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iPad Pro (2024) vs. iPad Pro (2018): Should you finally upgrade?

iPad Pro (2024) next to the iPad Pro (2018).
The iPad Pro 2024 (left) and iPad Pro 2018 Digital Trends

It’s typical for us to compare fairly recent devices on this website because upgrade cycles for most devices are relatively short. That’s not so where tablets are concerned. If you’re anything like most of us, you wait years between tablet upgrades, and that’s because tablets don’t need updating very often. So, it’s entirely possible you’re still using a tablet from the late or even mid-2010s and are starting to wonder if it’s worth upgrading.

Enter the 2024 iPad Pro. The new iPad Pro models are 11 inches and 13 inches and are Apple’s thinnest products ever. They’re also stupendously powerful and capable and can be combined with some of Apple’s best accessories — like the Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil. It makes older iPads look positively prehistoric, and that’s especially true of the 2018 iPad Pro.

The 2018 iPad Pro, the third generation of Pro, comes from a very different time. While superficially similar to modern iPad Pro models, the differences couldn’t be more stark, with the newest iPad Pros being monumentally more powerful and capable. But does that make them a must-upgrade for you? Should you finally upgrade your 2018 iPad Pro for the new 2024 iPad Pro? We took a look so you know whether it’s time to upgrade or not.

iPad Pro (2024) vs. iPad Pro (2018): specs

iPad Pro (2024) iPad Pro (2018) 
Size 11-inch 9.83 x 6.99 x 0.21 inches (249.7 x 177.5 x 5.3 mm)
13-inch 11.09 x 8.48 x 0.20 (281.6 x 215.5 x 5.1 mm)
11-inch: 9.75 x 7.03 x 0.23 inches (247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9 mm)
12.9-inch: 11.05 x 8.46 x 0.23 inches (280.6 x 214.9 x 5.9 mm)
Weight 11-inch: 0.98 pounds (444 grams)
13-inch: 1.28 pounds (579 grams)
11-inch: 1.03 pounds (468 grams)
12.9-inch: 1.39 pounds (633 grams)
Screen size
11-inch: Ultra Retina XDR display/Tandem OLED
13-inch: Ultra Retina XDR display/Tandem OLED
11-inch Liquid Retina display
12.9-inch Liquid Retina display
Screen resolution 11-inch: 2420 x 1668 resolution at 264 ppi
13-inch: 2752 x 2064 resolution at 264 ppi
11-inch: 2388 x 1668 resolution at 265 ppi
12.9-inch: 2732 x 2048 resolution at 265 ppi
Brightness
SDR brightness: 1000 nits max
XDR brightness: 1000 nits max full screen, 1600 nits peak (HDR content only)
600 nits max
Operation system iPadOS 17 iPadOS 17
Storage space 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB 64GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Processor Apple M4 chip with 16-core Neural Engine, up to 10-core CPU, 10-core GPU Apple A12X Bionic chip
RAM 256GB/512GB: 8GB RAM
1TB/2TB: 16GB RAM
4GB RAM on models with 64GB, 256GB or 512GB storage
6GB RAM on models with 1TB storage
Camera 12MP Wide camera
Landscape 12MP Ultra Wide Front Camera
12MP Wide camera
7MP Front Camera
Video Up to 4K video, ProRes Up to 4K
Bluetooth Bluetooth 5.3 Bluetooth 5.0
Ports USB‑C connector with support for Thunderbolt / USB 4 USB‑C connector
Authentication Face ID Face ID
SIM card eSIM eSIM
Audio Four speaker audio
Four studio-quality microphones
Four stereo speakers
Five studio-quality microphones
Battery life Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi or watching video 11-inch: 7812 mAh
12.9-inch: 9720 mAh
Network Wi-Fi 6E / Cellular Wi-Fi 6 / Cellular
Apple Pencil support Apple Pencil Pro
Apple Pencil (USB-C)
Apple Pencil 2
Apple Pencil (USB-C)
Magic Keyboard support Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro (M4) No
Colors Space Black, Silver Silver, Space Gray
Price 11-inch: from $999
13-inch: from $1,299
11-inch: from $799
12.9-inch: from $999

iPad Pro (2024) vs. iPad Pro (2018): design and display

The iPad Pro design hasn’t really changed in some time, and that’s a sign that Apple hit gold some time ago and has recognized there’s no need to make dramatic changes. As such, these two tablets are quite similar-looking, with aluminum backs and frames, glass fronts, and slim bezels around the displays. But there are subtle differences. The camera modules are the most obvious of these, but the newer iPad Pros are also thinner and lighter, so they’re easier to cart around.

The difference in display tech is huge, though. The new iPad Pros both have OLED panels and while the resolutions are similar, the deep, inky blacks and vibrant colors of the OLED displays will be very obvious when the two are side by side. In addition, the newer models get much brighter, with a maximum brightness of 1,600 nits in XDR mode, compared to the relatively paltry 600 nits of the iPad Pro 2018. That makes a big difference if you’re trying to use your tablet in strong sunlight.

Side profile of 2024 iPad Pro.
Side profile of 2024 iPad Pro. Apple

One important note before we wrap this category up: The position of the selfie camera has been changed in more recent iPads, and that could be a huge change if you’re used to older iPads. Older iPads put the selfie camera at the top of the display in a portrait position — basically where you’d expect to see the front-facing camera on a smartphone. Apple wants newer iPads to be used more like laptops, so it’s moved the selfie camera to be at the top of the display in a landscape orientation. This is where you’d see a webcam on a laptop, and this position makes a lot more sense if you’re using your iPad as a work machine, rather than an oversized smartphone.

While a lot hasn’t changed between these two generations, the differences speak loudly. The newer iPads have much better displays and a much better position for the front-facing camera.

iPad Pro (2024) vs. iPad Pro (2018): performance and software

Final Cut Pro for iPad 2.
Final Cut Pro being used on the iPad Pro 2024 Apple

It shouldn’t come as a shock that the newer iPads are more powerful. After all, that’s a key element of any new device. But how much more powerful they are is worth exploring.

The iPad Pro 2018 is a strong performer. The A12X Bionic is a mobile processor with a lot of headroom, and there’s a decent argument to be made that it can still tango with the top dogs today. It’ll still chew easily through games, Lightroom, and Photoshop, and although you may have found it starts to slow slightly as it ages, there’s no doubt that it’s still a very capable mobile chip.

iPad Pro 2018
The iPad Pro 2018 being used with an Apple Pencil Julian Chokkattu / Digital Trends

We keep saying “mobile” for a reason, and it’s because the iPad Pro has been through a significant change in recent years. The 2024 iPad Pro is equipped with Apple’s M4 processor, a laptop-level chip that’s incredibly powerful. The new iPad Pro is positioned as a tablet for productivity in creative spheres, including filmmaking and editing. That means it needs a large amount of power, and the M4 delivers.

The software is less of a slam dunk since both run the latest version of iPadOS 17. While software updates are one of Apple’s strengths, there’s little doubt the iPad Pro 2018 will reach its end far sooner than the newer iPad Pro. So, if having the latest software and updates is important to you, keep that in mind.

We’re not going to win any prizes for figuring out the newer device is more powerful, but it’s important to note how large the gap is. If you need power to edit, create, or game, then you’re going to notice how much faster the new iPad Pro is.

iPad Pro (2024) vs. iPad Pro (2018): cameras and battery

Rear profile of 2024 iPad Pro.
Rear profile of 2024 iPad Pro. Apple

Apple says both of these tablets will last for around 10 hours, and while the 2018 iPad Pro once hit those claims, it’s unlikely the battery has survived six years of use unscathed. We won’t know how it stacks up against the 2024 model until we’ve taken the newer models for a spin, but if it’s anything like the iPad Pro 2022, then it may struggle to live up to Apple’s claims.

Camera quality is less of a key point in a tablet than on a smartphone, but you definitely want to pay attention to the front-facing camera system. The newer iPad Pro sports an ultrawide 12-megapixel selfie lens with superior positioning for video calls (see the design section above), which is much better than the standard 7MP lens on the 2018 iPad Pro. The positioning and quality of the new iPad Pro’s selfie camera are going to make a big difference if you’re frequently on video calls.

iPad Pro (2024) vs. iPad Pro (2018): accessories

iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard.
iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard Apple

Accessories are an important part of life with a modern iPad, whether that’s with a keyboard or stylus. The iPad Pro 2018 has no shortage of accessories available, including the Smart Keyboard and the 2nd-gen Apple Pencil. However, it lacks the modern accessories of the newer iPad Pro.

Want the impressive, but very expensive Magic Keyboard? It’s only available on the newer iPads, which includes the iPad Pro 2024. The new iPad Pro doesn’t support the 2nd gen Apple Pencil, though, so if you have one of those lying around, you’ll need to upgrade to the Apple Pencil Pro or USB-C Apple Pencil. That’s a bit annoying if you were hoping to reuse accessories, but that’s the nature of Apple’s ecosystem, we guess.

iPad Pro (2024) vs. iPad Pro (2018): price and availability

iPad Pro (2018) review
Julian Chokkattu / Digital Trends

Alright, neither of these are cheap devices. Inflation has hit the iPad Pro range pretty hard, and it’s meant the newer models are several hundred dollars more expensive than the original asking price of the older models. It’ll cost you $999 for the basic 11-inch iPad Pro 2024, while the 13-inch one starts from a sky-high $1,299. Upgrades and additional accessories will push that even higher, making either of these a significant investment.

Sure, the 2018 iPad Pro started from $799 for the 11-inch and $999 for the 12.9-inch, but you’re not going to find them at that price or new at this point. It’s worth keeping in mind the value you’ve gotten for your money, especially if you bought your iPad Pro in 2018. You can probably expect to repeat that with the new iPad Pro, making the higher price less of a sticking point.

iPad Pro (2024) vs. iPad Pro (2018): is it worth upgrading?

A person gaming on the M4 iPad Pro and playing Diablo Immortal.
Apple

Yes. The iPad Pro 2024 is a massive upgrade over the 2018 version. Not only is it thinner and lighter, but it’s also much more powerful and has a better front-facing camera, more accessory support, and years of updates ahead of it. If your 2018 iPad Pro has started to slow down, is looking scruffy, or is showing any other signs of age, then you should strongly consider taking this enormous leap forward.

While there’s some wisdom to hanging on as long as you can between upgrades, six years is a long time, and even a tablet as powerful as the iPad Pro has its limits. If you’re starting to feel those limits being hit, then it’s time to upgrade. The iPad Pro 2024 is a powerful, capable, beautiful machine that’s just as likely to last you as long between upgrades. Buy it now, and wait until the iPad Pro 2030 for your next upgrade.

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Mark Jansen is an avid follower of everything that beeps, bloops, or makes pretty lights. He has a degree in Ancient &…
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