iPad Pro 2021 vs iPad Pro 2020: Which is better?

iPad Pro M1 2021 vs iPad Pro A12 2020 Which is better

Last year Apple introduced its in-house processor for Macs and talked about transitioning from Intel to Apple Silicon in 2 years. Though the M1 chip is based on the same ARM architecture as their A-series chips for iPhone and iPad, we did not anticipate the M-series chip coming to iPad. Surprisingly, in its 2021 Spring Event, the next generation of iPad Pro was introduced running on an M1 chip!

Are you excited to buy an iPad Pro but wondering which is the right choice – the 2020 iPad Pro or the new 2021 iPad Pro? Let us dive in, compare both these yearly models side-by-side and help you decide which is better and worth your money.

iPad Pro 2021 vs. iPad Pro 2020: Specifications

SpecsiPad Pro (2020)iPad Pro (2021)
Screen Size11 inch and 12.9 inch11 inch and 12.9 inch
Screen TypeLiquid Retina displayLiquid Retina XDR display (Mini LED) on 12.9-in model
Screen Resolution2732 x 2048 (12.9-in), 2388 x 1668 (11-in)2732 x 2048 (12.9-in), 2388 x 1668 (11-in)
Screen Pixel Density264 ppi264 ppi
Max Screen Brightness600 nits600 nits (typical). 12.9-in version: 1000 nits max full-screen brightness; 1600 nits peak brightness (HDR)
ProcessorA12Z Bionic chipM1 chip
RAM6GB8GB. 16 GB on 1TB and 2TB models
Storage Options128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB
Cellular Options4G LTE5G
PortUSB‑CUSB‑C connector with support for Thunderbolt/USB 4
Rear Cameras12MP Wide and 10MP Ultra Wide cameras12MP Wide and 10MP Ultra Wide cameras
Front Camera7MP12MP with 2x optical zoom out and Center Stage
Video Recording4K up to 60fps4K up to 60fps (with extended dynamic range for video up to 30 fps)
Apple Pencil Support2nd generation2nd generation
Keyboard SupportMagic Keyboard, Smart Keyboard FolioMagic Keyboard, Smart Keyboard Folio
Smart ConnectorYesYes
BiometricFace IDFace ID
Dimensions11-in: 9.74 x 7.02 x 0.23, 12-in: 11.04 x 8.46 x 0.2311-in: 9.74 x 7.02 x 0.23, 12-in: 11.04 x 8.46 x 0.25
Weight (12.9-in)Starts at 641 gramsStarts at 682 grams
Color OptionsSilver, Space GraySilver, Space Gray
Base Price11-in: $799, 12-in: $99911-in: $799, 12-in: $1099

As evident from the above table, you can find some interesting differences. The primary ones being the improvement in processor, cellular connectivity, front camera, storage option, and Thunderbolt/USB 4 support.

Let us talk more about these and answer all your questions regarding the difference between iPad Pro 2021 and 2020.

iPad Pro 2021 vs. iPad Pro 2020: Design

In terms of design, both 2020 and 2021 iPad Pros look the same. However, due to the Mini LED panel on the 2021 model, it is slightly thicker and heavier than its predecessor.

Overall, there is nothing to dislike about the new iPad Pro in terms of design as it is practically the same – thin and gorgeous. The bezels are proportional with just the correct width that makes it possible to hold the tablet. Aluminum construction is rugged and gives a beautiful look.

Design winner: Tie

Design of new iPad Pro 2021

iPad Pro 2021 vs. iPad Pro 2020: Display

The display is what you will look at the whole time. Even the 2020 iPad Pro has a fantastic LED display with around 560 nits of brightness. The 11-inch 2021 model has the same LED screen but offers a higher brightness of up to 600 nits.

However, the 12.9 inch 2021 blows the predecessor by offering up to 1600 nits of max brightness (HDR)! The Mini-LED (Liquid Retina XDR) on the bigger version is touted to be miles ahead of the 2020 model.

In terms of refresh rate, both the 2020 and 2021 iPads have the same 120Hz panel for a buttery-smooth experience.

Display winner: 2021 iPad Pro

Display of new iPad Pro 2021

iPad Pro 2021 vs. iPad Pro 2020: Camera

iPad Pro 2020: It has two back cameras – a 12MP wide-angle and a 10MP ultra-wide. iPad Pro 2020 can record 4K at up to 60fps. In terms of zoom, you have 2x optical and 5x digital zoom. In the front, we have a 7MP TrueDepth camera.

iPad Pro 2021: The latest model on paper has 12MP and 10MP back cameras. However, now it has an improved 125° field of view. Plus, it now features an extended dynamic range for video up to 30 fps. In terms of zoom and video quality, the performance is the same as last year.

One huge improvement has been in the front camera of the 2021 iPad Pro. The 12MP sensor has a 122° field of view with a 2x optical zoom out and the Center Stage feature that pans in and out to keep you centered in the frame.

This means that even if you move around during a video call, the other party sees you perfectly.

FaceTime and third-party video calling apps support Center Stage, making it a great video conferencing device. So, if you use your iPad a lot for calling friends, family, and colleagues, the new model is the one to choose.

Both 2020 and 2021 models have a LiDAR scanner at the back.

Camera winner: 2021 iPad Pro (if front camera matters to you)

Cameras of new iPad Pro 2021

iPad Pro 2021 vs. iPad Pro 2020: Battery Life & Accessories

In terms of battery life, there are no big surprises. The new model touts the same ‘up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi or watching the video’ or ‘up to 9 hours of surfing the web using cellular data network.’

However, one thing to note is that even with the improvement in display and 5G connectivity, having the same appreciable battery life is a good thing.

Both the 2020 and 2021 iPad Pro support the 2nd generation Apple Pencil, the Magic Keyboard, and the Smart Keyboard Folio. All these accessories are sold separately.

Battery life and accessories winner: Tie

Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard of new iPad Pro 2021

iPad Pro 2021 vs. iPad Pro 2020: Connectivity

While the 2020 model has a USB-C connector, the new 2021 iPad Pro boasts Thunderbolt/USB 4 port. This can deliver transfer speeds up to an insane 40Gbps!

The improved port lets you output the iPad at a full 6K resolution to Apple’s Pro Display XDR. This also opens the window for using high‑performance iPad accessories like faster external drives, displays, and docks.

Both the 2020 and 2021 models have the Smart Connector at the back for connecting magically to compatible keyboards, etc.

Connectivity winner: 2021 iPad Pro

iPad Pro 2021 vs. iPad Pro 2020: Performance

When M1 Macs were reviewed, they impressed all. The same exceptional performance is now carried over to the 2021 iPad Pro. The 8‑core CPU, 8‑core GPU, and 16-core Neural Engine blow the competition.

Apple claims to deliver up to 50% faster CPU performance and 40% faster graphics performance. All these ensure that you have a faster experience in heavy intensive works like rendering files and models. It also hints at a better gameplay experience with higher frame rates.

Thus, true to the Apple style, the newer version is superior to its previous version in performance.

Performance winner: 2021 iPad Pro

Performance of new iPad Pro 2021

iPad Pro 2021 vs. iPad Pro 2020: Price

The Wi-Fi-only 11-inch model of the 2021 iPad Pro starts at $799 for the 128GB version. The 12.9-inch Wi-Fi only starts at $1099 for the 128GB version. The cellular base models are $200 more, starting at $999 and $1299.

The Wi-Fi-only 11-inch model of the 2020 iPad Pro starts at $799. However, the base 12.9-inch model is $100 less than the 2021 version and starts at $999.

The maxed-out 2TB version of the 12.9-in 2021 iPad with Wi-Fi is $2199, and the cellular version is $2399. The same for the 11-in model is $1899 and $2099, respectively.

Note: 2020 iPad Pro models are now officially discontinued by Apple. They may only be available in some stores until the stocks last.

Price Winner: 2020 iPad Pro (slightly if you go for the 12.9-inch model)

Price of new iPad Pro 2021 12.9 inch and 11 inch versions

iPad Pro 2021 vs. iPad Pro 2020: Which is right for you?

After looking at the specs and price, it is time to come to a decision. Since there isn’t a huge difference in price, and the features (processor, display, connectivity) have significantly improved, it makes sense to opt for the 2021 version.

Plus, when the dent on your pocket is almost the same, it is always advisable to choose the newer version, which generally has polished the drawbacks of the previous generation and will also be supported for a longer time.

The new iPad will be great for video calling (which you might be doing a lot in these times). Though you might not be venturing outdoors much, the added screen brightness will deliver an immersive movie-watching experience.

Another big thing is RAM. The 2020 version reportedly has 6GB RAM. However, the 2021 iPad Pro has 8GB RAM on 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB storage models and a behemoth 16GB on models with 1TB or 2TB storage.

Considering all these, it is safe to say that if you are a first-time buyer – go for one of the newer and significantly faster 2021 models. They are undoubtedly a better and more sensible purchase option.

However, if you ask, ‘Is iPad Pro 2021 worth upgrading [from the current 2020 iPad Pro],’ the answer is maybe not. Unless you need 2TB storage, breakneck transfer speeds, or your love for the M1 chip overshadows the A12Z Bionic chip; it’s better not to upgrade.

You may also like to read:

Image Source: Apple Newsroom

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