Apple refreshed its iPad Pro line-up with two new models, comprising a 12.9-inch tablet and an 11-inch tablet, both of which sit alongside the older 10.5-inch iPad Pro.

The latest iPad Pro models bring a complete overhaul in design, along with improved specs and the 12.9-inch model sees a big reduction in footprint compared to its predecessor.

If you're wondering whether to upgrade your old 12.9-inch iPad Pro with the 2018 model, here are the differences between them and what the new model brings.

Design

  • iPad Pro 12.9 (2018): 280.6 x 214.9 x 5.9mm, 633g
  • iPad Pro 12.9 (2017): 305.7 x 220.6 x 6.9mm, 677g

The new Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch has significantly reduced the bezels surrounding the display, offering the same-size display but in a much smaller footprint compared to the previous model.

The screen now encompasses the majority of the front with Touch ID being replaced with Face ID, while the slim aluminium edges have been reduced by 1mm and squared off for a more seamless and refined design.

A single camera is present in the top left rear corner of both 12.9-inch iPad Pro models but the new model switches the Lightning connector for USB Type-C, offering charging in and out capability.

The new 12.9-inch iPad Pro model is also compatible with the second generation of Apple Pencil, which connects magnetically to the tablet and charges wirelessly when attached.

Display

  • iPad Pro 12.9 (2018): 12.9-inch, Liquid Retina, 2732 x 2048, 264ppi
  • iPad Pro 12.9 (2017): 12.9-inch, Retina, 2732 x 2048, 264ppi

Both the old iPad Pro 12.9-inch and the new model have a 12.9-inch display, hence their names. The new model has the Liquid Retina display found on the iPhone XR though, offering rounded corners, while the old model has a standard Retina display with square corners.

Everything else remains the same in terms of display though, with both 12.9-inch iPad Pro models featuring a 2732 x 2048 pixel resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 264ppi.

They also both have fully laminated screens, True Tone technology and ProMotion technology on board, as well as a P3 wide colour gamut.

Hardware and specifications

  • iPad Pro 12.9 (2018): A12X Bionic, 1TB ready, Face ID
  • iPad Pro 12.9 (2017): A10X Fusion, up to 512GB storage, Touch ID

The new Apple iPad Pro 12.9 runs on the A12X Bionic chip with embedded M12 coprocessor and a Neural Engine, while the older iPad Pro 12.9 runs on the older A10X Fusion chip. As you would expect, the new chip is more advanced with more capability like advanced Face ID and extra camera features.

Storage options for both models include 64GB, 256GB and 512GB options but the new 12.9 iPad Pro comes in a 1TB option too. Both tablets are available in Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi and LTE models.

As mentioned, the new iPad Pro 12.9 has Face ID instead of Touch ID, which is found on the older iPad Pro 12.9. It is also compatible with the second generation of Apple Pencil, offering numerous improvements, while the older model is only compatible with the original.

Both offer up to 10 hours of watching video, surfing the web on Wi-Fi or listening to music, though the new model is likely to be a little more efficient thanks to the new chip.

Cameras

  • iPad Pro 12.9 (2018): 12MP rear, f/1.8 aperture, 7MP front
  • iPad Pro 12.9 (2017): 12MP rear, f/1.8 aperture, 7MP front

The camera setup on the rear of both the new iPad Pro 12.9 and the older model is similar, in that both offer a 12-megapixel sensor with an f/1.8 aperture and many of the same features.

The older model offers optical image stabilisation where the newer model doesn't, but the newer model offers Smart HDR for photos compared to Auto HDR. The front camera setup is where the bigger differences can be found however.

Both have a 7-megapixel sensor but the new iPad Pro 12.9 offers Portrait mode, Portrait Lighting and Animoji and Memoji features. It also allows for Face ID.

Software

  • iOS 12

Both the new iPad Pro 12.9 and the old iPad Pro 12.9 run on iOS 12 so the user interface is familiar.

It won't be identical however, as the new model ditches Touch ID so you'll experience some differences in certain areas, for example the way you see open apps and close them down or how you return to the home screen.

The new model will also use Face ID for things like Apple Pay so rather than holding Touch ID to confirm a payment, you would double tap the power button, for example.

Price

The new iPad Pro 12.9 starts at $999 in the US for the Wi-F model or £969 in the UK , and $1149/£1119 for the Wi-Fi and Cellular model. The 1TB models cost £1719 and £1868 respectively, while the 512GB model, for comparison sake, cost £1319 or £1469.

The old iPad Pro 12.9 is no longer available through Apple but it started at £769 for the Wi-Fi only model and £899 for the Wi-Fi and Cellular model. The top-spec 512GB models cost £1119 and £1249 respectively.

Conclusion

The new iPad Pro 12.9 brings some great design changes, coupled with the same display size but in a much smaller footprint, a more advanced chipset and a more advanced front camera with Face ID.

Those choosing whether to upgrade or not will likely notice a big improvement in weight and handling, as well as efficiency. That said, the new model is pricey, £200 more than what the 2017 started at so you'll need to dig deep.

It's worth remembering the 2017 model is still a great device and you might be able to get a good deal somewhere if you're looking into buying a 12.9-inch iPad Pro for the first time. It wouldn't be as future proof as the 2018 model though.