iPad Pro (2024) preview: what’s coming? M3? OK, you and who else? – Ultra-Sim

iPad Pro (2024) Intro

It has been a good couple of years since we’ve seen an iPad Pro upgrade, but to be fair — we are in no hurry. The M2-equipped iPad Pro from 2022 is still incredibly good at doing… what Apple allows it to do. Yeah, the hardware is killer, but iPadOS is still lagging behind in terms of fully exploiting that power. Credit given where credit is due — Stage Manager has kind of made it where you can actually use the iPad as a portable desktop and Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro have finally launched for the tablet… though still have some way to go.

OK, so software aside, what are we expecting from the hardware of potential new iPad Pros? Well, and upgrade to the next generation Apple M3 chip for one — not that it’s necessary at this point. But also a possible change in display tech — rumors insist that Apple is moving to OLED with both the iPad Pro 11″ and iPad Pro 12.9″, meaning it would be ditching the whole Mini LED experiment. Interesting.

New expected features in iPad Pro (2024)

  • Apple M3 chip inside
  • OLED screens
  • Selfie camera to landscape orientation
  • New design for Magic Keyboard

Table of Contents:

iPad Pro (2024) Specs

The king of the slabs

The iPad Pro always has supercharged hardware — enough to run desktop-class apps and console-grade games. Literally, with games like Resident Evil and Assassin’s Creed: Mirage already out for or headed for iPads with any M-class chip. Nothing is official yet and we don’t have exact specs, but here’s an educated guess of what the iPad Pro (2024) models will pack:

We do think that Apple might pull an iPhone 15 Pro Max on us and remove that base 128 GB tier. Not upgrade it, mind you, but flat out remove it. That way the iPad Pro line would get more expensive… without its price being increased, technically.

iPad Pro (2024) Design & Colors

It’s definitely a Pro-duct
The Pro iPads, much like their iPhone counterparts, usually come in boring colors. That is Space Gray and Silver — no quirky or vibrant options like on the iPad Air or base iPad 10th gen. We also don’t expect huge changes in design except for the selfie camera positioning. So, we should get the same flat slab with an all-screen front and a thin bezel, just enough for a thumb rest while holding the tablet. But the selfie camera may just move.

If you’ve been following closely, you probably know that the iPad 10th gen is the only Apple tablet to have the selfie camera on the right side of the frame… basically it becomes the top frame when the tablet is in landscape position. And, since er are getting keyboard for these things and exceedingly using them for video chats in landscape — people love that change. The Center Stage mode of the iPads is cool and all, but when your selfie camera is off to the side, it does look a bit awkward in the video feed.

So, that’s one thing that might change. We imagine that it may require the magnets for the Apple Pencil to move, so you dock it on a different part of the iPad Pro (2024). And, since we are on accessories, we have also heard that a new Magic Keyboard — one with function keys — may also be in the stack. Now… these are separately-bought accessories, and we are very curious to see if the OG Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil 2 would work with the new iPads.

Apple seemed set on not going to OLED tech for its premium tablets — instead, it gave us the Mini LED panels in the iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) and iPad Pro 12.9 (2022). It’s a fantastic piece of tech that kind of mixes the worlds of conventional LCD and OLED — the screen still has a backlight (like LCD), but it’s hundreds of thousands of small LEDs firing up separately, making it a backlight divided in multiple zones.

It generally looks good and has the deep blacks and stark contrast of AMOLED panels. However, when viewed in the dark, there is a small amount of bloom around any objects on screen that are surrounded by darkness.

We don’t know if that one inevitable “issue” has made Apple rethink its course, but right now — all reports point towards the iPad Pro (2024) models having OLED screens.

And, of course, we fully expect them to be 120 Hz ProMotion panels. The iPhones have been pulling this off since the iPhone 13 Pro, so we already know it looks fantastic with Apple’s screen calibrations. The question is — is Mini LED completely gone?

iPad Pro (2024) Camera

It’s a tablet, not a camera

In reality, people don’t hold up tablets to take photos out in the park or at a show… thankfully! So, cameras are not where tablets — the iPads included — usually put a lot of focus. A good enough rear camera is required for the occasional shot or document scan. And a good enough selfie camera is required for video calls and conferences. 

The iPads, in particular, all have ultra-wide lenses on the front cameras, which enables the Center Stage software feature — when enabled, it zooms in on your face and follows you around, which sounds a bit ridiculous, but we’ve found it to be quite useful after years of use.

Also, the Pro iPads have the LiDAR sensor on the back — a Time of Flight camera, which enables accurate environmental scanning and placing virtual objects in your space. It gives you a better virtual ruler and better-performing AR apps and games. Though, we haven’t seen the AR trend explode, so this is still a very niche feature.

iPad Pro (2024) Performance

Call a spade a spade

Let’s be real — a potential refresh of iPad Pros right now will mostly be about performance — that jump to the new Apple M3 chip. But also, let’s be honest — it probably doesn’t need it. We still use M1-equipped iPad Pros in the office and they are perfectly fast, snappy, and productive. We do have the M2 units, too, but they mostly rest in their boxes, simply because we don’t see the need to reach for them often.

So, an M3 refresh will be welcome for new buyers who are looking to get the most headroom, the most future-proofing. But if you have an M1 or an M2? Maybe it’s not time to dream for an upgrade just yet. Of course, there’s plenty of room for Apple to prove us wrong on this! Sight unseen, this is what we expect right now.

iPad Pro (2024) OS version

No question, if new iPad Pros launch right now, they will come with iPadOS 17 right out of the box. This means the new Journal app, a Weather app facelift, new iMessage features that make group chats easier to navigate and participate in, and new Apple Music features for shared playlists. Plus, some minor facelifts across other apps. Stage Manager is of course a huge feature here, as it gives you a desktop-ish environment to multitask and work in, when you connect an external monitor via the Thunderbolt port.

iPads, like iPhones, receive OS updates for a good chunk of time after release — a minimum of 5 years. Apple hasn’t really came out to promise such a concrete number, but history shows us that this is the period Cupertino typically aims for. So, the iPad Pro (2024) is expected to last you this long:

  • 2024 – launch with iPadOS 17
  • Late 2024 – get iPadOS 18
  • Late 2025 – get iPadOS 19
  • Late 2026 – get iPadOS 20
  • Late 2027 – get iPadOS 21
  • Late 2028 – get iPadOS 22
  • Late 2029 – questionable. We may or may not get iPadOS 23 here

iPad Pro (2024) Battery

10 hours of solid work

With all of its mobile devices, from laptops to phones to tablets, Apple aims for a comfortable 10-hour screen-on time. Anything extra is a bonus, anything less than that is not ideal. Our experience with the “normal-sized” iPads thus far is that yes, medium load like video streams and multi-app use will drain the battery at a speed of 10% per hour. If you game a lot, or do video editing, the overall on time can fall to 8 or even 6 hours, if you are really squeezing it dry.

We expect a very similar performance from the 2024 iPad Pro units. Of course, we are open for pleasant surprises, Apple!

iPad Pro (2024) Audio Quality and Haptics

Well, there are no haptics on Apple’s tablets, unlike Samsung’s Galaxy Tab devices. We can’t say we miss them — it’s a bit weird when you have a whole tablet vibrating with your taps and swipes.

As far as audio goes, we expect the same quad speaker stereo setup as with the previous iPad Pros. And it sounds excellent — you can use the iPad Pro as a multimedia machine by itself, no Bluetooth speaker necessary.

iPad Pro (2024) Models

As before, the iPad Pros are expected to come in two flavors — an iPad Pro 11″ to an iPad Pro 12.9″. We generally recommend the smaller version for most people — it’s much more portable, easier to fit in various spots, nooks and crannies around your home or working environment. And an 11-inch screen is generally good enough for most things you’d do on a tablet.

However, the market has proved that customers love large tablets. That’s why Apple continues to produce the iPad Pro 12.9″, and that’s why Samsung keeps making the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra (we actually asked — apparently, 30% of Galaxy Tab S8 sales were of the Tab S8 Ultra. Isn’t that crazy?). Since these are big, cumbersome, and quite expensive, we imagine that if you want one, you have your very well-defined reasons. A laptop replacer it is not, but maybe some people simply don’t need MacOS or Windows.

iPad Pro (2024) Competitors

The tablet market is pretty thin on offerings, especially if you go for the high tier. Up here, you have two choices — an iPad Pro or a Galaxy Tab S. Samsung’s own slates come in three different sizes and offer the best experience you can get on an Android tablet — fast, feature-rich, beautiful screens to gawk at, split screen and DeX, S Pen in the box.

Both ecosystems are well-developed, and both systems have their quirks, so it’s hard to say which one is definitively better. We’d say the Samsung tablets work a bit better as straight-up laptop replacers, as you can launch into DeX without needing an external monitor (which the iPad needs for Stage Manager). But, ultimately, your choice of smartphone and computer may also dictate which tablet you go for.

Learn more here:

iPad Pro (2024) Final Thoughts

So, as you can probably tell, we expect the next iPad Pro models to be predictably great. Nothing exciting or jaw-dropping, though our jaws are still on the floor since Apple decided to put an M1 chip in the iPad Pro back in 2021.

It seems that even Apple doesn’t believe that there’s something flashy or thrilling about the upcoming iPads. If reports are to be believed, we won’t see them announced at an event. They will just drop in a silent press release, supposedly before the end of March 2024.

Will it be worth it? Most definitely — we do enjoy our time with the current iPad Pros, and — as mentioned — even use the M1 units from back in 2021 excessively, with no slowdowns still. If you do plan to spend a lot of time on a tablet, they can provide the value. If you are looking for a glorified Netflix machine — an iPad Air may be the better financial decision. And hey, rumor says, we are getting new iPad Airs, too!

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