Apple’s iPad Pro has always been about bringing tablets closer to laptops, in a bid to cater professional users and satisfy their requirements. Today, Apple announced its 4th Generation iPad Pro, that on one hand further blurs the gaps between tablets and notebooks, but on the other hand uses the key advantage of the former over the latter — portability — to enable new use cases. Among the highlights of the 2020 iPad Pro are its improved camera with a depth sensor (which Apple for describes as a LiDAR module, more on that later), trackpad support (which requires a new keyboard), and faster connectivity.

The new Apple iPad Pro 2020 resemble the company’s previous-generation professional tablets introduced 1.5 years ago: the latest iPad Pros feature the same design with relatively thin bezels, coming in Space Gray or Silver aluminum chassis, and featuring 11-inch (2388×1668) or a 12.9-inch (2732×2048) Retina display with a smooth 120 Hz refresh rate, 600 nits brightness. Since the new tablets use exactly the same chassis as their predecessors, they have the same dimensions, however their weight has increased due to the new internals — 473 grams (1.04 pounds) for the 11-inch Wi-Fi+4G model, and 643 grams (1.41 lbs) for the 12.9-inch Wi-Fi+4G model.

Speaking of architecture, it is necessary to note that the new 4th Generation Apple iPad Pro tablets are based on the A12Z Bionic application processor, a revamped version of the A12X Bionic system-on-chip that powers previous-generation iPad Pros. The new SoC received an eight-cluster GPU (vs. a seven-cluster GPU in case of the A12X), tuned performance controllers, and an enhanced thermal architecture, which might mean higher clocks for eight general-purpose CPU cores. We don't have any more specific information on the A12Z, with the most important question whether this is actually a new design, or just a re-binned variant of the A12X (update: it has since been confirmed to be another A12X bin).

With improved CPU and GPU performance, the 2020 Apple iPad Pro gets closer to advanced notebooks as horsepower provided by the A12Z promises to be similar to that of mainstream x86 CPUs.

In addition to the new SoC, one of key improvements of the new iPad Pro tablets is their new main camera that now features a 12 MP wide camera module, a 10 MP ultrawide camera module, a LED flash, and a 3D depth sensor that can measure the distance to surrounding objects up to 5 meters away both indoors and outdoors.

Apple calls the new module a LiDAR scanner, however we don't know if this actually is an actual LiDAR - the technical definition of a LiDAR is a module that uses an illuminator (Most of the time, a laser, hence the name) and a scanning beam. If Apple has been able to actually include such technology, that would quite a novelty and first in the industry. It's however also possible that Apple is doing a marketing experiment here and the technology behind the sensor would simply be similar to the time-of-flight (ToF) sensors that we've seen from other vendors out in the market for the last year.

A depth sensor can be used to make photos with Bokeh effect, or for various augmented reality (AR) applications, which enhances use cases for Apple’s professional tablets.

On the connectivity side of matters, the new iPad Pros feature a USB Type-C connector, a Wi-Fi 6 chip that supports transfer speeds up to 1.2 Gbps, Bluetooth 5.0, and an optional 4G/LTE modem that now supports up to 30 bands. Apple does not disclose which modem it uses, but it looks like it is going to offer some improvements when compared to the modem used for previous-generation professional tablets from the company.

The fourth key enhancement that the new iPad Pro tablets have over predecessors is not a hardware advance, but rather an iPadOS 13.4 improvement. The new version of the operating system now supports keyboards with trackpads. Apple says that the cursor on iPadOS does not mimic its behavior on macOS, but is optimized for iPad’s realities. Meanwhile, multi-touch gestures are fully supported. The manufacturer says that the addition of a trackpad — which again brings the tablet closer to laptops — is meant to improve performance in applications that require typing, as now users will not have to take their hands off the keyboard to interact with UI. Apple claims that the trackpad works smoothly with existing applications for iPadOS, but developers can further adjust their products to take advantage of multi-touch gestures and other perks that trackpads provide.

The first keyboard for iPad Pro to feature a trackpad is Apple’s own Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro. The unit features backlit keys with a scissor mechanism and a 1 mm travel distance. The keyboard attaches to the tablet magnetically and can be adjusted to a comfortable viewing angle when typing. The device even has charging capabilities with USB-C port to enable a passthrough charging, which allows to connect an external display or a storage device to tablet’s own USB-C interface. In addition to the latest iPad Pros, the new Magic Keyboards for 11-inch and 12.9-inch tablets are fully compatible with previous-generation iPad Pro 11 and iPad Pro 12.9 devices.

Other highlights of the new 2020 iPad Pro tablets include Face ID (enabled by a 7MP TrueDepth camera), compatibility with Apple Pencil, four speakers, five microphones, a three-axis gyro, an accelerometer, an ambient light sensor, and a barometer.

Apple iPad Pro Comparison

  iPad Pro 11"
(2020)
iPad Pro 12.9"
(2020)
iPad Pro 11"
(2018)
iPad Pro 12.9"
(2018)
SoC Apple A12Z
4x Apple Vortex
4x Apple Tempest

8-cluster A12 GPU
Apple A12X
4x Apple Vortex
4x Apple Tempest

7-cluster A12 GPU
(+1 disabled)
Display 11-inch
2388x1668
IPS LCD
DCI-P3, 120Hz
12.9-inch 2732x2048
IPS LCD
DCI-P3, 120Hz
11-inch
2388x1668
IPS LCD
DCI-P3, 120Hz
12.9-inch
2732x2048
IPS LCD
DCI-P3, 120Hz
Dimensions 247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9 mm
471 / 473 grams (WiFi / LTE)
280 x 214.9 x 5.9 mm
641 / 643 grams (WiFi / LTE)
247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9 mm
468 / 468 grams (WiFi / LTE)
280 x 214.9 x 5.9 mm
631 / 633 grams (WiFi / LTE)
RAM ? ? ? ?
NAND 128 GB / 256 GB / 512 GB / 1 TB 64 GB / 256 GB / 512 GB / 1 TB
Battery ? Wh ? Wh 29.37 Wh 36.71 Wh
Front Camera 7MP, f/2.2, Auto HDR, Wide Color Gamut, Retina Flash 7MP, f/2.2, Smart HDR, Wide Color Gamut, Retina Flash
Rear Camera 12MP,  f/1.8, PDAF, wide-angle

10MP, ƒ/2.4 aperture,  ultra-wide-angle 125° FOV

Depth sensor (LiDAR)
Smart HDR
Wide Color Gamut
True Tone Quad-LED flash
12MP,  f/1.8, PDAF,




Smart HDR
Wide Color Gamut
True Tone Quad-LED flash
Cellular 2G / 3G / 4G LTE (30 bands) 2G / 3G / 4G LTE (29 bands)
SIM Size NanoSIM NanoSIM
Wireless Wi-Fi 6 2x2 MIMO,
Bluetooth 5,
GPS/GLONASS
Wi-Fi 5 2x2 MIMO,
Bluetooth 5,
GPS/GLONASS
Connectivity USB-C
Apple Smart Connector
Launch OS iOS 13.4 iOS 12.1
Launch Price Wi-Fi:
$799 (128GB)
$899 (256GB)
$1099 (512GB)
$1299 (1TB)

Wi-Fi + LTE:
$949 (128GB)
$1049(256GB)
$1249 (512GB)
$1449 (1TB)
Wi-Fi:
$999 (128GB)
$1099 (256GB)
$1299 (512GB)
$1499 (1TB)

Wi-Fi + LTE:
$1149 (128GB)
$1249 (256GB)
$1449 (512GB)
$1649 (1TB)
Wi-Fi:
$799 (64GB)
$949 (256GB)
$1149 (512GB)
$1549 (1TB)

Wi-Fi + LTE:
$949 (64GB)
$1099 (256GB)
$1299 (512GB)
$1699 (1TB)
Wi-Fi:
$999 (64GB)
$1149 (256GB)
$1349 (512GB)
$1749 (1TB)

Wi-Fi + LTE:
$1149 (64GB)
$1299 (256GB)
$1499 (512GB)
$1899 (1TB)

Now, time to talk about pricing of the new iPad Pro. Entry level Wi-Fi-only and Wi-Fi+LTE models now feature 128 GB of NAND flash storage, yet carry the same price tags as their predecessors: the cheapest iPad Pro 11-inch comes in at $799, whereas the cheapest iPad Pro 12.9-inch is $999. More advanced SKUs with 256 GB, 512 GB, or 1 TB of storage actually became more affordable than their direct predecessors, as some got $50 cheaper, whereas others lost a rather whopping $250, which will please users with significant storage requirements. The new units are available for pre-order at Apple.com and Apple Store app today with retail availability starting next week.

As far as the price of the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro is concerned, the unit is going to cost $299 for the 11-inch model, $349 for the 12.9-inch model, and will start shipping this May. The addition of this keyboard to a decently configured iPad Pro naturally makes the whole package cost like an entry-level laptop, which, again, blends the difference between the iPad Pro and the MacBook Air.

Related Reading:

Source: Apple

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  • trivik12 - Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - link

    As a tablet Ipad has no competition(for some weird reason Android ecosystem is not even trying). But it would be a lousy laptop as it does not even support full multi tasking plus being limited to only install apps from appstore sounds like a horror.

    I might pick up preview gen 11 pro if its available for sub $500. I think that is a matter of time as refurbished ones are already 549.
    Reply
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  • FactoryOutletStore - Tuesday, June 30, 2020 - link

    I totally agree with you, the price is too high. Reply
  • Speedfriend - Sunday, March 22, 2020 - link

    I got a iPad Pro from work. It is probably the most overpriced and useless Apple product I have ever had, and I have an Apple watch in my drawer! It is not a Pro device, the software is glitchy, with different apps having a different response to keyboard and touch. And this moring I tried to activate my free AppleTV subscription and had to add PayPal as my payment methid and it opened PayPal in German. Then it hung for a few minutes. Took me 3 attempts to do it. Reply
  • AdditionalPylons - Monday, March 23, 2020 - link

    I'm sad to see the state of comments approaching WCCF levels. (I don't have anything against that site otherwise. Especially Hassan writes very nice CPU articles.)

    There will always be people who cannot imagine a tablet ever being called a pro device, let alone used for work.
    If you prefer a laptop that's fine. So do I. But there will also be people who prefer tablets either due to the ease of use of the OS, the touch-focused interface (think drawing and graphic design) or the smaller form factor (notice for example how the depth with keyboard is much shallower than laptops, meaning it is easier to use on trains and airplane tray tables).
    Apple is now moving iPad and laptops closer in every iteration. For me personally, I am starting to consider buying my first ever iPad.
    I'm glad to see Apple upped the RAM to 6 GiB across the board.
    It will also be very interesting to see how new apps become available that can use the LiDAR data. While ToF has been available in some Android devices, with Apple it has the potential to pick up necessary momentum to attract more developers and users.
    Reply
  • Frantisek - Monday, March 23, 2020 - link

    This comment leads me to idea that it was smart move from Apple even number of bad comments here over uselessness and high price. Developers can start adopting new technology now before .....
    If you follow news and rumors you would know that in 6-9 months time frame there will come new generation of iPad Pro probably with Mini LED displays, 5G and of course newer processor, A14 or A13 based and who knows what else besides same camera technology. Maybe more capable LiDAR. It will be powerful device. Apple for sure do not want to sell it for "low" price.
    So now you got updated machine with more bangs for same bucks.
    Question is what will happen to prices. Whether current Pro will stay where it is and new will be 200 or so more or whether current model be say 100 USD discounted.
    Reply
  • Aaron Beach - Friday, March 27, 2020 - link

    Just some perspective:

    I love me mechanical keyboard, my corsair mouse and my 30something screen in the office. But I can run my business entirely from my iPad Pro 10.5 and I have done so for weeks in the past. Also, I can write my books on it in scrivener, give presentations and so on. These are pro use cases and for me, having highly responsive and very fast and stable software is worth a lot of money. I have a macbook pro as well but nothing beats the speed of a capable iOS device like this. I have ordered this new iPad and I am pretty sure it will be worth the money. Again.
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  • jeffrey - Monday, March 30, 2020 - link

    Shouldn't the A12X SoC be listed as having a "7-cluster A12 GPU" in the table? It currently says "8-cluster A12 GPU". Reply

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