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Apple debuts iPad Pro with M4 chip, as company looks to turn around sales

In Technology
May 07, 2024

Apple (AAPL) debuted its latest lineup of iPads during a virtual launch event on Tuesday. The new tablets include more powerful versions of the $999 11-inch and $1,299 13-inch iPad Pro outfitted with Apple’s M4 chip and more vibrant OLED displays, and an upgraded iPad Air, which gets a 13-inch screen option to go along with the existing 11-inch version.

The company also unveiled the latest version of its Apple Pencil stylus complete with a new haptic feedback feature and an updated Magic Keyboard case for the iPad Pro line.

The new iPad Pros come equipped with Apple’s new Ultra Retina XDR displays, which use OLED technology to improve overall color quality. Apple says the screens, its most advanced yet, use two OLED panels to form what the company calls its Tandem OLED panel.

Apple debuted its latest iPad Pros on Tuesday along with the company's new M4 chip. (Apple)

Apple debuted its latest iPad Pros on Tuesday along with the company’s new M4 chip. (Apple) (apple)

OLED panels are known for their exceptional color quality, but they’re also thinner than traditional LCD screens. That, Apple says, makes the 10.9-inch iPad Pro just 5.3mm thick and the 13-inch model just 5.1mm thick, making it the company’s thinnest device ever.

In addition to their new screens, the iPads come with Apple’s new M4 chip. The first device to get Apple’s latest silicon, the chip makes the latest iPad Pro 4 times faster than the iPad Pro with Apple’s M2 processor and 10 times faster than the original iPad Pro.

The M4 runs on Apple’s second-generation 3 nanometer technology and features 4 performance cores for heavy duty processing and 6 efficiency cores less resource intensive applications. The company says the M4 provides up to 50% faster CPU performance than the M2 in the iPad pro. On the graphics side of things, Apple says the M4 has a 10-core GPU and provides 4 times faster graphics performance than the M2.

Apple also hinted on its AI ambitions, saying that the M4’s new 16-core neural engine is more powerful than any neural processing unit in any PC today. Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm are all putting neural processing units into their latest processors to power onboard AI applications. Apple, however, was sure to point out that it’s been adding neural engines to its processors for years, implying that it has a significant lead in the space.

Apple iPad

Apple’s new iPad Air.

The iPad Air, Apple’s mid-range tablet, now comes with a 13-inch screen option to go along with the standard 11-inch model. Apple says roughly half of iPad Pro consumers opt for the larger 13-inch iPad Pro, giving them a reason to go for the larger screen option.

The front camera is now in the center of the side bezel so you can use it in landscape mode while making FaceTime calls and sports spatial audio. The 13-inch model gets double the base of the 11-inch.

Both iPad Airs now come with Apple’s M2 chip, making it 50% faster than the prior iPad Air with the M1 chip, and 3x faster than the A14-equipped Air. The Air also works with Apple’s Magic Keyboard and the Apple Pencil stylus. The 11-inch iPad Air starts at $599, while the 13-inch version starts at $799.

During Tuesday’s event Apple also unveiled its Apple Pencil Pro stylus. The accessory, priced at $129, now includes a haptic feedback feature that produces a slight vibration to let you know when you’ve successfully selected something on screen. There’s also a built-in gyroscope that lets you roll the Apple Pencil Pro to choose specific inputs in drawing and painting apps. Find My compatibility also means you can quickly locate your pencil if you misplace it.

Apple’s latest iPads come as the product line is mired in a sales slump. In 2022, the company reported iPad revenue of $29.29 billion, down 8% from the $31.86 billion it brought in in 2021. Declines continued in 2023, though they were less severe, with sales falling 3% on the year.

Sales continued to falter in Q1 and Q2 this year, dropping 22% and 17%, respectively. Apple’s latest tablets, however, should give the lineup a much-needed sales boost.

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Email Daniel Howley at dhowley@yahoofinance.com. Follow him on Twitter at @DanielHowley.

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