With Each Iteration, The iPad Pro Makes Less Sense

iPad Pro m4

2023 was the first year that Apple Inc. did not release an update to their iPad lineups, breaking a convention that otherwise stood firm since the introduction of the original tablet in 2010. As such, tech enthusiasts around the web were eager to see what the one-year hiatus would mean for the next version of the popular tablet; particularly the highest-end “Pro” models as those were the ones most likely to see the biggest upgrades. Well, the Cupertino company has finally unveiled the new 2024 models of both the “Pro” and “Air” models and a quiet price drop of the base model. So, has the “Pro” finally become a legitimate MacBook replacement with these new upgrades? Well, as has been the case since the model’s inception, the answer remains a resounding, “Not quite.”

More Power, More Problems

As I mentioned in my article from last year wherein I outlined my “wants” and “don’t wants” for a new iPad Pro (then rumoured to be fitted with an M3 chip), power has never been the issue for the iPad Pro. To this day, the M1 chip that powers a now two-generation old model is still far more capable than what most professional users require from their tablets. I say this as someone who used 2017’s 2nd generation 12.9 inch iPad Pro, powered by an ancient A10X chip, all the way up until just a couple of months ago as my primary computer. This tablet was used not only to accomplish basic office tasks, but even demanding ones like photo editing in Lightroom, 4K video editing on Lumafusion, and playing high-end games like The Pathless; performing these tasks without a noticeable hitch in performance.

iPad Pro M2
Apple’s M2 iPad Pros are still plenty powerful for most users. Image: Apple

The M1 is more than twice as fast as the A10x in single-core performance and nearly four times as fast in multi-core performance, according to Geekbench. So if I was able to accomplish all of my demanding workload with a fair amount of ease on a seven-year-old chip, and the M1 is already exponentially faster hence more than enough of an upgrade, what good more would the M4 that’s inside these new “Pro” models offer? One could argue that it’s futureproofing, but that argument falls flat if the future doesn’t fix the essential thing that is bottle-necking the iPad and these ridiculously fast chips.


Though I’d gotten used to the quirks of iPadOS and found workarounds to make my workflow as seamless as possible, the experience was still incredibly janky. From simple tasks like annotating and saving PDF files, to general file management, to a diluted web-browsing experience that was held back due to the WebKit engine that ran every browser, I always felt that my iPad Pro was simply not living up to its potential. Having moved over to a Chromebook a couple of months ago, it’s incredible how even this machine that I’m typing on right now feels more productive and less frustrating to use than my iPad Pro, which even being seven years old is still technically more powerful from a performance standpoint. Sure, iPadOS has come a long way since its introduction in 2019, but it still feels like an afterthought when compared to MacOS.

iPad Ad
“What’s a Computer?” Well, one that can annotate PDFs properly, for one. Image: Apple

Speaking of which, I am not in the camp who says Apple should simply put MacOS on the iPad–that is a terrible idea. iPadOS has to be made with touch, pencil, trackpad, and mouse inputs in mind, all of which no doubt make for engineering challenges. Nevertheless, it’s less about fun animations and cool widgets, and more about allowing for the simple tasks and workflows to perform like you would expect on traditional hardware. Links on webpages not automatically launching their app counterparts, proper text inputs within text fields in PDFs, and many more basic things that users have been pining for ages that I’m sure can work within iPadOS.

Wait, They Cost How Much?!

This sentiment of feeling like an iPad Pro can be so much more than what it is, I imagine, must be worse for anyone with an iPad Pro post-M1. Doubly so for those who had spent egregious amounts of money on the Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil, which when combined with the price of the tablet ends up being more expensive than a MacBook Air. These new M4 models don’t make the case better as their prices have now shot up to start at $999, and that’s only for the 11-inch model. This makes the proposition of an iPad Pro all the more curious seeing as one could buy a MacBook Air alongside a base-model iPad for essentially the same price (when accounting for the iPad Pro accessories) and come out with arguably a more productive and versatile setup.

For as much as I loved using my iPad Pro for all these years, I can’t deny its baffling shortcomings. These new M4 iPad Pros are in many ways technical marvels. From their gorgeous tandem OLED screens, impossibly (and unnecessary) thin design, to their incredible performance that will shred through any task you throw at them. Pair that with the new and improved Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil and you have yourself a really solid product. But a product that still, even after all these years, struggles to have an identity, and whose price is simply too high to justify when Apple offers better and more functional alternatives.

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