). I've still yet to get the dangle of Scribble, Apple's handwriting-to-text translation equipment. Still, I'm always impressed to peer it decipher my handwriting as it should be — which says extra about my handwriting than it does concerning the app.

iPad Pro 2021 (12.9-inch) review: iPadOS

I'm really reasonably curious as to what iPadOS 15 holds, because the iPad Pro 2021 may really change a laptop. Its screen is fantastic, its M1 processor is equal to discovered in the current MacBooks, and its 2-in-1 removable design (with the keyboard) makes it large versatile.

That stated, iPadOS remains to be boxed into the sandboxing barriers of iOS — apps can't in point of fact paintings together. Sure, you'll be able to use forte podcasting programs to document a display, but wouldn't it be higher if Skype and FaceTime could paintings with Voice Memos? The same probabilities can be a boon for gamers who circulation, because you'll want to broadcast your favourite iPad video games without a secondary software. Yes, programs can work side-by-side because of split-view and slide-over, but when the iPad is predicted to interchange the Mac for some, it will be nice if it allowed programs to sing in a more perfect solidarity — as they do at the Mac.

And whilst the 11-inch iPad Pro's multi-tasking skills get maxed out with split-view and slide-over each, the bigger 12.9-inch iPad Pro show has the additional real property to make me wonder what's next for iPadOS.

iPad Pro 2021 (12.9-inch) review: Verdict

As this iPad Pro 2021 (12.9-inch) review displays, Apple's leaps forward in efficiency and show quality make the iPad Pro more true to its identify than ever earlier than. Previously, the iPad Pro used to be the most efficient iPad there was once for anyone who sought after more than the entry-level iPad 2020, with its notable limitations. 

In the time since that iPad Pro 2020 came out, Apple's changed up its lineup, providing an possibility for many who are not looking for ultra-bright HDR magic. That's the iPad Air 2020, which is the easiest mid-range iPad, providing Magic Keyboard and second Gen Apple Pencil strengthen at $500 much less — it is simply not as quick and lacks Face ID. Of path, those who put performance first will have to probably take a look at the 11-inch iPad Pro 2021, which is $300 less and just as instant.

But those pros who purchased the iPad Pro 2020 — and catch themselves looking forward to it to export video sooner — must improve. It's without a doubt the best tablet there's — particularly if you'll be able to see the adaptation between HDR and 4K HDR. I wager, although, that they would love for iPadOS to mature a little and give you the features their Macs can.

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