Apple Inc. unveiled an updated iPad Pro with a faster processor, 5G connectivity, upgraded screen and new cameras, offering a more powerful version of its priciest tablet aimed at workers and students returning to offices and schools.
The new models come in the same 11-inch and 12.9-inch screen sizes as the previous version, and they look nearly identical to the iPad Pro design introduced in 2018. The latest devices include the company’s M1 processor from the Mac that Apple said is far faster than the A12Z chip in the previous iPad Pro launched about a year ago.
The iPad generated $8.4 billion in revenue during Apple’s key holiday quarter of 2020, the most since 2014. Sales jumped on demand from people working and studying at home during the pandemic. The Cupertino, California-based technology giant is betting on these upgrades to maintain interest in the tablet line, which debuted Tuesday as part of Apple’s product event.
The new iPad Pro also includes a MiniLED screen, dubbed by Apple as the Liquid Retina XDR Display, which the company said will enable brighter colors, more details and improved contrast ratios. The new screen, however, is only available on the pricier and larger 12.9-inch model. Apple will also for the first time offer iPads with fifth-generation, or 5G, wireless connectivity, expanding its 5G portfolio from the iPhone 12 line.
Apple updated the iPad Pro’s camera system, too, with a new 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera on the front and an improved low-light sensor on the back. The company also announced an updated Magic Keyboard that comes in a new white color.
The new iPad Pros go on sale April 30 and will start at $799 for the 11-inch model. The 12.9-inch version with the MiniLED screen will start at $1,099. Models that are 5G-capable will cost extra, and storage tiers will range to as much as 2 terabytes for the first time. Bloomberg News reported on the new iPads last month.
Apple has increasingly used its expertise in custom chip development to give it a leg up on the competition. The company started transitioning its Mac personal computers to its internally-designed processors last year, dropping components from Intel Corp. The M1 chip in the new iPads is the same chip inside of the latest MacBook Air, entry-level MacBook Pro, Mac mini and new iMac.
The company said that the processor will enable new professional apps and improved rendering for augmented reality. It has eight main computing cores and eight graphics cores, the same as in the Mac chips. That’s more than the A14 processor in the iPhone 12 and cheaper iPad Air, which have six main computing cores and four graphics cores.
Apple said the new iPad Pros will include a Thunderbolt connector for the first time, allowing compatibility with additional accessories such as external monitors. This also lets the iPad sync with some external storage drives at faster speeds. While the port is updated, it is the same size as the USB-C connector on the previous iPad Pro. That means users won’t need to buy new chargers.