The new generation of Apple tablet Pro takes a giant step forward and for the first time embeds the same chip as the Macs, namely the SoC M1, unveiled last year in the MacBook Air, 13-inch MacBook Pro (entry level) and Mac mini. Since the chip has also appeared in the new 24-inch iMac. Omnipresent, it seems to adapt perfectly to all these devices, however different in their form. We had the opportunity to test it in the12.9-inch iPad Pro, now it’s the 11-inch model’s turn. What does this more compact iPad give? What is the Liquid Retina panel worth – but not XDR, because it lacks miniLED technology? What impact does M1 have on autonomy? Lots of questions, and obviously as many answers …
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A classic slab, but very well made
Let’s start with what we see at first glance. No, not the design, which remains identical to that of the 2020 model, with its straight vertical edges and pleasant in the hand, its well-finished aluminum back, its welcome compactness, and its fine borders around the screen. Yes, let’s start with the screen.
This year Apple introduced miniLED backlight technology, but for the 12.9-inch model only. The 11-inch iPad Pro therefore retains the Liquid Retina panel of 2388 x 1668 pixels for a resolution of 264 pixels per inch. It offers ProMotion technologies, for varying the display refresh rate, P3, for a wide color gamut, and True Tone, for adjusting the heat of the display according to the ambient lighting.
Our measurements give it a brightness of 618 cd / m2, against 630 on the 11-inch model released in 2020. The contrast is excellent at 1873: 1 (against 1800: 1 last year). Finally, its Delta E 2000 is very good, but much less than the incredible result obtained with the previous model.
In use, the panel is very pleasant to look at, whether for working (we feel a little more cramped than on a 13-inch MacBook or on the iPad Pro 12.9, but we can still juxtapose two windows without worry), for gaming or watching a movie. Especially since the sound is still powerful and well distributed.
M1, power, a little cramped?
For its 2021 Pro tablets, Apple has therefore decided not to play the usual card of the direct variation of a chip previously released with the iPhone. The 2020 models thus carried the A12Z, an evolution of the A12. This change puts iPad Pro directly in competition with MacBooks, or Windows PCs. It also comes with more RAM. Like the iPad Pro 12.9, the 11-inch model can carry 8 or 16 GB of unified RAM. This last capacity is reserved for those who will choose the largest storage spaces: 1 or 2 TB.
We tested a model with 8 GB. Two things to say about it. First of all, it’s two gigabytes of RAM more than on the iPad Pro 2020. Second, the difference in performance between models equipped with 8 or 16 GB is not necessarily obvious. It just brings a little more flexibility when running heavy applications or multitasking a lot. In the long run, this should also impact the tablet’s ability to weather the brunt of OS updates, but don’t buy a 1TB model, just for the 16GB of memory.
Anyway, if we compare the performance of the 2021 11-inch iPad Pro to the performance of its 2020 equivalent and theiPad Air, equipped with the A14, what do we see? Obviously, the domination of the M1 chip. With Geekbench 5, it is 53.6% more powerful than the A12Z for multi-core tests and almost 87% more powerful for the Compute part. If you are looking for power, then the iPad Pro is the place to be.
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Then we turn to 3DMark Wild Life. This recent benchmarking tool has two main advantages. On the one hand, it makes it possible to measure the general performance of the device under test, while emphasizing the graphics part, but, on the other hand, it also allows it to undergo a small stress test. A long stress test, of about twenty minutes, which allows to see if the chip is forced to reduce the airfoil over time if it gets too hot.
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In this case, what do we see? First of all, at its best, the M1 is 71.7% more efficient than the A12Z with this tool. Then, that its worse test result is 45.6% higher than that of the 11-inch iPad Pro 2020. But what is interesting to note is that the stability of the performance is less good for the iPad. Pro equipped with an M1. In other words, the chip heats up and must further reduce its performance. Fortunately, these are good enough to stay a lot better than the previous generation.
However, it is interesting to note that this may be reaching the limits of exercise M1. Indeed, the 11-inch iPad Pro is the most compact form factor in which the Apple Silicon SoC is embedded. 3Dmark Wild Life gives it a stability rate of 62%, against 73% for the 2020 iPad Pro 11 or 84.1% for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The size of the case therefore plays a good role in heat dissipation.
Nevertheless, during our different uses: games, video editing, small programming exercises, we have never been confronted with inopportune slowdowns due to throttling. The power is therefore there, at your disposal, when it is needed.
Autonomy in clear progression
As on the MacBooks, the presence of the M1 rhymes with power and low energy consumption. Which, at the level of the iPad makes it possible to obtain very good autonomy through our two separate tests. The first, the versatile autonomy test, simulates rather intensive daily use (Web, word processing, video, etc.). It gives the 2021 11-inch iPad Pro 1:27 p.m., which is 19 minutes longer than the previous generation and almost as good as the 12.9-inch iPad Pro released this year.
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In streaming video playback, the gain is similar although a little less. We note 12:19, against 12:06 for the 2020 generation.
The good news doesn’t end there. The 2021 11-inch iPad Pro also charges a little faster. So, no, we are not at the level of rapid recharging of certain Android smartphones, far from it, but we are making progress. It takes 2h26 to charge the battery from 0 to 100%, where it took 2h42 with last year’s model. We gain a good quarter of an hour. Let us rejoice in it.
iPadOS 14, good, while waiting for a better one
Currently, the 11-inch iPad Pro runs iPadOS 14, which comes with all the good and bad that we know. Apple’s operating system is rich in a large number of applications dedicated to tablets, perfectly optimized, extremely varied, from powerful production tools to games whose graphics do not have to be ashamed of certain titles released on home consoles – a bit lacking in ray-tracing, maybe.
The 11-inch is also perfect for reading manga, comics, and “Franco-Belgian” comics – even if for the latter format its big brother is a little better -, it is more compact than the 12.9-inch model and will tire out. less to hold on when you run a marathon The attack of the Titans or you will dive back into the excellent Rachel Rising.
Associated with a keyboard, preferably using the Smart Connectors, the 11-inch iPad Pro also takes on the air of an ultra-compact and versatile PC – the touch screen opens up very controlled note-taking and drawing uses if you invest in an Apple Pencil (from 2at generation).
But once again, it must be recognized that it is much more comfortable as a tablet than as a production machine. Not because of its power, the question has been resolved for a while, but for ergonomic and tool questions. The constrained windowing, the absence of an office, the handling that is not always quick or intuitive to move from one workspace to another, etc. make multitasking still a bit frustrating. Good news, things will improve with iPadOS 15 – without however solving everything based on our first experiences.
The verdict of the test
Apple iPad Pro 11 pouces 2021 512 Go Wi-Fi + 5G
By embedding the SoC M1, the iPad Pro protects itself from the lack of power and ensures very good autonomy on a daily basis. Its Liquid Retina display does not take advantage of the miniLED backlighting, but is bright and contrasting enough to flirt with excellence. Its unchanged design is still just as pleasing to the eye and in the hand, perfect for reading, surfing the web or gaming. When you want to work, and add a keyboard, you then have in front of you an almost small laptop, whether you use an Apple keyboard or a Combo Touch, from Logitech.
Only downside then, again and again, the limits of iPadOS 14, which struggles to be both a tablet and PC operating system, two very different worlds in uses at Apple. iPadOS 15 should streamline things and correct some concerns, and obviously the 2021 11-inch iPad Pro will benefit. For now, it will have to be content with being an excellent tablet, but only a medium PC.