iPad Pro tipped for an unexpected next-level hardware boost

The iPad Pro could skip a processor generation to become faster than the MacBook Pro

iPad Pro M2 models
(Image credit: Apple)

The new iPad Pro launch date is 7 May, and a new report suggests that it's going to be an exciting one. Apple's most powerful iPad may get a massive processor upgrade that'll make it outperform the MacBook Pro. If true, the iPad Pro will be the most powerful tablet that Apple's ever made and one of its most powerful devices too.

The news comes via Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, whose sources tell him that there is a "strong possibility" that the 2024 iPad Pro is likely to skip a processor generation and get the M4 processor rather than the M3 that we were expecting. That isn't just a performance boost. Gurman says that it will have a significantly upgraded Neural Engine to boost its AI performance, and that Apple will market the new iPad Pro as "an AI-powered device". 

iPad Pro 2024: what to expect

There's no reason to believe that Gurman's source or sources are incorrect, but if the news is indeed true then it's a surprise that Apple has been able to keep it secret for so long: with not just production but packaging, marketing and retail all involved in a launch that's an awful lot of people who might develop loose lips before the iPad Pro ships.

The upgraded Neural Engine fits with previous reports that the M4 in the iPhone and Mac would have more neural processing cores, enabling the devices to perform on-device AI and machine learning tasks much more quickly than a cloud-based system. We don't know as yet what those AI and ML tasks are, although we're expecting some upgrades for Siri, Shortcuts, Apple Music's playlists and Messages; Apple is expected to reveal its AI plans to app developers at its WWDC conference in June. 

It'll be interesting to see whether Apple has any other surprises for us next week: the combination of an OLED display, an M4 processor and a new Apple Pencil is a significant upgrade for the Pro, and if Apple is indeed going to be pushing this as its first AI device then that should give us some big hints about what to expect from the iPhone 16 later this year.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).