M1 vs M2 Apple Silicon. Current design vs. maybe new design? LCD and Mini-LED vs. All Mini-LED and maybe OLED? Thunderbolt charging vs. maybe MagSafe? Same price… probably… but schedule… uncertainty? And just so much fanfic. So much. If you want an iPad Pro but you’re wondering if you should buy the M1 now or wait for the M2 coming at some point next, I got you.
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In 2018, Apple gave the iPad Pro the biggest redesign… ever. All retro-future chic, Thanos snapping the bezels and curves, and leaving just a whole lot of flat and thin in their wake. It was such a big redesign that Apple kept it for the 2020 and 2021 iPads Pro, and even pushed it down to the 2020 iPad Air and 2021 iPad mini. But after basically 10 years on the old design, would Apple really change it up again after just 4 with the new? And.. maybe? There were some early reports of Apple switching up the full metal jacket on back for something closer akin to the glass on more recent iPhones. At least partially to enable inductive charging, but more on that in a MagSafe minute.
More recently, those reports have been back tracking, citing concerns over the durability of glass that big on an iPad that thin. But if glass was the only big change, that’s less new design and more just new material.
Never say never, but a revolutionary new look just doesn’t sound likely, so if that’s what you’re waiting for, don’t bother. Get the M1 iPad Pro now and enjoy.
But, if you really want to hold to hope, and see if maybe Apple goes back to curves or to the non-retro future, then hold out for the M2 iPad Pro.
Last April, Apple gave us mini-LED on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. But not on the 11-inch. At the time, Apple said it was to keep the wait down on their most mobile of Pros. But my guess, then and now, was to keep costs down on their most affordable of Pros.
This time around, though, mini-LED yield and cost may just have matured enough that Apple’s not just able, but willing, to offer it on the 11-inch as well, and without the price bump that It brought to the 12.9.
So, if you prefer the 11-inch iPad Pro, but you want mini-LED, you should definitely wait for the M2 model.
What about OLED? Well, mini-LED offers almost as good of an HDR or high dynamic range experience as OLED. With deep, inky shadows, and and ever brighter, more blinding highlights. It can have issues with blooming, or a halo around bright on black regions, but it also avoids a lot of OLED’s issues, including burn-in, lack of consistent brightness, pulse width modulation, and off-axis color shifting, to name a few.
Most of those have been overcome on phone sized panels. And TV panels are implemented just completely differently. But on tablet and laptop-sized panels, getting enough LTPO OLED to maintain 120Hz ProMotion, and consistent enough OLED so it doesn’t look splotchy in places… is still a huge challenge.
So, if you want a 12.9-inch iPad Pro just for the display, you can go ahead and get the M1 now.
If you want to wait for OLED, I’m guessing you’ll need to wait for the M3, maybe even the M4.
Last year, Tim Cook mission-impossible’d his way into the Mac lab, liberated an M1 chipset, and single-tweezer-dly transplanted it into an iPad Pro. All, for some reason, to avoid having to call up John Ternus and CEO ordering him to just do it.
It gave a lot of tech heads a good 12 seconds of hope that they’d be getting macOS along with it, but what they were really getting was super-economical way to get the kinda-sorta equivalent of an A14X to replace the A12X and Z that came before it. And juts a ton more RAM to keep a ton more big apps and browser tabs in memory at the same time. Yes, a life almost entirely without jetsam. That’s the iOS process that yotes old processes out of memory to make room for new ones, but… pull out nerd leader, pull out!
Point being, if the next iPad Pro comes any time soon, it should be packing an M2 that’s kinda-sorta equivalent to an A15X. Basically, same IP and architecture as the A15 Bionic in the iPhone 13. So, more efficient performance cores, higher performance efficiency cores, way more powerful, 10 instead of 8 graphics cores, and the junior version of the ProRes engines Apple just brought over to the new MacBook Pros. At least enough to make ultra-light, ultra-high fidelity video editing way better on mobile than its ever been before.
In other words, same 10-hours of battery life Apple seems to have pinned in place for the whole entire iPad lineup, but a whole lot more capability and performance.
Also, iPad Pros already have 5G, but we could see an improvement in terms of Wi-Fi 6E, maybe U1, finally. But there’s nothing to suggest an increase in RAM or SSD this time around.
So, if the M1 is more than enough power for your needs, go ahead and get it now.
But if you want to see Apple squeeze just a little more power into the same size packaging, wait for the M2.
Thanks to the dual Thunderbolt controllers on M1, we got… a single Thunderbolt port on the 2021 iPad Pro. Not gonna lie, I’d have all caps loved two, one one each end, especially if it forced them to finally move the FaceTime camera to the side, and then the Pencil to the bottom and… I swear it’s becoming musical chairs for features already…
But, and would it were not so, I just don’t see M2 changing anything there.
What rumors have suggested, though, is MagSafe. Now, even the type of MagSafe Apple just re-introduced with the new MacBook Pros would be hella cool on an iPad Pro. But I don’t see it working with a Thunderbolt plug, and I don’t see Apple adding a second port just for MagSafe. Again, much as I would all-caps love it. Unless… maybe… there’s some smart connector combo pogo pin play to be had?
But either way, anyway, it sounds more like iPhone style MagSafe, which is less magnet + pin and more magnet + inductive charging. The kind the Apple Pencil is already doing from the iPad Pro, but reverse reversed, so the iPad Pro could do it from a Qi or, yeah, iPhone style MagSafe charger.
Now, it’s really hard to do that through metal, which is why the iPhone switched back to glass when it got it’s Qi on. But if the iPad Pro isn’t going glass for the first time, at least the Apple logo might be? That would not only provide a window for the inductive charging coils, it would provide a big ass visual target for the MagSafe disk as well.
How important magnetic inductive charging on an iPad Pro is to anyone — to you — I’m super beyond curious to find out. If Apple’s really working on a next-generation wireless data transfer protocol, then maybe it suddenly becomes way, way more compelling. But that’s all just fanfic for now.
So, if Thunderbolt is fine for you, the M1 iPad Pro will be more than fine.
But if you really, really want you some MagSafe, you’ll have to wait and see if the M2 can deliver it.
2021 kept the iPad Pro on a dual rear camera plus LiDAR system on the back, but added a wider angle and Center Stage smart framing system on the front. And.. it’s hard to see a 2022 update offering much more than that.
M2 will bring a new image signal processor, which is always good. And it might even bring Cinematic Mode to the wide angle and Macro to the ultra-wide, which would be legit fantastic. But unless Apple fundamentally changes their strategy, there’s just no way it’ll bring a full on iPhone 13 class, much less iPhone 14 enhanced, camera system to the iPad Pro. Much as I — and I think any pro who loves a huge viewport — may truly, deeply, wish otherwise.
So, if camera is what you care about, you’ll probably be just fine with the M1
But if you’re camera curious about what Apple may just offer next, by all means, wait for the M2.
The original Apple Pencil debuted in the fall of 2015. Apple Pencil 2 in the fall of 2018. Apple Pencil 3… we’re still waiting on. There have been rumors, but they’ve mostly been around finishes and colors, not functionality.
The magic keyboard debuted in the spring of 2020 and was tweaked slightly in the spring of 2021. Would Apple release — could Apple release — a new Pencil and Keyboard that break compatibility with older models and only work on the latest greatest? I mean, of course, it’s Apple!
But if the Apple Pencil 2 and current Magic Keyboard seem good to you, than the M1 iPad Pro is already a go
If you’re hoping for a different form factor or an escape key, then you may want to wait and roll the dice on M2.
Apple held the line on iPad Pro 11-inch pricing last year, but increased 12.9-inch pricing by $100 to help pay down mini-LED and M1. I don’t see them spiking the 11-inch this time, because it would ruin the “Starting at…” price. But there might be a chance the 12.9-inch price could come back down… if mini-LED has been paid down.
When is a bigger question. Apple introduced the iPad Pro in the fall of 2015, and updated it in the summer of 2017, fall of 2018, spring of 2020, and spring of 2021. So, mostly every 18 months, with last year being the big 12-month exception.
If that exception is the new rule, we could see the new iPad Pro as early as this April. If it was the exception that proves the rule, then maybe not until June or October.
Reports are currently saying new A15 iPad Air is spring, with M2 coming in the second half of the year.
So, if that’s too long for your, grab an M1 iPad Pro now.
If time is no object, then get comfy waiting for M2.