2 minute review
Alongside the larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro, Apple has also updated the 11-inch iPad, bringing it in line with its bigger brother by incorporating most of this tablet’s features, but at a more manageable size.
However, the smaller iPad is missing the Liquid Retina XDR Mini LED display which, in our opinion, is the standout feature of this year’s top model.
That’s not to say the screen on the new 11-inch iPad Pro is bad — it’s far from that. It’s the same premium IPS panel found in the previous generation of iPads, with its Pro Motion 120Hz display, and with the new Apple M1 chipset on the iPad, it makes apps fly.
The iPad has never felt sluggish, but the specs in this latest generation give it plenty of room to adapt to the future for years to come. You can fuel the new iPad Pro with 16GB of RAM and 2TB of storage — specs that match the high-end MacBook Pro based on the M1.
There’s also support for 5G connectivity, through a physical card or eSIM, for accessing your data on the go, while the USB port has also been upgraded with Thunderbolt support.
Last, but certainly not least, is the new ultra-wide front camera. It includes Apple’s new Center Stage feature, which tracks subjects or zooms in on a scene based on what’s in the frame — the way you work is pure Apple magic.
However, the question that remains is why Apple has given the iPad Pro lineup with what appears to be an excess of power.
Apple will say it’s in order to make the best iPad possible, but the restrictive iPadOS doesn’t really allow you to take full advantage of all the power available – multitasking is still very unintuitive and external display support is poor, file management is still very basic, options to expand functionality are still iPad via accessories are limited.
Editor’s Note: This review is for the 11-inch iPad Pro. Want to know about the 12.9 inch model? Read iPad Pro 12.9 review (2021).
iPad Pro 11-inch 2021 release date and price
The new iPad Pro is now available from Apple and other retailers in both 11-inch and 12.9-inch sizes. However, stocks are still limited at the time of writing, and you may have to wait a couple of weeks to get one on your hands; Apple says it is working to address supply shortages.
The new 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $799 / £749 / AU$1199 / AED3,199, which gets you 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage in a Wi-Fi-only configuration. Increase the storage space and add 5G connectivity, which raises the price significantly: a fully-loaded iPad Pro 11-inch with 2TB of storage and 5G connectivity will set you back $2,099 / £1,899 / $3,099 / AED 8,199.
If you’re not looking to use the iPad for professional work, the iPad Air is still a great option and looks almost identical to the new iPad Pro. It has the latest iPhone chip from Apple and starts at AED 2,499 with support for the latest accessories like the Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil. It also comes in five beautiful colors.
The iPad Pro is available in 11-inch and 12.9-inch models, and if you want to use it primarily as a tablet instead of a laptop, the smaller version is definitely the option to choose. In terms of size and design, the new 11-inch iPad Pro is identical to last year’s model. Measuring 178.5 x 247.6mm and just 5.9mm thick, it’s a bit lighter than its predecessor at 466 grams.
This makes the 11-inch iPad Pro comfortable to hold and easy to use, and with an aluminum frame and rounded back and corners, the iPad continues to feel like a premium device. It’s only available in two colors: Space Gray and Silver, which is a shame, as we’d love to see the new iPad Pro available in more colors, like the new iMac and in fact the iPad Air.
The placement of buttons and ports is similar to older iPad Pro models, with the volume keys to the right when you hold the tablet in a portrait orientation, with the power button on top and a USB-C port equipped with a Thunderbolt port on the bottom. There are four speakers on the top and bottom if you hold your iPad vertically or sideways in landscape mode – which is the preferred orientation for watching videos.
Unfortunately, the camera continues to stay on top of the iPad in portrait orientation, which isn’t ideal for video calls if you’re talking to a group of people and have the tablet in landscape mode, since it’s locked to one side. There is a SIM card slot on the right edge and a pin connector on the back for connecting the Magic Keyboard. As on the previous iPad, the Apple Pencil is magnetically attached to the right edge, where it also charges.
Until last year, the display specifications for the larger 12.9-inch model and the 11-inch model were identical. However, for 2021, Apple introduced a new XDR display on the larger 12.9-inch model powered by mini-LED technology, which the 11-inch version missed.
That’s not to say the iPad Pro’s 11-inch screen is bad — far from it. You still get Apple’s IPS display, with excellent color accuracy and ProMotion technology that allows for a 120Hz refresh rate for fast, smooth scrolling. The higher refresh rate also improves the Apple Pencil experience, with lower latency.
However, given how closely the screen relates to the tablet experience, if you don’t mind the iPad Pro’s 12.9-inch larger size — and can afford the extra — we recommend you go for the larger model. The much higher peak brightness and contrast ratios on the larger iPad make the screen simply stunning.
Specifications, performance and cameras
The iPad Pro is taking the leap from an iPhone processor to a Mac processor this year, which will give it plenty of scrutiny going forward and allow it to comfortably run the next generation of apps. The M1 processor brings this generation iPad Pro up to the same level of performance as the latest M1 Mac, and with up to 16GB of RAM and 2TB of storage, it’s effectively a high-end PC in tablet form.
The table below compares the benchmark scores of the latest iPad Pro 2021 with last year’s status.
|iPad Pro 2021||iPad Pro 2020|
|3D Mark Wildfire result||16972||9984|
|3D Mark Wildfire FPS||101.1||59|
Looking at the table above, you can clearly see how incredibly fast the new iPad Pro is. The M1 processor coupled with 16GB of RAM makes opening and switching between apps faster than on any other tablet, as well as on most PCs out there.
Having said that, when it comes to real-world use, the new iPad Pro performs slightly better than last year’s model — and the new iPad Pro is the only better tablet of last year.
If you’re just looking to do the things you normally do on a tablet, like browsing the web, consuming media, writing emails and documents, the power inside the new iPad Pro is almost prohibitive.
iPad Pro 11 inch specifications 2021
Weight: 466 grams
Dimensions: 247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9 mm
display size: 11 inches
Display Type: Liquid Retina display
Accuracy: 1668 x 2388
refresh rate: 120 Hz
Slices: Apple M1
RAM: 8 GB / 16 GB
storage: 128 GB / 256 GB / 512 GB / 1 TB / 2 TB
Operating System: iPadOS 14.5
back camera: 12 mega pixel + 10 mega pixel + ToF
front camera: 12 mega pixel
batteryRechargeable Li-Polymer battery with a capacity of 28.65 Wh
It would also be nice to see Apple release its own professional apps, such as Final Cut Pro or Motion, for the iPad. Given that iPad Pros now have similar hardware to Macs, we don’t really see a reason why Apple couldn’t make it.
So much new and fun in the new iPad Pro is the Center Stage – it’s pure Apple magic. When you use the Ultra Wide Camera on the front of the iPad, the framing automatically adjusts to keep you or a group of people in the middle of the photo. Take a look at this video below, bearing in mind that there’s no camera movement at all – it’s just a software frame.
There are two rear cameras in the new iPad Pro: 12MP and 10MP ultra-wide. We’re not big fans of using the rear cameras on a tablet, but they’re there if you need them, and they offer decent image quality. The lidar sensor is also coming back for use with AR apps, although we haven’t found many use-case scenarios for that since Apple added it to the iPad last year.
The iPad ecosystem has grown over the past two years, with many manufacturers offering a variety of protective cases, keyboard covers, and stylus options.
The 2021 version of the iPad Pro 11-inch works with the Apple Pencil, as well as with last year’s Magic Keyboard. Apple released a new white model of the Magic Keyboard, but the color is the only new thing.
If you’re looking for alternatives to Apple’s offering, Logitech makes a great keyboard cover for the iPad that’s more affordable than Apple’s offering.
There has been no change to the new iPad Pro’s battery capacity or alleged battery life compared to last year’s model. The new iPad Pro has a 28.65Wh battery that Apple claims gives you 10 hours of use on the Wi-Fi model and nine hours on the 5G model using cellular data.
Obviously, your mileage varies depending on the tasks you’re using your iPad for. For example, viewing 4K videos or 3D models will definitely lose more battery than watching a movie on Netflix or browsing the web. With mixed use, we were able to get eight hours on a full charge.
We’ve noticed that the battery drains a little faster, especially in standby mode with the Magic Keyboard connected, which makes sense, since this accessory draws power from the iPad Pro.
The charging speeds on the iPad Pro are 18W, which is lower than many other competing tablets on the market; However, the solid battery life combined with the excellent standby standby time means that charging is not something you have to worry about too much. Thankfully, Apple provides a charger in the box with the iPad, which isn’t something new iPhone users can say.
Should you buy the iPad Pro 2021?
Buy it if…
Don’t buy it if…
First revision: July 2021