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Apple iPad Pro (2018) vs iPad Pro (2020)

The 2020 iPad Pro, while obviously a newer model, has since been replaced by the 2021 iPad Pro, with its new M1 chip and upgraded features. This has had several effects on past iPads. Apple is no longer directly selling the 2020 iPad Pro, although it’s still available from retailers (check our links below), and for those looking for discounts, there’s never been a better time to purchase the 2020 Pro. However, the 2018 iPad Pro is now largely unavailable in new condition, although you can find refurbished versions, which is great for saving as much money as possible — but not ideal if you prefer to avoid used products.

But if you want a top-of-the-line iPad Pro at a lower price, then an older tablet is the way to go. Here’s how to decide which of the two older iPad Pro models you should buy.

If you’re looking for even steeper discounts, take a look at the best iPad deals and best Apple sales available now.

Specs

iPad Pro (2018) iPad Pro (2020)
Size 11-inch: 9.75 x 7.03 x 0.23 inches

12.9-inch: 11.05 x 8.46 x 0.23 inches

11-inch: 9.75 x 7.03 x 0.23 inches

12.9-inch: 11.05 x 8.46 x 0.23 inches

Weight 11-inch: 1.03 pounds

12.9-inch: 1.39 pounds

11-inch: 1.04 pounds

12.9-inch: 1.41 pounds

Screen size 11 inches, 12.9 inches 11 inches, 12.9 inches
Screen resolution 11-inch: 1668 x 2388

12.9-inch: 2048 x 2732

11-inch: 1668 x 2388

12.9-inch: 2048 x 2732

Operating system iPadOS iPadOS
Storage 64GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
MicroSD card slot No No
Processor Apple A12X Bionic Apple A12Z Bionic
RAM 4GB/6GB 6GB
Camera 12MP rear, 7MP front Dual 12MP, 10MP ultrawide and lidar rear, 7MP front
Video 4K at 60 fps, 720p at 240 fps 4K at 60 fps, 1,080p at 240 fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Ports USB-C USB-C
Fingerprint sensor No No
Water resistance No No
Battery 11-inch: 29.45Wh

12.9-inch: 36.71Wh

11-inch: 28.65Wh

12.9-inch: 36.71Wh

App marketplace Apple App Store Apple App Store
Network support AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon (cellular models only) AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon (cellular models only)
Colors Silver, Space Gray Silver, Space Gray
Price 11-inch: $800+

12.9-inch: $1,000+

11-inch: $800+

12.9-inch: $1,000+

Buy from Amazon (Renewed) Amazon
Review score 4 out of 5 stars 4.5 out of 5 stars

Design, display, and durability

iPad Pro 2020 Widgets
The next-gen iPad could look more like an iPad Pro Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

The 2018 iPad Pro represented a design shift for the iPad, doing away with the home button in favor of an edge-to-edge display and Face ID. As such, Apple didn’t provide us with a massive refresh for the 2020 model. Instead, the only real design change is the camera module. The 2018 iPad Pro offered a single-lens camera, while the new iPad Pro adds a square camera bump similar to that on the iPhone 11 series.

The display on the 2018 iPad models and the 2020 iPad models is exactly the same — but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. They’re not the highest-resolution displays out there, but they look great, and graphic designers and video editors should have no problems with them. Apple’s latest 2021 12.9-inch iPad Pro has upgraded to a new screen using mini-LED and may be a better choice than either of these models if you are primarily interested in display quality.

The iPad is a sleek, thin device, and as such it’s not necessarily the most durable tablet out there. It’s not made of glass, so at least the back of it won’t shatter, but tests consistently show that the device will easily bend under pressure. Safe to say, it’s worth being careful with the iPad Pro.

Winner: Tie

Performance, battery life, and charging

The 2018 iPad Pro offered excellent performance thanks to its ultrapowerful Apple A12X Bionic chip and either 4GB or 6GB of RAM, depending on the model you went for. The 2020 iPad Pro takes things a step further, with the slightly more powerful A12Z Bionic and 6GB of RAM in all models.

Ultimately, while the new model is more powerful, the performance boost seems to be relatively small — so most will still be more than happy with the performance offered by the 2018 iPad Pro. That doesn’t mean they’re even. The A12Z Bionic is quicker. A little.

The battery on the new iPad Pro is technically smaller, but not by much. Apple says that all models will get “10 hours of surfing the web.” They all charge through the USB-C port, but none of the models support wireless charging, if that’s important to you.

The performance upgrades are minor. Yet they do exist, and for that reason, we give Apple’s new model the edge.

Winner: 2020 iPad Pro

Cameras

iPad Pro 2020 Camera
Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

The 2020 iPad Pro’s most meaningful upgrade may well be its new camera features. While the 2018 iPad Pro offered a single-lens 12-megapixel rear-facing camera, the new model offers a 12MP primary lens, a 10MP ultrawide lens, and a lidar sensor. The new sensor can come in handy for augmented reality applications. That may be more helpful for some users than for others, but it’s a clear upgrade that makes sense on the iPad.

For most, the front-facing camera will be more important, and there is no upgrade to be found there. Like the 2018 model, the 2020 model of the iPad Pro offers a 7MP front-facing camera. This puts both tablets on an equal footing, but with the extra ultrawide lens (and the lidar sensor), this is another win for the newer iPad Pro.

Winner: 2020 iPad Pro

Software and updates

iPad Pro 2020 Screen
The 2021 iPad could offer new Mini-LED display tech. Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

The 2018 iPad Pro shipped with iOS 12. However, as with the 2020 iPad Pro, it can be updated to the latest OS, iPadOS 14. iPadOS itself offers a number of features over its close cousin iOS, such as helpful sidebars, the Dock menu, and the new Scribble feature. It also has new compatibility for Apple’s Magic Keyboards that enable trackpad use with a small, bubblelike cursor to help speed up your work on the iPad Pro — and making it a much more viable laptop replacement.

Generally, Apple is good at offering software updates to its devices for several years. It’s possible that the 2020 iPad Pro will get updates further into the future than the 2018 iPad Pro considering it’s newer. On the other hand, the two have very similar performance, so it’s equally probable that Apple will discontinue support for both whenever that happens.

It’s hard to know for sure. Apple has yet to discontinue support for any iPad Pro.

Winner: Tie

Special features

iPad Pro 2020 Slide Over
Slide Over floating apps Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

Both the 2018 iPad Pro and the 2020 iPad Pro offer a range of special features that put them ahead of other iPad models, but the new model doesn’t offer much beyond the older 2018 version. They both feature Face ID, which works no matter which orientation you have your iPad in. They also both support all Apple Pencil models, and thanks to iPadOS 13.4 (and later OS versions), they both have mouse and trackpad support. They even both support the Magic Keyboard accessory, so don’t feel like you need to buy the new model to use that keyboard.

The only feature that the new iPad offers over the previous model is the upgraded camera setup, so if you plan on using your device for AR a lot, you might want that lidar.

Winner: 2020 iPad Pro

Price and availability

Shoppers can get a 2020 iPad Pro from Apple’s website or from most major electronics retailers. For people comfortable shopping online, many of those major retailers also offer online purchasing options. The generic model comes with an 11-inch screen and a 128GB storage capacity at a price tag of around $800. If you have the budget capabilities to stretch to $1,300, there are a few upgrade opportunities. You can buy the 11-inch model with an enhanced 1TB of storage. The 12.9-inch iPad starts at $1,000 for the 128GB model; upgrades can cost up to $1,500 for 1TB of storage.

Currently, retailers have listed the 2018 iPad Pros at the same price as the newer models, but we think that should change pretty soon. Retailers will create their own customized discounts to make space for the new iPads. You likely won’t be able to find the 2018 model directly on Apple’s website, but you shouldn’t have an issue finding it from retailers like Best Buy or Amazon.

Overall winner: 2020 iPad Pro

iPad Pro 2020 Back Hand
Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

While the 2020 iPad Pro’s upgraded features aren’t very different from previous models, its price makes it worth the purchase. Because it’s listed at the same price as outgoing models, you should definitely consider the newer iPad. For the people looking to save a few extra bucks, keep an eye out for promotions and discounts on the older 2018 iPad Pro stock. We generally try to aim for discounts that are at least $150 lower than retail, as that’s equivalent to the best iPad Pro deals we saw during last year’s holiday shopping season.

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