Apple Revamps iPad Line, with M4 Processor, New Magic Keyboard, and Apple Pencil Pro

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It had been 19 months since the last update to any iPad model. Apple’s tablet product line was looking long in the tooth, with some models not updated in two or two-and-a-half years. Apple has finally presented updates to the iPad Air and the iPad Pro, while dropping the price of the plain iPad (10th generation), and saying goodby to the last Touch ID iPad, the 9th generation model.

Apple also presented a new Magic Keyboard and an Apple Pencil Pro. Here’s what’s new.

The iPad Air

Apple opened the brief event by presenting the new iPad Air. Now in two sizes — 11″ and 13″ — the iPad Air closely resembles its more advanced sibling. It has an upgraded M2 processor, which Apple says offers “phenomenal performance and AI capabilities,” moves the front camera to the landscape position, and adds Wi-Fi 6E and a 5G option.

Compatible with the Magic Keyboard (not the latest model) and the Apple Pencil Pro (see below), this device is the iPad for most people. It doesn’t have the OLED display of the iPad Pro, nor that model’s ultra-thin and light design, but has a much nicer price. The 11-inch iPad Air starts at $599 for the Wi-Fi model, and the 13-inch iPad Air starts at $799. Add $150 for cellular, and with base storage of 128 GB, you may not need to pony up for more if you’re just using it around the house. If you do need storage, you can now configure the iPad Air with up to 1 TB, for an extra $500.

The Magic Keyboard costs $299, and the Apple Pencil Pro costs $129, so with those accessories it’s still more expensive than the M2 MacBook Air ($999). So if you want to accessorize an iPad Air, it’s worth comparing it to a laptop.

Deciding whether to get the new iPad Air or iPad Pro? Check out our guide.

The iPad Pro

The star of the presentation was the new iPad Pro. With a unique “Tandem OLED” display that Apple is calling the Ultra Retina XDR on both the 11″ and 13″ models, this is the best display ever on a tablet. Apple is even offering a nano-texture glass option, as they do on their Studio Display, which limits reflections when outdoors. However, this is only available on the 1 TB and 2 TB models.

Apple highlighted the “thinness” of the iPad Pro, calling it the thinnest Apple product ever. It’s about 1 mm thinner than the previous model; not much, to be honest. it’s a bit lighter as well: about 20-40g lighter, depending on the model. They are even lighter than the equivalent iPad Air models.

Both iPad Pro models sport the new M4 processor, a jump from the previous model’s M2 innards. Combined with a new Neural Engine and new GPU, this tablet is more powerful than most Macs, and it is poised to benefit from AI features added in future versions of iPadOS.

Of course, this comes at a price. Starting at $999 and $1,299, for the 11″ and 13″ iPad Pros, this is an increase of $200 for each model. The price climbs quickly if you add the new Magic Keyboard ($299) and Apple Pencil Pro ($129). With storage starting at 256 GB, and going up to 2 TB, and an extra $100 for nano-textured glass, the 13″ iPad Pro with accessories costs more than $2,100. You can get a 14″ MacBook Pro, with a bump in memory and storage, for that price.

You get more than just the nano-textured glass option with the 1 TB or 2 TB model; these iPads also have an additional CPU core (10 compared to 9) and more RAM (16 GB compared to 8 GB). Most users won’t notice these differences, but if you want to use pro applications on your iPad, it’s worth getting at least the 1 TB model.

Which iPad model is right for you? Check out our guide.

The new Magic Keyboard

The new Magic Keyboard is a refinement of the previous model, and is only compatible with the new iPad Pro. At $299, the Magic Keyboard is an expensive accessory, but one that can be useful if you want to benefit from the iPad’s touch screen and type as well. This model has a function key row, a larger trackpad, and haptic feedback.

The previous model Magic Keyboard is compatible with the new iPad Air and with these iPad models:

  • iPad Air 13‑inch (M2)
  • iPad Air 11‑inch (M2)
  • iPad Pro 12.9‑inch (3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th generation)
  • iPad Pro 11‑inch (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation)
  • iPad Air (4th and 5th generation)

If you have one of these and upgrade to an iPad Air, it will work; it remains to be seen whether a Magic Keyboard you bought for the previous iPad Pro models will work with the latest M4 models.

The new Apple Pencil Pro

Over time, Apple went from a single Apple Pencil model to three different ones, each with different compatible devices. The company seems to be continuing this, with the new Apple Pencil Pro only compatible with the new iPads announced today: the iPad Air and iPad Pro. If you have an older iPad, you’ll need to figure out which of the three models works.

Priced at $129, this is a small update, adding such features as the ability to squeeze the pencil to bring up controls on the iPad screen; “barrel roll,” which allows you to move objects and turn brushes by twisting the pencil; and haptic feedback, which will be welcome when using such an inert device. It retains the features of the last model, with hover, which shows on the iPad display where the pencil is about to hit, and a double-tap gesture.

The Apple Pencil Pro also adds Find My support, so you can track it down when it falls between the cushions of your couch.

All three other models are available, and you can see them on this Apple page, which lists the compatibility for each. We also go into greater detail about Apple Pencil compatibility with iPad models in our own guide: Which Apple Pencil works with my iPad?

Curious what an Apple Pencil can do for you? Check out our guide.

The cheaper iPad

Last but not least, Apple has reduced the price of the iPad (10th generation). iPad, the model that is sufficient for most people, now starts at just $349. Starting with 64 GB storage, it’s meant for light usage. You can also accessorize it with an older Apple Pencil ($79 or $99) and a Magic Keyboard Folio ($249), which seems expensive for an iPad at this price.

The iPad mini still remains in Apple’s product line, looking expensive at $499, and has not been updated since September 2021. Each iPad mini model has lagged behind other iPads in updates, leading to speculation that it will be the last. We’ll find out later this year if the smaller iPad has a future.

How can I learn more?

If you’re trying to decide whether to buy the new iPad Pro or iPad Air, or whether to buy the older iPad (10th generation), check out our buyer’s guide comparing all current iPad models.

And if you’re thinking about getting an Apple Pencil, check out our feature comparison and compatibility guide to learn which Apple Pencil will work best for your needs and with your iPad.

Each week on the Intego Mac Podcast, Intego’s Mac security experts discuss the latest Apple news, including security and privacy stories, and offer practical advice on getting the most out of your Apple devices. Be sure to follow the podcast to make sure you don’t miss any episodes.

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About Kirk McElhearn

Kirk McElhearn writes about Apple products and more on his blog Kirkville. He is co-host of the Intego Mac Podcast, as well as several other podcasts, and is a regular contributor to The Mac Security Blog, TidBITS, and several other websites and publications. Kirk has written more than two dozen books, including Take Control books about Apple's media apps, Scrivener, and LaunchBar. Follow him on Twitter at @mcelhearn. View all posts by Kirk McElhearn →