Apple announces new iPad Air and iPad Pro (But only the Pro gets the M4)

Apple M4 iPad Pro (Image: Apple)

As expected, Apple’s “Let Loose” event was highlighted by new iPad Air and iPad Pro models, but only the iPad Pro gets an M4 processor.

Apple used its overnight (relative to Australian time – though it is at least nice to have an Apple event at midnight in Sydney rather than the typical 2am or 3am start time) “Let Loose” even to show off new iPad models – specifically updates to its premium iPad Air and iPad Pro lines.

How much do the new iPads cost in Australia?

Apple Australia has announced local iPad Air and iPad Pro pricing starting as follows — there’s a lot of variance as you go up the storage tiers and whether or not you want mobile data or just Wi-Fi, but these are the base level prices for all iPads you can now buy in Australia

Of interest there, Apple's rather quietly discontinued the 9th Generation Apple iPad, which means that it's culled yet another lightning-connected iPad from its lineup.

For the purposes of comparison, if you had purchased an iPad from Apple yesterday, here’s what you would have paid for each model in its lowest storage configuration:

That table would run a lot longer with all storage variants and either Wi-Fi or Mobile Data capabilities included, but it does give you a good baseline for Apple’s prior Australian pricing.

When can I buy the new iPad Air and iPad Pro in Australia?

Apple has announced that the new iPad Air and iPad Pro models will go on presale in Australia from today, with on-shelf availability from the 15th of May.

So what’s new in the new iPad Air and iPad Pro lines?

A lot, if Tim Cook is to be believed, kicking off the event noting that  it was "the biggest day for iPad since its introduction". There's a man who knows how to build hype, methinks.

Apple iPad Air (Image: Apple)

iPad Air, as expected, now comes in two sizes, at 11 inches and 13 inches respectively -- that's larger than prior model iPad Pros. Apple's claim is that it has 30% more screen real estate than the 11 inch model -- keeping in mind that screens are measured on the diagonal, that's not that much of a claim.

The camera shifts to the landscape side of the iPad, predominantly to allow for wider video calls; the landscape side is also where the speakers. The iPad Air now comes in new blue and purple finishes as well as more standard starlight and space grey finishes.

iPad Air gets an M2 chip under the hood -- not the M3 as many were predicting for the next generation iPad Air. Apple's claim is that it's still 50% faster than an M1 iPad Air or 300% faster than older generation iPad Air Models packing in the A14 Bionic processor.

On the storage side, it comes in 128GB 256GB, 512GB and 1TB variants, with prices predictably rising if you do want more onboard storage.

On the iPad Pro front you get the same 11 inch and 13 inch sizes, but in thinner enclosures, 5.3mm for the 11 inch model and 5.1 inches for the 13 inch variant, with the claim that it's Apple's thinnest product ever.

You do only get only two finishes (silver and space black), but the screen technology has been bumped up to a dual OLED display -- Apple calls it "Tandem OLED" with support for 1,000 nits of full screen brightness, up to 1,600 nits of peak brightness. Of course, Apple has its own name for the whole kit; it's "Ultra Retina XDR".

On the processor front, the iPad Pro line jumps up not one, but two generations, being Apple's first product to ship with an M4 processor, built on a 3nm process. Apple's claim is that it's up to 4x faster than the M2 processor used in the prior iPad Pro generation, and up to 10x faster than the original model iPad Pro.

One interesting note somewhat hiding in the specifications here is that the higher storage tier models of the iPad Pro M4 ship with 16GB of RAM where the lower tier variants only have 8GB -- and slightly fewer processing cores, too. I suspect Apple's figures for improved performance might just be from those 16GB/extra core/top tier iPad Pro models -- and it's a little irksome that you can't configure a 16GB iPad Pro without paying extra for the storage too.

Apple also announced updates to its Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro apps for iPad, to tie in with the new iPad Pro modes.

In Final Cut Pro 2, a new Live Multicam mode allows an iPad Pro to work as a production studio, viewing up to four cameras via the new Final Cut Camera app.

Meanwhile, Logic Pro 2 adds new bass and keyboard features that work via AI. Speaking of AI, the new Chromaglow feature adds analog style warmth to music tracks.

On the camera front, the new generation iPad Pro packs in a 12MP f/1.8 camera -- so Apple's still keeping its best cameras for the iPhone Pro lineup -- with the promise that the new camera can use AI to remove shadows when scanning documents in. On the front, as with the iPad Air, the 12MP front facing camera shifts to the landscape side.

The Magic Keyboard has also seen a redesign, adding in a function row and a larger trackpad that adds haptic feedback -- Apple says it's 'just like using a MacBook' -- as has the Apple Pencil, which is now the Apple Pencil Pro.

This does mean that Apple has a lot of very similar looking stylus devices to get confused by, as an aside.

The Apple Pencil Pro supports a squeezing motion to enable new interactions, with haptic feedback, while an internal gyroscope allows for rotating motions to select tools within an app. Support for Find My has also been baked in, which will be a relief to anyone who's ever lost one of Apple's pricey styluses.

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