Apple’s newest iPad Pro is a mature, iterative update of the best iPad you can buy. It’s almost 18 months since Apple updated its iPad Pro (the last release was in May 2021), and clearly Apple saw no reason to change its design—the new version looks identical to the last one, even down to the colors. The biggest news around the latest iPad Pro is the new, highly capable Apple M2 processor that powers it.
This is the same M2 chip released earlier this year in the latest MacBook Pro 13-inch and new-design MacBook Air. Unsurprisingly, it promises extremely good performance, which Apple says is faster than any chip in any other tablet, including its own. Since the Pro iPads are here to ensure the most demanding users have a stutter-free, smooth experience, it makes sense that Apple would install its latest and most effective chip.
Apple upgraded both of its iPad Pro models for 2022, with the 11-inch iPad Pro starting at $799 and the 12.9-inch version starting at $1,099 (this review focuses on the latter). Both have the same story—same design as their predecessors, updated chip inside.
So, do you need the potential power promised by iPad Pro if you don’t have significant performance demands? And what, after way more than a year since the last update, does the iPad Pro offer, anyway? Read on for our iPad Pro 2022 review.
Apple iPad Pro: Technical Specifications
Price From $1,099 | Rear Cameras: 12-megapixel wide, 10-megapixel ultra-wide, LiDAR sensor | Front camera 12-megapixel TrueDepth ultra-wide | Processor: Apple M2 | Display 12.9-inch 2,732 x 2,048 pixels, 264 pixels per inch | Storage: 128 (up to 2TB) | Battery: Up to 10 hours | Dimensions: 11.0 x 8.5 x 0.3 inches | Weight 1.5 pounds
Apple iPad Pro Design: Very Familiar
This is the sixth-generation iPad Pro 12.9-inch, while the 11-inch model, which debuted in October 2018, is now on its fourth generation. Both retain near-identical designs, give or take a camera panel, since fall 2018, when Apple introduced the flat back and front, sharp edges and Face ID TrueDepth camera nestled in the bezel. The 2018 models were the first full-screen iPads with no front-mounted Touch ID button. The iPad Pro was at the forefront of that design shift; now, only the 2021 iPad remains with this button on the front.
The Pro is still the only model in the range with Face ID. It works extremely well. The camera sits in the bezel on the short edge of the iPad Pro, not like the long-side-of-the-tablet mounting found on the just-released iPad (10th Generation). The camera is smart enough to unlock the iPad when you glance at it, whichever way up it is.
The TrueDepth camera system also includes an ultra-wide camera. Together with Apple’s Center Stage software, if you’re on a video conferencing call, your face stays front-and-center however much you fidget and move around.
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro has a much better screen than the 11-inch model because it uses Mini LED backlighting, which Apple calls Liquid Retina XDR and says has over 2,500 local dimming zones. Colors pop from the screen from the second you turn the iPad on and see the Apple logo gleam white on a black background. The display showcases deep contrast levels and bright and breezy colors without verging on over-saturated. Because it’s still an LCD screen, it can be bright—up to 1,000 nits or 1,600 nits for HDR content.
Of note, the 11-inch iPad Pro’s screen, though good, can only manage 600 nits—alone enough of a difference to warrant the larger iPad. And once you’ve used the 12.9-inch screen, going back to a smaller tablet can feel cramped, whereas the 12.9-inch screen feels like it’s big enough for anything.
XDR backlighting aside, almost everything else (apart from the size, weight and price) is identical between the two iPads Pro—including performance, cameras and battery life. This makes it very easy to choose your iPad Pro based on what fits your hand or budget.
The iPad Pro starts at 128GB, with multiple storage options up to 2TB—enough for the most demanding user. On a powerful tablet like this, 128GB seems like too little memory for 2022, especially if you do anything with images and videos on your tablet. Since Apple’s tablets lack any user-expandable storage options, consider your usage plans and upgrade storage before you buy.
While the new tenth-generation iPad gets an updated Bluetooth keyboard design in the Apple Magic Keyboard Folio (with an extra row of function keys and adjustable kickstand), the iPad Pro 2022 models only have the older-style Magic Keyboard. I didn’t find that to be a significant loss: The existing Magic Keyboard is easy to type on thanks to its 1mm key travel, and it has a major bonus with backlit keys, which I feel makes it the better of the two.
Apple iPad Pro Inputs: Apple Pencil Gets More Useful
The Pro tablets use the second-generation Apple Pencil, the one that clings magnetically to the side of the tablet to pair and charge. It’s a slick stylus with plenty of features, and for the iPad Pro it now has one more: hover.
As you move the Pencil towards the iPad Pro display, it previews where your Pencil will land ahead of time. This means that by the time you actually tap the glass, your touch is that much more precise.
Hover even works as the Pencil approaches an app, for instance, swelling gently to let you know you’re in the right place. Apple says the new system recognizes the Pencil when it’s as much as 12 millimeters away.
Apple iPad Pro Cameras: Better Imaging And AR
The cameras on the iPad have really improved over the years, and here there are two cameras, a flash and a LiDAR sensor. The LiDAR is the dead giveaway, revealing that the cameras here are not so much for taking snaps as enabling augmented reality (AR) capabilities.
Apple’s own Measure app is a perfect example of how cameras and silicon smarts can combine to create something useful; in this case a cool-looking, accurate measuring tool. The front camera is great for video calling or recording yourself on camera, and the Magic Keyboard works well to position the camera just so.
Apple iPad Pro Performance: Better All Around
The new iPad Pro champions Apple’s latest iPadOS 16 feature called Stage Manager, a clever setup for multi-window multitasking. I think this is a brilliant approach to handling multiple open apps at once, and it makes multitasking on the iPad more viable than ever. I found this feature makes multitasking more akin to what I’m used to on a laptop.
It makes it easy to navigate multiple apps quickly and find your way back. Is it as slick as on a Mac? Not quite, but it’s way better than before. It isn’t available on every iPad, but it’s here on the latest 2022 iPad Pro.
While multitasking with Stage Manager is part of the iPad software, it’s the new M2 processor which makes having multiple windows open at once viable. To be honest, this M2 processor is so fast and effective it’s hard to imagine much it can’t do. And that’s the point with the Pro: Right now, it can do everything the most demanding users need—including handling more resource-hungry tasks like video and photo editing.
Apple iPad Pro Verdict: Familiar, But Oh So Powerful
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2022 looks like last year’s model, but it’s way faster and offers the neat upgrade of the hover mode for Apple Pencil. But do you really need all this power if you’re not a demanding user?
It’s a good question. This is definitely the best, most powerful tablet for every user with the most intense needs. As for the rest of us, well, in the course of the next few years as developers ingeniously create new features, there will still be headroom for the iPad Pro to perform at speed. And let’s remember that iPads are famously durable and long-lasting devices.
In other words, you will have a great experience with the most affordable ninth-generation iPad, and an even better one with the new tenth-gen model, which is amazing considering how affordable they are. But if you want the best of the best, the new iPad Pro is unbeatable.