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The new 12.9-inch iPad Pro features a stunning Liquid Retina XDR display, plus offers up to 50% better performance, 5G connectivity, fast Thunderbolt connector, and ultra-wide front camera.
Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) was announced together with the smaller 11-inch model on April 20, and available for preorder from April 30.
The new model is available in Silver and Space Gray. Its prices start from $1,099, $100 more than the previous-generation model. The higher price is justified – the newest 12.9-inch iPad Pro features the new Liquid Retina XDR Display.
This stunning mini-LED touchscreen uses over 10,000 LEDs across the entire back to deliver 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio and 1000 nits of full‑screen brightness.
The new display makes the device by 0.5 mm thicker than its predecessor. Apple claims you will be able to use the Magic Keyboard with iPad Pro 12.9 2021, but the keyboard case may not entirely close, especially when you have a screen protector. Please keep this compatibility issue in mind.
Is it worth buying the 2021 iPad Pro 12.9 or go for a 2020 model? If you don’t heavily depend on the performance, don’t plan to buy the cellular version for its 5G support, and are not obsessed with the display quality, you can pick up the earlier model, which supports the same accessories, and is still blazing fast.
Below, there is a simplified list of the features and improvements of the newest iPad Pro 12.9 (5th generation), released in 2021.
iPad Pro 12.9 2021 – new features
M1 chip – the Mac’s revolutionary M1 chip is now available in the iPad Pro, offering a huge performance boost: up to 50% faster CPU performance than A12Z Bionic and up to 40% faster graphics. And it does not happen at the cost of a battery life, which runs for up to 10 hours – just like in the previous-generation model.
Liquid Retina XDR Display – it’s the one feature everyone was talking about. The mini-LED sports a breathtaking 1000 nits of full‑screen brightness and 1600 nits of peak brightness, offering 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio. Plus there are other advanced display technologies like P3 wide color, True Tone, and ProMotion.
Thunderbolt / USB 4 – the new Thunderbolt port is compatible with USB-C connectors and is the fastest connection ever on the iPad, with up to 40 Gbps bandwidth for wired connections, support for 10Gbps Ethernet, and compatibility with top shelf external displays, including the Pro Display XDR at full 6K resolution.
5G Connectivity – featuring the most 5G bands on any device of its kind, iPad Pro offers the broadest 5G coverage worldwide. iPad Pro models in the US support millimeter wave, the higher frequency version of 5G, allowing iPad Pro to reach speeds up to 4 Gbps.
Ultra-wide front camera with Center Stage – on the front there is now an all-new 12 MP ultra-wide camera designed specifically for iPad, enabling Center Stage, a new feature that uses the much larger field of view combined with the machine learning capabilities of M1 to recognize and keep users centered in the frame.
iPad Pro 12.9 2021 – compatibility chart
The new 12.9-inch iPad Pro has the same width and height as the 2020 model. However, it’s 0.5 mm thicker – it’s due to the use of the new mini-LED display. The earlier model had 5.9 mm, the 2021 iPad Pro 12.9 has 6.4 mm.
0.5 mm is a lot. It can render many third-party cases incompatible, especially the ones with the plastic frame designed to fit the earlier model.
Below, you will find a quick compatibility list for iPad Pro 12.9 released in 2021.
Magic Keyboard compatibility issue
The 0.5 mm higher depth may cause incompatibility with the Magic Keyboard you have bought for the 2020 model.
Everything is fine with the connection via Smart Connector or using the keyboard when opened, but when you close it, the keyboard may not lay flat on the screen. The problem is amplified if you use a screen protector.
Apple has already released an adjusted Magic Keyboard that fits the 2021 iPad Pro 12.9 and two previous generations. When purchasing the keyboard, especially in other sources than the official Apple store, make sure to check out its release date.
When it comes to iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) Magic Keyboard compatibility, it’s good to assume that:
- The newly bought Magic Keyboard is compatible with older generations of iPad Pro 12.9.
- Your old Magic Keyboard will not perfectly fit iPad Pro 12.9 released in 2021.
Smart Folio compatibility warning
When you visit Apple online store, you will see that Smart Folio for iPad Pro 12.9 is compatible with three generations of the 12.9 Pro – the one from 2021 (5th), 2020 (4th), and 2018 (3rd).
It may look like the Smart Folio designed for older generations can handle the 0.5 mm difference in depth.
However, I have checked out the page in Wayback Machine, and it turns out that it was crawled for the first time on April 25, 2021.
Therefore, just like in the case of the Magic Keyboard, I think Apple had released an improved case that can fit the newest (thicker) iPad Pro 12.9, as well as earlier generations.
So far, it has not been either confirmed or denied that the Smart Folio for earlier iPad Pro 12.9 fits perfectly the 2021 model.
It’s good to assume that:
- The newly bought Smart Folio is compatible with older generations of iPad Pro 12.9.
- Your old Smart Folio may not fit iPad Pro 12.9 released in 2021.
Smart Keyboard Folio compatibility warning
You should assume the same as for Magic Keyboard and Smart Folio:
- The newly bought Smart Keyboard Folio is compatible with older generations of iPad Pro 12.9.
- Your old Smart Keyboard Folio may not fit iPad Pro 12.9 released in 2021.
In the official online Apple store, Smart Keyboard Folio is compatible with iPad Pro 12.9 (2021, 5th generation) and with the 4th and 3rd-generation models.
But, again, the url is new, and, having in mind how obsessed Apple is with details, the earlier Smart Keyboard Folio was designed to perfectly fit the earlier model, leaving no space for adjustments.
Compatible with Apple Pencil 2
You can use Apple Pencil 2 with your new iPad Pro 12.9 released in 2021 just like you used in with your earlier 12.9-inch Pro.
If you plan to buy the pen, check out its price on Amazon – Apple Pencil 2 is always a few dollars cheaper there.
Not compatible with Apple Pencil 1
Apple’s first-generation stylus was incompatible with 3rd and 4th generation iPad Pro 12.9. It’s not compatible with iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) as well.
Mixed compatibility with earlier third-party cases
The 0.5 mm difference in depth may not be a big deal for other devices, but it is for the iPad.
Most of newly released third-party iPad Pro 12.9 cases are described as compatible with only the latest 2021 model, and not earlier generations.
However, if you used a traditional folio case with a leather frame to keep the device in place, you will be able to still use it with the 2021 iPad Pro 12.9 2021.
Some flexible silicone cases for earlier 12.9-inch iPad Pros may also work.
None of the hard-plastic backshell cases designed for iPad Pro models from 2020 and 2018 will fit the latest model.
iPad Pro 12.9 (2021 model, 5th generation) – full specs
What are the specs of the newest 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021? Take a look at the handy but complete tech specs table.
|Screen||12.9-inch (diagonal) mini-LED backlit Multi‑Touch display with IPS technology, ProMotion, True Tone, and Wide color display (P3)|
|Screen resolution||2732 × 2048 px|
|Pixel density||264 ppi|
|Storage capacity||• 128 GB
• 256 GB
• 512 GB
• 1 TB
• 2 TB
|RAM memory||• 8 GB (variants with 128, 256 and 512 GB of storage)
• 16 GB (variants with 1 and 2 TB of storage)
|Processor||• Apple M1 chip
• 8-core CPU with 4 performance cores and 4 efficiency cores
• 8-core GPU
• 16-core Neural Engine
|Rear cameras||• Wide: 12 MP, ƒ/1.8 aperture
• Ultra Wide: 10 MP, ƒ/2.4 aperture, and 125° field of view
|Front camera||• 12 MP Ultra Wide camera with TrueDepth and Center Stage, ƒ/2.4 aperture, 122° field of view|
|Body colors||• Silver
• Space Gray
|Battery||Built-in 40.88-watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery, non-removable|
|Battery life||Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi or watching video|
|Charging||Charging via power adapter or USB-C to computer system|
|Weight||24.06 oz / 682 g|
|Dimensions||11.04 × 8.46 × 0.25 in / 280.6 × 214.9 × 6.4 mm|
|Wi-Fi||802.11ax Wi-Fi 6; simultaneous dual band (2.4GHz and 5GHz); HT80 with MIMO|
|Bluetooth||Yes, 5.0 technology|
|5G cellular connectivity||Yes, with the broadest 5G coverage worldwide|
|Ports and connectors||• Thunderbolt / USB 4
• Smart Connector
|Face ID||Yes, enabled by the TrueDepth front camera|
|Sound||Four built‑in speakers|
|Sensors||• Face ID
• LiDAR Scanner
• Three-axis gyro
• Ambient light sensor
|In the box||• iPad Pro 12.9 (2021)
• USB-C charge cable (1 meter)
• 20W USB-C Power Adapter
|Apple Pencil||Yes, compatible with Apple Pencil 2, sold separately|
|Smart Keyboard Folio||Yes, compatible with Smart Keyboard Folio, sold separately|
|Magic Keyboard||Yes, compatible with Magic Keyboard, sold separately|
|Launch dates||• Announcement – April 20, 2021
• Pre-orders – April 30, 2021
• Release – May 21, 2021
• 128 GB / WiFi – $1,099
• 128 GB / WiFi + Cellular – $1,299
• 256 GB / WiFi – $1,199
• 256 GB / WiFi + Cellular – $1,399
• 512 GB / WiFi – $1,399
• 512 GB / WiFi + Cellular – $1,599
• 1 TB / WiFi – $1,799
• 1 TB / WiFi + Cellular – $1,999
• 2 TB / WiFi – $2,199
• 2 TB / WiFi + Cellular – $2,399
iPad Pro 12.9 (2021 model) – connectors and buttons
What are the locations of buttons, ports, connectors, microphones, and speakers in the all-new iPad Pro 12.9 released in 2021?
iPad Pro 12.9 (2021 model) – product highlights
What are the main benefits of the newest iPad Pro 12.9 (2021)? Here is what Apple is saying.
iPad Pro 12.9, 2021 release, 5th generation
Space Gray / 128 GB
Breakthrough M1 chip
With M1, iPad Pro is the fastest device of its kind. It’s designed to take full advantage of the next‑level performance and custom technologies like the advanced image signal processor and unified memory architecture of M1.
Liquid Retina XDR display
The Liquid Retina XDR display delivers true-to-life detail with a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, great for viewing and editing HDR photos and videos or enjoying your favorite movies and TV shows. It also features a breathtaking 1000 nits of full‑screen brightness and 1600 nits of peak brightness. And advanced display technologies like P3 wide color, True Tone, and ProMotion.
Faster performance and graphics
The 8‑core CPU of M1 delivers up to 50 percent faster performance. And M1 has an 8‑core GPU in a class of its own, providing up to 40 percent faster graphics performance to iPad Pro. So you can build intricate AR models, play games with console‑quality graphics at high frame rates, and more.
iPad has always been uniquely portable with superfast Wi‑Fi and cellular options. Now with 5G capabilities, you can connect to the fastest wireless networks when you need to download files, stream movies, collaborate with colleagues, and upload content on the go. And iPad Pro has the most 5G bands of any device of its kind — so it can get 5G in more places.
Ultra Wide camera with Center Stage
iPad Pro features a new Ultra Wide camera with a 12MP sensor and a 122‑degree field of view, making it perfect for FaceTime and the new Center Stage feature. It’s also great for epic Portrait mode selfies. And it works with the TrueDepth camera to securely unlock iPad Pro with Face ID.
The LiDAR Scanner measures how long it takes light to reflect back from objects, so it can create a depth map of any space you’re in and unlock immersive AR experiences. And it works with the powerful ISP to more accurately focus images and videos in low‑light conditions and reduce capture time.
Thunderbolt – for powerful creative workflows
Now with Thunderbolt, this is the fastest, most versatile port ever on iPad. It works with existing USB‑C connectors and opens up an extensive ecosystem of high‑performance accessories for iPad Pro — like fast external storage, displays, and docks. Transfer huge assets or even drive the Pro Display XDR at full 6K resolution.
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