APPLE IPAD PRO 12.9 (5TH GENERATION)
The ultimate big-screen tablet, if you’re prepared to pay the big price – and don’t forget the accessories.
128GB, $1,899 | from apple.com/au
The tablet that defined the whole “Pro” category is back, much the same as 2021’s version but with the addition of the new M2 chip. The result is one of the best – and certainly the fastest – tablets ever made, albeit one that’s going to be too big, too expensive and possibly too powerful for all bar the most demanding.
There’s no doubt about the M2’s performance. The iPad Pro’s Geekbench 5 scores are so far ahead of most other tablets on test that it’s ridiculous, and it’s comfortably faster than the M1-bearing iPad Air as well. It’s the same story in the WebXPRT 4 benchmark, while it’s leagues ahead of all other tablets in 3D benchmarks such as Wild Life Extreme. You’re not just buying great performance and smooth frame rates now, but a tablet that will still be a speed demon in five years.
The XDR screen, complete with adaptive refresh rates of up to 120Hz for a silky feel whether you’re navigating iPadOS or playing a game, is once again a star feature. It’s broadly similar to last year’s iPad Pro, using local dimming zones to deliver the kind of deep blacks and vivid highs that are usually reserved for OLED panels.
This means it can produce a high-contrast HDR image when required, with obvious examples being when watching Dolby Vision HDR video or firing up an image in Affinity Photo. Portions of the screen can hit over 1,500cd/m2 in HDR mode. Even SDR brightness levels can reach 586cd/m2, so you’ll never complain of a dark screen.
The display covers 100 percent of sRGB and 82 percent of DCI-P3, and colour accuracy is phenomenally good, with an average
Delta E of under 0.4. This is a screen you can trust for colour-critical image editing, which is yet another reason for its Pro moniker. And when you do want to relax, the four built-in speakers can put out a warm and punchy sound to match.
The spec remains top-notch elsewhere. You have dual 12MP cameras front and rear, capable of capturing excellent stills and video. The iPad Pro is also the first tablet we’ve seen with Wi-Fi 6E on board, not to mention 40Gbits/sec transfers over either Thunderbolt 4 or USB 4 (both use the USB-C port). You can drive external displays of up to 6K resolutions at a comfortable 60Hz, and it’s never been easier or more useful to do so, thanks to iPadOS 16 (see p89).
To make the most of the iPad Pro you’ll need accessories, particularly the excellent Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil 2. Buying both will increase the price substantially: the Pencil costs $219, the keyboard a further $299. And this is already an expensive device. The $1,899 price at the top of this review is for the base 128GB version, and it’s hard not to be tempted to upgrade to 256GB for an extra $180. And if you want 5G, that’s another $250.
At this point, we need to mention that the 12.9in version of the iPad Pro has a significant 11in sibling. This starts at $1,399, and while we haven’t tested it (Apple is always much keener to send in the 12.9in version), we know that it matches the 12.9in version for specification so we would expect near-identical performance in our tests. Clearly, you lose out on screen size, but with a $500 difference in the price it’s one obvious way to save some cash. “Save” being a relative term here.
Even so, we would lean towards the 12.9in Pro for true power users. No other tablet feels this close to working as a high-performance computer that could cover all your business needs, and part of the reason for this is the significantly larger screen. Perhaps its more obvious rival is the fourth generation of the iPad Pro 12.9, as in truth there isn’t a huge gulf in class between this year’s release and last year’s. And while the 2021 edition isn’t as easy to get hold of (Apple no longer sells it directly), it’s more competitively priced.