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Apple iPad Pro (2022) vs. iPad Pro (2021): Which year wins?

Another year, another iPad Pro. Yes, Apple’s premium tablet is now its sixth generation, with the iPad Pro (2022) bringing some notable improvements to the table. This includes the inclusion of the highly powerful M2 chip, which you’ll also find in the latest MacBook Pro. The thing is, if you disregard this new processor, is there anything else truly significant under the tablet’s hood that makes it worth buying over last year’s iPad Pro (2021)?

We’ll answer this question by looking at the specs of each model and comparing how they fare in terms of performance, displays, designs, batteries, cameras, and software. This should clear up which is the better tablet overall, as well as explain whether it’s worth upgrading if you already have last year’s iPad Pro.

Note: This article covers both the 11-inch and 12.9-inch versions of each model.

Specs

Apple iPad Pro (2022) Apple iPad Pro (2021)
Size 11-inch: 247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9mm (9.75 x 7.03 x 0.23 inches)

12.9-inch: 280.6 x 214.9 x 6.4mm (11.05 x 8.46 x 0.25 inches)

11-inch: 247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9mm (9.75 x 7.03 x 0.23 inches)

12.9-inch: 280.6 x 214.9 x 6.4mm (11.05 x 8.46 x 0.25 inches)

Weight 11-inch: 466 grams (1.03 pounds)

12.9-inch: 682 grams (1.5 pounds)

11-inch: 466 grams (1.03 pounds)

12.9-inch: 682 grams (1.5 pounds)

Screen 11-inch Liquid Retina IPS LCD

12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR mini-LED LCD

11-inch Liquid Retina IPS LCD

12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR mini-LED LCD

Screen resolution 11-inch: 1688 x 2388 pixels (265 pixels per inch)

12.9-inch: 2048 x 2732 pixels (265 pixels per inch)

11-inch: 1688 x 2388 pixels (265 pixels per inch)

12.9-inch: 2048 x 2732 pixels (265 pixels per inch)

Operating system iPadOS 16 iPadOS 16
Storage 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB
MicroSD card slot No No
Processor Apple M2 Apple M1
RAM 8GB, 16GB 8GB, 16GB
Camera Dual 12-megapixel and 10MP ultrawide, LiDAR, 12MP ultrawide front Dual 12MP and 10MP ultrawide, LiDAR, 12MP ultrawide front
Video 4K at 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps 4K at 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.3 Bluetooth 5.0
Ports USB-C USB-C
Fingerprint sensor No, Face ID No, Face ID
Water resistance No No
Battery 11-inch: 7,538mAh, fast charging (18W)

12.9-inch: 10,758mAh, fast charging (18W)

11-inch: 7,538mAh, fast charging (18W)

12.9-inch: 10,758mAh, fast charging (18W)

App marketplace Apple App Store Apple App Store
Network support AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon (Cellular models only) AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon (Cellular models only)
Colors Silver, Space Gray Silver, Space Gray
Price 11-inch: $799+

12.9-inch: $1,099+

11-inch: $799+

12.9-inch: $1,099+

Buy from Apple Apple
Review score News 4.5 out of 5 stars

Design, display, and durability

ipad pro 2021.

Clearly, Apple is very, very happy with the design of its iPad Pro, since it hasn’t changed its fundamental appearance in several years. This means the iPad Pro (2022) is all-but identical to its predecessor, featuring the the same edge-to-edge display and narrow bezels. Both devices are built with aluminum frames and rears, while the dimensions are also identical across both the 11-inch and 12.9-inch versions. They also weigh the same, so you’re going to have the same level of comfort and ease regardless of which model you choose.

We also have no choice but to report that the displays happen to be identical across the generations. If you go for the 11-inch version of either iPad, you’ll receive a Liquid Retina IPS LCD display with a resolution of 1688 x 2388 pixels (which works out at 265 pixels per inch). If you opt for the 12.9-inch version, you’ll get a superior 12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR mini-LED LCD panel that packs 2048 x 2732 pixels (also 265 ppi). Regardless of the size of your model, you’ll have a refresh rate of 120Hz, making for some very smooth scrolling and animations.

Neither tablet is water resistant, so they aren’t the most durable. That said, their screens are made with scratch-resistant glass that repels oil and fingerprints, while their aluminum frames won’t obviously crack like glass.

Winner: Tie

Performance, battery life, and charging

Apple iPad Pro charging port.

We were amazed when the iPad Pro (2021) arrived with Apple’s M1 chip on board, giving it the kind of power that could handle any kind of task, app, or video game. Now, the iPad Pro (2022) has the even beefier M2 chip, which Apple has said is around 20% faster than the M1. This likely means that the newer iPad can handle intensive multitasking more comfortably than the older model, although most people will be hard-pressed to see a real difference, given just how powerful the M1 chip already was. Both devices come with either 8GB or 16GB of RAM, giving them more than enough memory to thrive in 2022 and beyond.

In terms of internal storage, both devices begin with 128GB as standard but can go as high as 2TB (for an extra $1,100). Needless to say, this will be more than the vast majority of people need, although the higher-end options mean that you can indeed turn your tablet into a disguised laptop.

It’s also a case of history repeating when it comes to batteries. Both models have cells with identical capacities, across both the 11-inch and 12.9-inch versions. Of course, software (and processor) changes could potentially mean that the iPad Pro (2022) makes its battery last a touch longer, although we will need a full review to confirm this.

For now, this round stands as a slight win for the newer iPad Pro, since its more powerful chip may make it more useful for higher end, professional users.

Winner: Apple iPad Pro (2022)

Cameras

iPad Pro (2021) cameras.

The new iPad Pro (2022) also happens to have old cameras, carrying the same dual-lens rear setup as 2021’s model. This means a 12-megapixel main lens and a 10MP ultrawide lens, with a LiDAR sensor for depth perception. At the same time, it has a 12MP ultrawide selfie camera on its front, just like the iPad Pro (2021).

As before, the 12MP ultrawide selfie camera supports the artificial intelligence-powered Center Stage feature, which allows for some impressively panoramic selfies. More generally, the rear lenses on both models are very good as far as tablet cameras go, capable of taking great pictures in most normal situations. However, because there’s no difference between the two, this round is another tie.

Winner: Tie

Software and updates

An iPad and an external display using Stage Manager in iPadOS 16.

The iPad Pro (2022) will come with iPadOS 16 right out of the box, bringing some useful new features to the iPad experience. Most notable among these is Stage Manager, which is basically a tool for multitasking, enabling users to run up to eight apps at the same time. This makes it ideal for professional and creative users, and while the iPad Pro (2021) currently runs on iPadOS 15, it will receive the 16th version once it launches.

With updates, the iPad Pro (2022) may potentially be supported for one more year than the older iPad. However, because Apple tends to support its devices for a long time, most users will not really notice.

Winner: Tie

Special features

iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard
Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends.com

Yes, there are no real differences between the two iPad Pros as far as special features are concerned. They both support 5G (if you buy the cellular versions), and they both support the new Stage Manager feature, as well as the Center Stage camera feature.

They also come with a LiDAR sensor apiece, enabling the use of a range of augmented-reality apps. There’s also Face ID (for unlocking your device and for purchases) and support for the Magic Keyboard accessory, meaning you can turn your iPad into a laptop.

Other than that, they’re both basically high-powered, highly reliable tablets.

Winner: Tie

Price and availability

The iPad Pro (2022) is now available to order from Apple’s website. The 11-inch version starts at $799 and rises to $2,099 for the 2TB version with 5G. Likewise, the 12.9-inch version begins from $1,099 and rising to $2,399 if you add 2TB of memory and cellular support.

The iPad Pro (2021) can no longer be ordered direct from Apple, although we have seen it for sale via various retailers (e.g. Best Buy, Amazon), so you might find it below its original retail price.

Overall winner: Apple iPad Pro (2022)

They’re almost the very same device, yet the iPad Pro (2022) wins solely by virtue of having the more powerful M2 processor. Otherwise, the two tablets look the same and have the same excellent displays, internal memory, software, special features, cameras, and batteries. In other words, if you already own last year’s iPad Pro, there really isn’t much need to upgrade. Having said that, the newer iPad is a truly fantastic tablet, and while it doesn’t really offer any innovations, it out-performs every other similar device on the market.

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