IS SMALLER, BETTER?! Which M1 iPad Pro Should You Get?

If you watch my M1 iPad Pro first impression video you know how excited I was about this new iPad. And three of the questions that I kept getting in the comment sections were, is the display on a 12.9 inch iPad Pro version that much better? Does the extra RAM really matter? And which one should I get?

In previous years it was easier because pretty much everything was the same except for the size. But now we have the display size and the display type. We also have to choose between storage sizes which impact how much RAM we get. So let’s break this down and talk about the real life implications of each component. And then I’ll help you choose the right iPad Pro for your needs.

Now, both models of the 2021 iPad Pro received a number of upgrades over their 2020 counterparts.

First, we’re seeing the M1 chip which is the same chip that apple used in the MacBook Air, the MacBook Pro the Mac Mini and the new iMac. We’re getting an eight core CPU and eight core GPU and then either eight or 16 gigs of RAM. Now, unlike with a laptop and desktops, you can’t grade the RAM independently of the storage size. So if you buy one of these iPads with 128, 256, or 512 gigs of internal storage then it comes with eight gigs of RAM. If you get one or two terabytes of internal storage then you’re bumped up to 16 gigs of Ram. Now, we can have a separate discussion about whether you actually need 16 gigs of RAM, or let’s just say whether you would actually maximize performance by having 16 gigs of RAM. And for me the real life question might be something like, well I was thinking of getting the 512 gigs version, is it worth saying meaning the extra $400 to move up to the one terabyte model? Let me say this for the vast the majority of users this isn’t necessarily a great value if you don’t need the additional internal storage.

We already know that least for now there is a five gigabyte iPad OS limitation on how much RAM a single app can use.

And if you’ve used an iPad Pro until now then at the very best, you’ve had six gigs of RAM. So that’s a 3,300 increase, even if you just go to eight gigs. Now, assuming this limitation is taken care of with a future iPad OS update, we’re still looking at fairly specific use cases where users will see enough of a real life imProvement to justify 400 bucks. Now, those users are very likely to already know that they need it. So if you’re a casual user, you’re unlikely to get a significant benefit.

Another update is the upgrade of the charging port to a thunderbolts/USB 4 port. Now this will allow for faster data transfer reported up to 40 gigabits per second. Then for things like higher resolution external displays like the Pro display, XDR at 6K.

This is a feature that’s available on both new models. And I think it’s more of a nice to have than a critical upgrade for most users.

Now, a few other upgrades that we saw are 5G for faster speeds, a new FaceTime camera with a 12 megapixel resolution versus the seven megapixel camera on the 2020 iPad Pro. And this new camera also comes with a new feature called Center Stage where he ultra camera can track a subject and then zoom in and out to keep them framed Properly as they move through the frame.

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This is actually a pretty cool feature to see in real life. And it works really well with things like FaceTime and Zoom. I do hope that they implement it with the actual camera app so that you can use it to film yourself.

And as far as accessories, as long as you don’t use a screen Protector both iPads are still compatible with the previous magic keyboard models. If you add a screen Protector and you’re using the 12.9 inch M1 iPad Pro, then apple recommends that you get the new magic keyboard which accommodates for the slightly thicker form factor. And this has to do with the new display which we’ll get to in a minute. And both iPads are compatible with the second generation Apple Pencil which pairs and charges wireless. So again, there’s not a difference there. And that brings us to the display. Well, let’s start with the display type and then get to size because there are important considerations with both when choosing between these two iPads.

The 11 inch iPad Pro uses the same liquid retina display that we saw in the 2020 model. The 12.9 inch iPad Pro uses a mini LED liquid retina XDR display which Provides deeper black levels and a higher contrast ratio when viewing HDR content. Now, unlike with OLED displays where light can be controlled on a pixel by pixel basis, LCD which is essentially LED illuminated LCD use the LCD to create the image and then the LEDs to backlight. Now a mini LED display is designed to bring an LCD display closer to OLED display in terms of that finite control.

So essentially rather than the traditional backlight system it uses 10,000 very small LED backlights which results in substantially superior local dimming. So for example, the previous iPad had 72 LEDs.

Now to picture this, envision a lower resolution lighting panel behind the actual display, where the software splits that 10,000 mini LEDs into 2,596 local dimming zone. And these smaller dimming zones are important because they help with backlight bleed and they allow for darker black areas, higher contrast ratio and a brighter panel, all of which are excellent for HDR content. And this is not just a theoretical advantage like you’ll immediately be able to tell the difference. So for example, if you’re watching a 16 by nine movie on the 11 inch iPad Pro, the black bars on the top and the bottom won’t quite be black because you’ll see some of the light coming through.

With the 12.9 inch iPad Pro, those bars virtually disappear into the black bezels. And if you’re watching HDR content, you’ll also notice more contrast, basically it all means that you’re gonna get better image quality. And it’s definitely the display that I would choose, especially as more and more content is offered in HDR. I had the 2020 iPad Pro right next to the 2021 iPad Pro while I was testing them. And I had the same HDR movie playing on both. So Christie happened to walk into my office and asked what I was doing. I told her that I was just comparing the two displays to see if I can tell the difference. So with no prompt at all from me, her first question was, well are they both at the same brightness level? Because that one, she’s pointing at the new one looks a lot brighter. Then she says that it looks like there was more contrast and that that one, again pointing to the new one, definitely looks better.

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So here’s someone who doesn’t really care about tech, at least not in the same nerdy way that I do who’s very quickly able to see the difference. Now, when I switched to SDR content the major noticeable difference was the darker black areas. And if you’ve gotten value from this video, give it a thumbs up, it lets me know what kind of content you like so that I can make more of it. And I still see that over 90% of you are new viewers, so hit that subscribe button.

Now, there has been a lot of talk about blooming on the new mini LED iPad Pro. And I don’t really wanna get into it in this video, I already made a dedicated video talking about what I think and then showing examples under different conditions. So if you’re interested, I’ll link to that video at the end of this one. Now putting aside the type of the display, let’s talk about the size. And this comes down to your needs and personal preference. Like for some people bigger is better. Maybe you just want a bigger display to watch content. I mean, it is just nicer to have a bigger image. If you’re surfing the web, everything looks bigger, you can fit more on the screen at once. And a higher resolution means that you don’t have to scroll as much. This is also true for working with documents and that added real estate is definitely a bonus when multitasking with split view or with slide over windows.

Now I know that a lot of artists like the larger display because it’s just more comfortable to work with and I know that.

Personally, I prefer this bigger display for photo and video editing because my timeline is bigger and so is just the rest of the interface. Now the downside of course, is that it’s a bigger and heavier tablet and therefore it’s less portable. And some users just like the smaller 11 inch model. You’re still getting the same incredible processing power, all the upgrades in the camera system, the new Thunderbolt port, you still have the same fantastic speaker system, all in a smaller and more portable device. Ultimately both are incredibly powerful devices and they have the highest maximum internal storage on any iPad at two terabytes. If you want Apple’s latest display, then you’ll need to go with the 12.9 inch M1 iPad Pro for an additional 300 bucks. After that, it comes down to processing power versus size.

If you still want the M1 chip, you want that amazing processing power and you don’t really care about the latest display, then go ahead and pick the 11 inch M1 iPad Pro.

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It’s every bit as powerful and it has all the same features. Now, if you’re willing to forego the latest display and you don’t quite need as much processing power then I would check out the 2020 iPad Pro, even the 2018, they are plenty powerful for the majority of users and you’ll save a bunch of money. If you’re not sure that you even need an iPad Pro, I would definitely check out the iPad Air 4, it’s an absolutely fantastic iPad. And I just published my long-term six month review. Remember that I have links in the description to all the Products that I talked about.

Hopefully this video was helpful. Click on my face to subscribe and then watch one of these videos.

Now what I always say, buy nice or buy twice. Good luck and see you..

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