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Apple iPad Pro (M4) hands-on: Insanely high-end, remarkably thin

By Kenny Yeo - 11 May 2024

Apple iPad Pro (M4) hands-on: Insanely high-end, remarkably thin

Note: This feature was first published on 8 May 2024.

Apple's flagship tablet gets a nicer display, more performance, and is thinner than ever.

Nothing is a secret these days. The rumours were mostly right. Apple’s latest flagship tablets now have OLED displays, the M4 chip, and a slimmer design. You can read more about what’s new here, I’m here to tell you how they look and feel in person.

@hwztech A closer look at the new iPad Pro with Ultra Retina XDR display. The display is gorgeous. #hwz #hwzsg #ipadpro2024 #ultraretinaxdr ♬ original sound - HardwareZone

The first thing that strikes you about the new iPad Pro is its gorgeous new display. Apple calls it Ultra Retina XDR and it uses tandem OLED technology, which stacks two OLED panels for greater brightness and richer colours. The end result is the most jaw-dropping display I’ve seen on a tablet. I think it’s a noticeable step up from the last iPad Pro’s already great Liquid Retina XDR display. The blacks, in particular, are inky black. And the vividness and richness of colours are also stunning.

Two sizes are available and 11 and 13-inch. Both have Ultra Retina XDR displays.

One nice thing is that both models now have the same display. Previously, only the larger iPad Pro had the Liquid Retina XDR display which uses a mini-LED panel, while the smaller 11-inch model had to make do with a regular LCD display.

The second thing you’ll notice about the new iPad Pro is how thin they are. The smaller 11-inch model is just 5.3mm, while the larger 13-inch model is even thinner at 5.1mm. In my hands, they feel almost impossibly thin. While their svelteness is unquestionably impressive, I do have concerns about durability. I guess we’ll have to wait until these products get out in the hands of users to know for sure. Like any other iPad, the new iPad Pros have irreproachable build quality. The chassis may be 100% recycled aluminium, but you’ll never tell. They look and feel like high-end items.

The 13-inch iPad Pro is only 5.1mm. That's 3mm or 36% thinner than the iPhone 15. The USB-C port supports Thunderbolt 3 and USB4.

If there was anything the new iPad Pro didn’t need was more performance, but the latest models are now powered by the M4 chip. I didn’t think Apple would announce a new chip this soon. At any rate, the M4 chip is crucial to these new tablets because it has a special display engine that controls the new display. On top of that, it promises the usual improvements in CPU, GPU, and machine-learning performance.

The last point is important given the current craze around all things AI. In the M4 is Apple’s latest Neural Engine, which it claims is capable of 38 trillion operations per second. To give this number some perspective, this means the M4’s Neural Engine is over twice as fast as the M3’s. 

The amount of storage determines the number of CPU cores your iPad Pro will have.

Can I tell if the new iPad Pro is faster? In my short time with it, I’m afraid I couldn’t. Browsing photos, surfing the web, and using apps like Freeform and Procreate felt really smooth, but the same could also be said of the last generation iPad Pro. I don’t doubt the M4 chip is more powerful, but I wonder how many users can really take advantage of its additional performance. 

But improved performance aside, the M4 is critical to the iPad Pro because of its impressive performance per watt which enabled Apple to make it this thin. According to Apple, the M4 chip delivers the same performance as the M2 chip while using just half the power. This enabled Apple to further reduce the thickness of the iPad Pro.

I also had a quick go at the new Magic Keyboard and it feels great, as they should be because prices start at a whopping S$449.

One thing to note about performance is that it will vary slightly depending on the amount of storage your iPad Pro has. The 256GB and 512GB models will have M4 chips that have 9 CPU cores and 8GB of memory, while the 1TB and 2TB will have chips that have 10 CPU cores and 16GB of memory. I don't think the additional CPU core is going to make a huge difference but it's something you ought to take note. 

I’ve long maintained that the iPad Pros were the most stunning hardware that Apple makes and the newest models reinforce that thought. These new tablets have beautiful displays, remarkable build quality and thinness, and even better performance. Objectively, they are better tablets than the ones they replace. But do you really need a tablet with such ridiculously overkill specs? I’ll need more time with them to give you a definitive answer. 

Pricing and availability

The new iPad Pros are available to order now and will be available in retail on 15 May 2024. Prices start at S$1,499 for the 11-inch model and S$1,999 for the 13-inch model.

You can order the new iPad Pro on Lazada, Shopee, and the Apple Online Store.

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