The new iPad Pro is almost the same as last year's iPad Pro, but it has a different M2 processor. Even though it is powerful and great to use as a tablet, it is not a truly versatile laptop replacement.

It's all about the M2 and iPadOS 16

The fifth-gen iPad Pro is almost identical to the sixth-gen iPad Pro in a number of aspects. It has the same design and features. The size and weight are the same. It has the same slot as last year's iPad Pro, even though Apple's new phone doesn't have a sim card. It has the same storage options as before, ranging from 128 gigabyte to 2 terabytes. The Space Gray and Silver colors are used again. Apple hasn't launched any new accessories yet.

This isn't an upgrade for people who just got an iPad Pro. The major changes are the M2 processor and support for Apple Pencil hover, the tech that makes the tablets' display sense the proximity of Pencil and perform a simple task before you even touch it.

Apple iPad Pro

On the outside, it's very similar to last year's model. Credit: Stan Schroeder/Mashable

You can look for other differences between the old and the new Pro, but you will have to dig in deeper and find a few of them. I've seen a couple of them.

  • There is a sign on the back of the iPad Pro models. The earlier iPad Pro models did not say "iPad".

  • The lines on the back are not as visible as they used to be.

  • The old iPad Pro's front camera only supports Smart HDR3 for photos, but the rear camera now supports 4K at 30 frames per second.

  • The standard for wi-fi has been upgraded from wi-fi6 to wi-fi6e.

That's all that's left. I will point you to our last year's review of the 5th-generation, 12.9-inch iPad Pro in order to explain the basic aspects of the device. Due to its massive size, it works better on the table than in your lap, but it's still a beautiful device and a joy to use.

It's time for Apple to change something about the iPad Pro's design because it's three generations of the same thing. The front camera should be on the side of the device rather than on top. It makes sense to have the camera up top and in the center when in landscape mode because you'll rarely do video calls in portrait mode.

Almost too powerful

The M2 chip is used in the new iPad Pro. That chip is good enough to power Apple's MacBook Air and the 13-inch MacBook Pro, so the new iPad Pro is in the same league. The new iPadOS 16 was launched along with the new iPad.

My job was to make sure that the new iPad Pro performs well with the new iPadOS 16. The Pro was able to handle everything I threw at it.

Most of the time, that meant having a bunch of browser tabs and apps open, and flipping between them all the time. I didn't experience a slow down. The app performed without a hitch and was a joy to use on the display.

The iPad Pro didn't get very warm, and I played a few games, includingPUBG and Hearthstone, both of which looked gorgeous on the iPad Pro's massive display. Even though it's a powerful device, you will only reach the limits of that power in specific, extremely demanding apps, and very few people use such apps.

It depends on how you use the iPad. The battery might drain before the end of the day if you put it on a table and work on it for 8 hours. It will last for days if you use the device occasionally and for typical tablet tasks, such as hanging out on slack, reading books and magazines, and doom scrolling through social media. At the end of the day, the iPad had about 20% left.

Look, no touching

The M2 chip is one of the improvements that should be mentioned. One of the things that Apple does is give you a way to show your friends. When the tip of the Apple Pencil is about 12 millimetres away from the iPad Pro's display, it senses something, such as highlighting an item you were about to touch, or expanding the text input field. I can not say how useful this is, but it is definitely a cool trick.

Apple iPad Pro Pencil hover

Get close to the display with the Pencil, and the icon gets a little larger. Credit: Stan Schroeder/Mashable

I wasn't able to test the wi-fi 6e as I didn't have a proper routers, but it boiled down to faster wi-fi with lower latencies. For most people, super-fast wireless connection is just another nice to have feature, even if there are some iPad users out there who need it.

Is the new iPad Pro finally good enough to be your primary computer?

When combined with Apple's Magic Keyboard, the new iPad Pro may not be able to completely replace your computer. If you want to try it, you'll need to be willing to learn new things, make a lot of compromises, and be patient.

When I work with a laptop, I don't get as much comfort as I would if I worked with a brick and mortar store.

Apple iPad Pro

The Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro hasn't changed. It would benefit from an extra row of keys on top. Credit: Stan Schroeder/Mashable

Apple's new Stage Manager, which is finally live for everyone with iPadOS 16, helps with multitasking, and I like the way I can pile up certain apps into groups that I can fetch at will. There are limits to what you can do with apps. For example, I like to have two browser instances open side by side, and on the iPad Pro, I could not precisely set the display resolution I wanted, nor could I have shrunk the windows to the size I wanted.

The stage manager was buggy as well. You can use the keyboard's trackpad to invoke it, but sometimes it wouldn't work. Apple's own Weather, which is new to the iPad, would sometimes look messy inside Stage Manager. It's annoying when you need the app windows to be a little bit bigger or a little bit smaller. It is better than both Slide Over and Split View, but it is still not perfect.

The new iPad has an additional row of function keys and an escape key in the top row of the keyboard. The new version of the Magic Keyboard is better than the old one, so it's a pity that the iPad Pro doesn't get it. The Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro needs to be updated.

I wanted to go back to work on my Mac after all this happened. Lifting the iPad out of its cradle and taking it to the sofa was a joy for the iPad Pro. It was great to be able to quickly go to portrait mode and see the entire web page. The drawbacks weren't enough to offset the advantages.

I can think of people who use the iPad Pro as their main workhorse, such as an artist who uses the Apple Pencil a lot, or someone who benefits from being able to easily hand over the iPad to someone else. For most people, the iPad Pro will do a better job as a secondary device than it will as a primary one.

Still a niche product

Apple iPad Pro

Fantastic as a tablet, a little less fantastic as a laptop. Credit: Stan Schroeder/Mashable

It is difficult to criticize the iPad Pro. It has a gorgeous display, powerful chip, and great battery life. It feels like the future, but it isn't practical for work. It is more expensive than the MacBook Pro due to the fact that it starts at $1,099 and includes the Magic Keyboard. You will probably be better off with a Mac if you don't have a touch screen.

When the 5th-gen iPad Pro came out, all of this was true. The only change this year is Apple's new M2 chip. The chip doesn't change anything about how well the iPad Pro performs as a laptop replacement If you have last year's iPad Pro, there's no reason to upgrade unless you really need that extra power, and that only applies to a few professionals that need the Pro for very specific tasks

If you're a first time buyer, you should consider the size of the Apple device. The 12.9-inch display is the best I have ever seen on a portable device, but it does make the device large and unwieldy. It might make sense in the store, but it could fire back after a while.

The iPad Pro has become a device for professional use. You will put up with its drawbacks if you need it, because you already know why you need it. It is Apple's most powerful, largest, and prettiest iPad. When it comes to value for money, the iPad Air is likely to be the better choice.