iPad Pro 2022 review: Impressive, awkwardly fast and capable

iPad Pro 2022 review: Impressive, awkwardly fast and capable

If you’re an Apple Pencil enthusiast, someone who takes or encodes a lot of photos and videos on an iPad, or someone upgrading from a much older and slower iPad, the new iPad Pro 2022 has a lot going for you. It features a solid CPU/GPU upgrade to what is already the fastest and most capable tablet on the market. But if there was a year to wait for the next Pro model, this would be it.

The iPad Pro sports the same Apple-designed system-on-chip as the latest Macs, the M2. Compared to M1-based iPads or even older A12X and A12Z models, the M2 isn’t a breakthrough upgrade. There’s more speed here, especially for those working in editing, rendering and compiling, but most people won’t feel it – it was already a smooth and fast slab.

There are some great new ideas for managing windows and workflows in iPadOS 16, including Stage Manager, which is exclusive to mid-to-high-end iPads that are mostly on Apple’s newer chips. It’s a nice feature, but it’s not perfected enough yet to be completely useful. And there are a few frustrations inherited from previous models, including the fact that the front camera is on the wrong side for video calls in landscape mode.

Let’s dive into what’s remarkable, new and still impressive about this spec-upgraded model.

Note: We only had access to a 2022 12.9-inch iPad Pro with 1TB of storage for this review. Almost every aspect of the 11-inch model is the same, minus the dimensions, weight and display.

Features

The 2022 iPad Pro has much of the same internal hardware as the 2021 models, including the display, cameras, storage and memory options, microphones and speakers, battery, and a single USB port. -C/Thunderbolt 3. It even retains the Nano-SIM slot despite Apple’s SIM-less approach with the iPhone 14. Put it next to last year’s iPad Pro and you won’t be able to not make much difference until you install a benchmarking app.

Features at a glance: Apple iPad Pro 2022
Filter 2388 × 1668 11-inch or 2732 × 2048 touchscreen (264 PPI)
SE iOS 16.1 (beta)
CPU Apple M2 processor
RAM 8 GB or 16 GB
GPUs Apple M2 graphics processor
Storage 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB
Networking WiFi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, GPS, 5G
Camera 12 MP and 10 MP rear cameras, ToF lidar sensor, 12 MP front camera
Ports 1x Thunderbolt 3/USB-4/USB-C
Cut 9.74 × 7.02 × 0.23 in (247.6 × 178.5 × 5.9 mm) for the 11-inch; 11.04 × 8.46 × 0.23 in (280.6 × 214.9 × 6.4 mm) for the 12.9
lester 1.03 lbs (466g) for 11-inch Wi-Fi, 1.5 lbs (682g) for 12.9-inch Wi-Fi
Battery life “Up to 10 hours” in Wi-Fi
Starting price $799 11-inch, $1,099 12.9-inch
Price as reviewed $2,128 for 12.9-inch with 1TB, Apple Pencil, Magic Keyboard
Other advantages Thunderbolt cable, Face ID

There are some small changes inside the glass and aluminum though.

This iPad Pro is the first Apple product to support Wi-Fi 6E, allowing it to use the smaller range but much less congested 6 GHz spectrum band. If your router supports it, it’s pretty future-proof.

Bluetooth also goes from 5.0 to 5.3 this year. The changes in Bluetooth 5.3 are things like “periodic advertising improvement” and “connection understatement”. If you notice a difference in your pairing and the reliability of your connection, good luck has come your way.

That’s really about it, from an internal perspective, so let’s dig into the biggest marquee upgrade: the M2.

M2: an even more reliable chip

It seemed impossible a few years ago, but now it’s just the reality: the best general-purpose computing platform isn’t just inside all of Apple’s computers; it’s also in the company’s midrange to high-end iPads. Less memory and other small-scale configurations mean your iPad Pro performs about as well as some of the most efficient laptops available today. We saw this when we compared the iPad Pro M1 to a MacBook Air M1 last year: they had almost exactly the same performance and heat output.

Apple suggests that upgrading from the M1 to the M2 in this device offers an 18% increase in CPU speed, 35% increase in GPU speed, and twice the memory bandwidth (50GB/s at 100 GB/s). Both iPad Pro sizes get 8 CPU cores, 10 GPU cores, and 16 Neural cores in their M2 packages. That’s two more GPU cores than the M1 models of the iPad Pro (and Air).

Unsurprisingly, the M2 is faster in many benchmarks, and it certainly performs better if you’re performing GPU-intensive tasks. The M2 puts the iPad even further than any other tablet in terms of performance, but that title was already settled. On a daily basis, you will have a hard time feeling the difference with this new chip. Everything responds quickly, nothing taxes the system, and the battery life is impressive for this kind of fluidity. But you could also say that of the M1.

I subjected the M2 to at least one extended real-world challenge: playing Genshin Impact for a few hours (we suffer for our cover in Ars). At no point did the device stutter or even feel any heat at its center, where the M2 case lives.

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