What to expect from Apple’s rumored new iPad Pro



The 2020 iPad Pro arrived at the beginning of a year-long (and counting) pandemic, back in mid-March 2020. It’s likely due for an upgrade soon, possibly alongside new AirPods and Apple’s long-awaited location-aware AirTag trackers.



graphical user interface: The new iPad Air arrived last fall (middle). How will a new iPad Pro (right) step up the game? Scott Stein/CNET


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The new iPad Air arrived last fall (middle). How will a new iPad Pro (right) step up the game? Scott Stein/CNET

That 2020 model didn’t have much of a processor bump, and looked nearly the same as the model from 2018. It did introduce some new tech and accessories, though: It was the first Apple product to have a depth-sensing lidar sensor, and Apple introduced a trackpad-enabled Magic Keyboard case (that cost as much as an entry-level iPad).





© Scott Stein/CNET


Apple’s recent Macs have been upgraded to speedy custom Apple M1 processors that feel like advanced versions of the chips that were already in the iPad Pro. So what will Apple do for its tablet lineup? Here’s what we could expect.

A better display

The iPad Pro display is great, and its 120Hz refresh rate still isn’t available on any other iPhone or iPad. But a shift to OLED (or in the meantime, Mini LED) feels overdue. Especially since the iPad Pro is aimed at graphic designers, photo editors and people looking for perfect displays.



a laptop computer sitting on top of a table: Will the iPad Pro and the MacBook Air have the same M1 processor? If so, how similar will they become? Scott Stein/CNET


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Will the iPad Pro and the MacBook Air have the same M1 processor? If so, how similar will they become? Scott Stein/CNET

An M1 processor (or, something nearly as good)

The A12Z processor on the 2020 iPad Pro is, to be clear, still fast. But it wasn’t much faster in benchmarks than the A12X processor from 2018, which points to an overdue chip upgrade. There could be an A14Z or A14X processor that enhances the chip on Apple’s recent iPhones and iPad Air, but why not use the M1 that’s already in the MacBook Air? Unless Apple can’t work out a way to fit it on a tablet yet, the M1 seems like an obvious choice for an expensive Pro tablet that can cost as much as a laptop.

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5G?

The iPad doesn’t have 5G… yet. Since the 2020 iPhones introduced 5G, the iPad Pro would make sense as the next on deck. Apple doesn’t even have LTE on any of its laptops, but iPads have had that option almost from…

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