Ultra-thin new iPad Pro wields powerful M4 chip and OLED screen

Apple iPad Pro launch 2024

Apple announced a completely overhauled iPad Pro model at its Let Loose event overnight, powered by the brand-new M4 chipset.

Available in 13-inch and 11-inch sizes, the revamped iPad Pro tablets use Ultra Retina XDR displays, which is Apple’s version of OLED. Said to be the “biggest update ever” to the high-end tablet range, they’re thinner too, with the 13-inch model just 5.1mm.

“iPad Pro empowers a broad set of pros and is perfect for anyone who wants the ultimate iPad experience — with its combination of the world’s best displays, extraordinary performance of our latest M-series chips, and advanced accessories — all in a portable design,” said John Ternus, Apple’s senior vice president of Hardware Engineering.

“With the breakthrough Ultra Retina XDR display, the next-level performance of M4, incredible AI capabilities, and support for the all-new Apple Pencil Pro and Magic Keyboard, there’s no device like the new iPad Pro.”

Bigger and brighter screen

Accompanied by the “world’s most advanced display” tagline, Apple made some big claims when announcing the iPad Pro. Described as layering two OLED panels together, Ultra Retina XDR uses each panel’s light to produce a peak brightness of 1,600 nits when viewing HDR content.

Apple Logic Pro iPad 2 update
Image: supplied.

Previous Pro models used Mini LED technology, known for its brightness but not the same level of precision as OLED. This type of display doesn’t rely on backlights, instead illuminating each pixel as required. It’s why OLED screens generally don’t create “blooming”, a halo-like glow where light bleeds across the screen.

As an optional extra, 1TB and 2TB models can be fitted with Nano-texture glass said to reduce glare by scattering light. Different companies are experimenting with anti-glare OLED display technology, like Samsung with its S95D TV, due to OLED’s typically glossy finish.

M4 brings the power

Bypassing last year’s M3 system on a chip (SoC) entirely, the 2024 iPad Pro is Apple’s first device to use its M4 silicon. With more transistors, CPU cores, and Neural Engine performance, it’s much faster than the previous M2-equipped Pro tablet.

Positioning the iPad Pro as a rival to AI PCs, Apple highlighted the device’s machine learning power. In practice, it means more capacity for developers to run local AI models on-device instead of relying on cloud servers.

Apple Pencil Pro launch
Image: Apple.

Plus, big updates to Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro are set to take advantage of the better hardware. For example, Final Cut Pro lets you quickly isolate a subject and remove the background, just by tapping the Scene Removal Mask.

These apps and more also tap into the new Apple Pencil Pro features. With a built-in sensor, it responds to squeezing the barrel, bringing up a quick menu to swap between different tools. Additionally, the Apple Pencil Pro has a gyroscope to recognise when you roll the stylus and adjust the output when drawing.

iPad Pro M4 price and release date

This year’s refresh has also seen a big price jump, pitting the range against mid-range laptops. Starting at $1,699 for the Wi-Fi 11-inch model, the 13-inch version breaks the $2,000 barrier at $2,049 for the base configuration. Available to pre-order now, Apple’s latest premium tablets arrive in Australia on 15 May.

A new device also means new accessories, with Apple announcing a fresh Magic Keyboard and Smart Folio range. The Magic Keyboard now includes a function row and a larger haptic-enabled trackpad. It doesn’t come cheap, though. For the 11-inch iPad Pro, the Magic Keyboard costs $499, while the 13-inch version costs $579. If you don’t need the keyboard functionality, the Smart Folio starts at $129.

Many of the comparisons Apple made revolved around AI PCs and other laptops. Are you ready to replace your laptop with an iPad Pro?

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