Welcome to Yalla Deals’ tech blog! Today, I will review the brand new iPad Pro 12.9″ 2021 (Fifth Generation), which has just been released in Dubai.  

Pros: 

– Screaming M1 chip power that puts most other laptops and even desktops to shame, let alone tablets

– Excellent display and contrast with mini-LEDs

– Powerful speakers with Dolby Atmos 

– Center Stage is a gamechanger for videoconferencing

– 5G is now an option for those who want more flexibility 

Cons:

– Hefty price tag (4800 Dhs for 256 GB Wi-Fi model and a whopping 9,399 Dhs for the 2TB cellular version. The entry model with 128 GB at 4,399 Dhs is inadequate)

– All this raw power is still held back by limiting iPadOS software 

– Cameras are still not comparable to smartphone flagships

– The front-facing camera is a grainy affair with only HD 1080p (No 4K option, which degrades Center Stage) 

– Main camera can’t use Center Stage outside Facetime or video conferencing apps 

Apple says, “What’s a computer?” when asked about its iPad lineup.

Whether you want to call this device a tablet, computer, or somewhere in between (as I like to call it), here are the standout features for this year’s killer tablet/computer/whatever-you-want-to-call-it: 

1- Supercharged M1 Chip that dominates other laptops, including the 16″ MacBook Pro with Intel’s 9th gen i9 and 4GB 5500 Radeon graphics

2- XDR Display with mini-LEDs (incredible 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio)

3- Blazing-fast 5G connectivity 

4- Center Stage (this incredible AI-powered feature will follow you around everywhere like a cameraman) with the wide-angle camera and 122 degrees field of view 

6- Even more powerful speakers than last year’s model!

Let’s find out more about the 12.9″ iPad Pro. Will this 

Does thing replace your MacBook Pro? 

First, let’s talk about cases. 

The 2021 iPad Pro 12.9″ is a tad thicker by 0.5 millimeters, and the speakers are situated differently than last year’s model. Be careful if you order a case for this device; don’t use a 2020 case as it won’t be a snug fit (as I later found out when I had tried using UAG’s 2020 case). The speakers will end up being half-covered, and the fit is not right. If you want a perfect case, try one of these 2021 models from Spigen or UAG . My favorite model is Spigen Tough Armor as this thing is, you’ve guessed it, tough like armor. Drop your iPad Pro, and it would most probably survive because Spigen has a patented, dual-layered “Air Cushion” technology. It’s built to withstand drops and back scratches. It also has a durable, built-in kickstand for easy hands-free viewing, and I love that. I used to have portable stands with me, but now with this innovative case, I don’t need to carry one of these with me anymore.The main reason I love this case brand is the precise cut and fit with raised edges for screen and camera protection. It also fully supports Apple Pencil functions. 

Powerful is an understatement. 

The Apple Silicon (M1 Chip) was released in June 2020 with the announcement of the MacBook Pro 13″, MacBook Air, and Mac Mini. This year, Apple managed to stuff this beast in a tablet (or whatever you want to call it). 

When I say this chip is powerful, I really mean it. 

Everyone was blown away back then by the M1 chip’s performance, but the same applies here to the iPad Pro. This beast put up jaw-dropping results in synthetic Geekbench benchmark tests. Although I haven’t tested Intel-based apps using Rosetta 2 (a translation process that allows users to run apps that contain x86_64 instructions on Apple Silicon), the results are impressive. 

Let’s take a look at the numbers. 

For Geekbench’s single-core tests, the average was , and for multi-core, it was an astonishing average of . This is even more powerful than Apple’s most powerful MacBook Pro, which is the 16″ with the i9 chip (2.3GHz 8-core 9th Gen Intel Core i9 processor). To top it off, this small monster beat Intel’s 11th Intel i7 (Core i7-11375H) chips with multi-core results of 5365 points! It also beats my Razerblade 2020 Advanced model with an 8-core Intel i7 chip!

Translation: The M1 Chip managed to beat Intel 9th gen (i9), 10th gen i7, and even 11th gen i7 chips despite Intel having a higher TDP, turbo frequency, and base frequency. This is exciting because it heralds a new era of mobile computing with lower power consumption and more processing power. The MacBook Air, which is fanless, puts many other laptops to shame!

Console-level Graphics

As for graphics performance, Apple wasn’t kidding when it said that the iPad Pro has “console-level graphics.” Let me explain. 

The M1 chip on the 2021 iPad Pro has an 8-core GPU, and I have tested its performance using 3dMark. This application tests the graphics performance of mobile devices, and in this case, the iPad Pro. 

Results were impressive, yet again. 

I was getting a consistent FPS of about 80, which is leagues better than my Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G, which barely manages to reach 30 FPS. for various graphics tests also make the M1 the clear winner against the 16″ Radeon 5500m graphics card! 

XDR Display with Mini-LEDs

The iPad Pro comes with an XDR Display which is equipped with Mini LEDs. and you’ll be blown away by its eye-popping contrast. The Liquid Retina XDR display is the same display Apple used for their $5000 XDR displays with the $1000 stands.

It’s one of the most beautiful displays I’ve ever seen on a tablet, with an extreme dynamic range and an incredible contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1. It’s perfect for viewing and editing HDR photos and videos or enjoying your favorite movies and TV shows, such as Netflix, Apple TV, or Amazon Prime.

It also features a breathtaking 1000 nits of full‑screen brightness and 1600 nits of peak brightness, P3 wide color, True Tone, and the fantastic 120Hz ProMotion for a smooth experience. 

I love fast refresh rates on a screen!

I remember when it all started with the OnePlus 7 Pro (90 Hz). My Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (120 Hz) and even my Razerblade 2020 Advanced (300 Hz) now all have fast refresh screens. All new screens will have this technology soon as we’re already seeing it in midrange phones- not just flagships. 

What makes this year’s iPad Pro technology special, though, is the mini-LEDs, and Apple ran into production challenges to meet increasing demand (that’s why it was so hard to find this product on launch day, even till now). Apple was able to achieve remarkably high brightness by using an arrangement of LEDs across the entire back of the display. This was challenging to design because Apple had to fit them all in the incredibly thin body (which increased the thickness by about 0.5 mm) by using mini-LEDs. 

To fit them in the incredibly thin iPad Pro, Apple used “custom‑designed mini‑LEDs” that, according to Apple, are 120 times smaller than the previous generation. And custom optical films and diffusers mix the light more efficiently so it can fit in a design that’s just 6.4mm thin. 

The most interesting feature of these 10,000 mini-LEDs is that they are grouped into more than 2500 “local dimming zones.” This means that depending on the content viewed, the brightness in each zone can be dimmed or adjusted to achieve the remarkable 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio. Think of OLED breathtaking screens. 

I’ve tested this by watching a TV show on Netflix, and you can immediately tell the difference. However, if you have the 2020 iPad Pro or even the 2018 iPad Pro, upgrading to the 2021 model for this feature alone may not be worth it. This is because the previous iPad Pro models also had great screens, albeit with lower contrast ratios. 

These speakers are out of this world. 

One of the things that I immediately notice whenever I review a new product is is how loud its speakers are. Who doesn’t like powerful, bass-rich speakers? Much like other Apple products’ speakers such as the MacBook Pro and the iPhone, I was blown away when I tested the speakers on this thing. It was almost the same as my MacBook Pro 16″ speakers, which set a new audio standard for laptop speakers! What you get with the 2021 iPad Pro is an incredible, immersive audio experience. Apple also added support for Dolby Atmos, and that’s a big YES for me. 

My powerful Razerblade gaming laptop has tinny speakers in comparison to this tablet. 

Drawing experience with the Apple Pencil is still great. 

This year’s model also supports the Apple Pencil 2, which has an industry-leading low latency. Using the Apple Pencil is great for drawing, sketching, coloring, taking notes, marking up email and PDFs, and more. 

It feels almost as natural to use like a real pencil. If you’re an artist, a graphics designer, a content creator, a creative person, or just someone who needs to annotate stuff and jot down notes and ideas, this will be a handy feature. However, the Apple Pencil 2 costs 530 Dhs, which is still expensive. 

5G is fast, but do you really need it? 

I still hold the same opinion when it comes to 5G: If your phone is 5G ready and you take it everywhere you go, this option may be irrelevant. 

Why? 

Because you can simply create a hotspot with your phone and connect the iPad Pro to it. This way, you can save yourself hundreds of Dirhams by opting for the model with the W-Fi version only. The Wi-Fi + Cellular model will cost you and 6199 Dhs (512 GB), whereas the Wi-Fi model will cost you 4799 Dhs. I haven’t tested 5G speeds, but I assume they will be above 500 Mbps. 

If you want this kind of flexibility and don’t mind 5G setting you back hundreds of Dirhams, then I’d say go for it, but you’ll need to use an eSIM. 5G is available in select markets and through select carriers.  

Center Stage is a gamechanger, but its functionality is limited. 

The new iPad Pro features a new Ultra-Wide camera with a 12MP sensor and a 122‑degree field of view. With this, you’ll experience the magical new feature called “Center Stage.” Using AI and machine learning to follow you around, Center Stage works (by keeping you at the center of the camera) no matter where you go as long as you’re within the range of the Ultra-Wide camera. 

I’ve even tried ducking, and it still works! The reason I am excited for this is that, apart from conference calls, Center Stage has the potential to pivot into something even more helpful: 

To become your personal cameraman!

For now, Center Stage on the new iPad Pro has two problems: 

1- It does not work on the main camera for recording videos. It’s only available on Facetime (which doesn’t work in the UAE). Thankfully, though, third-party video conferencing apps such as Zoom are supported. Apple can fix this by introducing an update in the future and enabling it under settings. 

2- Even if Apple introduces such an update, the front-facing camera is an abysmal, grainy 1080p affair, which will affect the quality of your recorded video. 

The iPad Pro also works with the TrueDepth camera to securely unlock iPad Pro with Face ID. I love this because it works almost always (unless you are wearing a mask), unlike the “hit and miss” with other phones. 

Also, I still love Apple’s industry-leading ability to log into websites using Face ID (on this iPad Pro) and Touch ID on the MacBook Pro. 

Shame on you, Microsoft and Google, for still not introducing this feature for your phones and laptops. 

Bottom line: Is this iPad Pro worth it, and can it replace your laptop?

The answer is yes and no. The powerful features of the 2021 iPad Pro 12.9″ are truly worth it, but they may still not warrant an upgrade if you have the 2020 model (or even the 2018 model). Unless you’re doing heavy work such as multimedia and video editing, the 2020 and 2018 models are powerful enough for light tasks such as web browsing and watching movies. 

The problem with the iPad lineup has always been its software limitations, even with the improvements in iPadOS 14, such as support for the trackpad. Think of it as a raging Lamborghini that is stuck on train tracks with a speed limit. 

With the current version and features of iPadOS, I’d still say that it can’t replace your laptop just yet. We still need more multitasking features, more control, and a more Mac-like user experience to ditch our MacBooks and MacBook Pros and use this instead. 

Another critical aspect to consider is that iPadOS is very similar to iOS. They both have basic or watered-down versions of apps and software. Even though the full version of Photoshop is available on the iPad Pro, MS Office apps such as Word and Excel are still nowhere near the “real thing” on macOS. I find that frustrating. 

I’ve tried using MS Office on my iPad Pro, and I experienced a bit of lag on my magic keyboard. Even though iPadOS supports trackpad input, it still feels a bit unnatural and laggy compared to the Mac. Also, if the user experience becomes very similar to the Mac, then iPad Pro would cannibalize MacBook Pro sales, which Apple may not be fond of! 

For now, I’ll crawl back to my MacBook Pro to work on my projects, but one day I may ditch the MacBook Pro altogether. For this small but equally powerful beast. 

Who doesn’t love touch input combined with raw power and a fantastic screen? 

Since Apple is giving a 16 GB RAM option for the 1TB and 2TB models (which have eye-watering prices), it may be a precursor to taking full advantage of its hardware capabilities soon. Apple will likely introduce software tweaks and enhancements for its iPadOS. 

This content was originally published here.