Apple iPad Pro 11 review

More power to the pros

₹ 2,21,700

(as tested)

Not ever have I heard any of my “prosumer” or professional complaining about slow rendering or export speeds on an iPad Pro. With every generation, it has outperformed the apps that were meant to be made for it. Apple has always kept enough headroom in the iPad Pro to outlast the user and yet, with every year, we expect the clockwork-like spec bump to newer processors and better screens. On cue then, for 2024, the iPad Pro gets its first-ever OLED screen and a mighty processor that makes its debut with the iPad Pro and will be permeating to the rest of the MacBook range soon. Sizes remain at 11in and 13in, but with the higher storage variants, you get the option of an anti-reflective nano-textured glass and by default you get an additional performance core in the SoC along with double the memory. Pushing the boundaries of what’s possible on a portable device, this is Apple’s strongest flex yet when it comes to packaging processing power.

Apple iPad Pro 11 review: Design

Place an iPhone 15 Pro next to the new iPad Pro and the iPhone looks decidedly plump. Apple claims it’s even thinner than the iPod Nano, making it the slimmest product they’ve ever made! At 5.1mm for the 13in model and 5.3mm for the 11in, Apple may have attracted the wrath of the twitterati with its interpretation of compressing creativity, but there’s no denying that they’ve also done the seemingly impossible. Made a larger display model thinner than the smaller display and get closer to its original vision of making iPad a “magical sheet of glass”. Regardless of screen size though, it’s the M4 silicon inside both of them that unlocks a lot of the performance upgrades that the new iPad Pro boasts off. Most notably, the realisation of a double-stacked OLED panel that Apple calls Tandem OLED, which wouldn’t have been possible without the new display engine in the M4. The custom-made display tech is capable of an incredible 1000nits of full-screen brightness and 1600nits peak, enough to earn it the Ultra Retina XDR moniker.

We would’ve liked to witness thinner bezels, but the current ones are practical, regardless of which orientation you hold it in (without the case or keyboard). Speaking of, the FaceTime camera finally settles into a more natural position, which is along the longer edge, making landscape video calls more eye-contact friendly. Considering a vast majority of users will be ponying up for the Magic Keyboard, this couldn’t have come any sooner. Apple’s also thrown in its Centre Stage trickery that uses AI to detect your movement and “follows” your face. Around the back, the ultrawide cam gets deleted but LiDAR and a new adaptive true tone flash are still present and typically, all you’ll need. It’s been optimised to scan documents and aid in AI-related features that will be making their way into iPadOS soon.

A big visual cue to differentiate the new gen from the previous one is the aluminum Magic Keyboard which now has a bigger trackpad, an additional function row of keys and crucially, is lighter. It completes the iPad Pro experience for most people in a way that gets closest to a laptop. And let’s not get started on the MacOS vs iPadOS debate; Apple isn’t about to marry the two anytime soon, get used to it and the change in workflow it dictates. Of course, there are upsides to it too and the biggest one is the touchscreen experience and to keep up with the enhanced apps, there is the new Pencil Pro. Featuring a new pressure-sensitive barrel with haptics, it now gets a squeeze function that brings up tools along with haptic feedback that feels ultra-realistic. If your fingers like freestyling, the barrel roll also lets you move the Pencil nib around like a paintbrush for broader or thinner strokes and with the low-latency and perfect weight distribution, it feels pretty phenomenal. The only downside is you’ll be made aware of your lack of sketching skills very quickly.

Apple iPad Pro 11 review: Performance

Having been iPad users for more than a decade now, we’ve never felt the need for more power, but the promise of incoming AI on iPadOS changes everything. During the launch event, we even got a teaser of the Logic Pro optimised for the iPad and boy does it make a strong case for AI. Stem splitter magically breaks up any song you import into a drum, guitar, bass and vocal track with freaky control over each instrument and also preserving the original reverb in the vocal track! Alternatively, even if you just have a vocal track, Logic Pro provides you AI session players that you control. Parameters from intensity and complexity of playing to even “humanizing” for a looser hand can be controlled and with producer packs and a mastering assistant, you could create a single without playing a single instrument and publish it from your bedroom before breakfast. Yes, it’s cooler to make music during the witching hour.

As expected, the Geekbench scores for single core are through the roof and far outshine anything Intel or Qualcomm make currently, but as always, Apple is more concerned with the performance per watt figures and the extremely high efficiency of the M4 chip is what still can power the iPad Pro through its 10-hour work life. No matter how hard we drove it with video editing, colour grading in Lightroom, consuming OTT content via its built-in speakers or just everyday tasks like email, surfing, music and chatting, it did not give up on us through the entire day. For the most part, you will not really feel any difference between the previous gen M2 and this M4 chip, let alone the 16GB memory and 1 additional performance core of the 1TB model. As regular users of VN video editor, export time for a one-minute HDR clip was a couple of seconds down on the M2 at best, so it won’t exactly set your loins on fire, but it’s also evident that Apple has packed in a lot of additional headroom into this processor to really put the GPU and NPU through their paces when AI finally lands on its shores. Ray Tracing comes to the iPad with the M4 and along with mesh shading, it makes the iPad a true gaming powerhouse. The catalogue of games that support this is thin but expect more announcements soon.

Of course, you can’t look at the iPad Pro without looking at the gorgeous OLED screen and the way the bezels simply disappear into the black borders when you’re watching Netflix with 16:9 content. But it’s when viewing and editing photos that it really flexes its tandem OLED displays. A picture of an outdoor setting with bright sun is faithfully reproduced with enough luminosity to make your eyes squint. You’ll never need to toggle the brightness setting to 100% and that’s when you realise how bright it really is. Even when you think the picture is bright enough to work on and looks realistic enough, you’ve only tapped into 60% of its peak capability. It really is a sight to behold and when coupled with the pixel level back, the result is a truly addictive screen.

Improvements to the Magic Keyboard are minor but tangible enough to bridge the user experience closer to a MacBook Air than ever before. In typical Apple fashion, the glass trackpad haptics are perfectly judged and the additional row of functional keys gives instant access to key controls like brightness, volume, dictation, expose, media controls and search. Admittedly though, the 11in Magic Keyboard does feel a bit cramped compared to the 13in model, but that’s the price you pay for portability. It feels even sturdier than before and the feel of aluminum on the palm rest lends a more premium feel. But prying the keyboard open is going to cause fraying of the edge in no time, we suspect. Apple should’ve designed an indent or tab to make it easier to prop up the keyboard.

No such ergonomic issues with the Pencil Pro, which becomes thicker than the iPad Pro itself now! Even then, it’s never unsettled off its magnetic perch when you rest the iPad flat on any surface. Visually identical to the Pencil 2, it gains new accelerometer and haptic engine to bring it ever so closer to using a real pencil. Well, a real pencil from 2080. Squeeze works beautifully to bring up the tool palette and double pressing it toggles between the drawing tool or eraser. The Hover function is now mated to a software shadow too, so moving it around the length and breadth of the glass emulates the look of paper. Add Barrel Roll and the Pencil Pro becomes a powerful tool for artists and creators who know what they’re doing. But if you have an older gen Pencil, it won’t work with this iPad Pro and even the Pencil Pro is only made for this generation of the iPad. Just Apple things.

Apple iPad Pro 11 review: Verdict

If you’ve picked up the crumbs from this review, it’s evident that the ongoing theme here is, yes you guessed it, AI. It’s hard not to pin hopes on Apple’s next big update to the iPadOS that will help buyers of the M4 iPad Pro realise all the power they have at their fingertips. Be it faster on-device processing or mixed reality experiences, the M4 is ready for everything 2025 can throw at it. For now, it feels like Groundhog Day. The best iPad Apple has ever made. The most powerful iPad Apple has ever made. But, still an iPad. If you have an iPad Pro less than three years old, there’s a very good chance that your  life won’t change much if you upgrade to the M4 iPad Pro. But if you’re like us and you absolutely need to have the best screen, the fastest chip and the lightest design, you shouldn’t wait a minute and get this one.

Stuff Says

Primed and ready for the next generation of iPadOS AI tricks and the thinnest and the best display on any iPad so far.
Good stuff
Bad stuff
  1. Incredibly sleek design is tangible in everyday use

  1. Tandem OLED tech delivers unimaginable real-world brightness

  1. M4 is an overachiever and an engineering feat

  1. Meaningful updates to the keyboard and Pencil

  1. Still a bit landlocked for some specialist apps (no InDesign)

  1. Keyboard case not the handiest to open

  1. Even more expensive than before