The iPad Pro 11 (2021) offers PC-like performance on a tablet, thanks to its impressive M1 chipset. That said, it feels like the iPad is at a stage where Apple really needs to up its software game to match the hardware.
Desktop PC-level performance
Lightweight and portable form factor
Good battery life
iPadOS doesn't utilize the power of M1
Doesn’t feature an XDR display
Can get quite pricey with higher storage
Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.
The iPad Pro 11 (2021) is an impressive tablet that incorporates most of the features of its larger sibling – the iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) – but in a more manageable size.
Apple’s slate combines the same stellar IPS panel found on the previous generation of iPads with a Pro Motion 120Hz display and Apple’s M1 chipset – a processor that provides laptop-quality performance – to create a device that is not only one of the best iPads, it's also one of the best tablets full stop. You can also choose between models that come with up to 16GB of RAM, 2TB of storage, and optional support for 5G connectivity, with the higher-end models feeling more future-proof than any tablet that Apple has made before.
So even though Apple has now launched the new and improved iPad Pro 11 (2022) and iPad Pro 12.9 (2022) – both of which come with the improved M2 chip – you're not going to be let down too much by this older model.
That said the iPad Pro 11 (2021) is not perfect. Most notably this smaller model is missing the Liquid Retina XDR Mini LED display which is the standout feature of 2021’s top-end iPad Pro.
Additionally, the iPad Pro’s specs seem almost a bit too good for what the majority of users will need. Unless you’re planning to use the iPad for video editing and other labor-intensive tasks you may find that the tablet isn’t taking full advantage of all the power that’s on tap.
Even with impressive features like magical Center Stage – which tracks subjects or zooms into the scene based on what’s in the frame – iPadOS is still a bit too restrictive. Multi-tasking still isn’t very intuitive, external display support is weak, file management is still very basic, and options to expand the iPad’s functionality via accessories are still limited.
Editor’s note: this review is specifically for the iPad Pro 11-inch. Want to know about the 12.9-inch model? Read our iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) review.
iPad Pro 11 (2021): price and availability
- Out now
- Starts at $799 / £749 / AU$1,199
Dimensions: 247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9mm
Display size: 11-inch
Display type: Liquid Retina display
Resolution: 1668 x 2388
Refresh rate: 120Hz
Chipset: Apple M1
RAM: 8GB / 16GB
Storage: 128GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB / 2TB
OS: iPadOS 14.5
Rear camera: 12MP + 10MP + ToF
Front camera: 12MP
Battery: 28.65-watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery
The iPad Pro 11 (2021) is now available to buy from most major retailers; however, if you’re shopping online you won’t be able to buy it from Apple’s own store as it only sells the most recent iPad models.
Pricing on the 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $799 / £749 / AU$1,199 which gets you 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage in a Wi-Fi-only configuration. Alternatively, you can max out your tablet’s specs and opt for a model with 2TB storage and 5G connectivity that will set you back an eye-watering $2,099 / £1,899 / AU$3,099.
If the price is a concern, you might instead prefer the cheaper iPad Air (2022) which comes with the same M1 processor as the 2021 iPad Pro models – though Apple has made a few concessions with the Air to bring the price down.
- Looking to get an iPad Pro? Here are the best iPad Pro deals
iPad Pro 11 (2021): design
- Slim, relatively light and comfortable to hold
- Camera placement isn't ideal for video calls
The iPad Pro is available in 11-inch and 12.9-inch models, and if you want to use it primarily as a tablet rather than a stand-in for a laptop, the smaller version is definitely the one to choose. In terms of size and design, the 2021 11-inch iPad Pro is identical to 2020’s model. It has dimensions of 178.5 x 247.6mm with a thickness of just 5.9mm and is slightly lighter than its predecessor at 466 grams.
This makes the iPad Pro 11 (2021) comfortable to hold and easy to use, and with an aluminum frame and back, and rounded corners, the iPad continues to feel like a premium device. It’s available in just two colors: Space Grey and Silver, which is a shame, as we’d have loved to see this iPad Pro available in more colors, just like the iMac and indeed the iPad Air.
Button and port placement is similar to older iPad Pro models, with the volume keys on the right when you’re holding the tablet in portrait orientation, with the power button on the top and the thunderbolt-equipped USB-C port at the bottom. There are four speakers, located on the top and bottom if you’re holding the iPad in portrait, or on the sides in landscape – the preferred orientation for watching videos.
Unfortunately, the camera continues to remain on top of the iPad in portrait orientation, which isn’t ideal for video calls if you’re talking to a group of people and have the tablet in landscape mode, as it’s off to one side. There’s a SIM card slot on the right edge, and the pin connector on the back for attaching the Magic Keyboard. As on the previous iPad, the Apple Pencil magnetically attaches to the right edge, where it also charges.
iPad Pro 11 (2021): display
- 11-inch 1668 x 2388 screen with a 120Hz refresh rate
- Lacks the mini-LED tech of the larger model
Up until 2020, the display specs of the larger 12.9-inch model and the 11-inch model were identical. However, for 2021, Apple has introduced a new XDR display on the larger 12.9-inch model powered by mini-LED technology, which the 11-inch version misses out on.
That’s not to say the iPad Pro 11-inch has a bad display – far from it. You still get Apple’s IPS display, with excellent color fidelity and ProMotion technology that enables a 120Hz refresh rate for fast and smooth scrolling. The higher refresh rate also improves the Apple Pencil experience, with lower latency.
However, considering how intrinsic the display is to the tablet experience, if you don’t mind the larger size of the iPad Pro 12.9-inch – and you can afford the extra outlay – we’d recommend that you go for the larger model. The much higher peak brightness and the contrast ratios on the larger iPad make for a screen that’s simply stunning.
iPad Pro 11 (2021): specs, performance and cameras
- Powerful M1 chipset
- Up to 16GB of RAM
The iPad Pro 11 (2021) takes a leap from an iPhone processor to the Mac processor, which will give it plenty of future-proofing headroom and allow it to comfortably run the next generation of apps. The M1 processor brings this generation of the iPad Pro up to the same level of performance as the latest M1 Macs, and with up to 16GB of RAM and 2TB of storage, it’s effectively a high-end computer in a tablet form factor.
The table below compares the benchmark scores of the latest iPad Pro 2021 to 2020’s model.
|Row 0 - Cell 0||iPad Pro 2021||iPad Pro 2020|
|3D Mark Wildfire Score||16972||9984|
|3D Mark Wildfire FPS||101.1||59|
Looking at the table above, you can clearly see how ridiculously fast the 2021 iPad Pro is. The M1 processor coupled with 16GB RAM makes opening and switching between apps faster than on any other tablet, and also on most PCs out there.
Having said that, when it comes to real-world use the 2021 iPad Pro only performs a little better than 2020’s model. If you're just looking to do the things you normally do on a tablet, such as browse the web, consume media, and write emails and documents, the power inside this iPad Pro almost seems overkill.
It would also be nice to see Apple releasing its own pro-level apps, such as Final Cut Pro or Motion, for the iPad. Considering that the iPad Pros now have identical hardware to Macs, we really see no reason why Apple can’t make this happen.
What is impressive, and very enjoyable, on the iPad Pro is Center Stage – it’s pure Apple magic. When you’re using the ultra-wide camera on the front of the iPad, the framing is automatically adjusted to keep you, or a group of people, in the center of the picture. Have a look at this video below, keeping in mind that there’s no camera movement at all – it’s just software framing.
There are two rear cameras on the iPad Pro 11 (2021): 12MP wide and 10MP ultrawide. We’re not huge fans of using the back cameras on a tablet, but they’re there if you need them, and provide decent image quality. The lidar sensor also makes a comeback for use with AR apps, though we’ve not found many use-case scenarios for that since Apple added it to the iPad in 2020.
iPad Pro 11 (2021): accessories
- Compatible with the Apple Pencil and keyboards
- Accessories are all sold separately
The iPad ecosystem has grown recently, with multiple manufacturers offering a variety of protective cases, keyboard covers, and stylus options.
The 2021 version of the iPad Pro 11-inch works with the Apple Pencil, as well as with Apple's Magic Keyboards. Though if you think Apple's own accessories are a bit pricey, Logitech produces a range of keyboard covers and iPad styluses that are almost identical to the real thing (they are just a fraction of the cost).
iPad Pro 11 (2021): battery life
- Apple claims you'll get 10 hours of usage on Wi-Fi
- We experienced 8 hours of mixed usage
There hasn’t been any change in terms of the iPad Pro 11 (2021)’s battery capacity or claimed battery life compared to 2020’s model. This iPad Pro has a 28.65-watt-hour battery that Apple claims gives you 10 hours of usage of the Wi-Fi model and nine hours on the 5G model using cellular data.
Obviously, the mileage varies depending on what tasks you’re using the iPad for. For example, rendering 4K videos or 3D models will definitely inflict a bigger hit on the battery than watching a movie on Netflix or browsing the web. With mixed usage, we were able to get eight hours from a full charge.
We did notice the battery depleting a tad faster, especially in standby mode with the Magic Keyboard connected, which makes sense, as that accessory draws power from the iPad Pro.
The charging speed for the iPad Pro is 18W, which is lower than many other competing tablets in the market; however, the strong battery life along with the excellent stand-by time means charging isn’t something you need to worry about much. Thankfully, Apple does provide a charger in the box with the iPad, which isn’t something iPhone users can say.
Should I buy the iPad Pro 11 (2021)?
Buy it if...
You want an iPad that will last five years
This iPad Pro 11 is super-capable when it comes to hardware, and should last you a good number of years. The M1 processor will surely take the iPad into new territories.
You want a companion device to your main computer
The iPad makes a wonderful companion to your larger-screen laptop or desktop computer, making it easy to do a range of every day takes quickly and easily, and its 11-inch screen means it’s more easily portable than the larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
Your workload is straightforward
If your work routine is fairly straightforward – writing emails, creating documents, and researching on the web, then the iPad with the Apple Pencil can capably serve as your primary computing device.
Don’t buy it if...
You’re looking for the best 2021 iPad
With the 12.9-inch iPad Pro sporting Apple’s latest and greatest XDR display, the iPad to get is the larger one. The mini LED screen technology is a generation ahead and makes HDR content stand out.
You want an affordable tablet
The iPad Pro is plenty powerful, but it's also on the pricey side. If all you want from your tablet is to browse the web, watch videos and work on documents there are much cheaper alternatives that will do the job just as well – Apple’s iPad Air or even the regular iPad, not to mention Android slates from the likes of Samsung.
You push your computer to limits
As powerful as this iPad Pro is it’s limited by iPadOS. Apple could improve things by implementing a desktop-like browsing experience, better file management, and multi-window support, but right now even the best iPad can’t fully replace a similarly powerful computer.
If our iPad Pro 11 (2021) review hasn't swayed you, then one of these three alternative options might pique your interest.
iPad Pro 12.9 (2021)
The 12.9-inch model is the obvious alternative, as it's a very similar slate but with a bigger screen and better display technology, using Mini LEDs for its display to deliver superior image quality. Of course, it also costs more.
Check out our iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) review
Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra is the top tablet Samsung has to offer at the time of writing. It's much bigger at 14.6 inches, and it has a superior screen, but it's not quite as powerful as Apple's slate.
Check out our Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra review
iPad Air (2022)
The iPad Air (2022) has the same M1 chipset as this iPad Pro, so performance is similar, and the screen is only a little bit smaller at 10.9 inches. It's also cheaper, but its display has a lower refresh rate, it has fewer cameras, and it comes with less storage.
Check out our iPad Air (2022) review
First reviewed: July 2021
Abbas has been living and breathing tech before phones became smart or clouds started storing data. It all started when he got his very first computer- the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. From computers to mobile phones and watches, Abbas is always interested in tech that is smarter and smaller because he believes that tech shouldn’t be something that gets added to your life- it should be a part of your life.