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Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch (M2) review

The super-fast M2 chip packs more punch into Apple's premier iPad.

Last updated: 06 February 2023

CHOICE verdict

Apple has already rolled out the super-fast M2 chip across its Mac range, and now its top-shelf tablet gets one too. The sixth-generation iPad Pro 12.9-inch now has the same M2 chip used in the latest desktop and laptop Mac models. We took a closer look at the 2TB model and were impressed by its performance – this tablet is aimed at professionals and tech enthusiasts and is seriously fast. With the right pro-level apps and the skills to get the most out of it, the iPad Pro 12.9-inch (M2) can be a powerful creative tool.

Price: From $1899

Space gray iPad Pro

The rear cameras are 12MP Wide and 10MP Ultra Wide, with a depth-sensing LiDAR scanner. The front camera is 12MP Ultra Wide.

New features of the M2 iPad Pro

Along with the M2 chip, the sixth-generation Apple iPad Pro also offers the latest Wi-Fi 6E (you'll need a Wi-Fi 6E router to get the most out of this feature) and Bluetooth 5.3.

New to this model is the Apple Pencil Hover, which detects the second generation Apple Pencil as it hovers just above the display, giving a preview or action option before actually making contact. This improves precision for writing and drawing and is a feature that artists in particular should appreciate.

As with the previous M1 model, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro with M2 has a Liquid Retina XDR display for extreme dynamic range, but the 11-inch model, with Liquid Retina display, misses out on XDR. 

The M2 now adds ProRes and ProRes Raw which will excite video professionals

Screen resolution is 2732 x 2048 pixels and Apple claims brightness maxes out at a bright 600nits, with up to 1000nits in XDR and peak brightness of 1600nits for HDR content only. In our testing we found the brightness very good in normal use, at a measured 403nits with True Tone on and 457nits with True Tone off. Excellent colour reproduction makes this vibrant screen a joy to use when looking at photos or watching videos. 

The rear cameras are 12MP Wide and 10MP Ultra Wide, with a depth-sensing LiDAR scanner. The front camera is 12MP Ultra Wide, with the auto pan/zoom Centre Stage feature for video chats and presentations.

Following on from the M1 iPad Pro's H.264 and HEVC hardware-accelerated video encoding, the M2 now adds ProRes and ProRes Raw which will excite video professionals. Video recording also includes ProRes at up to 4K at 30fps, but only 1080p at 30fps for the 128GB model.

Of course, as with the previous model, the iPad Pro's USB-C port supports Thunderbolt/USB 4 for connecting external devices including storage and displays.

M2 power

The M2 chip is seriously fast. Our benchmarking showed a noticeable bump in CPU and graphics performance, while storage speed was also faster with this 2TB model compared to the 512GB 5th-gen M1 model we tested last time. 

There's an 8-core CPU with four performance cores and four efficiency cores, plus 10-core GPU and 16-core Neural Engine. It has an 100GB/s memory bandwidth, and the amount of internal memory you get depends on the model. Our 2TB test model came with 16GB RAM (as does the 1TB model) but the 128GB, 256GB or 512GB models get just 8GB RAM.

The increase in performance hasn't come at the expense of battery life, as our heavy usage battery test rundown time of 5hr 32min is identical to what we achieved with the previous model. However, this model did take longer to charge using the supplied adapter connected directly to the iPad.

Audio performance is very good – you can enjoy listening to music without having to use headphones or cast to external speakers

The four speakers provide a warmer than usual sound for a product of this type, with more bass than expected, and overall we found the audio performance very good. Vocal and instrument sound is crisp and clear, with plenty of detail, depth and even spacious stereo effects. This means you can enjoy listening to music without having to use headphones or cast to external speakers.

It's important to remember that an iPad is not just the hardware – the operating system, iPadOS 16.3, provides an app-centric user experience that is quite different to an M2-equipped Mac, even using Stage Manager and an external display to give you multitasking with up to four apps on each screen at the same time. 

Stage manager on iPad Pro

Connecting the iPad Pro to an external display and enabling iPadOS 16's Stage Manager multitasking option provides a multi-screen desktop experience.

Pro-level apps

To get the most out of the iPad Pro you'll need pro-level apps, but not all "pro" apps available for Mac are available for iPad. However, the inclusion of Apple's M-class chips is enticing more and more developers to bring their top apps to the tablet platform, including recent updates and additions such as DaVinci Resolve for video editors and Affinity Publisher 2 for designers. 

With the right apps, the iPad Pro 12.9 can be a powerful professional tool. It can be used as a pro-level mobile studio for video capture and editing, or an artist's mobile drawing and design dream tool. But make sure all the apps you need for your particular workflow are available before you fork out for this one.

Of course, all this power comes at a cost. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro with Wi-Fi only starts at $1899 with 128GB of storage. From there you double storage at each step to 256GB ($2079), 512GB ($2429), 1TB ($3129) and 2TB ($3829). Adding the cellular option gives you 5G (sub-6GHz), which costs an extra $250 up to the 512GB model, then $270 for the 1TB and 2TB options. It comes in either silver or space grey. 

Laptop alternative

Most users will want the Apple Pencil and a keyboard. The second-generation Apple Pencil adds $219 and you can choose between the cantilevered Magic Keyboard ($579), or the Smart Keyboard Folio ($329).

With a keyboard attached, the iPad Pro becomes useful as a laptop alternative or even, with the addition of an external display, a desktop substitute. The Magic Keyboard is the top-shelf option, with trackpad and backlighting, but is best used on a hard surface. 

Unlike laptops, that have the weight in the base, keyboard-tablet combos are necessarily top heavy. If you actually use it in your lap it can feel like it might topple back. 

With a keyboard attached the iPad Pro becomes useful as an alternative laptop, or even desktop with the addition of an external display 

There's some tilt in the stand for angling the screen, but stability isn't an issue in a regular office seating position. There's an extra USB-C port in the base, giving you two useful ports in total, because the screen connects magnetically at the rear.

The keys feel spacious and have good travel and responsive feel, and the arrow keys have some breathing room around them. The backlighting comes on automatically when the ambient light is low.

If you're in the market for a tablet that delivers amazing performance, you should give the 12.9-inch M2 iPad Pro some serious consideration.

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Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.