M4 iPad Pro vs. M2 iPad Pro comparison: What’s different?

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M4 iPad Pro vs. M2 iPad Pro comparison
Should you ditch your M2 iPad Pro and get the M4 iPad Pro?
Photo: Apple/Rajesh Pandey

Apple’s newest M4 iPad Pros pack the best display technology, the company’s latest and greatest M4 processor, and other keen advances. But exactly how do the latest tablets differ from their M2-powered predecessors? Our M4 iPad Pro vs. M2 iPad Pro comparison reveals the answers to questions you might have.

Should you upgrade to the 13-inch iPad Pro with M4 chip if you already own the M2 12.9-inch iPad Pro? And what about the 11-inch model? Find out in this head-to-head comparison that pits the M4 iPad Pro against the M2 iPad Pro.

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M4 iPad Pro vs. M2 iPad Pro: What’s different in 2024?

The M4 iPad Pro stands as Apple’s biggest upgrade ever to the iPad Pro lineup, and it shows. These tablets boast an even slimmer and lighter design while packing more features than ever before. They are also the first devices in Apple’s lineup to feature the company’s next-gen M4 system-on-a-chip, which arrives just seven months after the M3’s debut.

However, if you already own an M2 iPad Pro, you might want to hold out instead of upgrading to the new model right away. Read on for more on how the M4 iPad Pros stack up to the M2 iPad Pros.

Table of contents: M4 iPad Pro vs. M2 iPad Pro

Design: M4 iPad Pro is slimmer and lighter than M2 model

M4 iPad Pro
The M4 iPad Pro is Apple’s slimmest and lightest device yet.
Photo: Apple
  • M4 11-inch iPad Pro: 249.7 mm x 177.5 mm x 5.3 mm, 444 grams (Wi-Fi model)/446 grams (cellular), Face ID, four-speaker audio, four studio-quality microphones
  • M2 11-inch iPad Pro: 247.6 mm x 178.5 mm x 5.9 mm, 466 grams (Wi-Fi model)/ 470 grams (cellular), Face ID, four-speaker audio, five studio-quality microphones
  • M4 13-inch iPad Pro: 281.6 mm x 215.5 mm x 5.1 mm, 579 grams (Wi-Fi model)/582 grams (cellular), Face ID, four-speaker audio, four studio-quality microphones
  • M2 12.9-inch iPad Pro: 280.6 mm x 214.9 mm x 6.4mm, 682 grams (Wi-Fi model)/ 685 grams (cellular), Face ID, four-speaker audio, five studio-quality microphones

The M2 iPad Pros were very slim and light, considering all the tech they packed. But with the M4 models, Apple took its slender game to another level. The new tablets are the slimmest Apple products ever, with the 11-inch iPad Pro measuring just 5.3mm thin. The 13-inch model is even thinner at 5.1 mm.

Both 2024 models are notably lighter than their predecessors, with the bigger 13-inch iPad Pro being almost 25% lighter than the M2 version. And to avoid any bending problems, Apple used a new internal structure on the M4 iPad Pros for better rigidity. The thermal dissipation is also better, with a metal cover helping spread heat more effectively.

Another small but important change is that the 12MP front camera is now placed in the landscape bezel for better video calls.

Display: 2024 iPad Pro boasts Apple’s most advanced screen yet

M4 iPad Pro's display
Apple says the M4 iPad Pro packs the “world’s most advanced display.”
Photo: Apple
  • M4 11-inch iPad Pro: 11-inch Ultra Retina XDR display, Tandem OLED, ProMotion, 2420 x 1668 resolution, 1,000 nits SDR brightness, optional nano-texture glass, supports Apple Pencil Pro and USB-C with Hover feature
  • M2 11-inch iPad Pro: 11-inch Liquid Retina display, LED backlit, ProMotion, 2388 x 1668 resolution, 600 nits SDR brightness, supports Apple Pencil Pro and USB-C with Hover feature
  • M4 13-inch iPad Pro: 13-inch Ultra Retina XDR display, Tandem OLED, ProMotion, 2752 x 2064 resolution, 1,000 nits SDR brightness, optional nano-texture glass, supports Apple Pencil Pro and USB-C with Hover feature
  • M2 12.9-inch iPad Pro: 12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR display, Mini-LED backlit, ProMotion, 2732 x 2048 resolution, 600 nits SDR brightness, supports Apple Pencil Pro and USB-C with Hover feature

There was a glaring gap between the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and the 11-inch iPad Pro with the M2 chip. The former used a superior Mini-LED panel, while the latter featured a regular LED panel. Due to this, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro was capable of hitting a peak brightness of 1,600 nits while viewing HDR content.

This is not the case with the M4 iPad Pros. Apple switched to Tandem OLED technology, which it says produces the “world’s most advanced display.” Featuring two OLED panels, the new iPad Pros deliver 1,000 nits of SDR brightness, 40% brighter than the M2 models. They also provide better colors, contrast and details than previous iPads, making them ideal for professional use.

Apple Pencil support and nano-texture coating

When it comes to stylus support, the M4 iPad Pros work with the new Apple Pencil Pro as well as the budget-priced USB-C Apple Pencil. The M2 iPad Pro does not work with Apple Pencil Pro, but does work with the USB-C Apple Pencil as well as the second-generation Apple Pencil.

In a first for iPads, you can order the M4 iPad Pros with an optional nano-texture glass coating. The coating helps reduce unwanted glare but can be difficult to maintain.

Performance: M4 is a beast

John Ternus unveils Apple M4 chip
Apple’s new M4 chip powers the 2024 iPad Pro lineup.
Photo: Apple
  • M4 iPad Pro: M4 chip, 10-core CPU with three performance cores and six efficiency cores, next-gen 10-core GPU, new 16-core Neural Engine, 8GB or 16GB RAM, 256GB to 2TB storage options, 8K H.264, HEVC, ProRes and ProRAW video encode/decode engine, AV1 decode
  • M2 iPad Pro: M2 chip, 8-core CPU with four performance cores and four efficiency cores, 10-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine, 8GB RAM, 128GB to 1TB storage options, H.264 and HEVC video encode/decode engine

The M2 iPad Pros were ridiculously fast given their form factor and slim package. But with the 2024 iPad Pros, Apple upped the ante on performance. They ship with the Cupertino company’s latest and greatest M4 SoC, fabricated on TSMC’s second-gen 3nm node.

Packing 28 billion transistors, the M4 chip features a 10-core CPU with four performance cores and six efficiency cores. These next-gen CPU cores also benefit from improved branch prediction and wider decode and execution engines. Combined with other changes, Apple says the M4’s CPU is 1.5x faster than the M2. (Note: Only 2024 iPad Pro models with 1TB or higher storage ship with the 10-c0re CPU and 16GB RAM. Lower storage tiers come with a nine-core CPU and pack 8GB RAM.)

The 2022 iPad Pro’s M2 SoC is no slouch, either. Yes, it is not the fastest chip around anymore, but you will not find apps and games that can slow it down.

M4 chip boosts graphics performance

On the graphics front, the M4’s 10-core GPU brings even bigger performance improvements. It supports hardware-accelerated ray tracing and mesh shading, boosting rendering performance by 4x and improving graphical quality.

If you use your iPad Pro for video editing, the M4’s dedicated 8K video encode/decode engine with ProRes and ProRAW support will significantly speed up your workflow. There’s also a dedicated AV1 decoder for more efficient video streaming.

The 16-core Neural Engine is significantly faster than the one in the M2, too. Using its AI prowess, you can isolate subjects from the background in a 4K video in Final Cut Pro.

Despite packing so much power, Apple says the M4 iPad Pro can deliver M2-level performance at 50% less power consumption. On the storage front, the M4 iPad Pros start at 256GB — twice that of the M2 models.

Connectivity: No physical SIM slot on 2024 models

  • M4 iPad Pro: Wi-Fi 6E, MIMO, Bluetooth 5.3, 5G (but no mmWave support), Gigabit LTE (up to 31 bands), Thunderbolt/USB 4, eSIM, Smart Connector
  • M2 iPad Pro: Wi-Fi 6E, MIMO, Bluetooth 5.3, 5G, Gigabit LTE (up to 32 bands), Thunderbolt/USB 4, nano-SIM, eSIM, Smart Connector

Apple’s 2024 iPad Pro lineup packs almost the same connectivity options as the 2022 lineup. Surprisingly, though, there is one major downgrade. While the M2 iPad Pro supports mmWave 5G connectivity, this option is missing on the M4 models. So, you won’t get those blazing-fast gigabit-plus 5G cellular speeds on your new iPad. Additionally, the new iPads support 31 LTE bands, one less than their predecessor.

Another notable change is that the M4 iPad Pros only support eSIM because they lack a physical SIM card slot. That’s not the case with the M2 models, which support both eSIM and a physical SIM.

Camera: Bye-bye, Ultra Wide! M2 iPad Pro beats M4 on this front

M4 iPad Pro rear showing the cameras
M4 iPad Pro ships with a single rear camera.
Photo: Apple
  • M4 iPad Pro: Rear – 12MP Wide camera, f/1.8 aperture, Smart HDR 4, 4K 60 fps recording, ProRes at 4K 30fps, Audio Zoom, LiDAR, Adaptive True Tone Flash; front – 12MP Landscape Ultra Wide TrueDepth camera, f/2.4 aperture, Center Stage, Retina Flash with True Tone
  • M2 iPad Pro: Rear – 12MP Wide camera, f/1.8 aperture, 10MP Ultra Wide, f/2.4 aperture, Smart HDR 4, 4K 60 fps recording, ProRes at 4K 30 fps, LiDAR; front – 12MP Ultra Wide TrueDepth camera, f/2.4 aperture, Center Stage, Retina Flash with True Tone

If you use your iPad for taking photos or recording videos, you might not like the M4 iPad Pro as much as the previous model. Unlike the M2-powered tablets, the 2024 iPad Pros ship with only a single rear 12MP camera. Apple ditched the 10MP Ultra Wide camera on them for some reason.

The front 12MP TrueDepth camera system remains unchanged, though it has been relocated to landscape orientation. This will provide a better experience during online classes or meetings on the new iPad Pros.

M4 iPad Pro vs. M2 iPad Pro battery life: Same as before

  • M4 11-inch and 13-inch iPad Pro: Up to 10 hours of video playback or Wi-Fi surfing, nine hours of web surfing on mobile data
  • M2 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro: Up to 10 hours of video playback or Wi-Fi surfing, 9 hours of web surfing on mobile data

Apple says the M4 iPad Pros deliver the same battery life as their M2 predecessors. Considering the 2024 tablets sport a more powerful chip and brighter OLED panel in a slimmer body, this is no small feat. Note, however, that you might get less runtime in real-world use if you push the new iPad Pros heavily. But in most cases, they should last as long — if not longer — than their 2022 counterparts.

Price: A steep increase for 2024 model

iPad Pro 2022 Back View
The M4 iPad Pros come in a fair bit more expensive than their M2 predecessors.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac
  • M4 11-inch iPad Pro: Starts at $999 (Wi-Fi) or $1,199 (cellular)
  • M2 11-inch iPad Pro: Started at $799 (Wi-Fi) or $999 (cellular)
  • M4 13-inch iPad Pro: Starts at $1,299 (Wi-Fi) or $1,499 (cellular)
  • M2 12.9-inch iPad Pro: Started at $1,099 (Wi-Fi) or $1,299 (cellular)

All the improvements the M4 iPad Pros bring to the table come with a steep bump in price as well. They cost $200 more than their predecessor, a significant price bump. On the 2024 11-inch iPad Pro, the extra $200 gets you a notably better display and a powerful SoC inside an even slimmer and lighter chassis.

The 13-inch iPad Pro’s price hike is more difficult to justify. It gets the same improvements as its smaller sibling. But its predecessor used a mini-LED display, which was already superior to the 11-inch model’s LCD panel.

M4 iPad Pro vs. M2 iPad Pro conclusion: Should you upgrade?

Unless your workflow will greatly benefit from the M4 iPad Pro’s Tandem OLED display or M4 chip, there’s no reason to ditch your M2 iPad Pro yet. Apple’s flagship tablet from 2022 is still more than powerful enough to run all your favorite iPadOS apps and games. In fact, the same chip also powers Apple’s 2024 iPad Air lineup.

The iPad Pro’s limiting factor is its software, not its hardware. iPadOS 17 cannot allow you to take full advantage of the M4 iPad Pro’s advanced hardware. However, this might change when iPadOS 18 drops later this year with several AI-focused features.

Buy M4 iPad Pro from: Amazon

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