iPad Pro 12.9in (2022) reviewon November 7, 2022 at 17:08 Tech Advisor

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At a glance

Expert’s Rating

Pros

Apple M2 provides unmatched performanceApple Pencil Hover Mode is great for creativesTop-end display experience with Mini-LED techThe best tablet experience around

Cons

Extremely expensive, especially in the UKNot many apps take advantage of M2 powerSimilar to previous-gen iPad Pro

Our Verdict

The iPad Pro 12.9in (2022) is undoubtedly the most capable tablet around in 2022, sporting a top-end 120Hz display and Apple’s M2 chipset, but it’s also very expensive – especially in the UK.

Price When Reviewed

£1,249 (128GB, Wi-Fi only)

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The iPad Pro 12.9 (2022) is undoubtedly the most capable iPad around, sporting Apple’s latest and greatest M2 chipset alongside Mini-LED technology that provides an OLED-like display that doesn’t sacrifice overall brightness, new Apple Pencil functionality, and an entirely new way to use the tablet using iPadOS 16’s Stage Manager.

But it’s also the most expensive tablet around, especially in the UK where it costs £250 more than its predecessor at the entry level, making it hard to recommend compared to the almost equally capable 2021 range that you’ll be able to find at a discount in late 2022.

With that said, is the iPad Pro 12.9in (2022) the tablet for you? Well…

Design & build

Same design as its predecessorSvelte, premium designOn the heavy side

The iPad Pro 12.9 (2022) is instantly recognisable as an iPad Pro because its design is near-identical to the previous few generations of Apple’s Pro tablet range. It’s even available in the same Space Grey or Silver finishes, lacking the more vibrant colour options of the iPad Air and 10th-gen iPad. This is a work device, and according to Apple’s design philosophy, that means it must look professional (see: boring).

That’s not to say that the iPad Pro isn’t a looker – it’s quite the opposite, in fact. It’s a supremely elegant device, with a large 12.9in display and a svelte chassis with angular edges that give it the same industrial look as other recent iPhones and iPads. It feels solid in the hand, though at 682g (and another 2g for the cellular model), it’s not the most portable tablet in Apple’s range.

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

There is a more notable bezel on the iPad Pro than iPhone users might be used to, but it’s actually welcome on tablets, giving you a bit of space to grip it without activating something on-screen. It’s also thick enough to house the Face ID smarts without any kind of notch for a clean viewing experience.

Face ID, for what it’s worth, is as excellent as ever, with quick unlocking without scrambling to find the Power/Touch ID button as with other iPads, and it can be used to access your Hidden and Recently Deleted photo albums and authenticate Apple Pay too.

The only oddity is the position of the selfie camera. It remains in the same position on the top edge of the iPad Pro in vertical orientation, while the new 10th-gen iPad boasts a centrally placed camera on its right side. It’s much better when in horizontal configuration, especially when paired with a keyboard case, as it means you’re looking directly into the camera and not awkwardly off to the right as with the iPad Pro.

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

Considering the work-focused nature of the iPad Pro range, it would’ve made sense to include it here as well as the entry-level iPad. It’s possible that the new camera placement could interfere with the Apple Pencil charge point as the 10th-gen iPad oddly still supports the first-gen Pencil, but we’ll never know for sure.  

Display & audio

Exceptional display qualityMini-LED really makes it stand outDecent stereo speaker experience

The 12.9in Super Retina XDR display of the iPad Pro is truly phenomenal, even when compared to the 11in iPad Pro.

It’s plenty bright and super sharp with a resolution of 2732 x 2048 that makes everything from watching movies on Disney+ to doodling in Procreate an absolute joy. The colours are accurate thanks to DCI-P3 support, everything feels smooth and responsive thanks to the 120Hz ProMotion tech and the dynamic range is incredible despite sporting an LCD display.

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

That’s down to the inclusion of Mini-LED tech, exclusive to the 12.9in model. For those unaware, Mini-LED uses a thin layer of tiny LEDs behind the LCD panel. These LEDs are grouped into 2,596 dimming zones across the iPad’s display with the ability to turn their light down so low that dark tones look truly black, rather than the grey-ish hue you get from standard LCD displays including the 11in iPad Pro.

It’s essentially as close as you’ll get to the deep blacks of OLED without actually using OLED, while also boasting superior brightness levels compared to even high-end OLED TVs, let alone OLED phones and tablets. The display boasts 1600nits of peak brightness when watching HDR content and 1000nits in HDR-enabled applications.

When you consider the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra tops out at around 600nits, it’s a truly impressive feat that provides an unmatched viewing experience on a tablet, especially when watching Dolby Vision HDR content via Apple TV and Netflix.

It does drop down to around 600nits when watching SDR content, but that’s still plenty for everyday use and should help extend battery life – an area where this year’s iPad Pro needs all the help it can get, but more on that in a bit.

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

Display tech aside, the large dimensions of the iPad Pro 12.9 mean it’s well suited not only to split-screen multitasking but drawing, video editing and word processing, as well as watching YouTube videos, streaming TikToks and playing the plethora of high-quality games available on Apple Arcade.

It really does offer the best display experience of any tablet right now, not just iPads.

Just as decent is the speaker setup, with speakers at both short ends of the iPad that provide an exceptional stereo sound experience that really helps immerse you into what you’re watching or playing. It’s plenty loud and of a good enough quality to casually listen to music if you’ve not got your headphones handy, though it unsurprisingly can’t quite handle heavy bass.

Accessories

Support for Magic Keyboard and second-gen Apple PencilNew Hover mode for Apple Pencil usersMagic Keyboard transforms the tablet into a laptop

As ever, the iPad Pro 12.9 is compatible with the Magic Keyboard that essentially turns your iPad into a fully-fledged laptop, as well as the second-generation Apple Pencil.

The Apple Pencil snaps onto the side of the iPad, both keeping it wirelessly topped up and easily available whenever needed, and it performs just as well as ever. The Pencil is accurate, with a 20ms response rate that makes it feel responsive in use, and it has decent tilt sensing and pressure detection too – though the latter can feel a little awkward given the hard plastic nib and the glass display. 

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

However, it now comes with a new trick up its sleeve in the form of Hover mode. But rather than needing to get a new Apple Pencil, the feature is primarily driven by the M2 chipset found within the latest Pro tablet range.

The idea is simple – when you hold the Apple Pencil close (around 12mm) to the display, the iPad can detect this and react. The default function is to display a preview of where your pen nib is on the display, making it much easier to accurately draw and note-take using the stylus, though it can also be used to highlight and enlarge app icons and buttons across iPadOS for easier selection.

It’s not new tech, available both on drawing tablets and Android stylus alternatives like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, but it’s the first time it has been available on Apple’s tablet range.

Apps can take advantage of the hover tech in different ways. In digital drawing app Procreate, for example, you can adjust the width and transparency of your brush with simple pinch gestures when hovering the Pencil just above the display. You’ll also get a preview of the new brush size and opacity beneath your Apple Pencil on-screen. Though it may seem small, these tweaks can really improve your workflow in creative apps.

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

The issue is that it’s not well implemented right now, as developers need to add specific support for the Hover mode functionality. That’ll likely change over the coming months, but those picking up the tablet at launch may be limited to using the tech in first-party apps like Notes until that happens.

The Apple Magic Keyboard is an exceptional, though very expensive, keyboard accessory that utilises a cantilever hinge and magnetic attachments to make your iPad appear as if it’s floating above the keyboard, and the angle is adjustable too. The keyboard provides a solid typing experience, and with full trackpad support in iPadOS, you’ll find yourself using the trackpad more than the touchscreen when connected.

I’ve waxed lyrical about the Magic Keyboard plenty of times before, so I won’t focus too much here, but just know that it really does turn your iPad into something close to a laptop, especially with the new Stage Manager tech enabled – but more on that later.

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

Performance & specs

Apple M2 chipset is the most powerful aroundCan handle anything you can throw at itNeeds more desktop-level apps to take advantage of the M2

One of the main upgrades of this generation of iPad Pro is the introduction of the M2 chipset, and to say that it’s massively powerful might be an understatement.

It’s not a cut-down version of the chip found in the M2 MacBook Air and M2 MacBook Pro either – it’s the same chipset, sporting an eight-core CPU, split into four high-speed performance cores and four energy-efficient cores, along with a 10-core GPU powering the graphical experience.

That massively powerful chipset is paired with 8GB of RAM on the 128, 256 and 512GB models, with the 1TB & 2TB models boosting the RAM up to a whopping 16GB. For reference, I’ve been provided with a 1TB model for review.  

As you might expect from that combination, performance on the iPad Pro is simply unmatched in the tablet space, and it’ll leave a few laptops in the dust too, with a Geekbench 5 multi-core score of 8429. Compared to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra’s 3396, it’s in a totally different league.

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

I suspect that to also be the case when it comes to graphical performance, but I’m awaiting support for the latest 12.9in model in the benchmarking software I use. Check back soon for a full benchmark breakdown.   

Of course, those are just benchmarks, but it’s safe to say that level of performance is mirrored in real life. I tried my absolute best to make the iPad Pro struggle, running multiple high-power apps at once with Stage Manager, adding multiple tracks of colour-corrected 4K video to Luma Fusion and just about anything else to make it sweat, but I couldn’t. Not once. And to be honest, I don’t think there are many users that could.

It’s gotten to the point where the chipset is vastly more powerful than apps on the platform demand, and that means you’re not really going to see the extra performance benefits of the M2 chipset in most scenarios. The M1 introduced in the 2021 iPad Pro range is still incredibly capable, especially for a tablet, and there aren’t many apps that take advantage of that, let alone the M2.

Apple has confirmed that there are apps coming to the iPad to better take advantage of the raw power of the Apple silicon chipset, including the likes of Octane X that can render polygons in real-time and export in HDR, and video editing suite DaVinci Resolve, complete with real-time editing and colour correction just like its desktop counterpart, as well as smart object isolation via the M2’s neural engine, but they’re not here just yet.

Apple and developers need to make me feel like I really need the M2 chipset to get the most out of the iPad Pro experience, and right now, that doesn’t really feel like the case. It’s insanely powerful and it’ll remain that way for years to come as apps play catch-up, making it very future-proofed, but don’t expect to notice huge real-world gains on the already impressive M1 iPad Pro.

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

Elsewhere, the addition of Wi-Fi 6E support is a nice touch for the few of us that have a Wi-Fi 6E router, taking advantage of the latest wireless tech to provide a consistent and fast wireless browsing experience. It’s especially handy for large file transfers over Wi-Fi.

There’s also improved 5G connectivity on the cellular model with support for more bands worldwide, though download and upload speeds will depend massively on the 5G coverage in your region.

Cameras & photography

Cameras physically remain unchangedNew ProRes video recordingGreat for video calls

The camera setup remains largely unchanged compared to the previous generation of iPad Pro, bar the ability to record in ProRes video for the first time. That said, you’re looking at the same main 12Mp snapper alongside a 10Mp ultrawide and a LiDAR sensor for rapid autofocus and improved AR/3D scanning capabilities, with the latter arguably being one of the main uses for the camera on the tablet.

That’s not to say the camera quality isn’t decent – it’s capable of capturing great quality images with solid brightness, nice colours and fair amounts of detail – but it’s hard to imagine anyone wielding a 12.9in tablet for any serious photography, especially when recent iPhones have much more capable cameras.

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

The front-facing 12Mp is arguably more useful, ideal for use in video conferencing apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams as well as the occasional FaceTime chat. The ultra-wide camera automatically crops into your face using Apple’s Center Stage tech, and it’ll follow you as you move around the room, great for presentations and chats while you’re making dinner in the kitchen.

However, without the improved camera placement of the iPad 10, you’re still looking slightly to the right in video chats.

When it comes to video, the rear camera is capable of recording 4K@60fps with ProRes support, though without the Dolby Vision HDR of iPhone counterparts, while the front camera outputs at a maximum of 1080p@60fps. As with photos, the video quality is fine, but it lacks features compared to recent iPhones (particularly the iPhone 14 Pro range) and it’s hard to imagine anyone using it aside from the occasional impromptu snap or video. 

Software

Stage Manager has potentialLatest update fixes long-time complaintsiPadOS still offers the best tablet experience

Stage Manager is the key new feature in iPadOS 16, available on select models of iPad Pro and the M1-enabled iPad Air too. It essentially brings the iPad experience closer to that of a Mac than ever, with window-based apps that you can resize and move wherever you like on the display.

It’s probably first worth noting that you’ll have to enable Stage Manager via the Settings app if you want to use it, and you can switch between it and the standard Apple multi-tasking experience whenever you like.

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

Once enabled, you’ll be able to resize any app open on-screen by dragging from the bottom-right corner, though it snaps into preset sizes rather than letting you dictate the exact shape of the window. That window can then be moved around the display as you’d like. You can also drag app icons from the bottom of the screen to open them side-by-side, organising the windows however you’d like.

There’s also an entirely new row of apps and app groups to the left of the display that provides a way to quickly switch between apps you’ve used recently.

The idea is solid, but the problem is that it’s still a little clunky in use, and Apple doesn’t do a great job of explaining the nuances of the feature when initially enabling it. There’s a lot of trial and error when working out how to open apps, what the icons on the right of the display do and the ideal layout of multiple apps, even on a display as big as the iPad Pro 12.9.

It’ll make more sense once Apple introduces external display support later this year, allowing you to run iPad apps across multiple displays, but that won’t change the tablet-only experience.

For me, I prefer the standard split-screen multitasking when on the iPad Pro, but others may disagree. It really does depend on your workflow and how you use apps on iPad.

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

Stage Manager aside, iPadOS 16 brings other much-needed improvements to the iPad experience including the ability to send messages later in the Mail app, a dedicated Weather app (finally!) and the ability to edit and unsend messages, though it misses out on the customisable lockscreen functionality of iOS 16. Maybe in iPadOS 17…

Overall, the iPad provides arguably the best tablet experience around. Though Android-based tablets have made a resurgence in recent times, and some with better tech than some cheaper iPads, they still can’t compete on the software front.

iPadOS is easy to use, it’s slick in operation and the App Store is filled with apps tailored to the iPad and the big-screen experience. It’s much better than opening an app on an Android tablet to find it’s simply a stretched version of the phone app with no tablet optimisation. It also boasts a number of Pro-focused apps like Luma Fusion for video editing and Procreate for drawing that simply aren’t available on Android tablets.

Throw in the ecosystem support with features like Hand Off, allowing you to continue what you were doing on another Apple device, AirPlay, iCloud Library syncing and the ability to copy on one device and paste on another (such an underrated feature for cross-device use!), and it’s hard to compete with what Apple offers.

Battery life & charging

Up to 10 hours (officially)More notable power drain than other iPadsRelatively slow charging at 20W

The iPad, no matter the size or shape, has always had a battery life of up to 10 hours officially – though most are capable of going past that mark as long as you’re not too demanding with the apps and games you’re using. However, for the first time, it feels as if Apple’s 10-hour claim is largely true to life, based on my time drawing, word processing and watching TV shows using Apple’s latest 12.9in tablet.

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

I’m not what I’d describe as an iPad power user – I follow a few YouTube tutorials for doodling on Procreate using the Apple Pencil, play the occasional game with a DualSense controller connected and use it to watch TikToks and YouTube – but even I’ve noticed a downtick in battery life compared to previous 12.9in models.

That’s true even when in standby. While I’d usually expect an iPad in standby mode to last for a few days before needing a top-up, I found the iPad Pro 12.9 dead on several occasions when I reached for it.

That experience is much more noticeable when you’re running power-hungry apps and games on the tablet, with the iPad Pro 12.9 dropping by around 10% in just half an hour when using Procreate with the display brightness cranked to a comfortable level. Dropping the brightness does help, but considering one of the big draws of the Mini-LED display is brightness, it feels a little counterproductive.

As expected, battery drain is also notable when running multiple apps on screen at once.

That’s not to say you’ll have a 12.9in paperweight within a few hours of use – I could usually squeeze about 7-8 hours of use out of the tablet before it’d need a top-up – but it’s not quite as long-lasting as some might expect, especially for pro-level users wanting to put the M2 chip to the test.

The iPad Pro 12.9in sports the same 20W fast charging as other iPads, and it still comes with a charger in the box despite Apple ditching the brick with iPhone and Apple Watch sales. That’s not exactly super-fast charging, but it’ll still provide 17% in 15 minutes, 35% in 30 minutes with a full charge in around two hours.   

Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry

Price & availability

The iPad Pro 12.9in starts at the same $1,099 in the US as its predecessor, complete with 128GB of storage. That price only continues to increase as the storage does, with the top-end model coming in at $2,199, and that’s without an Apple Pencil or Magic Keyboard.

While that’s pricy enough, it’s a much more dismal story for those in the UK. The new iPad Pro 12.9 sees a massive £250 increase at the entry level, taking it from £999 to £1,249 for the 128GB model, with the top-end 2TB model coming in at a whopping £2,499. That’s a serious price to pay for a tablet, even one as capable as the iPad Pro, when you can pick up a MacBook Pro for the same price.

It makes the iPad Pro 12.9in harder to justify than ever for those in the UK, especially considering the relatively minor upgrades on offer. It may be better to look for a still-capable iPad Pro 12.9in M1 from last year, which will likely have dropped even further from its £999 RRP in the wake of the new model becoming available.

That all said, you can buy the iPad Pro 12.9in from Apple itself alongside retailers like Best Buy and Amazon in the US, and Amazon and John Lewis in the UK. I cover where to buy the iPad Pro (2022) range in more detail separately if you’re interested in finding out more.

Verdict

The iPad Pro 12.9in is the most capable tablet around, sporting Apple’s desktop-level M2 chipset that provides unmatched power, one of the best displays around with a 120Hz refresh rate and mini-LED backlighting that allows it to compete with OLED displays while being much brighter, and it looks premium too.

The experience is improved even more with the Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard, with the latter turning the tablet into a fully-fledged laptop replacement, though those are premium additions to an already very premium tablet, especially in the UK with a £250 increase at the entry level.

The issue is, the iPad Pro 12.9in (2021) is just as capable with the same display tech and overall design. Though it misses out on the Hover mode and M2 chipset, the M1 of that range is still comfortably more powerful than most of the competition, and it’ll be available at a discount now.

That said, be sure that you’ll make good use of the latest iPad Pro-specific features before dropping the cash, as you might find a much cheaper iPad that’ll serve your needs.

Specs

280 x 215 x 6.4mm682g (Wi-Fi)/684g (Cellular)M2 chipset8/16GB of RAM128GB – 2TB of storage12.9in (2732 x 2048 pixels) Super Retina XDR displayMini-LED LCD tech120Hz refresh rateFront-facing 12MP wide (f/1.8) cameraRear-facing 12Mp wide (f/1.8) and 10Mp ultra-wide (125-degree, f/2.4) cameraUp to 4K@60fps video with ProRes supportWi-Fi 6E, optional 5G
Apple, iPad, Tablets

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