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Hands-on with the new iPad Pro M4: Absurdly thin and light, but the screen steals the show

These iPads cost a ton of money, but the display might make it worth it.

Photo by Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

The new 11- and 13-inch iPad Pro models that Apple just introduced may be completely redesigned from the outside in, but they still feel a lot like their predecessors. That's not a bad thing, as the old iPad Pro design was outstanding. But there's no doubt Apple is flexing its hardware engineering muscles with these new tablets, not just with the M4 chip inside.

Both tablets are noticeably thinner and lighter than the ones they replace, something I didn't really think was possible before. It's frankly a little absurd to see such a thin and light device with such an advanced display and powerful processor. It still feels like the prior iPad Pro, just in a more refined package. My big question is around durability, something Apple mentioned during its keynote — I'd be a little worried about bending these iPads, but hopefully this is something Apple rigorously tested for. But it has had issues with thin products bending before (albeit a long time ago).

Apple iPad Pro 2024
Apple iPad Pro 2024 (Photo by Nathan Ingraham / Engadget)

After the impressive physical specifications, the next thing you can't miss is the OLED screen. Technically, it's a "Tandem OLED" screen, a display layer that is thinner than the one in the old iPad Pro which helped Apple achieve the wild thinness here. In Apple's extremely bright demo area, the iPad Pro screen showed its quality — everything was extremely clear, blacks were pitch-black and colors really popped. After looking at the iPad Air display, it was obvious how much better these screens are. The viewing angles were particularly impressive to me, as images on the screen remained sharp, bright and clear no matter how I positioned the tablet.

I also got a chance to check out the Apple Pencil Pro, which looks and feels nearly identical to the second-generation Apple Pencil revealed way back in 2018. That's OK, as the form factor is fine with me. It still connects to the side of the iPad Pro to charge and pair; all of its new tricks are under the hood. Squeezing the Pencil gives you a little burst of haptic feedback and pulls up a pane for selecting what brush you want to use in the FreeForm app demo I tried. But that action is customizable by third-party developers so the squeeze can do whatever is appropriate for the app you're using. The gyroscope, meanwhile, lets you spin the Pencil as you draw to change angles of your brush on the fly.

Apple iPad Pro 2024
Apple iPad Pro 2024 (Photo by Nathan Ingraham / Engadget)

Unfortunately, we didn't get to try the new Magic Keyboard Apple is producing for the iPad Pro, but Apple says it's thinner and lighter than the old model. That older one will still be available for the iPad Air.

Between the display, the M4 processor and the new dimensions of the iPad Pro, this feels like a major update for Apple's best tablet, with a price to match. Both the 11- and 13-inch iPad Pro are $200 more than their predecessors: the 11-inch model starts at $999, while the 13-inch is a whopping $1,299. But hey, at least storage now starts at 256GB! That pricing firmly puts these iPads out of reach for normal humans, and that's OK — most people will be more than happy with a tablet like the iPad Air. If you want this wildly impressive screen, though, you're going to pay for it.

You can also read my first impressions of the new M2-powered iPad Air right here.

11-inch iPad Pro 2024
11-inch iPad Pro 2024 (Photo by Nathan Ingraham / Engadget)

Follow all of the news live from Apple's 'Let Loose' event right here.