- Ipad pro 2021 (11-inch) review: audio
- Ipad pro 2021 (11-inch) review: battery life
- Ipad pro 2021 (11-inch) review: cameras and center stage
- Ipad pro 2021 (11-inch) review: design
- Ipad pro 2021 (11-inch) review: display
- Ipad pro 2021 (11-inch) review: magic keyboard and apple pencil
- Ipad pro 2021 (11-inch) review: performance
- Ipad pro 2021 (11-inch) review: security
- Ipad pro 2021 (11-inch) review: software
- Ipad pro 2021 (11-inch) review: verdict
- Ipad pro 2021 vs ipad air 4: specs
- Ipad pro 2021: revealed, the biggest ipad upgrade ever
- Ipados 14.5
Ipad pro 2021 (11-inch) review: audio
A boombox, however iconic, is too big and bulky to tote around these days — especially when the quad-speaker setup of the iPad Pro booms as loudly as it does. As I hit play on Fiona Apple’s «I Want You to Love Me,» I smiled wide the sound filled my bedroom office and adjacent apartment spaces. Piano keys plunked accurately, Apple’s voice hit all the right notes and crisp drum cymbals crashed crisply.
To see the rest of the iPad Pro 2021’s range, I switched the tone to modern rap, turning on Future’s «Move That Dope.» I continued to feel delight, as the bass sounded sturdy and Pusha T’s guest verse sounded as strong as ever.
Ipad pro 2021 (11-inch) review: battery life
- Almost the best battery life we’ve ever seen in a tablet
- Lasts longer than 12.9-inch iPad Pro
The 11-inch iPad Pro is one of the longest lasting tablets we’ve ever seen. Our web-browsing battery test, with the iPad set to 150 nits of brightness drained it of its charge in 13 hours and 42 minutes.
That’s hours longer than the 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021 (10:48) and the iPad Air 2020 (10:29). The Galaxy Tab S7 Plus (13:16) comes close, but the iPad Pro outlasted it. The Amazon HD Fire 10 is the only tablet I remember lasting longer — but not by much, as its time of 13:45 wins by a mere 3 minutes.
Ipad pro 2021 (11-inch) review: cameras and center stage
- Center Stage is really clever
- But not if you’re poorly lit
Apple continues to give its iPads far better cameras than its MacBooks, as is the case with the new front-facing 12MP TrueDepth sensor, the star of the show here. And for once, an internal webcam is pretty smart: Apple’s new Center Stage tool allows the camera to track and follow your face — so you stay in the frame on calls.
When I’ve tested Center Stage’s limits, I found it does an amazing job of tracking my face. I basically needed to hide away from it — like Hobbits ducking away from the Ringwraiths — to drop it.
Yes, while I spent years mocking anyone who used the cameras in a tablet, even I’ve accepted that Apple’s done something pretty neat here. The one issue I had with Center Stage was while using it in a dimly lit room while watching horror movies with friends remotely — sometimes my face wasn’t illuminated enough to track.
The 12MP front-facing camera is also great for selfies, capturing the pinks of my cheeks, and superbly detecting the edges of my clear glasses in portrait mode. The rear cameras also proved superb for capturing my Orange Cassidy action figure, showing off the stitching of the pro wrestler’s acid wash denim jacket and shirt that bears his own visage.
Ipad pro 2021 (11-inch) review: design
- We want more colors
- Thunderbolt 3/USB 4 offers improved external device support
The 11-inch iPad Pro 2021 is identical to the 2020 model, which added a rear camera (and nothing else) to the 2021 model. That means you’ve got a clean design, with a machined aluminum backplate and thin black bezels on the front.
The iPad Pro 2021 is only sold in silver and Space Gray, which is frustratingly boring compared to the iPad Air 2020, which Apple makes in green, blue and rose gold. This seems to be the current pattern with Apple, where pro products get few color options than the entry level iMac 2021 and iPad Air.
Measuring 9.7 x 7.0 x 0.2 inches and weighing 1.0 pounds, the iPad Pro 2021 has the same dimensions as the 2020 version, and a similar footprint as the Galaxy Tab S7 (10 x 6.5 x 0.2 inches, 1.1 pounds).
Unlike the 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021, the 11-inch iPad Pro will fit perfectly in the iPad Pro Magic Keyboard for the previous year’s model. The larger model will still work, but may feel like a tight fit.
The 11-inch iPad Pro’s weight goes up to 2.4 pounds when you attach its Magic Keyboard, which is much lighter than the docked 12.9-inch iPad Pro (3 pounds) The docked Galaxy Tab S7 is lighter, at 2 pounds. (Samsung’s tablet doesn’t have all the magnets that the Magic Keyboard does.)
Apple also kept the buttons the same on the iPad Pro 2021. The tablet’s «top» button locks the screen, and its volume buttons — get this — adjust the amount of sound it emits.
The USB-C port is upgraded from previous year’s model to include Thunderbolt 3 and USB 4 support. This is an advantage for improved bandwidth on external devices, so expect faster transfers from drives, as well support for up to 6K monitors.
Ipad pro 2021 (11-inch) review: display
- Really bright screen
- Accurate color
- HDR content looks better on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro
As I watched Mad Max: Fury Road on the HBO Max app on the 11-inch iPad Pro 2021, I marveled slightly at the panel’s brightness and color. The amber browns of Immortan Joe’s craggy desert lair looked rich (enough to remind me I was a bit parched), and the dark-blue paint on Furiosa’s forehead — which matches her eyes — popped ever so slightly. Small details such as scratches on Furiosa’s rig and the dirt on Max’s face looked crystal clear.
The 11-inch iPad Pro 2021 571.3 nits of brightness on our light gun, a hair brighter than the 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021 (563 nits on non-HDR content). The iPad Air 2020 (440 nits) and the Galaxy Tab S7 Plus (499 nits) are a bit dimmer.
But while the 11-inch iPad Pro 2021’s display is fantastic, it’s not on the same level as its 12.9-inch counterpart. After spending a while trying to see the differences, my eyes finally saw the darker blacks and greater contrast during some of the darker scenes in Avengers:
Endgame, when Black Widow confronted Hawkeye on the streets of Tokyo. Similarly, the reds of Ant-Man’s Quantum Suit popped that much more on the 12.9-inch iPad. That said, not every scene brings the brilliance in HDR. When I looked at the greens of Hulk’s skin as he conversed in the diner early in that movie, I didn’t see much of a difference.
Ipad pro 2021 (11-inch) review: magic keyboard and apple pencil
- Excellent typing experience
- Magic Keyboard is pretty in white
You can use the 11-inch iPad Pro 2021 with either the previous Magic Keyboard or the brand-new white model Apple’s introduced. The $299 accessory may be pricey, but it’s worth it for the magnetic simplicity where it just snaps to the iPad Pro.
Taking it for a spin on the 10FastFingers typing test, I hit a rate of 77 words per minute, keeping close enough to my 80 wpm average. The keys provide just enough feedback for smooth typing, so your fingertips know that they’ve activated the keys and you can move along.
Nothing has changed on the 2nd Gen Apple Pencil ($129 extra) which is still an excellent (albeit expensive) stylus. I saw nearly no latency as I doodled in the Notes app, and continue to smirk as the Scribble feature in iPadOS does a decent job of interpreting my chicken-scratch handwriting to text.
Ipad pro 2021 (11-inch) review: performance
- The M1 chip is Apple’s not-so-secret weapon
- Apple’s beating its own records
Ipad pro 2021 (11-inch) review: security
- Face ID is as great as ever
- We want Touch ID too
Ipad pro 2021 (11-inch) review: software
- Multitasking is good, but not enough for some
- Professionals may miss the interoperability of macOS apps
iPadOS 14 is pretty good, but it’s still more like iOS than it is dissimilar. And when the iPad Pro is meant to possibly replace a MacBook (at this price, it better), we’ve got one big demand. Yes, iPadOS has good multitasking — with up to three apps at once, plus picture-in-picture — but there’s a difference between multitasking and true productivity.
Ipad pro 2021 (11-inch) review: verdict
As this iPad Pro 2021 (11-inch) review shows, bigger isn’t better in all ways. The 11-inch iPad Pro packs enough battery life to mop the floor with its big brother, and still offers the same improbably fast speeds you get on that 12.9-inch model. And since the new iPad Pro runs laps around the iPad Pro 2020’s speed (which was already the fastest tablet), Apple’s clearly just posting new records in the tablet world while the rest of the market is trying to catch up.
But the iPad Pro 2021 is even pricier than last year’s model, which will make folks ask if they need all that power and all those nits. When I’m inevitably asked for recommendations by friends and family, I will probably tell them to save $200 and go for the $599 iPad Air 2020, which gets you Magic Keyboard and 2nd Gen Apple Pencil support at $200 less.
That said, anyone who found the iPad Pro 2020 a bit too slow when editing photos or video should upgrade to this year’s edition. And until HDR is available in all of the streaming apps, the 11-inch iPad Pro 2021 feels more than ready to be the best tablet you’ve ever used.
Ipad pro 2021 vs ipad air 4: specs
|iPad Air 4 (2020)||11-inch iPad Pro 2021||12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021|
|Display||10.9 inches (2360 x 1640)||11 inches (2388 x 1668 pixels)||12.9 inches (2732 x 2048 pixels) mini-LED|
|Processor||A14 Bionic||M1 (16-core)||M1 (16-core)|
|Storage||64GB, 256GB||128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB||128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB|
|Rear Cameras||12MP wide (f/1.8)||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||7MP TrueDepth||12MP TrueDepth||12MP TrueDepth|
|Dimensions||9.7 x 7 x 0.24 inches||9.74 x 7.02 x 0.23 inches||11.04 x 8.46 x 0.25 inches|
|Weight||1 pound||1.04 pounds||1.51 pounds|
|Port||USB-C||USB-C with Thunderbolt, USB-4||USB-C with Thunderbolt, USB-4|
|Accessories||Magic Keyboard, Apple Pencil (gen 2)||Magic Keyboard, Apple Pencil (gen 1 & 2)||Magic Keyboard, Apple Pencil (gen 1 & 2)|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 6, optional 4G||Wi-Fi 6, optional 5G||Wi-Fi 6, optional 5G|
Ipad pro 2021: revealed, the biggest ipad upgrade ever
April 21 update below. This post was first published on Tuesday, April 20.
So, at last, the cat’s out of the bag. The new iPad Pro has been launched and it seems to live up to the hype that preceded it, promising it would be the biggest upgrade to an iPad yet. Here’s what we know and, be warned, there’s a sting in the tail. Oh, and for tips and tricks on how to make the most of the Magic Keyboad, sign up for my AppleUnboxed newsletter, here.
April 21 update. Since the reveal of the iPad Pro yesterday, more details have seeped out. For a start, it seems like the next iPad Pro will have more RAM than any previous Apple tablet, with 8GB in the 128GB, 256GB and 512GB storage models and 16GB in the 1TB and 2TB versions.
Then there’s Center Stage, the video calling system which, like the Facebook Portal or the latest Echo Show, keeps the person in the call right in the middle of the action. This zooms and pans to ensure the framing stays just right, using machine learning to make it happen. The new front-facing camera makes this possible, because it has a much wider filed of view, 120 degrees, in fact and the fact that it’s been upgraded from 7MP to 12MP.
It’s now being claimed that it will work with third-party apps as well as FaceTime. An API will be available so other apps could make use of it. So, one day, it could be part of the Zoom and Teams calls we’re so many of us taking part in. This compatibility was first declared by a developer but Apple has now confirmed it on the site, saying “Center Stage works with FaceTime and other video conferencing apps for an even mor engaging experience.”
Of course, how well this all works will have to wait until next month, when we’ll also get to see the miniLED backlighting in action to see if it lives up to the hype.
Oh, and one more thing, as they say. We know the new 12.9in iPad Pro is more expensive than last year’s model. But exactly how much it’s gone up varies hugely depending on where you live. In the U.S., it’s gone up by $100 plus tax. In the U.K., it’s just £30 more than before, which is $42, and that includes all sales taxes. Meanwhile, the $1,099 price ticket in the States is rather dwarfed in Brazil where the same model costs the equivalent of $2,657, that is, way more than double.
The M1 processor
So, the iPad Pro no longer uses the A series of chips which first launched in the original iPad back in 2021 – that was the A4 chip and Steve Jobs proudly announced, “It’s all our own silicon”.
So’s this but what’s striking is Apple is firmly saying not that the iPad Pro is a sort-of half-hearted laptop substitute, it’s absolutely as good as, as powerful as, a laptop.
It actually shares the same chip as the just-announced, redesigned iMac. That’s pretty radical.
We’ll have to see how it performs in real life but on paper at least this is a very big step forward in performance. It’s in both the 11in and 12.9in iPads Pro.
The miniLED display
This is restricted to the iPad Pro 12.9 only and was one of the most heavily-rumored upgrades.It uses miniLEDs and is called Liquid Retina XDR.
The new display has one million to one contrast ratio, 1600 nits peak brightness.
It uses, Apple explained, an array of LEDs similar to the Pro Display XDR. The miniLEDs are 120 times smaller than the previous design, that is in the current iPad Pro.
This means instead of the 72 LEDs that illuminate the current screen, Apple can squeeze in 10,000 and more. This creates 2,500 local dimming zones, which means each zone is just four LEDs.
Well, obviously only the wifi cellular versions, but this is the first 5G iPad Pro and brings it into line with the iPhone 12 series. It only supports mmWave 5G in the U.S. iPad Pro models. This applies to both sizes of iPad Pro.
It was also confirmed at the keynote that the new 12.9in iPad Pro is a little thicker than before, up a whole half millimeter to 6.4mm. The 11in iPad Pro is as svelte as ever at 5.9mm.
There’s a new front-facing camera for Center Stage
The new 12MP camera is an ultra-wide lens, so you can use the iPad Pro for video calls and it will intelligently ensure you stay bang in the center of the picture. This feature is called Center Stage.
The other cameras are improved
The hardware is the same as before but the arrival of that M1 chip means the computational photography allows more capabilities, Apple says. This includes Smart HDR 3, previously seen on the iPhone 12.
The 11in iPad Pro is significantly upgraded but the price is the same as before, from $799, £749 in the U.K. The 12.9in model has gone up. Previously $999, it’s now $1,099, £999 in the U.K. That extra $100 isn’t the sting in the tail, though. This is…
The sting in the tail
The updated Magic Keyboard looks fantastic, especially in its white color, I’d say. Prices are the same as before, $299 for the 11in, $349 for the 12.9. But, beware, here’s the kicker for any current 12.9in iPad Pro users, who’ve splashed out on the Keyboard already: you’ll need the new Magic Keyboard for the latest 12.9in iPad Pro.
Orders start on April 30 and the iPad Pro will be available from the second half of May.
Should you buy it?
This is, on paper, a phenomenal upgrade, with desktop PC speeds, neat new front camera tricks and, for one of the models, a potentially wonderful screen upgrade. Let’s put it this way, I’m saving up now.
Apple also announced that iOS 14.5 and iPadOS 14.5 will start rolling out starting next week with support for AirTags, more gaming controllers, new languages in Apple Pencil features such as Smart Selection and Scribble, additional emojis, and the option to share lyrics as well as sort top songs by cities in Apple Music. The device will also get iPadOS 15.
iPadOS 15 Developer Beta 1 Hands-On: Quick Notes is a gamechanger, split-screen finally works well