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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Apple Announces Two New iPad Pro Models

Apple tossed out a couple of surprise product announcements today. There are two brand new iPad Pro models coming next week, both beefed up with Apple’s M2 chip and support for new Apple Pencil features, alongside a modernized standard iPad now with a USB-C port. The company also has a new 4K Apple TV model coming out in November.

Apple tends to introduce its products during big publicized events that are teased weeks in advance. But in this case, CEO Tim Cook simply teased the news shortly before the official announcement, tweeting out some colorful digital doodles along with the hashtag #TakeNote, which apparently refers to the Pencil’s newly enhanced writing capabilities.

Refreshed iPads

The two new models of the iPad Pro are functionally the same as their predecessors—there's one with an 11-inch screen and another with a 12.9-inch display. The latter is still the only iPad Apple sells with Mini LED display technology, so you'll get better contrast and colors thanks to the thousands of LEDs acting as the backlight for the panel. What's new here is the processor powering these slates: the M2 chip. It's the same processor that's in Apple's new MacBook Air. It means upgraded raw performance, but chances are you won't notice a huge difference over the M1-powered iPad Pro. These slates also now support Wi-Fi 6E as well

The 11-inch iPad Pro model starts at $799 and the 12.9-inch version starts at $1,099. Both of those prices are for the base Wi-Fi-only model; add another $200 to either for a 5G cellular connection. They're available for preorder and will officially hit stores on October 26. Your color options are Space Gray and Silver.

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Anyone who pairs a second-generation Apple Pencil with either of these new iPad Pro models will notice some new behaviors when scribbling on the tablet’s screen. A new Hover Mode allows the stylus to be detected by the iPad Pro while it’s nearly a half inch (12 millimeters) away from the screen. It’s a mode aimed at digital artists, as it could be used to fine-tune brush control; when a Pencil is hovering above the screen, the iPad shows a dot where the tip will touch down, giving users a chance to better line up their strokes.

Apple has also updated its basic iPad but there are some caveats here. The new 10th-generation iPad now costs $449—hardly what you'd call affordable. That's why Apple is still continuing to sell the 9th-gen iPad (with no price reduction, sadly) at $329. The improvements don't quite justify a $120 price jump, but you can be the judge. 

There's now a refreshed look, so the latest slate has uniform and slim bezels around a slightly larger 10.9-inch Liquid Retina screen. It's powered by the A14 chip, which we first saw on the iPhone 12, with a 12-megapixel rear camera (instead of 8 MP), a USB-C charging port, and 5G connectivity if you opt for a cellular model. The selfie camera is now situated in the center bezel of the tablet when held horizontally, so it should make video calls less awkward since you won't have to stare at one end of the screen. 

The biggest problem is the lack of support for the second-gen Apple Pencil. The base iPads remain the only tablets in the entire lineup to only support the first-gen stylus. That means you can't magnetically attach and charge it via the tablet. And since Apple ditched the Lightning port, you'll need to buy a $9 adapter to recharge the stylus with the USB-C port. (New first-gen Apple Pencils come with an adapter.)

At the very least, all modernized iPad models now use a USB-C connector to charge and attach accessories. iPhones are the lone Lightning cable holdouts in Apple’s lineup, though that may be changing soon thanks to new regulations in the EU requiring all consumer mobile devices sold there to use USB-C ports.

New Apple TV

As for the new Apple TV, buyers will get to pick between two options: a model with only a Wi-Fi connection, and one with Wi-Fi and an Ethernet port. The Wi-Fi-only version comes with 64 GB of storage, while the Ethernet model gets 128 GB. Both models pump out 4K visuals and Dolby sound, and if your TV and soundbar don’t support those formats, you’ll get 1080p visuals and stereo sound. Both models use Apple’s A15 mobile chip, which is a generation older than the chips found in Apple’s newest iPhones.

Both Apple TV models are cheaper than the previous versions. The Wi-Fi model starts at $129 and the Ethernet-enabled model is $149. However, both models of the last iteration of Apple TVs included an Ethernet connection, and now that feature is being limited to just the pricier box. They're available for preorder now and will hit stores on November 4.

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