The M2-powered iPad Pros are here. Should you upgrade?

Apple this week announced updates to its base model iPad and its high-end iPad Pro. While each line has notable improvements, both sets of tablets see perhaps more modest upgrades than expected (or hoped for).

Where the standard iPad sees more exterior changes thanks to a new design, the iPad Pro family gets mostly interior-oriented improvements, like a new processor and updated video recording capabilities. So while it may not look any different, internal changes can make a big difference. With that in mind, should you spend your hard-earned cash on one of the new iPad Pros, or would you rather stick with your existing model? Let’s take a closer look.

No base price increase

Apple is maintaining the base price of its Pro tablets this year. The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $799 and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $1,099 (both with 128GB of storage), like the 2021 models.

The extras add up, though. For example, Apple has increased the cost of cellular models. Where the 2021 11-inch iPad Pro with Cellular was $949, ​​the new model is $999. Additionally, a fully maxed-out 12.9-inch iPad Pro with cellular and 2TB storage costs $2,399. That’s as much as two MacBook Airs.

No screen upgrade? Oh good?

The screen is one of the most essential aspects of any tablet. Rather than upping the resolution or brightness, Apple is taking the screens from the existing 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models. That means you still get a 2,388 x 1,668 pixel LED on the 11-inch model and a 2,732 x 2,048 pixel mini-LED display on the 12.9-inch one. Both feature the same 264ppi. Given that these are professional models, on which Apple hints the creators will be editing photos and re-enacting 4K video, the screens could be sharper.

However, we can’t stress enough the differences between the 11-inch and 12.9-inch displays. The latter’s mini-LED panel is a major upgrade over the former’s LED. For example, the LED panel can produce 600 nits of brightness, but the mini-LED achieves 1000 nits (typical) and 1600 nits (peak). Moreover, the contrast ratio on the latter reaches a million to one.

(Credit: Apple)

While the screens’ basic specs may not have changed from year to year, Apple has improved how the new iPad Pros interact with the second-generation Apple Pencil. The devices have a new level of sensitivity with the Apple Pencil hover action, so they can detect the stylus up to 12mm above the screen. This lets you see a preview of the mark you’re about to make without touching the screen. For digital artists, this could be a game-changer. For everyone else, though, it’s more of a nice-to-have feature than a must-have feature.

M2 for you

The M2 chip is where things get interesting with the iPad Pro. This is arguably the most significant upgrade year over year.

The M2 introduces notable improvements to the GPU, for example, which has 10 cores compared to eight in the M1. Additionally, the new chip supports ProRes video recording, so while the camera itself remains the same, you have access to more editable videos with the new iPad.

Apple iPad Pro Video Editing

(Credit: Apple)

While we can’t say for sure how the M2 will perform on the iPad Pro until we run our own tests, we can compare the M2 to the M1 of Apple’s laptops.

For example, the MacBook Air M1 earned Geekbench 5 scores of 1,706 and 7,422 in single-core and multi-core tests, respectively. The M2, on the other hand, scored 1,887 and 8,725. Not a major difference, but 10% and 15%, respectively, are still solid improvements that will help professionals with their workflows.

If you plan to use the iPad Pro for video editing, you get ProRes support and the M2 Media Engine. This helps the iPad Pro handle all aspects of video better and may be reason enough for videographers and filmmakers to upgrade.

Immutable cameras

Apple hasn’t upgraded the iPad Pro’s camera hardware, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few new camera features.

On the back, you get the same 12MP main camera at f/1.8 and the 10MP ultra-wide shooter at f/2.4. The front offers the same TrueDepth camera with a 12MP wide-angle sensor at f/2.4. The new iPad Pros support 4K ProRes video, but that doesn’t come from the camera; rather, it is the M2 chip that enables this functionality.

Apple iPad Pro 2022

(Credit: Apple)

Additionally, Apple is upgrading the Pros from HDR 3 to Smart HDR 4 for photos. This can lead to slightly improved images due to additional computing power.

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Make Connections

The only port on the iPad Pro is a USB-C connector supporting Thunderbolt and USB 4. This is the same as last year. There is also support for 5G with mmWave and sub-6GHz on the more expensive cellular models, also like last year. However, the new iPad Pros drop legacy GSM/EDGE support while adding a few 5G bands along the way.

Apple iPad Pro 2022

(Credit: Apple)

There are other minor but interesting improvements in terms of connectivity. First, Apple is upgrading tablets from Wi-Fi 6 to Wi-Fi 6E. They have also been upgraded to Bluetooth 5.3 from Bluetooth 5.2. Of course, you need Wi-Fi hotspots and Bluetooth accessories that support these upgrades to see any benefit, so keep that in mind when deciding to upgrade.

How long do they last?

Apple iPad Pro 2022 connected to an external display

(Credit: Apple)

Both new iPad Pros have the same battery ratings “up to 10 hours of web browsing over Wi-Fi or watching videos” as the 2021 (and 2020) models. Of course, we have to do our own tests to determine exactly how long the new models last compared to last year, but we have to imagine that Apple would announce an improvement if there was one.

Make the right choice

Upgrades between Apple’s 2021 iPad Pro models and the new 2022 models are few, but for power users there might be enough to make it worth upgrading from an older model . In summary, you get the M2 processor, ProRes video recording, Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, new 5G bands, and improvements to what you can do with the Apple Pencil.

Ultimately, you need to consider whether these upgrades will make a big difference to how you use your existing iPad Pro. That said, if you own a 2021 model, you should probably save your money and wait for a bigger upgrade to happen. If you have an older model, however, the 2022 iPad Pros are worth considering.

We’ll be testing the new iPads, so check back soon for full reviews.

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