IPad Pro M1 review: a caged lion (for now)

The new version of Apple’s top-of-the-range tablet has extreme power and hardware, but suffers from software limitations. Waiting for the new operating system

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Another round, another iPad Pro. A little more than a year after the presentation of the 202o model, Apple launched that of 2021, with an almost identical design and some innovations on the hardware side, which, let’s face it immediately, confirm this long) the most powerful and performing tablet ever. The differences, which we had already highlighted who, there are basically four: the mini-led screen (but only in the 12.9-inch version), the new processor M1, the same as Macs, 5G connectivity and a system, called Center Stage, useful for always staying in the center of the frame in video calls.

Before discussing it more in depth, however, it is good to make a preliminary consideration. We waited, to complete this article, the presentation at Wwdc of new iPadOS 15 operating system, to understand if one of the biggest obstacles to the really “Pro” use of a machine like iPad Pro – that is, essentially instead of the notebook -, the operating system, was about to be removed. The general impression, in fact, is that iPad Pro is a lion in a cage, an overwhelming machine with the limiter inserted.

The news

But let’s go in order. As usual, the iPad Pro is available in two dimensions: 11 and 12.9 inches. The latter is the model to pay more attention to this time, as it boasts a new technology for the LCD display, which Apple calls Liquid Retina XDR, but is nothing more than what the rest of the industry calls. mini-ice. It’s pretty much the main reason to upgrade to the Pro 2021 if you own an older model. While the previous iPad Pro had 72 LEDs behind the screen to illuminate the display, here we are at more than 10 thousand. The more LEDs you insert, the better you can control the contrast and depth of blacks in any region of the screen. Obviously, with so many LEDs, the whole display is much brighter. The difference to the displays on other iPads is, frankly, surprising. Try watching a movie in uhd (like Chaos Walking) or playing a video game with spectacular graphics to believe it.

Speaking of spectacular graphics, the power of the M1 processor also comes into play here. Its bechmarks resemble those of the MacBook Air and, according to Apple, the improvement in graphics performance over the 2020 iPad Pro is on the order of 40%. However, in everyday use, all of it this extra power is not noticeable. Of course, the “daily” operations that can be done with the tablet, that is draw with the Apple Pencil II, write, browse with different Safari tabs open or play a “heavy” game like Call of Duty Mobile, they are fluid and without slowdowns, but they are also fluid on the previous model or on theiPad Air which costs much less. To appreciate the power extras offered by the M1 one should be gods power user, edit multiple streams of 4K video or render complex CAD models.

The other two innovations mentioned are 5G connectivity and the Center Stage function front camera. The first is quite irrelevant, given the mostly domestic use of a tablet of this size and given the still limited extension of the 5G network in Italy, the second is quite useful for those who create video content or those who make video calls on FaceTime or third-party video conferencing software, such as Zoom. It turns on automatically and you can turn it off in Settings if you don’t like it. Practically, Center Stage uses the new Ultra Wide Camera and machine learning for recognize you and always put yourself in the center of the view during video calls. When you move, it moves automatically to keep you in the frame. When other people participate too, recognizes them too and zooms out to fit them all.

Software Matters

The battery lasts just over a full working day. In our test we reached about 10 hours of screen on: not bad. Another novelty is the Thunderbolt port. The output is still the usual usb-C, but now you can benefit from more data transfer rates. You can also connect the iPad to a dock to pair it with external monitors. The problem, however, is that the software is still too limiting for those who really want to use the iPad Pro instead of the notebook. The example of external monitors fits perfectly: there is not yet a two-screen solution: this will only show the contents of the iPad screen. If the monitor is 16: 9, it will still reproduce the iPad 4: 3 screen.

Even when working with the Magic Keyboard (the 12.9-inch iPad version costs 399 euro, something less su Amazon) with company software from browsers or professional apps are found small problems compatibility issues that ruin the overall experience. The slider Apple added last year greatly improved accuracy in text selection and helped make the iPad Pro look more like a laptop, but in general it works slower. Dealing with mobile apps and switching between apps, since you can’t have them all in the background like in macOS, can take a long time.

And here comes the new operating system, iPadOS 15, presented a few days ago at the WWDC. In the update, which will be available to everyone in September but will be able to download in beta shortly, Apple has announced various improvements. On each app, the multitasking menu, which will allow you to select Split View and Slide Over modes with a tap. With the keyboard, this will be even easier with special shortcuts. The user will also be able to multitask with apps that have multiple windows open, such as Safari and Pages, and quickly preview emails. Other news: i widget which can be placed anywhere on the home screen, as it already happens on the iPhone elthe ability to quickly write notes while in an app. Will they be enough to unlock the untapped potential of the iPad Pro?


For many “pro” users, who expected a profoundly improved or even redesigned multitasking system, support for additional monitors and greater compatibility with external peripherals, this is not enough. For others, there is always the awareness of having the most powerful, fastest and most spectacular tablet (see screen) in your hands. If you are thinking of buying it, I would skip the 11 inch: yesand you want a medium sized iPad, save and choose theiPad Air (which starts at 669 euros against the 899 of the iPad Pro) and allows both work and enjoy entertainment. S.and your purposes are purely for the latter, then opt for the basic iPad at 389 euros (twenty less su Amazon).

So who should buy the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, whose price, accessories excluded, starts at 1219 euros? Who thinks in great. That is, who wants the super screen, the raw power for digital rendering or the large canvas for their digital artwork. There is nothing else comparable right now, and with the new iPad Pro operating system it will get better. A little bit, at least, but it will get better.

Wired: The 12.9 inch mini-led display. The camera that follows you during video calls. The power of the M1 chip.

Tired: The software that limits its potential. The only usb-C port.

Vote: 8

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