New screen, 5G and M1 chip, but FYI it’s still not a Mac


I’ve been away from people for over a year, living off work-from-home devices. While I’ve changed a lot in the past year, so has Apple: The company’s moved to an entirely new line of custom-made M1 chips in Macs that have dramatically improved performance and battery life. Now those chips have arrived in the new iPad Pro, along with 5G. Has the iPad Pro just made the leap to supercomputer? Or is it another, nicer version of the 2020 iPad Pro I reviewed at the beginning of my still-ongoing WFH life?



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© Scott Stein/CNET


In terms of hardware, yes, it’s a leap up. The iPad has a new processor as well as its upgraded display for the 12.9-inch model, a mini LED that looks as good as OLED in my everyday use so far. Plus, it has a few new tricks, like a front-facing camera that follows me during Zooms. And don’t forget 5G. The hardware seems just about perfect. But the iPad is still running the same OS — and largely the same apps — as every other iPad.

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I’ve been living with the newest iPad Pro, in both the 11- and 12.9-inch sizes, for a week. Here’s what’s wowed me so far, and some advice on whether this is something you’d need to upgrade to. I’ll save you some time and say that, at the Pro’s price of $800 and up for the tablet (and really, mid-$1,500 or so if you add accessories and the storage you might crave), this is a luxury device that most people probably don’t need compared to their phone or laptop — or even a budget iPad you could use instead.

However, if Apple starts updating its iPadOS to add new features, more multitasking and monitor support, more Pro apps, and maybe even some sort of Mac compatibility mode using the M1 chip it now shares with all those new Macs, this could be an amazing machine. As it is, it’s still an impressive luxury tablet that’s begging for more software to push it to the next level.



a close up of a laptop computer: The new iPad Pros and their Magic Keyboards: 11- and 12.9-inch, both with M1 processors. Only the 12.9-inch version has the upgraded display. Scott Stein/CNET


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The new iPad Pros and their Magic Keyboards: 11- and 12.9-inch, both with M1 processors. Only the 12.9-inch version has the upgraded display. Scott Stein/CNET

M1: On paper, as fast as all the M1 Macs

The first thing I did, of course, was benchmark the M1 iPad Pro. My high-end review units from…

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