Apple iPad Pro 2021: Price, release date and features

The iPad Pro 2021 features an M1 chip and mini-LED screen – here's everything you need to know

Apple iPad Pro 2021
(Image credit: Apple)

The iPad Pro 2021 has now been unveiled, and it's an absolute beast. If you want to know what's new, as well as the price and release date for the various iPad Pro models, we'll cover everything here.

It's all about the speed – you've got the same Apple M1 chip at its heart that powers the MacBook Pro (M1, 2020), plus a load of other rocket-powered upgrades, including optional 5G connectivity.

Except, it's not all about the speed on the 12.9-inch version, where the screen will be the show-stealer. It's a new mini-LED screen, with better HDR performance than almost any TV that isn't a super-expensive flagship. Is it a huge upgrade of the iPad Pro (2020)? Let's dig in.

And don't forget Apple also announced the iMac (M1, 2021) at this event – and that's one hell of a machine, too.

Apple iPad Pro 2021: Price

The new iPad Pro (2021) 11-inch starts from £749/$749/AU$1,199 with 128GB of storage, or costs £849/$849/AU$1,349 for 256GB, £1,049/$1,049/AU$1,649 for 512GB, £1,399/$2,249/AU$1,349 for 1TB, or £1,749/$1,749/AU$2,849 for 2TB.

Add £150/$150/AU$250 to those prices to include 5G connectivity.

The iPad Pro (2021) 12.9-inch will set you back £999/$999/AU$1,649 for 128GB of storage, or it's £1,099/$1,099/AU$1,799 for 256GB, £1,299/$1,299/AU$2,099 for 512GB, £1,649/$1,649/AU$2,699 for 1TB, or £1,999/$1,999/AU$3,299 for 2TB.

Again, it's an extra £150/$150/AU$250 on top for 5G.

You can browse all your options at Apple's online stores here:

Apple iPad Pro 2021: Release date

The new iPad Pros are available to order on April 30th, and will be released in the "second half of May", which is a surprisingly vague time-frame for the world's most efficient company.

However, between the pandemic and other uncertainties – such as issues with UK customs, which has affected a huge number of tech companies – we can probably understand them playing it by ear in this case.

Apple iPad Pro 2021

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple iPad Pro 2021: Features

The headline for both iPad Pro 2021 sizes is the inclusion of Apple's M1 chip, which is really putting the pro in the name here. Apple says to expect a 50% increase in processing power compared to the previous iPad Pro, and 40% faster GPU performance – that's one hell of a model-on-model increase. The M1 chip will be an eight-core CPU and eight-core GPU model, which is currently the highest-spec that Apple makes.

Additionally, Apple has confirmed that the 128GB, 256GB and 512GB models come with 8GB of RAM, while the 1TB or 2TB models come with 16GB of RAM. That is far more than iPadOS currently need by any measure – we're looking for big things from iPadOS 15 at Apple's WWDC 2021 keynote.

The new processor is paired with storage that's twice as fast, according to Apple, so this thing is just going to fly along even when you're doing ridiculously high-end things you probably wouldn't normally try on an iPad.

The USB-C port also now double as a Thunderbolt port, so you can connect displays up to 6K, or all kinds of ultra-fast accessories.

The cameras have been upgraded too, with the front camera as the especially interesting one. It now has an ultra-wide lens, which means it sees a lot of the room at once… but it'll actually follow you and crop in automatically, so you can shift around and not have to think about being central.

Apple iPad Pro 2021: Screen

The 11-inch iPad Pro (2021) appears to have the same screen as the previous model, which is a sharp 2388x1668 LCD display that reaches 600 nits of brightness, and features up to 120Hz refresh rate.

The 12.9-inch model, however, is a real game-changer. It features a new mini-LED panel, which Apple is calling its Liquid Retina XDR display. The resolution of 2732x2048 is unchanged, but there are now 10,000(ish) tiny LEDs lighting it, offering brightness of up to 1,600 nits peak brightness for HDR, or 1,000 nits for general use. 

This is huge. For HDR realism, this is going to blow away anyone who sees it – its the kind of brightness you get from high-end TVs. Really high-end ones. As in, the Samsung QN95A, which is its flagship 4K TV for 2021 also uses mini-LEDs, and it reaches 2,000 nits of brightness. Apple is nearly matching it.

It's not just about brightness, though – the iPad also has 2,596 dimming zones for those mini-LEDS, meaning it can make very precise areas of the screen go dark, right next to brighter areas, for dazzling contrast. Again, for reference, the QN95A TV has fewer than 800 dimming zones. Apple is using some serious tech for this.

This iPad screen might well be the highest-quality HDR display you've ever seen. Apple has confirmed that it will work with HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision HDR, so it's well-equipped when it comes to making the most of it. We can't wait to witness it in action.

Matthew Bolton
Matthew Bolton

Matthew runs T3's magazine side putting the best gadgets in ink every month, having worked across on many tech mags over the last decade. He's also our resident Apple expert, and you absolutely should not get him started about Lego or board games unless you have a free afternoon and endless patience.