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Apple debuts iPad Pro with high-powered M1 chip, high-end display

Daniel Howley
·Technology Editor
·3-min read
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Apple (AAPL) unveiled its newest line of iPad Pros during a special virtual event held at its Cupertino, California, headquarters on Tuesday, April 20. The new iPads, which come in the same 11-inch and 12.9-inch sizes as their predecessors, are the first to be powered by Apple's custom M1 chips, the same found in its Mac line of laptops and desktops.

Both are available for pre-order April 30 with the 11-inch model starting at $799 and the 12.9-inch version priced at $1,099.

Apple's new iPad Pros get the company's high-end M1 chip and a new XDR display. (Image: Apple)
Apple's new iPad Pros get the company's high-end M1 chip and a new XDR display. (Image: Apple)

Apple says the new processors make the iPad Pro 50% more powerful than the last generation iPad Pro, and 75 times faster than the first iPad. The company says the iPad's storage has also been upgraded to be two times faster than last year's model.

Also on Tuesday, Apple unveiled an incredibly thin iMac, an AirTag device that makes it easier to track lost items like keys, and a new Apple TV 4K.

A new kind of display technology

The larger iPad Pro also gets a new kind of display technology called Liquid Retina XDR with a bonkers 1 million to 1 contrast ratio, meaning it is capable of incredibly vibrant colors and deep blacks. To power the new panel, Apple uses an array of mini LEDs that are 120x smaller in volume than previous LED designs used in the iPad Pro. The company says each iPad Pro 12.9 inch now has 10,000 mini-LEDs, compared with the 72 LEDs found in last year's iPad Pro.

Apple unveiled a new iPad at its April 20, 2021 event.
Apple unveiled a new iPad at its April 20, 2021 event.

The tablet also gets its own display dimming zones to let the LEDs function independently in different areas of the screen and prevent light bleed, creating a far better viewing experience. This is the kind of technology you'll find on big-screen 4K TVs.

Apple has also added Thunderbolt compatibility to the Pro's USB-C port, which means you'll be able to connect a secondary display to the iPad with resolutions as high as 6K, as long as you have the right cable. Regular USB C cables will still work to power the tablet, but to get those high-end transfer speeds you'll need a Thunderbolt cable.

As far as connectivity, Apple has added 5G cellular connectivity to the iPad Pro in both ultra-high speed millimeter wave 5G and mid-range 5G variants.

The latest iPad Pros also get a new 12-megapixel front-facing camera with a 128-degree field of view. The camera also enables a new feature called Center Stage that allows the camera to follow you as you move around your room.

The iPad line has benefited from the work-from-home and remote learning trends started by the pandemic. For its full year 2020 sales, Apple's iPad line generated $23.7 billion of the company's $274 billion in revenue. That's up from $21.2 billion on $260 billion of revenue in 2019. For Q1 2021, the company reported $8.4 billion in iPad revenue, up from $5.9 billion in Q1 2020.

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Got a tip? Email Daniel Howley at dhowley@yahoofinance.com over via encrypted mail at danielphowley@protonmail.com, and follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.

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