Apple iPad Pro goes slim and light with AI in sight

Slimmer, AI-ready, and with new, vibrant display tech to boot.

by Justin Choo

Apple has moved the bar again with the new iPad Pro, marking a significant upgrade over its predecessors.

Apple’s new iPad Pro is the thinnest Apple product ever. It also features its most advanced display tech: the new Ultra Retina XDR display. Extreme portability with powerhouse performance? Let’s look at the roll of the tape.

Design and Display: A Stunning Combination

The 11-inch model measures just 5.3 mm in thickness and weighs under 450 grams, while the 13-inch model is even thinner at 5.1 mm and weighs under 590 grams. Apple says that despite the slimmer housing, both iPad Pros maintain the strength of previous designs. Made from 100 per cent recycled aluminium, both are available in silver and space black finishes.

The new iPad Pro’s centrepiece is its breakthrough Ultra Retina XDR display, which utilises tandem OLED tech to drop-kick your eyes with a full-screen brightness of 1000 nits for SDR content and 1600 nits peak brightness for HDR content— crazy for a tablet. The display’s extreme dynamic range and sub-millisecond precision in the pixel colour and luminance take clarity and detail to new heights.

Performance: The Power of M4

Apple’s M4 SoC represents a significant leap forward in performance and power efficiency for the iPad Pro, thanks to the cutting-edge 3-nanometer process that continues the meta of achieving exceptional speed and power while still extending battery life. Built around an up to 10-core CPU with a balanced mix of performance and efficiency cores, the new SoC boasts improved branch prediction and wider processing engines, resulting in a 1.5x CPU performance boost over the M2 chip from the previous iPad Pro.

The M4’s GPU receives Dynamic Caching to maximise performance, while hardware-accelerated ray tracing and mesh shading allows for more realistic graphics and complex rendering in games and demanding 3D applications. The Neural Engine has also been updated and optimised for advanced AI workloads, improving iPadOS features like Live Captions and complex app workflows.

An enhanced Media Engine enables smooth, power-efficient video streaming through hardware acceleration for the AV1 codec. At the same time, a brand new display engine optimises the stunning Ultra Retina XDR display for incredible colour accuracy, brightness, and overall visual performance.

Advanced Accessories and AI Capabilities

The iPad Pro also gets a new Apple Pencil Pro and a redesigned Magic Keyboard. The new pencil introduces new interactions, such as a squeeze sensor and custom haptic feedback, making the experience more tactile. Meanwhile, the Magic Keyboard, now thinner and lighter, offers a laptop-like experience with its floating design and integrated trackpad.

Apple is not above the AI bandwagon — AI capabilities are a standout feature of the new iPad Pro, with the M4 chip’s powerful 16-core Neural Engine capable of performing 38 trillion operations per second (TOPS). They will be the first machines on the market almost to meet the requirements of a “true AI PC”, which is 40TOPS. The Qualcomm X Elite and X Plus, which are capable of delivering 45TOPS, have been announced for a mid-year release, but the iPad In any case, this makes the iPad Pro an ideal platform for professional applications like Final Cut Pro, where users can perform AI-enabled tasks such as isolating a subject from its background with a single tap and do it rather quickly.

The hardware on the new iPad Pro represents a monumental leap forward in Apple’s quest to shape the ultimate tablet experience. Its 38 TOPS Neural Engine is currently unmatched (until June, at least) in a market that seems intent on embarking on an ‘AI-PC’ arms race. Alongside the ultra-thin form factor, Ultra Retina XDR display, and a new Apple Pencil Pro, the iPad Pro solidifies its position as the premier tablet for those who want only the best performance and portability.