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iPad Pro M1 11-inch vs 12.9-inch: What’s Different?

We recently completed our review of the iPad Pro 2021 (12.9-inch), which is Apple’s most powerful tablet to date. But if you’ve decided to spend the money on what’s shaping up to be one of the best tablets on the market, you’ll need to decide which size to get, and Apple has made the decision more difficult than ever by equipping the larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro with what could be one of the best displays we’ve ever seen in a tablet.

That’s because the 12.9-inch model will feature a new Liquid Retina XDR display, which allegedly draws on Apple’s desktop Pro Display XDR learnings to deliver 5.6 million pixels of bright, vibrant color.

It’s an exciting piece of technology, but if you want to see it in person, you’ll have to pay at least $300 more – and that’s on top of the $800 minimum Apple is asking for a new iPad Pro.

The smaller 11-inch iPad Pro is no slouch either; it’s less expensive than the larger model and lacks the same Liquid Retina XDR display, but it still has the same blazing-fast M1 chip inside, the most recent cameras, 5G support, and a Liquid Retina display capable of displaying 4 million pixels.

Not sure which iPad Pro size is best for you? Continue reading for a more in-depth comparison that should help you make your decision!

Specs: iPad Pro M1 12.9-inch vs. 11-inch

11-inch iPad Pro 2021 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021
Starting price $799 $1,099
Display 11 inches (2388 x 1668 pixels) 12.9 inches (2732 x 2048 pixels) mini-LED
Processor M1 (16-core) M1 (16-core)
Storage 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB
Rear Cameras 12MP wide (f/1.8), 10-MP ultra-wide (f/2.4) 12MP wide (f/1.8), 10-MP ultra-wide (f/2.4)
Front Cameras 12MP TrueDepth 12MP TrueDepth
Port USB-C with Thunderbolt, USB-4 USB-C with Thunderbolt, USB-4
Accessories Magic Keyboard, Apple Pencil (gen 1 & 2) Magic Keyboard, Apple Pencil (gen 1 & 2)
Battery life (rated) 10 hours of wireless web 10 hours of wireless web
Connectivity Wi-Fi 6, optional 5G Wi-Fi 6, optional 5G
Dimensions 9.74 x 7.02 x 0.23 inches 11.04 x 8.46 x 0.25 inches
Weight 1.04 pounds 1.51 pounds

Price: iPad Pro M1 12.9-inch vs. 11-inch

Apple’s new iPad Pro 2021 starts at $799 for the 11-inch model and $1,099 for the 12.9-inch model.

You can pay extra for more storage or the option to have cellular connectivity in addition to Wi-Fi, and if you equip each of these tablets with everything, the 11-inch iPad Pro 2021 will cost $2,099 and the 12.9-inch model will cost $2,399, respectively.

You can purchase either through Apple’s website (opens in new tab) fairly easily (in your choice of Space Gray or Silver paint jobs), so the decision ultimately comes down to whether the larger iPad Pro is worth an extra $300 to you.

The Magic Keyboard adds $299 to the price of the 11.9-inch iPad Pro and $349 to the price of the 12.9-inch model. For both tablets, the Apple Pencil costs $129.

Display: iPad Pro M1 12.9-inch vs. 11-inch

The most noticeable distinction between the two iPad Pro 2021 models is undoubtedly the difference in display quality. Depending on the size, the new iPad Pro has two different screens: the smaller, less expensive 11-inch iPad Pro 2021 has a Liquid Retina display with more than 4 million pixels, while the larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro has Apple’s first tablet-sized mini-LED with more than 5.6 million pixels.

The new Liquid Retina XDR display on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro contains 10,000 mini-LEDs, allowing it to display XDR (extreme dynamic range) content with peak brightness levels ranging from 1,000 to 1,600 nits, according to Apple. If this is correct, it is a significant improvement over the 2020 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which had an average brightness of 559 nits in our lab testing.

We won’t know how much of a difference the larger iPad Pro’s new Liquid Retina XDR display makes until we get our hands on one and see it for ourselves. However, we know that mini-LED is a big deal that has the potential to revolutionize tablet displays because the same technology has resulted in significant improvements in TV display quality.

Because mini-LEDs are much smaller than regular LEDs, manufacturers can fit a lot more of them into a screen, giving the display tinier, more tightly controllable lighting zones that can be dimmed and brightened independently. This improves the screen’s contrast capability, allowing it to produce deeper blacks and brighter highlights.

The new camera feature is branded Center Stage because it makes use of the iPad Pro’s ultra-wide camera to keep the frame centered on you during video calls, even when you move to the side. If someone else enters the frame, the camera recognizes them and zooms out to capture them as well. It’s a neat touch, especially if you make a lot of video calls with your tablet, and it’s available on both models of the new iPad Pro 2021.

If price is a factor when deciding between the two models of the new iPad Pro, you should keep in mind that you will have to pay a bit extra for some accessories — mostly cases and covers — if you go with the larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

If screen quality is important to you, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021 should provide you with the best tablet display on the market, which is especially important if you intend to view or work with a lot of HDR (high dynamic range) content.

If you don’t think that’s worth an extra $300, the 11-inch iPad Pro 2021’s LED display should still deliver excellent image quality. Because of Apple’s ProMotion technology, both displays support a wide color gamut and refresh rates of up to 120Hz.

Performance: iPad Pro M1 12.9-inch vs. 11-inch

The inclusion of Apple’s new M1 chip is another major selling point for the new iPad Pro 2021.

Since its introduction last year, the M1 chip has significantly improved performance in every Apple device to which it has been added, and we’ve already seen significant improvements in the MacBook Pro M1 and MacBook Air M1.

The iPad Pro 2021 is the first to use the M1, and Apple claims that the octa-core chip will provide 50% faster CPU performance and 40% better graphics performance than the already powerful iPad Pro 2020, which used Apple’s A12Z Bionic processor.

The new iPad Pro 2021 models are also said to provide a 2x increase in storage access speed over the iPad Pro 2020 models, which were already quite fast. The new iPad Pro 2021 also supports USB-4 and Thunderbolt 4, giving you more bandwidth than ever before for external devices and displays.

So, while we won’t know how much of a difference the M1 makes in the iPad Pro until we test it, it’s safe to say that regardless of which size iPad Pro you buy, you’ll be getting one of the most powerful tablets on the market.

Battery Life: iPad Pro M1 12.9-inch vs. 11-inch

Apple claims that both of the new iPad Pro 2021 models should provide up to 10 hours of web browsing or video watching on a Wi-Fi connection, though that number drops to 9 hours when using a cellular connection.

We’re excited to put that to the test with our Tom’s Guide battery test, which is based on web browsing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness. However, Apple has recently been pretty good about delivering products that last as long on battery power as the company claims, so either model of iPad Pro should provide adequate battery life.

Design: iPad Pro M1 12.9-inch vs. 11-inch

These new iPad Pro 2021 models resemble their predecessors in appearance, with thin black bezels and rounded edges on a machined aluminum body.

The most noticeable design difference is that the 12.9-inch model is slightly thicker than its predecessor, measuring 0.25 inches vs. 0.23 inches on the previous model. The extra thickness is rumored to be due to the inclusion of the new mini-LED display, but we doubt you’d notice it in practice.

Cameras: iPad Pro M1 12.9-inch vs. 11-inch

The cameras on the two new iPad Pro models are identical, so whichever one you buy, you’ll get Apple’s most recent tablet camera technology.

There are also some significant improvements over last year’s model. The rear cameras on the iPad Pro 2021 are the same as before (12MP wide (f/1.8), 10-MP ultra-wide (f/2.4), but the front-facing camera has been upgraded to a 12MP TrueDepth sensor rather than the 7MP sensor on the previous model, and it comes with a cool new feature that could spice up all those Zoom calls you’ve been having.

Notably, the 11-inch iPad Pro will cost $299, while the 12.9-inch iPad Pro will cost $349. If you already own an older 12.9-inch Magic Keyboard, you won’t be able to rely on it working perfectly with the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro because the tablet is just a smidge thicker than last year’s model, which means it doesn’t fit perfectly into the old Magic Keyboard.

The Apple Pencil for the iPad Pro 11-inch and 12.9-inch costs $129 if you want to take notes, draw, edit photos, or perform other tasks with greater precision.

Conclusion

Because of the high cost of Apple’s iPad Pro, purchasing one is rarely an easy decision. The price difference between the two sizes of iPad Pro is greater than ever this time ($300 vs. $200 on last year’s model), but so is the difference in what you get.

You get one of the most powerful tablets on the market (thanks to the M1 chip) with one of the brightest and most beautiful displays, regardless of which size iPad Pro you buy. Either of the two iPad Pro 2021 models should be able to run all of your favorite apps for many years to come.

So, if you don’t need the best display or prefer the smaller, lighter size of the 11-inch iPad Pro 2021, know that you’re saving $300 (or more, if you plan to buy a keyboard or cover) without sacrificing much.

However, if you absolutely, positively must have the best screen possible, or if you simply must see what a mini-LED display looks like on Apple’s most powerful tablet to date, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro appears to be worth the extra $300 you’ll pay to own it.

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The article above was written by the BestTopReviewsOnline team, which includes many of the US’s most knowledgeable technical experts. Our team includes well-known writers with extensive experience in mobile phones, computing, technology, photography, and other fields.

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