A few weeks ago I wrote a post about iPad Pro vs iPad Air 4 because I have wanted to shake up my computing set up for a while. The flop about the March event actually makes me even more excited for the true, one and only April event. All I can say is, Apple delivered above and beyond. There are 3 main product updates: iPad Pro 2021, iMac 24” and the AirTag.
iPad Pro 2021 – tablet market killer
This is official. Apple has shut down all other competitors in the flagship tablet market. Here are the major updates:
1. M1 chip – 8 CPUs, 8 GPUs and 16 neural engines.
With the A12Z bionic chip that was in the iPad Pro 2020 or the A14 in the iPad Air 4, their performance was already head and shoulder above any tablets on the market. This year, while I was fully expecting it to be A14Z that would be a slight improvement on the A14 chip in the iPad Air 4, Apple decided to slap their MacBook Pro processors – M1 chip in it, truly committing to their claim of “your next computer is not a computer”. We will have to wait till sometime in May before we can find out the benchmarks, although I don’t expect the M1 in the iPad Pro will be as powerful as those in the MacBook Pro. Due to the thermal side of things, Apple will most likely have to tune down the wattage of the M1 to fit in the slim body of iPad Pro and maintain the 10 hours battery life.
2. XDR display (mini-LEDs) on 12.9” – peak brightness of 1,600 nits, 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, 2500 local dimming zone.
On the 12.9″ version, Apple put in their new mini-LED display. Although it is still an LCD tech display, the numbers are absolutely mind-bogging. Up to a peak of 1600 nits of brightness, they group the mini-LEDs into 2500 local dimming zone that achieve a 1000000:1 contrast ratio. That is the £4599 Pro Display XDR in the 12.9″ form factor with a starting price of £999.
3. Thunderbolt – supports up to 40Gb/s data transfer.
iPad Pro 2021 is the first-ever tablet that supports Thunderbolt 3 technology. With their insanely fast data transfer speed, you can use it to drive the Pro Display XDR at their full 6K resolution. With their already amazing inbuilt display, it can be the ultimate set up for content creators.
4. Ultra-wide front camera with “Centre Stage”
Having a 125˚ field of view and using machine learning, the new iPad Pro improves the video conferencing experience by keeping the subjects always in the middle of the stage. It also works with people walking in and out of the viewing angle as well. Auto-tracking webcam has been gaining market for the past year when more people are working from home with Zoom meetings turned into everyone’s daily lives. Apple’s integrating the software solution into the new iPad is most welcome.
5. Support 5G in Cellular version
Although 5G technology is still yet to fully mature, Apple for the past year has been emphasising 5G in their new devices so it is no surprise that they integrated it into the iPad Pro. I don’t need it in my own workflow and 5G support here in Northern Ireland is shoddy, to say the least. But if you live in big cities like New York or London and need a mobile network on your iPad, this option will future proof your workflow.
iMac 24” – Old Macintosh Colourway
Apple also renewed their long over-due iMac. Although similar overall dimension, a thinner bezel means a bigger screen. The most impressive though is their 11.5mm thick screen. Let that number sink in for a minute… 11.5mm is about the same thickness as my iPhone X with a case on. Even a 3.5mm headphone jack has a 14mm plug. Apple managed to fit a whole desktop system into an 11.5mm casing thanks to the M1 system-on-chip configuration.
They come in 7 different colour, silver and the same 6 colours on the old Apple logo – Green, Yellow, Orange, Pink, Purple and Blue. To fit with the pastel look, they also changed the bezel from black to white and come with a set of colour matching mouse and a magic keyboard that has the new Touch ID as well. Personally, I am not really sure about the new design. I don’t understand the massive chin thing. Surely they can just make it slightly thicker and get rid of the chin. I understand it is technically impressive and the unboxing would be an amazing experience. But it is a desktop, after all, you are not carrying it around so after a while, who cares if it is 11.5mm or 20mm thin…. I hear people say it is good for office work where people have a place for their post-it notes. But is that it? I mean you have your colleague’s back for that exact purpose too. I guess that’s why I am not in the designing business…
AirTag – perfect add-on to the Apple ecosystem
There were numerous rumours that Apple has been developing their own tracker, AirTag, for some time now. And in this Spring Loaded event, the highly anticipated product is finally announced. Although there are companies already making these type of products, Tile, Chipolo and SmartThings to name a few, you can always bet on the perfect execution and integration from Apple. With the tight integration of the “Find My” network and the Precision Finding feature (available on iPhone 11 or older), it is difficult to ever lose your personal belongings again. And in case they were stolen, the Lost Mode makes tracing the whereabouts of the item possible. With millions of Apple device on the street, any Apple device that came to the close proximity of the lost AirTag, you will receive a “last seen” notification. You can also set it so anyone with an NFC enabled device will be able to get your contact info by tapping it against the AirTag.
In the event, Apple also put out some mid-season refresh such as the purple iPhone 12 and updated the Apple TV to support 4K plus a new remote control. It is indeed a spring-loaded event. Of all the news, I am most excited about the new iPad Pro with its insane processing power and the XDR display. Finally, a tablet that truly honours the “Pro” in the name. With the direction where the iPad Pro is developing, it only makes senses that professional software like the Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro X and Xcode will be supported on the iPad Pro soon. That might be solely my wishful thinking, but if Apple decided to do so, I am sure it will be the final nail in the coffin for all other premium tablets on the market.
And by the way, because of the new announcement, the iPad Pro 2020 is now on sale for £643 on Amazon. If you don’t need all the Pro features and A12Z is good enough for you, save yourself £100 while stock last!