One improvement over last year’s iPad Pro comes in the form of a new processor. That makes the Apple Pencil capable of a new feature and is inherently quicker than the previous one. Here, though, is a wish list for when Apple redesigns its top-of-the-line iPad since this year’s refresh is so minimal.
The iPad Pro has had an odd year. The new 10th-generation iPad gained features that customers of Apple’s top-tier tablet computers have been clamoring for on their devices for years, while Apple’s top-tier tablet computer received one of the smallest upgrades in recent memory. Meanwhile, the midrange iPad Air keeps becoming better with each new iteration, further encroaching on the turf of the Pro. Owners of current iPad Pro models can contentedly hold onto what they currently own and not miss anything; if you’re thinking about purchasing a Pro this year, I strongly advise you to hunt for a deal on previous year’s models before forking out the money for a completely new one.
There isn’t much to say about the hardware and design because it was already addressed in our review of the 2021 model, so I suggest reading it to get the full scoop. This new iPad Pro feels like it was due for a redesign, but we didn’t receive one this year. Its general look hasn’t changed much since 2018.
Whether you’re viewing movies or just doing regular productivity work, the Tiny LED display on the 12.9-inch tablet is still fantastic and a pleasure to look at. Unfortunately, it’s still only available on the largest iPad; the 11-inch Pro still has the same ProMotion LCD as it had in 2018. The 11-inch Pro is beginning to feel like a neglected stepchild in Apple’s iPad lineup, which irks me personally as the owner of an 11-inch model (since the 10th-gen iPad and iPad Air essentially offer the same size screen and design as the 11-inch Pro).
The same Magic Keyboard case and second-generation Apple Pencil are included with this year’s iPad Pro, as are all other accessories. Sadly, the new Magic Keyboard Folio for the 10th-generation iPad is incompatible with either version of the Pro despite being more adaptable than the keyboard choice on the Pro and featuring a full function row.
Internally, the iPad Pro features the latest M2 silicon, mirroring what you can get in the MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pro announced earlier this year. At least according to benchmark tests, it is speedier and has M2-specific features including a more powerful media encoding engine. Also, it permits the iPad Pro’s cameras to capture ProRes video, which is really helpful if you’re acting out a movie production using an iPad for an Apple commercial.
Yet, the majority of iPad users won’t notice any performance differences between the M1 and M2 models (and really, any iPad Pro from 2018 or later). Even yet, the Pro is incredibly quick and responsive, so I had no trouble using it for my regular productivity work—at least, not until I encountered iPadOS’s restrictions. However, the 12.9-inch device I’ve been testing has a battery life that is nearly comparable to that of the M1 iPad Pro, so the extra power isn’t costing us anything there.
The Apple Pencil does get a new capability with the M2, allowing you to “hover” it over the screen from a distance of roughly 12 mm and see various things happen. You don’t need to purchase a new Pencil in order to use this; it works with the current second-generation Pencil. It isn’t available on the M1 or earlier models of iPad; instead, Apple has restricted it to M2 models.
The hover feature is primarily intended for artists; once an update is released, apps like Procreate will allow you to see where the Pencil will make a mark before you set it down for better precision. Also, while the Pencil is in hover mode as opposed to actually contacting the screen, apps can program various behaviors to the double-tap motion.
There’s lots of room to expand what the hover feature does with the Apple Pencil
The new hover mode is supported by Apple’s Notes app as well, so I was able to demonstrate combining watercolor paints and previewing the final product before applying it to my digital canvas. That’s about as far as I can go, though, because I’m not an artist.
But I wish the hover function did more for those of us who use the Pencil to take notes and use the iPad’s interface. The hover feature allows you to use the Pencil as a cursor to highlight items on the screen before you touch them, exactly like you would do with the trackpad on the Magic Keyboard when you were not creating art. Also, it accelerates Apple’s Scribble feature, which enables you write by hand in a text box and have it automatically be transformed to typed text. That’s lovely.
The hover mode doesn’t have much to offer aside from that, though. I’d want to use it to preview entire webpages, similar to how 3D touch on the iPhone used to work (and how long presses presently work). Alternatively, I might be able to hover it over a folder in the Files app or an album of pictures in the Pictures app to receive a scrollable glimpse of what’s within without having to open it. I may possibly look at my calendar by hovering over a date in an email message to see if I have any open slots for appointments on that day. These S Pen functions have been available on Samsung’s smartphones and tablets for years, and they are incredibly useful. I wish Apple had continued with this.
Last but not least, the iPad Pro now supports Wi-Fi 6E, an upgrade from Wi-Fi 6 last year that mainly serves to future-proof the device. I’m happy to see it because it is a feature you would anticipate on the most recent, top-tier device.
Really, that’s all there is to say about the hardware of the new iPad Pro. It has the same four-year-old design and display as the model from the previous year. I find it difficult to persuade you to upgrade to this year’s Pro if you currently own a 2018 or newer model and it is still in good condition.
You should read David Pierce’s assessment of iPadOS 16 and Stage Manager for further information on the software that makes up the rest of the narrative. The basic narrative hasn’t altered much; iPadOS still doesn’t seem to be utilizing the incredibly capable hardware available.
Since there isn’t much more to say about the iPad Pro update we received this year, I’ll use the remainder of this post to make a list of features I hope to see whenever Apple redesigns its most expensive iPad:
camera with a long lens. It makes logical to have this feature on the iPad Pro as well because it is clear and the 10th-generation iPad already has it. Despite Apple’s Center Stage’s best efforts, the front camera on the Pro is still uncomfortable to use during video chats because it is on the short side (or the left of the screen when in landscape configuration).
charging using MagSafe. Simply place the MacBook Air’s MagSafe charging port next to the USB-C port.
even more USB-C ports. Please add more ports while we are talking about ports. Perhaps place one on each side, or if required, directly next to each other (again, borrowing from the MacBook Air). I’d like to be able to use USB-C accessories while they are being charged without having to pass everything through a hub.
On the Magic Keyboard, a function row. Another one that is clearly based on the 10th-generation iPad. The Magic Keyboard would need to be redesigned by Apple to fit, but it would increase productivity. When I need to change the brightness or volume on the iPad, I’m sick of having to reach up to the Control Center or top edge.
Increased adaptability using the Magic Keyboard. The iPad Pro can only be held at a relatively small number of angles with the existing Magic Keyboard. The majority of the time, these work just well, but it can be annoying when they don’t due to the iPad position you have to use it in (hello, cramped train or airplane seat).
a button on the Pencil’s side. Please Apple, just give me a button after four years of double-tapping the side of the Pencil to switch between writing and erasing. The double-tap gesture is still far too frustratingly unreliable. Also, as I use the eraser for that purpose 99 percent of the time anyhow, let me customize the gesture (or button) to just undo whatever my previous stroke was.
The 11-inch version has a tiny LED screen. Let’s make the 11-inch Pro behave more like a professional if Apple is going to keep it around. Giving it the same fantastic screen that is only available on the 12.9-inch model can be the first step in doing that.
OLED displays. Alternatively, it would be preferable if all iPads with Pro qualifiers had OLED panels. As good as the Mini LED screen is, I welcome OLED for its even superior contrast and punchiness, which Apple is rumored to be bringing to the iPad in 2024.
more vibrant hues. The iPad Pro is available in dark grey or silver. At various brightness levels, those may all be considered the same color. In any case, for whatever reason, Apple’s Pro iPad lacks the vibrant hues found on the more affordable devices. Please give me a blue iPad Pro.
Today, in order to use any smart device, you must first accept a set of terms and conditions that no one actually reads. We are unable to read through and evaluate each and every one of these agreements. But since most people don’t read and can’t negotiate these agreements, we’re going to start keeping track of how many times you have to click “accept” to use gadgets when we evaluate them.