The 11-inch iPad Pro (2021) is much more lightweight and portable than its bigger sibling, making it a great size to read, watch, and work on. It can be configured to 2TB of storage and now has the M1 chip inside with at least 8GB of RAM. However, it still uses the Liquid Retina display from the previous iteration, and for some pros, the 11-inch just isn't big enough.
- Reasonable price
- More lightweight and portable
- Has Apple M1 chip
- Starts with 128GB, configurable to 2TB
- Beautiful Liquid Retina display
- 5G support on Wi-Fi + Cellular models
- Does not have Liquid Retina XDR display
- Less screen estate to work with
- Smaller keyboards
With the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2021), you are getting the most possible screen space on an iPad to work with, especially with an Apple Pencil. The new Liquid Retina XDR display is amazing for viewing and editing high-brightness and high-contrast HDR content, and everything is insanely fast and snappy with the M1 chip. But it can be a little unwieldy in size for some, and it's expensive.
- Most screen estate possible
- Has brand new Liquid Retina XDR display
- Mini-LED with 2D backlighting system
- Has Apple M1 chip
- Best for high-brightness and high-contrast HDR content
- 5G support on Wi-Fi + Cellular models
- Larger size can be harder to travel with
- Only model with Liquid Retina XDR display
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-inch||iPad Pro 12.9-inch|
|Cost||From $799||From $999|
|Pixels per inch||264 ppi||264 ppi|
|Weight||1.03 pounds (Wi-Fi)|
1.04 pounds (Wi-Fi + Cellular)
|1.5 pounds (Wi-Fi)|
1.51 pounds (Wi-Fi + Cellular)
|Display||Liquid Retina||Liquid Retina XDR|
|Ports||Thunderbolt/USB 4||Thunderbolt/USB 4|
|Ultra Wide lens||Yes||Yes|
|Front camera||12MP True Depth 122-degree FoV||12MP True Depth 122-degree FoV|
|Full-size keyboard accessories||No||Yes|
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
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.
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.
Portable and lightweight powerhouse
The 11-inch iPad Pro packs in a ton of power for most people, thanks to the new M1 chip. It also has a beautiful display, storage options, and is easier to travel with.
When you need the best of the best
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is an absolute beast of a machine with the M1 chip and Liquid Retina XDR display. If you need the absolute best display on an iPad, this is the one to get.
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.
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