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iPad Pro (2022) vs. iPad (2022): Should you invest in the 'Pro'?

Let us guide you through the differences between the standard iPad and iPad Pro to help decide which is truly best for you, without wasting cash on unneeded features.
Written by Michael Gariffo, Staff Writer on
Apple's iPad 2022 next to the standard iPad 2022.
Image: Apple

Once upon a time, there was a clear delineation between Apple's basic iPad line and its iPad Pro models. Those wanting a basic model for couch browsing, media consumption, or traditional tablet activities could opt for the cheaper model, while those wanting to get real work done, use their unit as a drawing tablet, or replace their laptop would likely need a Pro model. 

More: Best iPad deals happening right now

Now, those lines have blurred to the point where it's harder to know which one's right for you. We'll go through the differences in specs, price, and features to help clear up this murky picture, and to ensure that you get the best tablet for your needs, without wasting cash on capabilities you'll never use.

Specifications

iPad Pro (2022)

iPad (2022)

Display

10.9-inch or 12.9-inch IPS running at 2388 x 1668

10.9-inch IPS running at 2360 x 1640

Apple Pencil support

Supports Apple Pencil (2nd gen)

Supports Apple Pencil (1st gen)

Processor

M2

A14 Bionic

Physical connectivityUSB-4 (Thunderbolt) charging and data port, Nano-SIM tray (cellular models), magnetic connectorUSB-C charging and data port, Nano-SIM tray (cellular models)
Storage options128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB64GB, 256GB
Cameras12MP wide and 10MP ultrawide rear cameras; 12MP ultra-wide front camera with TrueDepth support
12MP rear camera; 12MP ultra-wide front camera
Wireless connectivityWi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3, 5G (cellular models) Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, 5G (cellular models)

Colors

Silver and Space Gray

Space gray, starlight, pink, purple, and blue

Battery

10 hours of web browsing or video watching on Wi-Fi

10 hours of web browsing or video watching on Wi-Fi

PriceStarting at $700
Starting at $449

You should buy the iPad Pro (2022) if...

An iPad Pro laying on a wooden panel.
Jason Cipriani/ZDNET

1. You need a laptop-replacement tablet in the truest sense of the words

Between its compatibility with Apple's Magic Keyboard, its inclusion of the same M2 chip running some of Apple's MacBook Pro laptops, and its ability to use the second-generation Apple Pencil, the iPad Pro can replace a laptop for a significant portion of the population. This is especially true for creatives that can exploit the Apple Pencil's excellent stylus input, and take advantage of the complete viability of high-end video and image editing powered by the, let's be honest, entirely overkill M2 core. 

The only remaining limitations of the iPad Pro when compared to a MacBook are exclusively based on what software is available for it. 

2. You want the best vlogging and video conferencing tablet

While both of these models feature similar resolution front-facing cameras and a 12MP rear wide-angle lens, the iPad Pro features a second 10MP ultrawide rear camera and a front-facing shooter that supports TrueDepth technology for FaceID unlocks and other capabilities. This makes it a legitimate contender for your first vlogging camera, or a video conferencing beast. 

Review: iPad Pro (2022): The ultimate multitasking experience?

Best of all, unlike just about any vlogging option, you can edit your video files on the same device you used to capture them. This streamlined workflow can save you time and enough cash to make up for the iPad Pro's price difference. It's five "studio-quality microphones" will also help you sound great on Zoom or YouTube.

3. Your mobile gaming requires the best hardware 

Not only does the iPad Pro offer the largest screen size in its 12.9-inch model but it also features the best resolution (2732 x 2048 at that size) and Apple's ProMotion technology, which boosts the display's refresh rate to provide much smoother movement when needed, or battery-saving lower refresh rates when the image is static or moving slowly. 

You might not notice the difference in video, but if you're playing a ProMotion-supporting game, it'll be instantly recognizable just how smooth the iPad Pro's display can be. If audio is important, it's also worth noting the iPad Pro features an upgraded four-speaker sound system, a major improvement over the iPad's landscape stereo speakers.

You should buy the iPad (2022) if...

The new Apple iPad surrounded by the bundled accessories.
June Wan/ZDNET

1. You're buying a tablet for a kid, or media consumption on the road

Apple's iPad line has been keeping kids entertained and educated for the better part of a decade. It's also let us adults zone out and binge our latest streaming obsessions in more recent years as well. If basic streaming video and audio are your main concern, the iPad Pro is probably massive overkill. Sure, it's display is superior, but not to the point where it's worth spending almost twice as much for most users, especially youngsters. 

Apple's decision to include Bluetooth 5.2 in the iPad (2022) means it's even a very close match for the iPad Pro's Bluetooth 5.3, which only offers a slight upgrades to connection speed and minor energy efficiency improvements. Think of it this way, you could get both of your kids an iPad, or just one an iPad Pro. Which do you think would lead to a more peaceful household?

2. You're on a budget

Apple's latest iPad is the cheapest option in its 2022 lineup, even cheaper than the smaller iPad Mini. This means it's still the best option for those wanting a cutting edge tablet without breaking the bank. There are folks who will actually make use of the Pro's lighting-fast M2 core, its upgraded display, and its 2nd gen Apple Pencil support. But, if you're not one of those people, there's no reason to spend nearly twice as much for features you simply aren't going to use. 

Review: iPad 2022 (10th Gen): A confusingly good iPad

Instead, put those funds towards accessories like the new Apple Magic Keyboard Folio, or a nice pair of Bluetooth headphones. Either will do you much more good than a fancy CPU you're only using 1/10th the processing power of. 

3. You don't care about the Apple Pencil or plan to use it infrequently

Apple's decision to bring support for its Apple Pencil stylus lineup to non-Pro models made sense. After all, it turns an already-great tablet into an incredible device for digital art, note taking, project planning, and more. Support for the first-generation Apple Pencil, over the past few generations of iPad and iPad Air was a huge boon to creatives on a budget. Unfortunately, with the 10th-gen iPad, things got a little less streamlined thanks to Apple's switch from a lightning connector power/data port to USB-C. 

While this change was great for just about everything else, it meant that the 1st-gen Apple Pencil's built-in Lightning connector would now need a separate adapter cable to charge. Apple could have added support for the second-generation pencil, but that would mean a magnetic charging connector would be required, likely raising the iPad's $450 price point. For those that plan to make frequent use of the Apple Pencil, but don't need the iPad Pro's power, the iPad Air and its 2nd-gen Pencil support are a great option. 

Alternatives to consider

Open to other iPad and tablet prospects? Consider these ZDNET-recommended devices:

Feel like the iPad is too basic, but the iPad Pro is overkill? Lucky for you there's a medium option there that might be just right. The iPad Air (2022) does include 2nd-gen Apple Pencil support and an upgraded M1 core, but only raises the price by about $100-$200, depending on configuration and current promotional pricing. It's an excellent choice if you're not quite sure you need a Pro model yet but you'd like to test the waters.

More: iPad (2022) vs. iPad Air (2022): Which one's really better for you?

Sometimes, smaller is actually better, even in tablets. Like when you want the same capabilities as a full-sized model in a tinier package. Apple's latest iPad Mini fits this bill by including an A15 Bionic Chip, full range of connectivity, and the same camera array as the iPad (2022). Don't expect to save cash by choosing the smaller option, but the extra room in your travel bag might be worth it.

Review: Apple iPad Mini (6th Gen): Unmatched portability and power

Android's tablet options are far more diverse than Apple's one-company lineup. This can make tablet shopping even more confusing when trying to decide which might be best for you. Luckily our own June Wan did the work for you, testing out the available leaders to decide that the, the Galaxy Tab S8 Plus is the best Android tablet for most people

More: The 7 best Android tablets of 2022

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