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Which iPad Pro should you buy: 11-inch or 12.9-inch?

iPad Pro 2021 review
iPad Pro 2021 review (Image credit: Daniel Bader / iMore)

If you have been asking yourself, "Which iPad should I buy?" and came up with the iPad Pro, then you are looking for the absolute best iPad that can take pretty much anything you throw at it. But since the iPad Pro comes in two sizes, 11-inch and 12.9-inch, it can be a little trickier to pick the right one for your needs. Let's take a closer look.

11-inch vs. 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2021): Breaking it down

If you are the type of person who cares solely about internal specs, both the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro are the same on the inside. Both feature Apple's new M1 chip, which has four performance cores and four efficiency cores, just like the M1 Macs. Let's look at both.

iPad Pro 11-inchiPad Pro 12.9-inch
CostFrom $799From $999
Size11-inch12.9-inch
Resolution2388x16682732x2048
Pixels per inch264 ppi264 ppi
Weight1.03 pounds (Wi-Fi)
1.04 pounds (Wi-Fi + Cellular)
1.5 pounds (Wi-Fi)
1.51 pounds (Wi-Fi + Cellular)
ChipM1M1
Storage128GB
256GB
512GB
1TB
2TB
128GB
256GB
512GB
1TB
2TB
DisplayLiquid RetinaLiquid Retina XDR
Wide ColorYesYes
True ToneYesYes
Laminated DisplayYesYes
Face IDYesYes
PortsThunderbolt/USB 4Thunderbolt/USB 4
Smart ConnectorYesYes
Rear camera12MP/4K12MP/4K
Ultra Wide lensYesYes
LiDAR ScannerYesYes
Front camera12MP True Depth 122-degree FoV12MP True Depth 122-degree FoV
SpeakersFourFour
Apple Pencil2nd-Generation2nd-Generation
Full-size keyboard accessoriesNoYes

They both have an 8-core GPU and 16-core Neural Engine. Also, you get 8GB of RAM on models with 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB storage, but 16GB RAM on the 1TB or 2TB models. Both models support accessories like the Apple Pencil 2 and the Smart Keyboard Folio. The only real difference between the two is the display, and we don't just mean size.

11-inch vs. 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2021): All in the details

11-inch iPad Pro (2020)

11-inch iPad Pro (2020) (Image credit: Bryan M. Wolfe / iMore)

Overall, when it comes to "which iPad should I buy," for the iPad Pros, we think the 11-inch model is the better pick for most people. It's much more lightweight and portable while still providing a ton of power with the M1 chip. With the M1 chip inside, you are getting a powerful iPad gaming machine, as well as a device that is no pushover when it comes to getting work done.

If you get the Wi-Fi + Cellular version, you can even go work anywhere with 5G coverage. And even though it's using the regular Liquid Retina display from the last generation, it's still very capable and beautiful for most people, especially when it comes to watching videos or reading. Plus, since the 11-inch is more compact, it's easier to hold up when reading eBooks or watching movies without feeling fatigued on your wrist.

iPad Pro 2021 review

iPad Pro 2021 review (Image credit: Daniel Bader / iMore)

Again, for most people, the 11-inch iPad Pro should be more than enough. However, if you are a serious professional who is constantly dealing with high-brightness and high-contrast HDR content, then the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is the best iPad for you, even more so if you opt for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model with 5G.

The new Liquid Retina XDR display was made to deliver extreme brightness, deep blacks, and all of the subtle details that may otherwise be hidden. It's the best way to view and edit high-brightness and high-contrast content, such as HDR photos and videos. If that sounds like what you need, then the 11-inch may not cut it.

The larger screen estate for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is also warranted if you need a bigger, more comfortable canvas for the best drawing apps for Apple Pencil. The 12.9-inch is also great if you want less cramped keys on the iPad Magic Keyboard or other similar keyboard cases.

11-inch vs. 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2021): Which iPad should you buy?

If you can adjust to smaller, more compact keyboard accessories, don't plan on drawing or handwriting notes too much, and don't work with HDR content, then the 11-inch iPad Pro (2021) should be good enough for you. Especially now that it has the M1 chip, it has plenty of power. It's also a much easier size to take with you, and you won't get tired of holding it. Plus, it starts at $300 less than the 12.9-inch and would be a great complement to any existing setup.

If you need the additional display real estate or highly value the HDR capabilities of the XDR display, then it's worth spending the extra to get the 12.9-inch version for the best iPad experience. You'll also benefit from full-size keyboard accessories, allowing you to transform your iPad Pro into a full-on laptop replacement.

Christine Chan
Senior Editor

Christine Romero-Chan has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently the iMore lead on all things iPhone, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.

When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.