Thu. Jun 13th, 2024


Key Takeaways

  • The new iPad Pro (M4) boasts a stunning Ultra Retina XDR OLED that’s great for watching videos.
  • Priced like a laptop, its value may be questionable, but accessories like the Magic Keyboard enhance productivity.
  • With top-notch performance and technology, this iPad Pro may be tempting, but its audience remains narrow.


The new Apple iPad Pro (M4) is stunning. From its tandem OLED screen to its even sleeker design, I found it hard to look away from. But as much as the hardware wowed, it’s priced like a laptop so its value is highly questionable. This new iPad Pro is brilliant but its audience is very narrow.

iPad Pro 11-inch Space Black

iPad Pro (M4) 11-inch

$950 $999 Save $49

The new iPad Pro is impossibly thin, featuring outrageous performance with the Apple M4 chip, a breakthrough Ultra Retina XDR display, and superfast Wi-Fi 6E.

Pros

  • Beautiful display
  • Fast and powerful (even if few uses for the power)
  • New accessories get meaningfully improved
  • Ultra portable device
Cons

  • Price rivals Apple?s laptops
  • Boring silver and space black colors
  • Few apps take advantage of the hardware speed

Price and Availability

The iPad Pro (M4) comes in 11- and 13-inch sizes, in either space black or silver. The 11-inch Pro starts at $999 while the 13-inch variant starts at $1,299. Both entry-level prices include 256GB of storage.

Specifications

Storage
256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB

CPU
M4 chip

Memory
8GB

Operating System
iPadOS

Battery
Up to 10 hours

Ports
USB-C Thunderbolt

Display type
OLED

Expandable Storage
No

Weight
0.98 pound (444 grams)

Front Camera
12MP photos

Rear Camera
12MP wide camera

Resolution
2,420 x 1,668

The Screen Is the Thing

a hand holding the Apple iPad Pro (M4)
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek


Fourteen years in, the iPad is a known quantity. The new iPad Pro is just the latest refinement of Apple’s tablet. But boy is it a refinement. It looks familiar but feels substantially different. Until I held it, I didn’t realize I wanted my iPad to be even lighter and thinner than it had been. Now after experiencing it, I would hate to go back.

The other major part of the hardware’s refinement is its screen. I would say the OLED is the primary reason to consider buying a new iPad Pro or upgrading from an older one. The weight and size are nice, while the screen is this device’s allure.

The 11-inch iPad Pro might be one of the best travel TVs in the world. (Its price reflects that achievement as well.) Even sitting in a room with a TV on the wall, during testing, I opted to watch movies and TV shows on the new iPad Pro. I’ll take a smaller screen size with darker blacks and more vibrant colors any day—especially considering my current TV situation.


Text in all forms looked much crisper than on my 5th-generation iPad Air. The brightness was noticeable. At nearly every turn, the screen was just wonderful. It is two OLED panels stacked on top of each other after all. So it should continue to look great long into the future too.

New this year, the iPad Pro is now capable of 1,000 nits of SDR brightness and 1,600 nits of peak brightness for HDR content. The 4th-generation 11-inch iPad Pro had a peak brightness of 600 nits and my previous 5th-generation iPad Air reached 500 nits of peak brightness.

The Apple Vision Pro is also amazing for watching videos, but it’s more limited in its battery life and seclusion. The iPad Pro, on the other hand, is easy to pick up and move around the house and share with someone else.

With the new aluminum-clad Magic Keyboard the iPad Pro feels more like a Mac than ever. This is especially true because it’s the only device with the newest M4 processing chip. These new 11- and 13-inch iPads Pro get the M4 chip just two months after the MacBook Air got an M3 chip.


Having the fastest entry-level M-series chip may be mostly academic, however. I couldn’t feel the speed increase of the new chip. On the 256GB and 512GB models, you’re getting a 9-core CPU with 3 performance cores and 6 efficiency cores, and a 10-core GPU. The 1TB and 2TB models get 4 performance cores, but even the ones with binned chips are beating the M3 chips in benchmark tests. It’s all just a lot of potential power.

One caveat to not feeling the speed increase right now would be for people who use Logic Pro or Final Cut iPad apps. Those users may see real time savings. There are just very few ways to stress the iPad Pro to its full capabilities.

Maybe the next version of iPadOS will find new ways to push the advanced hardware, but until something substantially changes in how people use iPads, the M4 chip is nice but probably hard to use as a justification for upgrading from another M-series-based iPad. For what it’s worth, my MacBook Air has a now meager M2 chip and I haven’t felt any power crunch with it over the last 12 months.


a close up of the front camera on the Apple iPad Pro (M4)
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek

One minor detail I did notice and feel was the new placement of the camera used for FaceTime and other video calls. It’s now top and (mostly) centered when using the iPad in landscape orientation.

Practically, having the camera now on the long side of the iPad Pro means that I now appear to be looking at the camera when doing Zoom calls. It’s a more natural placement and an omission that more people are probably using their iPads horizontally rather than vertically.

There are very few, if any, missteps with the Pro. The speakers are great, especially for the tablet’s physical size. It’s even hard to get mad at the removal of the second rear camera. Did you even know there were two cameras on Pro iPads? This new hardware is peak iPad.


You Can Only Pick Two: Weight, Battery, and Size

side view of the Apple iPad Pro (M4) in magic keyboard
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek

The iPad Pro (M4) is thinner than previous models. It’s lighter. But it doesn’t lose battery life. That part is still stuck at around 10 hours. I know a lot of people would prefer more battery life over an incredibly thin device, but then the weight would also presumably go up and make it worse for travel.

It’s a delicate balance between weight, size, and battery life. Before getting my hands on the new tablet I might have argued that there should be more than 10 hours of battery life. After using it, however, I appreciate losing weight and thickness while keeping the same “all day” battery.

I took a cross-country flight using this new iPad Pro and I never felt the need to plug it in. I started with a battery around 75% full and used it to write and watch shows for nearly all of the plane ride. I ended with about 50%.


A lot of people could certainly benefit from more battery life, but as it stands now, everyone gets a tiny bit of weight reduction on a device that’s meant to be carried around.

Apple Magic Keyboard Is Probably a Critical Accessory

Apple iPad Pro (M4) sitting on a table in Magic Keyboard
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek

It’s hard to suggest that people should buy a $1,000 (or more) device so they can then spend $300+ more on an accessory, but if you plan to use the iPad as a productivity machine, then the new Magic Keyboard is essential. (If you’re using it mostly for watching content you can probably skip it.)

It’s not just that the keyboard is helpful, but it’s really good and enjoyable to use. The new keyboard isn’t overly different from the one that came before it, but it is thoughtfully refined.


I like the new aluminum top plate for its look and feel. Having a new set of keys above the number row is genuinely handy in adjusting volume and brightness. The larger-sized trackpad with haptics is also smooth and delightful.

(Selfishly, I wish Apple made the bottom keyboard and trackpad part detachable so I could use it with a Vision Pro. It would be a rad accessory to pair with the company’s headset.)

I’m less enthusiastic about the Apple Pencil Pro simply because I don’t handwrite notes and can’t draw. The haptics work well when you squeeze it. I appreciate how it’s advanced, but I just have a lot less use for it than the keyboard. If you’re in the same boat and waffling on the decision, then skip it for now and reconsider it later, if new circumstances arise.

Should You Buy the Apple iPad Pro (M4)?

Apple iPad Pro (M4) laying on a bed
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek


Typically, products that use less material have a lower cost. In technology, it’s often the opposite. Smaller, thinner, and lighter devices are more expensive because tiny components are harder to make.

That’s the story of Apple’s iPad Pro (M4). It’s nearly the pinnacle of its current design. It’s been squeezed of excess and retails for top dollar. Because of its hardware excellence, I would argue it’s the most tempting device Apple makes right now.

Its M4 processing chip is faster than the latest MacBook Air and it has a better display than a MacBook Pro. It achieves both of those things while also being the thinnest device Apple has ever made. That’s wild.

The performance and technology don’t come cheap, however. This might be one of Apple’s best pieces of hardware, but the product’s value is a little out of wack. An 11-inch iPad Pro (M4) with a Magic Keyboard costs more than a 13-inch MacBook Air.


At the moment, the number of people who need an iPad Pro will be slim, so you’ll have to decide if you’re someone who simply wants one.

iPad Pro 11-inch Space Black

iPad Pro (M4) 11-inch

$950 $999 Save $49

The new iPad Pro is impossibly thin, featuring outrageous performance with the Apple M4 chip, a breakthrough Ultra Retina XDR display, and superfast Wi-Fi 6E.



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By John P.

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