iPad Pro 2021 Edition - Apple’s Most Impressive Computer

The 2021 iPad Pro models have arrived with wireless charging. To accommodate the technology, Apple will reportedly switch to a glass back for the new models, instead of the aluminum found on the rear of every iPad so far. They include several compelling new features that largely appeal to pro users such as greater performing chips than those that are found in last year’s 2020 iPad Pro models.

Features like Thunderbolt connectivity, for wider interoperability with professional-grade I/O like super-fast Thunderbolt SSDs, stand out as a key addition for both the 11-inch iPad Pro and 12.9-inch iPad Pro

But the biggest differentiator between this year’s iPads and the previous models is the Liquid Retina XDR display — a feature found exclusively on the 12.9-inch 2021 iPad Pro. This display is aimed at professional content creators who regularly engage in video and photo editing, but it can also be enjoyed when passively consuming media content as well.

Apple is still working hard to improve the software that drives its tablets. To Apple’s credit, the team behind iPadOS has done a great job over the last couple of years to bring the software side of the equation up to speed. The good news is that Apple appears to be fully committed to this endeavor, and I have a strong suspicion that we’ll be very happy once iPadOS 15 is unveiled in just a little over a week’s time.

Design

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.

The design of the iPad is one that nearly everyone agrees is good, and as we can see from the recent iMac refresh and leaked MacBook schematics, Apple seems to be quite fond of the design as well.

Liquid Retina XDR display

Although not an OLED display, which is able to achieve perfect blacks, the Liquid Retina XDR display in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is the best non-OLED display that I’ve seen, and technically speaking, it’s easy to understand why.

Of course, the iPad Pro display comes with all of the standard features that we’d expect. Hence, True Tone, P3 wide color, and ProMotion 120Hz refresh rate support is in tow, but that’s just the beginning.

M1 chip

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.

Storage and memory

Having 1 TB of flash storage on an iPad isn’t new, but the ability to configure 2 TB is. The iPad Pro is now capable of having the same maximum memory and storage configurations as Mac computers housing M1 chips. Having 2 TB of storage on tap makes the iPad Pro a legitimate workstation for creative professionals dealing with large amounts of data.

Storage and memory on the iPad Pro go hand-in-hand, because the highest storage tiers get double the memory of lesser models. Thus, if you opt for the 1 or 2 TB versions, you’ll get 16 GB of RAM instead of 8 GB.

Thunderbolt

The iPad Pro has had a USB-C port since the 2018 refresh, but the 2021 model is the first iPad to come bundled with a Thunderbolt port. As mentioned at the outset, not having Thunderbolt on the iPad has been an exercise in frustration when moving peripherals between Mac and iPad. I usually edit videos on my Mac using an external Thundebrolt 3 SSD, the kind of external storage that hasn’t worked with the iPad up until now.

5G cellular and Wi-Fi 6

Cellular connectivity is something I’ve gone back and forth about with the iPad. Having built-in cellular is convenient to be sure, and while 5G still has a long way to go in its growth, it’s rapidly improving.

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