Thoughts on Apple's New iPads and Apple Pencil Pro: Overpowered?

May 9, 2024 (2w ago)

Apple has held a 30-minutes event on May 7, 2024. The event was focused on the new iPad Pro and Apple Pencil Pro.

For everything that is announced at the event, you can check out the list on MacRumors.

Apple Event

It's been a long time since apple has released an update to the iPad series. Well, this time, Apple didn't disappoint my disappointment - the new iPads are just a hardware refresh. However, the Apple Pencil Pro is something that is interesting.

Let’s start talking about iPad First.

New iPad Airs

iPad Air

The new iPad Air series, follows Apple’s tradition, which got a few things passed down from the previous iPad Pro generations. This time, Apple has swapped the M1 chip to M2 chip, which has an 8-core CPU with four performance cores and four efficiency cores — the same as M1. However, M2 comes with 10 GPU cores compared to M1's eight. The RAM stays the same, which is 8GB. This time, iPad Airs’ storage starts from 128 GB, and it moves the webcam to the landscape bezel side. Considering iPad’s usage, this move is not bad.

The new iPad Air for the first time, comes with a larger size now. Apple distinguishes them by calling them the 11-inch and 13-inch.

That’s basically it. It’s just a spec upgrade, nothing new comes to the iPad Air. Also, it’s worth mentioning that it supports the new Apple Pencil Pro. We will get into that later.

iPad Air Features

The new iPad Air starts at US $599 for the 11-inch model and US $799 for the 13-inch model.

iPad Air Pricing

New iPad Pros

iPad Pro

Now it’s time for iPad Pros. This is where Apple pushes the limits of iPads, to show their best efforts and technology achievements.

This year, iPad Pros’ slogan is “iPad Pro. Thinpossible.” As the slogan suggests, Apple out of no where, reduced the thickness of the iPad Pro. Now it’s Apple’s thinnest devices ever, which is 5.3mm (11-inch version) and an impressive 5.1mm (13-inch version). It’s even thinner than the iPod nano (6.5mm).

iPad Pro Features

Apple put a new chip - M4 chip inside this beast. They claim it offers up to 50% faster CPU performance and 4x faster GPU than the previous M2 chipset, while featuring a 9-Core CPU, a 10-Core GPU with hardware accelerated ray tracing, and a 16-core neural engine for AI workloads. For the energy efficiency, Apple says that they can output the same performance output as the M2 chip with half the power consumption.

M4 Chip

And then, for the display, the iPad Pro got OLED display, finally. OLED displays can deliver stunning contrast, and pitch black darkness. But the problem with traditional OLED technology on a large screen is not enough brightness. This is where Apple released their technology called “Tandem OLED” display, which you can basically think of as two layers of OLED stacks on top of each other. And the M4 chip will output the same image to both layers simultaneously. This is how they managed to reach an incredible 1000 nits of full-screen brightness for SDR and HDR content, and 1600 nits peak for HDR.

There is also a new nano texture matte version available for improved reflection control on the iPad Pro screen. But as always, it comes at a cost of slightly decreased sharpness and contrast and an additional US $100.

iPad Pro Features

The price for the new iPad Pro starts at US $999 for the 11-inch model and US $1299 for the 13-inch model.

iPad Pro Pricing

The new Magic Keyboard is lighter, has a larger trackpad, and includes a function row, which is useful, but insanely overpriced, at US $349.

Magic Keyboard

Apple Pencil Pro

Apple Pencil Pro

The release of Apple Pencil Pro might have been the highlight of this whole event. The appearance of the new Apple Pencil Pro is exactly the same as its predecessor. However, despite the “Pro”, it still didn’t have an eraser, which is a bit let down, but Apple has packed other features in this pencil.

Now the pencil includes a haptic feedback motor and a gyroscope. This makes the Apple Pencil Pro rotation-sensitive. As demonstrated in the demo video, this allows more initial and precise control over brush stokes and line orientation for the artists. Additionally, the pencil now comes with a squeeze sensor along its barrel.

Apple Pencil Pro Features

All these features come at a cost of $129, which is the same as Apple Pencil (2nd generation). But that’s not it, the Apple Pencil Pro is only compatible with the new iPad Air (M2) and iPad Pro (M4). This is due to a redesign of the magnetic array needed to accommodate the new placement of the iPad’s webcam to the landscape side.

“Why can’t they just move it to the other side for charging? I don't know. Maybe that makes too much sense.” - MKBHD

Apple essentially tries to force users to upgrade their hardware, if they want to use Apple Pencil Pro.

So, eventually, it’s iPadOS?

iPadOS

Despite the super charged hardware improvements on these iPad, the main problem still exists: what can you do with iPadOS? In the end, iPadOS is still iPadOS. There are currently little applications that can actually max out the capability of these new processors. Whatever Apple plans to do, the AI integrations, are coming with iPadOS 18 this summer. So at the mean time, we are left with these insanely spec upgraded iPad Pros.

We have to wait.