Review: M4 iPad Pro is gorgeous, super powerful - and a bit ridiculous

The new 13-inch iPad Pro is the thinnest device Apple has ever created.
The new 13-inch iPad Pro is the thinnest device Apple has ever created. Photo credit: Newshub.

Apple has released its best-ever tablet this year - which is also quite possibly the best tablet from any tech provider. 

The M4 iPad Pro is truly remarkable hardware, but it's also wickedly expensive and likely overkill for many Kiwis. 

As the name suggests, this is an ideal tablet for someone who wants it for professional use. However, it's also the best tablet you can get if you want to use it non-professionally - and have a healthy amount of disposable income lying around. 

The cheapest you'll get an M4 iPad Pro is currently around $2000. The most expensive options push up to $5200, then there are accessories on top. 

Is it worth all that money? 

I've been using an M4 iPad Pro for the past few weeks, and here are my thoughts. 

First and foremost - yep, this thing rules. It has a genuinely amazing OLED screen and an enormously powerful chip, all housed in a freakishly thin and light design. 

When using this iPad and showing it to people in the office and at home, everyone was surprised at its compact size - it's like a small sheet of glass. 

I really do love a great OLED screen, and this is one of the best I've ever seen. It packs a 2752x2064 resolution at 264ppi and it's crazy how good pretty much anything looks on it, but especially so with videos. 

It is quite possibly the best device ever for handheld film and TV viewing.
It is quite possibly the best device ever for handheld film and TV viewing. Photo credit: Newshub.

It's also super bright - up to 1600 nits with HDR content. You know when you're on a plane engrossed in an awesome movie, and someone opens a window shade to let the morning sun in and ruin your experience? This level of brightness would make that way less devastating, I imagine. 

I didn't get to test that, but I did watch some very dark Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon episodes in a room with the lights on, and they were still a pleasure to view. 

Reading, writing, drawing and everything else you want to do on this iPad will be superior to any other iPad, thanks to this cutting-edge screen. 

The immense power of the M4 chip also helps keep this unit cool, despite it having two OLED panels in a tiny 5.1mm thick space. 

Nothing I did appeared to make it warm up or stutter, which isn't surprising given the M4 is Apple's most advanced silicon - and this is still not actually a laptop. Still, I ran a few dozen apps at the same time, including high-end games, and it handled it all fine with no sweat. 

It does feel like Apple spared no expense with this Rolls Royce of tablets, but they actually did. The rear camera has been downgraded from the last iPad Pro, and for me, that's a win: I never, ever use the rear camera of an iPad and can't see many legitimate reasons why anyone should, especially if you're using this professionally. 

As for the front camera - the one I actually use - this has thankfully been moved to the correct landscape position, which was one of the only issues with the last iPad Pro model

The latest version of the Magic Keyboard in action.
The latest version of the Magic Keyboard in action. Photo credit: Newshub.

New versions of the Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard have been released to go with this new iPad Pro, and they both raise the bar again with various improvements on their predecessors. 

The keyboard has a nice metallic feel to it and a new function bar, as well as a bigger trackpad with decent haptic feedback. 

On the stylus front, the new Apple Pencil Pro offers impressive new features like barrel roll, squeeze control and new haptics. For creative professionals, these are fun new tools that should make certain tasks easier and allow for new tricks. 

Me? I'm no illustrator and am not a stylus user in general, but my colleague James Gibson in the Newshub graphics department liked putting the Pencil Pro to use, quickly whipping up this beauty:

The Apple Pencil Pro offers new tools and tricks.
The Apple Pencil Pro offers new tools and tricks. Photo credit: Newshub.

That new Magic Keyboard costs a whopping $699 here in Aotearoa, while the Pencil Pro is $249. The stylus price is very reasonable to me considering what it can do, but as much as I like this new Apple keyboard, I'd strongly suggest looking at third-party options before forking out. 

If you are in a position to drop a few grand on a tablet, maybe an extra $700 for the latest keyboard - custom-designed for it by Apple - isn't too crazy. 

The verdict 

Apple's M4 iPad Pro is an incredible piece of tech that is very likely the best tablet you're able to get your hands on right now. 

But for most people, this is much more power and quality than they need, for a relatively enormous cost. 

If you want an iPad for browsing the internet, looking at photos, scrolling social media and reading the news, this is far more than you would need. You could do all of that and more very comfortably with a more basic - and far cheaper - model. 

If you genuinely need a touchscreen tablet for high-end creative work, this is the best option out there. If it could be a tax write-off as a company expense, I'd jump at the chance. 

And if money is no object to you and you want the very best, most premium of everything you buy, you lucky devil: this is definitely what you want if you're in the market for a tablet this year. 

For the rest of us, the good news is that the most exciting bits of this iPad should trickle down into the cheaper models in years to come. 

As the first M4 product from Apple and the thinnest device the company has ever made, this latest iPad Pro also serves as an exciting sign of where the company is heading with its future releases. 

It's a nice hint at the array of cool advancements on the horizon.

Newshub was supplied a 13-inch iPad Pro with Nano-texture Glass for this review.