Apple’s super-thin new iPad Pro gets an M4 chip, but the much more affordable iPad Air M2 could be the savviest option for music makers

New iPads
(Image credit: Apple)

At the start of its presentation today, Apple billed this as the biggest moment for the iPad since it was first launched. And, in terms of the sheer number of announcements, it might have a point.

On the hardware side, we’re getting new versions of iPad Pro and iPad Air, plus spruce-ups for the Apple Pencil, Magic Keyboard and Smart Folio. Oh, and the 10th-gen version of the ‘standard’ iPad has been given a price cut.

As you might expect, the top of the range is where the most exciting action is; Apple seems to have gone all out to ensure that the new iPad Pro takes as big a jump up as possible. As before, it’s available in two sizes - 11-inch and 13-inch - and both models are strikingly thin, measuring 5.3mm and 5.1mm respectively. In fact, Apple claims that this is the thinnest product it’s ever made.

And then there’s the processor. The previous iPad Pro rocked an M2 chip, but rather than go to the M3 chip that’s already been used in the Mac, Apple has effectively skipped a generation and put the new M4 in the latest model. This sports four performance cores, six efficiency cores, “nex-gen” machine learning accelerators and more efficiency.

Apple says that part of the reason for the jump to M4 is the iPad Pro’s Ultra Retina XDR display. This combines two OLED panels in what the company calls its “tandem OLED” technology, and promises extreme full-screen brightness and dynamic range and better responsiveness.

Prices for the new iPad Pro start at $/£999 for the 11-inch Wi-Fi model and $/£1,299 for the 13-inch Wi-Fi model (both available in silver and black), with storage options running from 256GB all the way up to 2TB. You can also spec a nano-texture glass option, if you wish, though this will cost you significantly more. 

The new Apple Pencil Pro ($/£129), meanwhile, adds a sensor in the barrel that can detect a user’s squeeze, and doing so brings up a tool palette. There’s also a custom haptic engine that confirms when users squeeze, double-tap or tap to a Smart Shape, and a gyroscope that responds to rolls of the pencil. A hover feature enables you to visualise tool orientation before you actually make contact with the display.

Improvements have been made to the Magic Keyboard (starting at £299), too, which gets a function row, an aluminium palm rest and a larger, more responsive trackpad with haptic feedback. In the case of the Smart Folio, there are now multiple viewing angles.

New iPads

(Image credit: Apple)

While it doesn’t have the whizz-bang pop of the new iPad Pro, the updated iPad Air looks like it could be an excellent option for tablet musicians. This inherits a number of features from the previous-gen Pro, including availability in two sizes (11- and 13-inch) and an M2 chip. In fact, with starting prices of $/£599 and £749/$799, it looks like it could be a great option for the music maker who wants a powerful iPad but doesn’t want to break the bank. There are four colour options (blue, purple, starlight, and space grey) and storage can be spec'd from 128GB to 1TB.

The even more budget-conscious, meanwhile, can now get their hands on the 10th-gen iPad for as little as $/£349. It looks like the 9th-gen model - the last one not to have a home button and not benefit from an all-screen design - has now been dropped from the official Apple line-up.

You can find out more about the new iPad range on the Apple website. The new models can be ordered there from today and will be available in stores from next week.

Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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