Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2022) review: Best in class

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Apple refreshed its iPad line in October with a 10th generation of the standard iPad, coupled with new models of the iPad Pro - both the 12.9-inch and 11-inch variants.

While the iPad (10th generation) got a design shake up though - and a great one at that - the upgrades to the iPad Pro models were internal rather than external.

That's no bad thing though, because the iPad Pro's design was already great and the M2 chip upgrade on this model makes it a bottomless pit of power. That power comes with a very steep price tag though - especially for the 12.9-inch model - so is it worth it and should you buy it? Here's our review.

Superior design

  • Same design as 2021 model
  • Silver or Space Grey colours
  • Dimensions: 281 x 215 x 6.4mm
  • Weight: 682g (Wi-Fi), 685g (5G)

Apple sticks with the same design as the predecessor of the iPad Pro 12.9-inch - and the model before that - but that design is an excellent one. It's a classic case of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" and while some minor changes could perhaps have been implemented this time around, the fact is they weren't so if you have the 2021 model, this year's model is identical.

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The iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2022) continues to offer uniformed bezels around the screen, a lovely slim and premium build quality and flat edges that make it easy to hold, even in this larger format. Colour options are more serious than the iPad Air with just Silver and Space Grey offered, but then this model is quite serious in terms of specs too.

While the iPad Pro has gotten heavier over the years - it's still pretty light considering the size. If you're super geeky about it, this model actually weighs the same as the original iPad that launched in 2010 but there's a lot more under the hood these days. That said, add the Apple Magic Keyboard and you essentially double its weight, which makes it heavier than the MacBook Air. That means that dccombined, it's no longer unnoticeable in your bag and it does raise the question as to whether the MacBook Air M2 is a better option for some.

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Unlike the iPad (10th generation), the iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2022) retains the front camera with the Face ID sensors at the top of the display when the iPad Pro is held vertically, rather than repositioning it to a landscape orientation like Apple did with the iPad (10th generation). It would have made sense to move the system, given we'd imagine most users likely opt for a landscape orientation for working or drawing on the iPad Pro but that wasn't to be for this year. The Face ID system is great though, and handier than you'd think compared to the Touch ID options on the iPad Air and MacBook Air.

On the rear, you get a dual camera and LiDAR sensor in the top left corner of the iPad Pro as you have done for several generations of this tablet, arranged in a square camera housing. The Smart Connector is positioned at the bottom of the rear, there's USB-C for charging and there's a four-speaker system with dual-speakers at the top and bottom.

Stunning display

  • 12.9-inch 'Liquid Retina XDR' Mini LED display
  • 2732 x 2048 resolution (264ppi)
  • 1600-nit peak brightness
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • Apple Pencil Hover

The Apple iPad 12.9.-inch (2022) features a 12.9-inch mini-LED display and it is absolutely stunning, just like last year's model was thanks to over 10,000 LEDs positioned behind the screen. It delivers exceptional contrast, bright and punchy colours and very deep blacks.

It's beautifully bright too with a peak brightness of 1600nits for HDR moments, delivering excellent clarity and an extra dimension for movies offering Dolby Vision HDR, though the higher HDR brightness can be requested elsewhere too in other apps.

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On the whole, the iPad Pro 12.9-inch display is arguably the best portable display on the market with an exceptional viewing experience, whether that's for watching high-resolution content, drawing, editing images or doing day-to-day tasks. Even end credits on movies look fabulous, while those editing images or videos get extra detail from the enhanced brightness - something the iPad Pro 11-inch model doesn't benefit from.

The display on the iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2022) is largely the same display as the 2021 iPad Pro 12.9-inch model so it offers all the same features, like True Tone technology, a fully laminated display, anti-reflective coating and a P3 wide colour gamut. There is also a 120Hz refresh rate thanks to ProMotion technology so there is very little - if anything - to complain about when it comes to the screen.

The iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2022) adds an extra feature to the excellent display too though - called Apple Pencil hover. It results in the display sensing the 2nd generation Apple Pencil from 12mm above the screen, allowing for greater accuracy when drawing or note taking, whilst also making for some useful interactions.

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It's probably not a game-changer for the average user, but some will find it handy depending on the apps you use. For those that use ProCreate for example, the feature allows you to change your brush size and see colour mixing while hovering, before the tip of the Apple Pencil touches the cover glass of the display. Affinity Photo meanwhile, will simply show a dot where you are about to make your mark, allowing for better accuracy.

When you hover over apps in iPadOS, they will enlarge, while some menus will open automatically so you simply have to keep hovering to see various extra menus. Like we said, perhaps not a ground-breaking feature for all users, but it has its uses and it's a nice and well implemented addition nevertheless.

Power and performance

  • Apple M2 processor, 8GB/16GB RAM
  • Options for 128GB to 2TB storage
  • Apple Pencil support (2nd Gen)
  • LiDAR sensor on the rear
  • Thunderbolt / USB4

The Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2022) model runs on the M2 processor and it offers exceptional performance. Stepping up from the M1 chip in its predecessor - and the chip now offered by the iPad Air - the M2 chip has an 8-core CPU with four performance cores and four efficiency cores, along with a 10-core GPU and a 100GB/s memory bandwidth.

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This is the same chipset as the MacBook Air (2022) offers and it's a huge amount of power, resulting in incredible performance in use. The iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2022) handles the running of iPadOS seamlessly, opening and running apps lightning fast, but the M2 chip is also more than capable when it comes to editing multiple RAW files at once, dealing with 4K video and drawing to your heart's content. Everything we threw at the iPad Pro resulted in a smooth and consistent experience with no lag, whether that was photo editing in Adobe Lightroom, drawing in Procreate, or designing in Affinity Designer, loading, importing, editing, or saving large files were no issue.

There's 8GB of RAM for the 128GB, 256GB and 512GB storage options, while the 1TB and 2TB variants get 16GB of RAM. We had the 1TB model in for review so naturally that will help with performance, but overall, the iPad Pro 12.9-inch is an exceptionally capable device, and we would expect that to be the case in the lower storage options too.

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Working with large sound and video files was no drama at all, while power-hungry games like Asphalt 9, Call of Duty, or NBA2K21 loaded almost instantly. We suspect most people wouldn't even come close to testing the iPad Pro to its max, though when DaVinci Resolve and Octane appear, it's possible they might make the device work that little bit harder.

Aside from the chip upgrade compared to its predecessor, the iPad Pro 12.9-inch also offers support for Wi-Fi 6E. You can read more about Wi-Fi 6E and what it means in our separate feature, though essentially it should result in consistent and fast speeds. It does require support, as does 5G, of which the speeds vary, but for those that want them, both are on offer.

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You get the same dual camera on the rear as the previous generation with a 10-megapixel and 12-megapixel offering, though the latest model offers ProRes video recording up to 4K at 30fps, and thankfully the iPad Pro offers the performance capable of dealing with those videos afterwards too. We would say using an iPhone 14 Pro or 14 Pro Max would be better for capture though thanks to the 48-megapixel main sensor.

On the front, there's a 12-megapixel sensor that is great for video calls with features like Centre Stage. It will offer a good selfie too, but again, we'd be recommending the latest iPhone for the best image capture quality.

Battery life

  • Up to 10 hours

Apple promises up to 10 hours of battery life from the iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2022), which is the same as what is promised for all the latest iPads. While the 10th generation iPad model achieves this pretty easily however, we'd say the iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2022) model probably falls short of the 10-hour mark.

This of course very much depends on what you are doing on your iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2022) and the chances are many of the tasks you would do on the Pro would be more power-hungry than those you might do on the standard iPad, but the battery isn't the Pro's strongest attribute.

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Use the iPad Pro for editing images and video and you'll see the battery deplete quite a bit quicker than watching or streaming video. That said, in our experience, you wouldn't get the full 10 hours watching video either. We watched Bohemian Rhapsody through the Apple TV app with the screen on full brightness and the battery went from 100 per cent to 65 per cent by the end of the 2 hour 15 minute film, suggesting you'd get between six and seven hours for continuous video streaming. You could of course drop the brightness down, and downloaded content would use less battery presumably, but dropping the brightness takes away from the experience.

Meanwhile, when we were writing with the Magic Keyboard attached, the battery dropped by around 20 per cent an hour. That means for us, we'd get around 5 hours writing time from this device. By comparison, the MacBook Air M2 (2022) saw us through an 11 hour flight with just 30 minutes break in writing, and we walked off the plane with 53 per cent battery left.

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Overall, day-to-day tasks are no issue for the iPad Pro and its battery capacity, but the more challenging tasks and continuous tasks, like writing or watching Dolby Vision HDR content, do impact it so that's worth bearing in mind when you're out and about.

Software

  • iPadOS 16
  • Stage Manager

The Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2022) runs on iPadOS 16, which you can read about in our separate feature. This is where your decision between whether to buy a MacBook Air or the iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2022) will likely be made as while iPadOS is great, it still has limitations compared to macOS.

There are some decent features of iPadOS 16 and it's a very fluid operating system for the most part, with plenty of third party app support. The additions of being able to schedule an email in Mail and editing a sent message in Messages are both welcomed, and having the native Weather app is also nice.

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There is also the addition of Stage Manager, which you can also read about in our separate feature. This feature is designed to make using multiple apps more fluid, like it is on a Mac. You can resize them, overlap them and have more than a couple side-by-side - something you were previously restricted to on iPad.

You have to turn Stage Manager on in Settings though - it's not on by default - and while it is useful for switching between apps and having multiple apps running alongside each other, it is a little fiddly to resize the windows with your fingers and is still a little glitchy overall. That will no doubt iron itself out over the coming months though.

A helpful tip worth knowing is that double tapping the three dots at the top of each app window will automatically get it to fill the screen - particularly handy for when you are watching content.

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Overall, iPadOS is great, and it offers some excellent features built into it, particularly if you have other Apple products, such as an iPhone or Mac with Handoff, Continuity and Sidecar all great. It is limited compared to macOS though and for some, those limitations will result in tasks taking a little longer as an extra step is required compared to Mac for example. Ultimately, it's down to what you are using the iPad Pro for, but it's worth choosing iPad over Mac with your eyes wide open so you aren't disappointed with what the software is capable of.

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