Apple iPad Pro (2020) vs. iPad Pro (2018): Battle of Equals

After months of leaks and rumors, Apple has unveiled the latest and greatest iPad Pro, offering slightly improved specs, a revised camera module, and more.

Like the previous generation iPad Pro, the new models are available in 11-inch and 12.9-inch models. While they come at the same price, however, you’re likely to find discounts on the older models considering they are now last-generation tech. Should you save your cash and buy a last-gen iPad Pro, or should you go for the latest and greatest?

Specs

iPad Pro (2018) iPad Pro (2020)
Size 11-inch: 9.75 x 7.03 x 0.23 inches

12.9-inch: 11.05 x 8.46 x 0.23 inches

11-inch: 9.75 x 7.03 x 0.23 inches

12.9-inch: 11.05 x 8.46 x 0.23 inches

Weight 11-inch: 1.03 pounds

12.9-inch: 1.39 pounds

11-inch: 1.04 pounds

12.9-inch: 1.41 pounds

Screen size 11 inches, 12.9 inches 11 inches, 12.9 inches
Screen resolution 11-inch: 1,668 x 2,388

12.9-inch: 2,048 x 2,732

11-inch: 1,668 x 2,388

12.9-inch: 2,048 x 2,732

Operating system iPadOS iPadOS
Storage 64GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB
MicroSD card slot No No
Processor Apple A12X Bionic Apple A12Z Bionic
RAM 4GB/6GB 6GB
Camera 12MP rear, 7MP front Dual 12MP + 10MP Ultrawide, LiDAR, 7MP front
Video 4K at 60fps, 720p at 240fps 4K at 60fps, 1,080p at 240fps
Bluetooth version Bluetooth 5.0 Bluetooth 5.0
Ports USB-C USB-C
Fingerprint sensor No No
Water resistance No No
Battery 11-inch: 29.45Wh

12.9-inch: 36.71Wh

11-inch: 28.65Wh

12.9-inch: 36.71Wh

App marketplace Apple App Store Apple App Store
Network support AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon (Cellular models only) AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon (Cellular models only)
Colors Silver, Space Gray Silver, Space Gray
Price 11-inch: $800+

12.9-inch: $1,000+

11-inch: $800+

12.9-inch: $1,000+

Buy from Best Buy Apple
Review score 4 stars TBD

Design, display, and durability

The 2018 iPad Pro represented a design shift for the iPad, doing away with the home button in favor of an edge-to-edge display and Face ID. As such, we wouldn’t expect a big design refresh for the 2020 model — and you won’t get one. Instead, the only real design change is the camera module. The 2018 iPad Pro offered a single-lens camera, while the new iPad Pro adds a square camera bump similar to that on the iPhone 11 series.

The display on the 2018 iPad models and the 2020 iPad models is exactly the same — but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. They’re not the highest-resolution displays out there, but they look great, and graphic designers and video editors should have no problems with them. That said, eventually, we hope Apple moves to an OLED display on the iPad.

The iPad is a sleek, thin device, and as such it’s not necessarily the most durable tablet out there. It’s not made of glass, so at least the back of it won’t shatter, but tests consistently show that the device will easily bend under pressure. Safe to say, it’s worth being careful with the iPad Pro.

Winner: Tie

Performance, battery life, and charging

The 2018 iPad Pro offered excellent performance, thanks to its ultra-powerful Apple A12X Bionic chip and either 4GB or 6GB of RAM, depending on the model you went for. The new iPad Pro takes things a step further, with the slightly more powerful A12Z Bionic, and what seems to be 6GB of RAM in all models (we’ll have to wait until Apple ships lower-tier configurations to be sure, and Apple has not confirmed either way).

Ultimately, while the new model is more powerful, the performance boost seems to be relatively small — so most will still be more than happy with the performance on offer by the 2018 iPad Pro. That doesn’t mean they’re even. The A12Z Bionic is quicker. A little.

The battery on the new iPad Pro is technically smaller, but not by much. Apple says that all models will get “10 hours of surfing the web.” They all charge through the USB-C port, but none of the models support wireless charging, if that’s important to you.

The performance upgrades are minor. Yet they do exist, and for that reason, we give Apple’s new model the edge.

Winner: 2020 iPad Pro

Cameras

The 2020 iPad Pro’s most meaningful upgrade may well be its new camera features. While the 2018 iPad Pro offered a single-lens 12-megapixel rear-facing camera, the new model offers a 12-megapixel primary lens, a 10-megapixel ultrawide lens, and a Lidar sensor. The new sensor can come in handy for augmented reality applications. That may be more helpful for some users than for others, but it’s a clear upgrade that makes sense on the iPad.

For most, the front-facing camera will be more important, and there is no upgrade to be found there. Like the 2018 model, the 2020 model of the iPad Pro offers a 7-megapixel front-facing camera.

Winner: 2020 iPad Pro

Software and updates

The 2018 iPad Pro shipped with iPadOS 12, however it can be updated to the version of iPadOS on offer by the new model, iPadOS 13.4. iPadOS itself offers a number of features over its close cousin iOS, like support for widgets on the home screen and cursor support.

Generally, Apple is good at offering software updates to its devices for several years. It’s possible that the 2020 iPad Pro will get updates further into the future than the 2018 iPad Pro considering it’s newer. On the other hand, the two have very similar performance, so it’s equally probable that Apple will discontinue support for both whenever that happens.

It’s hard to know for sure. Apple has yet to discontinue support for any iPad Pro.

Winner: Tie

Special features

Both the 2018 iPad Pro and the 2020 iPad Pro offer a range of special features that put them ahead of other iPad models, but the new model doesn’t offer much beyond the older 2018 version. They both feature Face ID, which works no matter which orientation you have your iPad set up. They also both support all Apple Pencil models, and thanks to iPadOS 13.4, they both have mouse and trackpad support. They even both support the upcoming Magic Keyboard accessory, so don’t feel like you need to buy the new model to use that keyboard.

The only feature that the new iPad offers over the previous model is the upgraded camera setup, so if you plan on using your device for AR a lot, you might want that LiDAR.

Winner: 2020 iPad Pro

Price and availability

The 2020 iPad Pro is available straight from Apple’s website and most major electronics retailers, though for now, you may need to buy online if you want one due to brick-and-mortar stores being closed. The 11-inch model starts at $800 for 128GB of storage, however, you can spend up to $1300 for 1TB of storage. The 12.9-inch model starts at $1,000 for the 128GB model, with prices ranging up to $1,500 for 1TB of storage.

The list prices for the 2018 iPad Pro are the same as the new model, but considering it has now been replaced, you’ll likely be able to find discounts on the older device. You also may not be able to buy the older device straight from Apple — but you should be able to find it from other retailers, like Best Buy and Amazon.

Overall winner: 2020 iPad Pro

The 2020 iPad Pro’s upgrades are minor, but it’s priced the same as the outgoing model, so it’s easy to recommend the new version. If you want a deal, then keep a keen eye for retailers clearing out old 2018 iPad Pro stock. We recommend you aim for a discount of at least $150 lower than retail, as that’s equivalent to the best iPad Pro deals we saw during the 2019 holiday shopping season.

Editors’ Recommendations





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