A purple iPhone. That’s what seemed to get the most attention at this week’s product announcement from Apple. The only difference between this week’s iPhone and any other is the color. More substantive announcements included a new iMac, a much upgraded iPad Pro, an upgraded Apple TV and an AirTag.
The most significant announcements were the new version of the iMac and the new iPad Pro. The new iMac joins the growing number of Macintosh computers with Apple’s M1 processor chip. It has a new, much thinner 24-inch 4.5K Retina display, and it’s available in seven colors. The new iMac weights in at under 10 pounds, and has some cool features, including a combined power supply and Ethernet connector in which both power and networking share one magnetically-attached cable.
The new iPad Pro is probably the most substantial product announcement. While both iPad Pro models are getting upgrades, the larger 12.9-inch iPad is transformed. The screen on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro now sports Apple’s XDR technology, formerly only found in Apple’s Pro Display XDR. This new iPad display now includes a new LED backlighting system that has thousands of tiny diodes behind the screen, providing a new level of brightness and dynamic range. The screen features locale dimming sones and 1600 nits peak brightness in XDR mode (the 11-inch iPad has 600 nits).
Both of the new iPad Pro models get Apple’s M1 processor and both include a new 12-megapixel camera system, plus a 10-megapixel ultra wide camera on the rear, and another 12-megapixel ultra wide camera on the front of the iPad which is also use for Apple’s Face ID. The iPad Pros can record 4K and HD video up to 60 frames per second. They support high dynamic range and they have image stabilization.
Both iPads now support 5G, including millimeter wave in the cellular versions, as well as WiFi 6. They also support Thunderbolt 3 and USB 4. As has been the case in the last couple of models of iPad, the Lightening port is gone replaced with a USB-C port, and it comes with a USB-C charger. Despite Apple’s colorful trends elsewhere, the only colors available for iPad Pro is Space Gray and Silver.
Apple has held the line on pricing for iPad Pro, with the 11-inch WiFi model starting at $799 and the larger model going for $1099. A fully configured 12.9-inch iPad Pro with cellular and 2 terabytes of storage will cost $2399, not including accessories.
The M1 processor is a significant upgrade for iPad Pro. This is the same M1 chip that powers the Macintosh line (except for the remaining Intel-based Macs), and it brings a lot of compute power to this tablet. The M1 is an 8-core chip with four performance cores and four efficiency cores. There’s an eight-core GPU and a 16-core neural engine. Models with one or two terabytes of storage get 16 gigabytes of RAM, while the others get eight gigabytes.
You can order the new iPad Pros on April 30, with availability in the second half of May.
When you take a look at the new iPad Pro tablets, and compare them with the latest MacBook computers, you notice that there is a lot of similarity. The biggest differences, other than the obvious attached keyboard on the MadBook are things like battery life and weight. But the iPads seem to deliver almost everything the MacBook offers for less money and a lower weight.
But the Smaller MacBooks?
Of course the MacBook has longer battery life at 18 hours versus 10 hours for the iPad. But the iPad has a touchscreen and Face ID. The MacBook runs Mac OS, while the iPad runs iPadOS. Even the screen size is similar between the smaller MacBooks and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. You can actually get a better keyboard on the iPad versus the MacBook. And the 12.9-inch iPad has a much better display than the MacBook.
Of course the larger MacBook Pro 16” has a bigger screen, supports far more memory and storage, and costs a lot more. But the smaller MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13” seem outclassed by the new iPad.
All of this makes one wonder about the continued existence of the smaller MacBooks.