iPad Pro M1 (2021) vs iPad Pro (2020): Worth the Upgrade?

The new iPad Pro is here and with it the M1 chip, Apple’s flagship processor that delivers impressive and unrivalled performance. We’ve seen the M1 chip inside Apple’s latest MacBook Pro’s so we were excited to see what it could deliver inside of Apple’s new iPad Pro. In this post, we’ll be taking a look at the differences between the iPad Pro 2021 and the iPad Pro 2020 to see what the differences really are and whether it’s worth upgrading if you already own a 2020 model.

The iPad Pro comes in two flavours; the 11 inch models and the 12.9 inch models. We’ll be focusing on the cream of the crop in this post; the 12.9 inch models, so we can see the difference in performance at the highest specifications.

Quick overview: iPad Pro 2021 M1 is 2x faster than last year’s model with machine learning camera features. Brighter screen thanks to new Mini LEDs and is still a reasonable price.


iPad Pro 2020

  • Starting price: $999 (12.9 inch)
  • Chip: A12Z Bionic
  • Display: 12.9 inches
  • Resolution: 2048 x 2732 pixels
  • Camera: 12MP
  • Video: 1080p@30/60fps 4K

iPad Pro 2021

  • Starting price: $1099 (12.9 inch)
  • Chip: M1 chip
  • Display: 12.9 inches
  • Resolution: 2048 x 2732 pixels
  • Camera: 12MP (12MP ultra-wide camera)
  • Video: 1080p@30/60fps 4K

Price Comparison

First off, let’s look at the price difference. As you can see above, the iPad Pro 2021 hasn’t had a major leap in price compared to the 2020 version. Even though the M1 chip is touted as being 50% faster than previous processors, it’s great to see that Apple hasn’t put a huge price tag on its new iPad Pro vessel so the iPad Pro 2021 is still going to be affordable for most people.

iPad Pro M1 (2021) vs iPad Pro (2020)


In terms of design, the 2020 and 2021 models are very similar and almost identical in appearance. The biggest difference is the 2021 model is 0.5mm thicker (6.4mm) because it’s housing a bigger chip and the Mini LED panel. However, to the naked eye, they look identical. Like the 2020 model, the 2021 model is very slim with super-thin bezels.

The iPad Pro 2021 is also a little lighter than the 2020 model coming in at 682g compared to last year’s 641g.

When it comes to the display, the resolution is the same as the 2020 iPad Pro but the difference is in the 12.9-inch model’s backlight. The iPad Pro 2021 M1 comes with the new Mini LED panel behind the screen which is essentially lots of tiny LED lights stitched together to give you a brighter screen. Apple calls this new system Liquid Retina XDR, which the 11-inch 2021 model does not feature.

Because of this new lighting system, the iPad Pro 2021 M1 boasts up to 1600nits compared to last year’s 2020 model which peaked at 600nits. This is of course quite the jump in just one year and it means that the new iPad Pro 2021 M1-based iPad can deliver truer colours and richer colours which will be a huge step up for video creators and those who enjoy playing games on their iPads.


So, what’s the biggest difference between the 2020 and 2021 iPads? According to Apple, the biggest differences are in the performance thanks to the new M1 chip. Apple claims that the M1 chip will make the new iPad Pro 2021 x2 as fast as the 2020 model of the iPad Pro. They have also announced that the battery life lasts “all day” compared to 2020s 10 hours of battery life. “All day” could mean anything but it seems more likely that the iPad 2021 M1 will have an extra couple of hours of battery life, considering most people aren’t using their iPad’s all day and constantly.

The iPad Pro 2021 M1 is also the first iPad to feature 5G which is a big upgrade on last year’s 4G 2020 model. Again, this year’s iPad Pro does not come with a headphone jack, meaning you’ll need to buy yourself a pair of wireless headphones. The new iPad Pro 2021 M1 features Thunderbolt connectivity and USB4 through USB-C for fast data transfer. 

Speaking of data, the 12.9 inch 2021 iPad Pro is available in 2TB which means you can store up to 200 hours of 4K video! This is compared to last year’s 1TB peak of data storage. 

Whilst the 2020 iPad Pro features a 10MP ultra-wide camera, the 2021 version goes up to 12MP with a 120-degree field of vision. The upgraded iPad Pro also features an impressive AI machine learning feature called ‘Center Stage’ which follows you around the room and then zooms out when someone else comes into the room. Aside from this, the camera’s quality is fairly similar when you compare the iPad Pro 2020 and iPad 2021.

iPad Pro M1 (2021) vs iPad Pro (2020)

iPad Pro M1 (2021) vs iPad Pro (2020): Final Verdict

The iPad Pro 2021 M1 improves on the 2020 version but mainly when it comes to speed. If you love everything that the 2020 version does and you’d like it to do those things at twice the speed, upgrading to M1 iPad Pro would be worth your while. The Apple Bionic chips are being phased out for a much faster processor so if you buy the new iPad Pro then you’ll be one of the first to experience the M1 chip.

If you’re not fussed about speed and just want a great iPad, you might want to stick with your iPad Pro 2020 model. After all, it’s already a very powerful iPad and if you don’t own an iPad yet, the new iPad Pro 2021 will surely drive down the price of the previous generations of iPads so you should be able to pick up a bargain. 

Related article: iPad Pro 11-inch (2020) vs iPad Air (2020)

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