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iPad Pro M1 (2021): A Roundup of Reviews

iPads have been around for more than ten years now, and with the new release of the 2021 iPad Pro models, the ecosystem is getting better and better. While the latest releases are not a massive departure from their predecessors, they still deliver some great new experiences that let the M1 iPad Pro stand out as a sole contender for the most significant jump and change. There are a few extensive upgrades to the platform, but most of them still go unnoticed as iPadOS constrains the hardware and limits the workflow. Though the future looks bright, and the OS is looking to be changed and improved with Apple debuting the next version of iPadOS (iPadOS 15) in the upcoming WWDC event.

With that said, the reviews of the new M1 iPad Pro devices are on the rise. Most reviews seem too optimistic and have a lot to say about the hardware changes and the overall tablet-laptop experience of the new launch. This post is a roundup of the most prominent iPad Pro reviews so that you can have a better idea of how the new devices can change your life and if they could be the perfect fit for your next purchase.

So stick around and scroll down for all the juicy news and updates on the M1 iPad Pro lineup.

Wired – Kingly Power Delivered with the iPad Pro

The Wired review by Julian Chokkattu is an in-depth take on the new devices, and it goes straight to the point on how the devices are a massive shift from the radical tablet design that Apple has been pushing forward. The experience he had with the display is, in his words, astounding and here’s his take on the experience:

I watched several scenes of Zack Snyder’s Justice League on the 2020 iPad Pro and the 2021 version with Mini LEDs. The difference is, frankly, astounding. The best way I can explain it is that it feels like someone cranked up Instagram’s fade setting on the older Pro.

He then moved on to the performance, which seriously impressed him, and we completely agree. However, his take on the limitations of iPadOS is the most significant point to notice, and he does have a point. He wrote:

I connected the iPad Pro to an external monitor and it still only mirrors the iPad’s screen. Give me a two-screen solution, Apple!

After the detailed review of the performance, display, the power of 5G and the battery life that iPad Pro comes with, he ends the review by stating that he’s not entirely sure for the target demographic of people and here are his words:

At $1,099 without counting any accessories, it’s hard to say who should buy the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Maybe you want the large canvas for your digital art, or maybe you want the raw power for digital rendering. Either way, there’s nothing else like it right now, and I suspect that it’s about to get even better.

We agree on the views and are similarly on the verge of looking at the iPad as a laptop replacement and not just as a tablet. So, do check out the complete review above to find out if the iPad is for you or not.

The Verge – DREAM SCREEN

The Verge’s review starts by taking a jab at the new iPad Pros and states that “It is an iPad, after all”. Dieter Bohn doesn’t pull any of his punches and goes on fairly assessing the device and asking valid questions like, “How much do you care about having a great screen?” Bohn cannot seem to be getting enough of the new display, and he compares it with other panels. He writes:

The funny thing about the 12.9-inch iPad is that it is very easy to miss the benefits of Mini LED in normal day-to-day use.

The joke I’ve been telling people is that the display is so good that Tenet actually makes sense when you watch it on this iPad Pro. HDR content is incredible on this screen.

After the detailed analysis of the display panel, he assesses the performance and the M1 chip and finds that the iPad Operating System severely limits it. He states:

“The M1 is obviously fast, and in benchmarks it’s faster than the last A12Z Bionic that Apple put in the previous iPad Pro models. But in my usage, I didn’t actually perceive any speed improvements in any of the apps that I use.

Finally, he finishes his blog after looking at the LIDAR sensor and the new windowing system. He then goes on to find the suitable use case for a device this powerful but limited and says that:

“Except for a slim minority of people, the justification for getting an iPad Pro isn’t its feature set, it’s the experience of using a well-made, high-end object.

The wonderful Mini LED display on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro doesn’t change any of those equations, it just makes the nicest iPad Pro even nicer. And so my yearly refrain about the iPad Pro remains. If you want the very best iPad, this is the very best iPad.

The review ends here, and he goes on by saying, “Just remember, it’s an iPad” as the last words due to the limitations of the iPadOS and the complete experience that anyone can see have with the Macbook Air.

Tom’s Guide – The Brightest and Fastest iPad Ever

Henry T. Casey from Tom’s Guide has an interesting take on the M1 iPad Pro, and he starts with a quick summary and the pros and cons of the device. He then takes off with a brief intro on why the iPad is fantastic and then comes up on the price tag. His views on the prices are straightforward, and he says:

With a Magic Keyboard ($349) and 2nd Gen Apple Pencil ($129), you’re at a starting price of $1,577 — which is a lot.

He then quickly looks on the spec sheet and compares and reviews the fantastic new display panel. He states:

So I found some HDR-capable apps: Netflix and Apple TV (Prime Video also supports it). But watching The Queen’s Gambit on the Netflix app and Midsommar and Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse in the Apple TV app, I only noticed a slight difference in brightness from the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

After a quick look at the display section, he moves on to the performance and raves about the performance numbers he received from the benchmark tests. He states:

On the Geekbench 5 benchmark test, the 12.9 inch iPad Pro 2021 pulled in a score of 7,298 (near the 7,293 from the M1-based 11-inch iPad Pro 2021).

He then finally moves on to the other aspects such as Audio, Battery Life, Design, Accessories and Cameras. Most of the points he stated were pretty much understandable from Apple’s previous devices and then had some intriguing words on what the iPadOS could become and what it currently is. Here are his views:

“iPadOS is still boxed into the sandboxing limitations of iOS — apps can’t really work together. Sure, you can use specialty podcasting applications to record a show, but wouldn’t it be better if Skype and FaceTime could work with Voice Memos?

Finally, he reaches the end of the blog and states that the new iPad Pro stays true to its name and delivers exceptional performance and a user experience unmatched by others. He then points out the main reasons of getting a new iPad Pro device and says that “It’s without a doubt the best tablet there is — especially if you can see the difference between HDR and 4K HDR” and should be bought by professionals looking for a speed upgrade.

CNET – Still Not a Mac

The CNET article by Scott Stein starts with a classic intro and pros and cons for the device, and it jumps straight to the brilliant performance the M1 chip provides. Stein does a small 3D render test, and here are his words:

I ran some 3D scanning apps on the iPad Pro, using the iPad Pro’s lidar and cameras to create a 3D model of my porch or backyard playground and drop them back in with AR, but the iPad Pro didn’t seem to heat up.

Stein then continued o to test the battery life and the beautiful display the iPad comes with, and then he moved on to the camera where he stated this:

I can hold the iPad at arm’s reach, and it looks like I’m using it with a tripod or selfie stick.

Stein reviews the standard features such as 5G and the display size and quality differences and then ends up at accessories and the iPadOS section. Here he states his view on the OS limitations:

Monitor support is a big example. The iPad Pro can only use an external monitor for apps that choose to support it, which is limited now to some games, video-editing tools… and that’s mostly it.

Finally, he concludes his review by asking a question, “Is it my everyday computer?” to which he answers that he still goes back to his laptop. However, he still has high hopes for this new iPad and the upcoming iPadOS 15.

Forbes – M1 iPad Pro (Future-Proofed)

Ben Sin starts the Forbes cover of the new iPad Pro with a straight to the point intro to the design coverage. The review covers LIDAR and FACE ID with a strong focus on the Magic Keyboard. Then he moves forward with the display review, and he says:

Long story short, the Mini LED on this iPad is the best screen in any Apple computer or tablet.

Then he moves on to the performance section, where the M1 SoC is discussed with statements such as overkill performance for a tiny device and how it beats out an Intel i9 chip:

But as I said at the beginning, using the M1 on an iPad is overkill for most people. Because other than rendering 4K videos (and how many people render 4K videos regularly?).

He also discussed the battery life of the device. He got a decent experience with his workflow, which was generally expected as the M1 chips are great with performance and are power-efficient:

The iPad Pro’s battery life is just pretty good. On a full charge, the iPad can last about 8-10 hours of continuous use depending on how much you push it. That’s going to disappoint some but it’s enough for me.

Finally, he discusses using the iPad as a computer replacement or just as a tablet and concludes by saying that the expensive iPad is only suitable for casual media and if you need to do some serious productivity, then you should be looking to get the Magic Keyboard as a pair or simply invest in an M1 MacBook Air.

[ Related: The M1 iPad Pro 2021 Vs The M1 MacBook Air ]

9to5Mac – Apple’s Most Impressive (and Most Frustrating) Computer

Jeff Benjamin from 9to5Mac has an impressive track record for keeping point to point arguments and reviews of the products, which seem no different with the iPad Pro review either. He starts with a brief intro about the device and continues to the design. He says that:

The 2021 iPad Pro is far from a huge departure from its predecessors in the way of exterior design. In fact, it’s virtually indistinguishable from the 4th-generation 2020 iPad Pro. The 12.9-inch model looks more or less exactly the same as the previous model, except for the fact that it’s slightly thicker to accommodate the new Liquid Retina XDR display. 11-inch models, which sport the same display as last year’s iPad, remains unchanged in this area.

He then continues with the Magic Keyboard and pairs it with a silver iPad Pro for a premium look. He likes the colour combination, and he claims that:

With that being said, this keyboard isn’t cheap, and it’s going to be very interesting to see how the white Magic Keyboard holds up after a few months of daily usage.

He follows this up with a look at the display and the performance gain with the new M1 chip and other features such as 5G, WIFI6, Storage options and Thunderbolt. His view at the contrast between immense performance and a limiting OS is a precious insight, and he says:

For years the iPad has featured chips that seemed like they had no business being inside a tablet so limited by its software. The disparity seems even more egregious this time around considering that the 2021 iPad Pro features the same M1 chip used computers like the 2021 iMac, and 13-inch MacBook Pro. The result is a kill-an-ant-with-a-sledgehammer type of performance.

Finally, he takes a quick look at the apps and the iPadOS in general and concludes by saying that the iPad feels like a complete package that is understated and makes up for a more compelling product. He also firmly believes in a better OS release and states that iPads can become a serious contender that will finally compete with Macbooks and be the laptop replacement that so many people have desired it to be.

The Guardian – Stunning Screen and So Much Power

The Guardian has always been a reputable source for impressive product reviews, and this M1 iPad Pro review by Samuel Gibbs reinstates that thought. He starts with a quick look at the specifications and an intro and then focuses on the display panel and the M1 SoC.

He says that:

Feed the iPad Pro an HDR movie and you’re treated to arguably the best picture this side of a £1,500 television. Night scenes are a particular treat with lights shining out from the pitch-black darkness, while sunrises burst with colour and vibrancy.

Moving on to the performance section, Gibbs has a unique way of comparing and testing the limits of the device with some of his favourite apps. He also considers the battery life and provides a great take on what an average user should expect. His interpretation and look at the performance, and battery life is that:

The tablet lasts up to 10 hours of browsing or movie watching, or well over nine hours of work using text editors, web browser, Affinity Photo, Evernote and various chat apps, which is about an hour longer than last year’s model but far short of the 16 hours the MacBook Air lasts for.

The review then shifts towards iPadOS as a pair to the device and covers Thunderbolt and USB-C features. He is bummed by the limiting capabilities of iPadOS and states that:

The iPad Pro’s limitations as a standard computer are but best summed up by this example: you can hook it up to an external monitor but iPadOS can only mirror what’s on the iPad’s screen, which is not very useful, unless an app is coded to specifically use a second screen.

Finally, he takes sustainability into account and makes some observations on the price and the lifespan of the device and presents a final verdict to complete the review. We especially enjoyed the sustainability section as it offered a take that most people generally skip out. He explained the complete view on environmental sustainability. He then concluded by providing the price and stating that you would have to live with some limitations as it is still only an iPad.

Our Take on the New M1 iPad Pro

Our take on the iPad Pro is based on all the reviews that we have seen, as most reviewers stated that iPadOS is limiting, and the price to performance ratio is just not viable for budget seekers. We believe that to be true and suggest you look elsewhere if your primary use for the iPad Pro is a laptop replacement. However, if you’re just looking for a faster and better movie and media experience with the iPad, then the iPad Pro is a must-buy device.

Even though the new iPads are a tad bit expensive, it has so much to offer with fantastic performance and a hopeful future with iPadOS 15. The sustainability concern is also justified as Apple uses a 100% recycled aluminium body plus a 100% recycled tin solder in its mainboard, which is environmentally friendly and helps reduce e-waste. So we hope this iPad review roundup has helped you decide on your purchase and make the right decision for your primary media and work device.

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