May 2024

13-inch iPad Pro review: hardware of the future running software of the past

13-inch iPad Pro review


Apple’s 13-inch iPad Pro is a testament to the power and efficiency of Apple Silicon, but WWDC has to address at least some of the shortcomings of iPadOS for those hardware upgrades to mean anything.

As Apple shaves away every millimeter from the iPad, it gets closer to realizing the dream of offering information on a sheet of glass. At 5.1 millimeters, there’s not much else Apple can do to the hardware without physics getting in the way.


However, the only thing in the way of improving iPad software is Apple and its philosophy surrounding the tablet. While iPad is the perfect work device for some, there are obvious limitations and shortcomings that need to be addressed.


This review is a snapshot of the state of iPad Pro, with new hardware and good-enough software on June 4, 2024. At publication time, WWDC is just days away. There is some hope that Apple will be able to push past good enough and prove why M4 is in iPad Pro.

If these statements feel like deja vu, it’s because they are nearly identical to statements made about the iPad Pro when it first received M1. Despite the initial fumble, Apple took a big leap with Stage Manager, but little else.


Window management is table stakes in an operating system running on a so-called pro device.


An iPad Pro conundrum

On review here is the 13-inch iPad Pro with 1TB storage, which includes 16GB of RAM. I chose to add Nano Texture and Cellular.


Let’s get one thing straight and incredibly clear at the top — I love iPad Pro. I’ve worked primarily from iPad since I got this job in 2019, with a brief stint working from a 14-inch MacBook Pro.


Apple Vision Pro on top of an iPad Pro
13-inch iPad Pro review: iPad Pro remains a favorite in spite of Apple Vision Pro’s futuristic promises

Apple Vision Pro introduces a new bit of complication to my computing lifestyle. One thing is clear — iPad Pro is my go-to computer for my work, play, and everything in between.


The criticisms I share about iPadOS are from a good place, hoping Apple will one day eliminate these issues. I’d love to see the day when I don’t need a Mac for anything beyond screenshots of macOS.


Many people already find themselves in this position with iPad. They can get everything done and don’t even notice what may be missing from the platform because it isn’t part of their workflows from the start.


iPad Pro on a table outdoors with an e-bike in the background. The location is in a downtown area.
13-inch iPad Pro review: a truly modular platform

The list of things missing gets smaller every year, but it does seem odd which features Apple decides to prioritize and which are ignored perpetually.

Podcasting, for example, feels like one that should have been there from the start, given its importance to the Apple brand.


The lack of true desktop-class Safari, a reliable plus hierarchical file system, and background task execution all feel like obvious next steps.


Every iPad Pro release has accompanied a series of cries for macOS on iPad. Across the entire AppleInsiderstaff, even the Mac-devout, we don’t think that’s a good idea. Instead, we all want iPadOS to be better, and its own thing.


We want this instead of macOS shoehorned onto a platform that will lead to a sub-par experience not just for macOS, but for the iPad too. That would be the worst of both worlds.


You can’t divorce the software from the hardware when you review a new iPad. More on iPadOS in a while, though.

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