The iPad Pro (2021) feels like a story half-told — iPadOS 15 will complete it

Ipad Pro 11 Magic Keyboard Hero
Ipad Pro 11 Magic Keyboard Hero (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

When the iPad Pro launched in 2015, it set out to be absolutely the most powerful iPad ever and give people the chance to complete serious work on a mobile platform. Since then, each iteration of the iPad Pro has always pushed the envelope when it comes to power and performance — and the iPad Pro (2021) steps it up to the next level.

Apple's newest darling, the M1 chip, is what's powering the iPad Pro (2021) that Apple announced during its keynote. The M1 chip has 50 times faster CPU performance compared to the original iPad Pro and it is also said that the graphic performance is up to 1500 times better. In layman's terms, the iPad Pro (2021) is going to be a performance monster. But I have to ask, what's the point?

Most people weren't complaining about the power or performance of the iPad Pro (2020), but rather the limitations that the iPad has a platform. That's why I think this story is half-told. Apple's upcoming iPadOS 15 is the other half.

The iPad Pro (2021) itself doesn't change what an iPad can do

Ipad Pro 2021 Hero (Image credit: Apple)

While it's completely possible that the iPad Pro (2021) might be the best iPad Apple has ever made, the hardware itself does very little to alleviate any of the issues that stop the iPad platform from truly replacing a MacBook or Mac for a lot of people.

While the Thunderbolt port on the iPad Pro (2021) is certainly a welcome addition and will make it a lot easier to use docks, displays, hubs, and other peripherals, it's still only one lonely port, which is a limitation that Macs don't have. Plus, needing to buy an external keyboard, trackpad, and/or mouse adds a lot of money to the already expensive iPad Pro, especially the 12.9-inch version. And of course, battery life only being about 10 hours is far less than most MacBooks, making it harder to rely on it as a Mac replacement. Software is where a lot of improvement could be made on the iPad Pro, and the upcoming iPadOS 15 is the perfect place to do it.

iPadOS 15 could be a huge update

12.9-inch iPad Pro (Image credit: Joseph Keller / iMore)

It's important to remember that iPadOS is still pretty new, and we even called iPadOS 14 a great refinement over the previous iteration. It worked out some of the old kinks, added great features like trackpad and mouse support, and added stability to the platform. It's now up to Apple to blow us all away with iPadOS 15.

I know multitasking is a huge pain point for a lot of people on iPadOS 14. It just doesn't flow as great as it does on macOS. It's certainly gotten better as of late, but Split View and Slide Over still have their limitations.

I'm sure some people think the best solution is just to put macOS on the iPad and be done with it, but I don't think an approach that drastic is needed. That also wouldn't fix any of the hardware limitations I spoke about earlier. The iPad Pro is an iPad, not a Mac, and I think Apple wants to keep it that way. That doesn't mean that iPadOS 15 couldn't be a huge update — especially for the iPad Pro (2021).

It's clear to me that the launch of the iPad Pro (2021) is only half the story. There's so much power and potential inside the M1 that iPadOS can now start to tap into, and if iPadOS 15 doesn't start to take advantage of it, Apple is leaving a lot on the table.

What do you think?

What do you think Apple has planned for the iPad Pro (2021)? What feature do you want to be added to iPadOS 15? Let us know in the comments down below.

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.