iPad Pro (2021): Features, release date, design, and more
43 'iPad Pro 2021' stories
June 2020 - July 2021
The 2021 iPad Pro has been announced during Apple’s ‘Spring Loaded’ event with a new display technology in the 12.9-inch model, camera improvements, a better processor, and more.
Read on for our full roundup of everything we know so far about the 2021 iPad Pro.
Table of contents
- Fifth-generation iPad Pro: the M1 iPad
- 2021 iPad Pro: Features and specs
- Liquid Retina XDR: mini-LED technology
- Thunderbolt port
- Storage options
- Accessories: Magic Keyboard, second-generation Apple Pencil
- Magic Keyboard controversy
- iPadOS 15
- iPadOS 14
- Release Date: When will the 2021 iPad Pro come out?
- Price: How much the 2021 iPad Pro cost
- Fifth-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro review
Fifth-generation iPad Pro: the M1 iPad
As Apple has been doing for quite some time with the iPad line, the fifth-generation iPad Pro is simply called iPad Pro.
Formally, it is the fifth-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro and third-generation 11-inch iPad Pro, since the first smaller “pro” iPad had a different screen size, but when Apple updated it with an 11-inch display, it became a newer generation.
2021 iPad Pro Features and specs
In terms of design, the 2021 iPad Pro looks closely to the last model launched by Apple. The only tiny difference is that the 12.9-inch model is 0.5-inch thicker. As usual, the company unveiled two models: 11-inch and 12.9-inch.
Both the iPads are available in two different finishes: Space Gray and Silver. The main camera sensor still looks the same with two lenses and a LiDAR Scanner. Face ID remains the security system on the 2021 iPad Pro.
Liquid Retina XDR: mini-LED technology
The 2021 12.9-inch iPad Pro is the first iPad to feature a Liquid Retina XDR Display. That’s the fancy name Apple gives to the mini-LED technology. This panel uses 10,000 mini-LEDs, which provide much greater control of localized backlighting, allowing higher brightness and deeper blacks. The combination boosts the contrast ratio, as well as uses less power.
According to Apple, the Liquid Retina XDR display delivers “true-to-life” detail with a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio. It also features 1000 nits of full-screen brightness and 1600 nits of peak brightness.
While the 11-inch model still uses the Liquid Retina display with LCD, both of them have True Tone for comfortable viewing, ProMotion technology with adaptive 120Hz refresh rate, and P3 wide color gamut.
The 2021 iPad Pro features a camera system with two lenses and a LiDAR Scanner. With a 12MP wide camera with ƒ/1.8 aperture and a 10MP ultra-wide camera with ƒ/2.4 aperture and 125° field of view, it’s possible to record 4K video at 24 fps, 25 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps.
The main difference with this iPad is the TrueDepth system with a 12MP ultra-wide camera. With that, Apple was able to introduce a feature called Center Stage, giving more naturality to a video call. In previous models, when you call someone in landscape mode, it feels like the only thing the other person can see is your chin.
With Center Stage, it doesn’t matter where the user is on a video call, the camera always puts the person in the center, and with the Face ID system, it can track the user while it’s moving. Center Stage API will also be available for third-party developers to implement in their apps.
While we expected the 2021 iPad Pro to feature the A14X chip, Apple decided to use the marketing name of the M1 chip to power the iPad Pro.
With an 8-core CPU with 4 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores, 8-core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine, the 2021 iPad Pro is 50% faster than the previous A12Z chip.
For the first time, Apple highlights that the models with 1TB or more of storage have 16GB of RAM, while the models with less than 1TB have 8GB of RAM.
Like the iPhone 12, the 2021 iPad Pro is the first iPad with 5G support with 4x more bandwidth. In the U.S., Apple will sell the fifth-generation iPad Pro with mmWave support.
The iPad Pro uses 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6, simultaneous dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz); HT80 with MIMO, and Bluetooth 5.0 technology.
Another major update for the 2021 iPad Pro is its port replacement. Apple ditched the USB-C for a Thunderbolt port.
Thunderbolt ports are available on the Mac and enable iPad Pro users to connect to additional displays and other accessories, as well as transfer files faster.
Apple says that this Thunderbolt port “works with existing USB-C connectors and opens up an extensive ecosystem of high-performance accessories for iPad Pro. Transfer huge assets or even drive the Pro Display XDR at full 6K resolution.”
Apple updated the 2021 iPad Pro storage options with up to 2TB of SSD. As mentioned, the models with 1TB and 2TB have 16GB of RAM. Here are the storage options Apple offers:
Accessories: Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil
As Apple did not change the iPad’s form-factor, the company will sell the same Smart Keyboard and Magic Keyboard it’s already selling for the fourth-generation iPad Pro and fourth-generation iPad Air.
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which is 0.5mm thicker, has a new Magic Keyboard that is also compatible with older 12.9-inch iPads. Both models offer a new white model.
The Apple Pencil is also the same. The fifth-generation iPad Pro uses the second-generation Apple Pencil that charges when attached to the tablet.
2021 iPad Pro Magic Keyboard controversy
After Apple announced the fifth-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro, people started wondering whether the older Magic Keyboard would be compatible with the new tablet. Yes, it is, and also not exactly. Here’s what Apple says:
“The first generation of the Magic Keyboard (A1998) is functionally compatible with the new iPad Pro 12.9-inch (5th generation) with Liquid Retina XDR display. Due to the slightly thicker dimensions of this new iPad Pro, it’s possible that the Magic Keyboard may not precisely fit when closed, especially when screen protectors are applied.“
Apple does say the new Magic Keyboard works with the new iPad but it would rather expect users to spend another $349 for a better fit when closed.
The M1 iPad Pro runs iPadOS 15. Previewed during the WWDC21 keynote, the operating system brings a redesigned Home Screen with widgets and App Library support.
In the productivity section, Apple, unfortunately, didn’t bring all the features pro users wanted to take full advantage of their new M1 iPad Pro, even though, later this year, it will be possible to create apps using Swift Playgrounds, as you can learn more about it here
There’s a new multitasking menu on the top of the screen. When you click there, it’s possible to see what configurations you can use on Split View or just go to Slide Over with just a tap.
The experience with an external keyboard allows users to get more done with all-new keyboard shortcuts and a redesign of the menu bar.
With the Quick Note feature, users can use the Apple Pencil to add a quick note. They just need to slide the pencil through the bottom right corner to the center of the screen and start writing.
iPadOS 15 is already out, with version 15.0.1 also available. Learn more about it here. In a future update, Apple will bring SharePlay for the iPad, which will let users share their screens, listen to Apple Music songs together, or watch Apple TV+, HBO Max, Disney+, and others while in a call.
One month after releasing iPadOS 15, Apple released iPadOS 15.1 More notable, the company finally brought SharePlay support for the iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV. Unfortunately, Universal Control wasn’t one of the features added with this new version. Here’s what else is new:
- Mandarin Chinese (Taiwan) support in the Translate app and for system-wide translation
- New automation triggers based on the current reading of a HomeKit-enabled humidity, air quality, or light level sensor
- New pre-built actions let you overlay text on images or gifs, plus a new collection of games lets you pass the time with Siri
Five weeks after releasing iPadOS 15.1, Apple is releasing iPadOS 15.2. It brings more features that were expected to launch alongside iPadOS 15 but, unfortunately, Universal Control is still nowhere to be seen. Here are the top features of this version:
- Apple Music Voice Plan is a new subscription tier that gives you access to all songs, playlists, and stations in Apple Music using Siri
- App Privacy Report in Settings lets you see how often apps have accessed your location, photos, camera, microphone, contacts, and more during the last seven days, as well as their network activity
- Communication safety setting gives parents the ability to enable warnings for children when they receive or send photos that contain nudity
- Digital Legacy allows you to designate people as Legacy Contacts so they can access your iCloud account and personal information in the event of your death
- Apple TV app: Store tab lets you browse, buy, and rent movies and TV Shows all in one place
Six weeks after releasing iPadOS 15.2, Apple is releasing iPadOS 15.3. This update foregoes new features in favor of under-the-hood bug fixes and improvements. One of the most notable changes here is a fix for a Safari vulnerability that may have been leaking your browsing history and Google ID data to the websites you visited.
iPadOS 15.4 finally brings one of the most important features expected from iPadOS 15 and that got delayed: Universal Control. Here’s everything new with iPadOS 15.4:
- Universal Control: This feature allows you to control your Mac and iPad using the same keyboard and mouse/trackpad. Universal Control needs iPadOS 15.4 and macOS Monterey 12.3;
- New Siri voice: Siri has a fifth American voice. Apple says a member of the LGBTQ+ community recorded the voice and it’s non-binary;
- More emoji: iPadOS 15.4 also brings new emojis. You can discover all of the new characters here;
- Shortcuts automation: Adds support for running Personal Automations in the background without requiring a pesky banner notification.
Different from other software updates, iPadOS 15.5 only improves the Podcast app experience, as Apple focused on Wallet changes for the iPhone this time:
- Apple Podcasts includes a new setting to limit episodes stored on your iPhone and automatically delete older ones
iPadOS 14 brought a redesigned widgets section for the Home Screen, a new enhanced sidebar, compact calls function, and Scribble. With this function, you don’t have to put Apple Pencil away to do other things. You can write by hand in any text field across iPadOS, and your words automatically convert to text.
Messages received pinned conversations, group photos, and inline replies. It’s possible to mention people in iMessage now and give your Memoji a more personalized look.
The last update for iPadOS 14 was version 14.8, but was with iPadOS 14.5 that Apple brought one of the most important updates:
- App Tracking Transparency: iPadOS 14.5 includes the new App Tracking Transparency feature. This requires that applications ask permission from users before tracking them across other apps and websites. For example, when you open the Facebook app, you’ll see a prompt that says the app would like to track you across other apps and services. There will be two options from which to choose: “Ask App Not to Track” or “Allow.”
- Siri: There is a new Siri intelligence feature that helps the virtual assistant adapt to your preferring music application. Apple also added two additional Siri voice options from which to choose. The company has said that these changes are part of its ongoing commitment to diversity.
- Emoji: iPadOS 14.5 adds over 200 new emojis.
- Podcasts: Podcasts Show Pages are redesigned to make it easier to start listening to a podcast. Option to save and download episodes, automatically adding them to your library for quick access. Top Charts and popular categories in Search help discover new shows.
- Horizontal boot screen on the iPad
- Updates to the Music app, including swipe gestures, a lyrics sharing feature, and more.
Release Date: When will the 2021 iPad Pro come out?
The 2021 iPad Pro is now available to all customers. Orders started on April 30, 2021, and it was officially launched on May 21.
Price: How much does the 2021 iPad Pro cost?
The 2021 iPad Pro prices have been announced. While nothing changed with the 11-inch iPad Pro, the 12.9-inch saw a $100 increase in its starting price.
Check the full pricing for the iPad:
iPad Pro 11-inch with Wi-Fi
- 128GB: $799
- 256GB: $899
- 512GB: $1099
- 1TB: $1499
- 2TB: $1899
iPad Pro 12.9-inch with Wi-Fi
- 128GB: $1099
- 256GB: $1199
- 512GB: $1399
- 1TB: $1799
- 2TB: $2199
Adds $200 more for all models with Wi-Fi + Cellular.
Lower prices may be available from Apple’s official Amazon store.
Fifth-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro review
In our video review of the fifth-generation iPad Pro, we say this is the perfect model to upgrade if you want the power of the M1 chip on the iPad but it still needs a better software update to unleash its full power.
Hardware-wise this is the complete package. The 2021 iPad is basically a Mac computer without macOS. But it’s so much more than a Mac, and that’s what makes the iPad such a compelling product. The iPad has a display that’s better than any MacBook, can connect to the Internet independent of Wi-Fi, has a better speaker system, features easy Face ID authentication, works with the Apple Pencil, and so much more.
If Apple can provide big enhancements in areas like multitasking, external display support, and file management, I think the iPad will finally be able to compete with the Mac and be the laptop replacement that so many people have wanted it to be.
The 2021 iPad Pro doesn’t have a major design upgrade as the 2018 iPad Pro, had but it brings important changes, like the mini-LED display technology, 5G connectivity, and a Thunderbolt port, especially on the 12.9-inch model. The Center Stage function is also a great feature for all iPad users.