iPad Pro 2021: M1 chip, mini-LED, price and everything you need to know

(Image credit: Apple)

The new iPad Pro 2021 is here and it looks like it will hold down its spot on our best tablets list. Not only is Apple claiming huge performance gains, but the 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021 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.

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The iPad Pro 2021 was announced alongside a bevy of new Apple product, including Apple AirTag, the iMac 2021 and the Apple TV 2021.

iPad Pro 2021 cheat sheet

  • The new iPad Pro 2021 is confirmed — and it’s slightly more expensive
  • The M1 chip and 5G are at the core of the iPad Pro 2021
  • The new 12MP TrueDepth Camera offers smarter video calls with Center Stage
  • The 12.9-inch iPad Pro has a mini-LED display with XDR
  • Apple’s releasing a white Magic Keyboard

iPad Pro 2021 specs

11-inch iPad Pro 2021 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021
Starting price $799 $1,099
Display 11 inches (2388 x 1668 pixels) mini-LED 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 in the second half of May 2021. It will be available to pre-order on April 30. 

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. 

(Image credit: Apple)

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. 

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 chip 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.

(Image credit: Apple)

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.

(Image credit: Apple)

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

(Image credit: Apple)

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.

(Image credit: Apple)

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.

  • Read next: When will we get the new iPad 2021?

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(Image credit: Apple)