Why you should, or should not, upgrade to the 2022 iPad Pro [Review]

Why you should, or should not, upgrade to the 2022 iPad Pro [Review]

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12.9-inch Apple iPad Pro 2022 with its packaging★★★★★
The iPad Pro 2022 is Apple's most powerful ever.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The launch of the 2022 iPad Pro in 12.9- and 11-inch versions means current tablet users have new upgrade options. Their M2 processor makes these the most powerful iPads ever made, but they are not right for everyone.

I’ve used an M2-powered iPad Pro for a week now, and that’s given me insight into who should upgrade and who should not. Some people should definitely go for the latest and greatest, but others would be disappointed if they did so.

Here’s my advice when making your decision.

Apple iPad Pro (2022) review

I haven’t regularly used a Mac since 2016. All the text and image editing tools I need to write for Cult of Mac are available for iPadOS. And Apple’s tablet can easily handle email, online shopping and social networking.

I prefer iPad to Mac because at the end of the workday I take the tablet off its keyboard and use it to read the news and ebooks, watch videos and play games.

Anyone who’s thinking of joining me in going all-tablet should seriously consider iPad Pro line. They’re Apple’s largest and most powerful. They’re also the most expensive, but consider the top-of-the-line models before looking elsewhere.

If you use your tablet primarily as a consumption device for TikToK or YouTube or web access, you’ll probably be satisfied with an iPad Air or even the new iPad 10. An M2 processor won’t make web browsing any faster.

But the 2022 iPad Pro is ideal for those who regularly convert their tablet into a laptop or even a desktop to get real work done.

Blazing fast performance with Apple M2

iPadOS 16.2 will let iPads with M-series processors display eight applications simultaneously when an external display is connected. I usually have just four going, but the new multitasking possibilities are justification for wanting an iPad with plenty of power under the hood.

And the Apple M2 in the 2022 iPad Pro delivers. In my testing, the 12.9-inch version of the new tablet scored 8466 in Primate Labs Geekbench 5 multi-core test.

If you’ve held onto the 2018 Pro model, it pulls in a 4763 in the Geekbench 5 test. That makes the M2 Pro 77.7% quicker – a speed boost worth having.

On the other side of the coin, the M1-powered version of the iPad from 2021 scores 7207 on the test. That give the new model only a 17.6% performance advantage.

But the M2 also features 100 GBps of unified memory bandwidth – 50% more than M1 – making the new tablet even better than its predecessor at multitasking.

Even so, the M1 vs. M2 differences are not great enough that you’re likely to notice in everyday use. I don’t, and I push my tablet to the limit.

Multiscreen multitasking

iPad Pro 2022 with Stage Manager
iPadOS 16.2 brings full support for external displays. An iPad display (left) isn’t that large compared to a 4K monitor (right).
Screenshot: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Responding to years of requests from power users, Apple brought floating app windows into iPadOS with Stage Manager. The windows are resizable and can overlap each other, and the system adds new methods for organizing them into groups.

You can make collections of open windows from a variety of apps and move those collections into thumbnails on the left side of the screen ready to be reopened later. I keep Mail, Slack and Twitter in one, for example.

I like Stage Manager, though it takes some getting used to. Unlike macOS, it helps the user arrange their app windows. It tries to avoid having windows hidden behind others, and so moving one window can make others move on their own. That bugs some people.

The system works fine on an iPad but floating app windows are even more useful on larger screens. Fortunately, iPadOS 16.2 will bring in full support for external displays, including up to four additional app windows.

I’m testing the beta with the 2022 iPad Pro and an Innocn 4K external display, and the combination makes me much more productive. I finally have plenty of room for the three applications I need open almost all the time… and there’s space to spare.

To get Stage Manger, you need an iPad with an M-series processor, or any iPad Pro made since 2018. But full external display support requires an M-series processor. And you won’t find a more capable one than the M2 in the latest iPad Pro.

That said, if you have an iPad with an M1, you already have Stage Manager and will get full external display support.

Big, beautiful displays

iPad Pro 2022 in Magic Keyboard
The display built into the 2022 iPad Pro is one of Apple’s very best.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Like its predecessors going back years, the iPad Pro line comes in 12.9-inch and 11-inch versions. (The larger one really should be called “iPad Pro Max.”)

My review unit is the larger model, which has a 2,732‑by‑2,048-pixel LCD screen at 264 pixels per inch. That’s the same resolution Apple has used since 2015, and it added 120Hz ProMotion support in 2017, so previous Pro users aren’t looking at a dramatic difference.

But wait, the new 12.9-inch version has a Liquid Retina XDR display with mini-LED technology. Instead of a handful of backlights like most computers, this screen boasts more than 10,000 tiny LEDs. This means the overall contrast is improved: black letters on a white background now appear darker — there’s not a hint of gray. Apple promises a 1,000,000-to-1 contrast ratio. It’s really gorgeous.

The 11-inch version of the 2022 iPad Pro has a 2388-by-1668-pixel resolution. That works out to be the same 264 ppi. This is not a mini-LED display but it still looks amazing.

The bottom line is that Apple has made iPads with beautiful displays for many years. You won’t see a really dramatic difference if you’re coming from an earlier Pro, even with the mini-LED screen.

On the other hand, those who’ve had a basic iPad or even an Air will see significant improvement. And that’s especially true if you go up in size.

The iPad Pro 12.9-inch version has at least 40% more screen area than any other Apple tablet. That’s why I prefer the larger one – I regularly have two applications open side by side and I need them to be easy to see. And with Stage Manager I can squeeze in a third.

Battery life

The additional processor power of the M2 chip doesn’t hurt the battery life of the 2022 iPad Pro. Apple promises 10 hours of accessing the web over Wi-Fi or watching video. In my testing, the 12.9-inch version gets me through a typical workday with power to spare.

Those who have a 2021 Pro won’t notice a difference. But anyone with an older model almost certainly will.

It’s an inescapable fact that batteries wear out. If you’ve charged your tablet 1000 times, you’ve cut about 20% off the maximum time between charges. Don’t blame iPadOS 16 for the reduced battery life on your beloved 2018 iPad Pro. It’s an unavoidable result of you using the computer.

The only way to increase the battery life on an older device is to replace the battery. And it might be worthwhile to wrap your new battery in a whole new iPad Pro.

Few hardware changes

iPad Pro 2022 Back View
Apple’s latest is labeled “iPad Pro,” the only visible difference between it and the 2021 model.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Apple did a major redesign of the iPad Pro in 2018, and it’s essentially stuck with that design ever since. And the hardware changes between the 2021 and 2022 versions are especially minor. The new models of Apple’s top-tier tablet are essentially identical to last year’s – the M2 is the only significant change, and that’s internal.

There’s an advantage to this consistency: if you’re replacing a recent model with the latest one, there’s a chance your case will fit. That’s not likely if your tablet is from a few years ago, though.

But as good as that 2018 design was, years later its limitations are showing. Additional charging and data ports would have been a welcome improvement in the 2022 version instead of having to get by with a single USB-C port. And a re-located front camera like the one in the new iPad 10 would have been nice.

A iPad Pro revamp might be coming in 2023, though. Unconfirmed reports point to a 14-inch or even a 16-inch model coming in 2023. Those with a recent iPadOS tablet might consider waiting to see what the options will be in another year.

Should you upgrade?

I don’t see a reason what anyone with a 2021 iPad Pro needs the 2022 model. The differences between the two are fairly minor. A 20% increase in processor performance doesn’t seem worth the money. Hold on until next year, or perhaps 2024, when real change is expected.

But Apple’s latest will bring noticeable improvements for anyone still using a 2018 or 2020 Pro. The same goes for those looking to upgrade from an iPad Air or basic iPad. You’ll get vastly better performance, full external display support, longer battery life and other enhancements.

Apple iPad Pro (2022) final thoughts

iPad Pro in Apple Store
Head to your nearest Apple store to compare the 12.9- and 11-inch iPad Pro for yourself.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

There’s a lot to like in the latest iPad Pro models. They’re blazing fast, with beautiful screens and more professional capabilities than any previous Apple tablet.

But there aren’t as many improvements over the 2021 models as some of us had hoped. This is a simple speed-increase update.

★★★★★

Pricing

The 2022 iPad Pro comes in silver or space gray in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB configurations.

The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $799 (US) for the Wi-Fi model and $999 (US) for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $1,099 (US) for the Wi-Fi model, and $1,299 (US) for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model.

Apple did not provide Cult of Mac with a review unit for this article. See our reviews policy, and check out other in-depth reviews of Apple-related items.