If you’re in the market for an iPad Pro, you likely aren’t ignorant of the cost. The high-refresh rate, Mini-LED HDR displays, Apple’s incredible M1 chip, and LiDAR sensor, among other key features, set a premium price for the Pros that you don’t see on other iPads. As such, you might be eyeing a smaller storage size to save money; however, this year, Apple decided to add something special to the larger iPad Pro storage sizes, which might justify the cost to the right buyer.
The iPad Pro’s many storage sizes
For 2021, Apple offers a whopping five different storage options for the iPad Pros. Both the 11-inch and 12.9-inch devices come in 128 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, 1 TB, and 2 TB configurations, which vary in price considerably. The 128 GB 11-inch iPad Pro is A$1,199, while the 2 TB model is A$2,849. The 128 GB 12.9-inch Pro is A$1,649, while the 2 TB option is — wait for it — A$3,299.
With iPads steadily attempting to replace your laptop with each new generation, deciding on a storage size is key. It’s awesome that Apple doesn’t start the iPad Pros at 64 GB as it does for the iPad, iPad mini, and iPad Air, but depending on how you use it, 128 GB might also fill up fast. If you’re someone who wants to edit video, produce music, or otherwise create large files on your tablet, you need to take into account how much storage you need for the lifespan of your new iPad Pro.
It’s not just the storage sizes that are different
As it turns out, however, you’re not just getting more disk space when you buy an iPad Pro with a larger storage size. This time, Apple decided to do something a little different, and give the iPad Pro something the Mac line has had forever: RAM options.
For the first time, you can choose iPad Pros with different amounts of RAM. Apple offers two configurations: 8 GB or 16 GB, the same options you find on the M1 MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Mac mini, and iMac. It’s possible that, because the iPad Pros use the same M1 chip as those computers, it’s simple for Apple to offer the same 8 GB and 16 GB options we see with the Mac.
Unfortunately, you can’t mix and match storage sizes with RAM configurations. Instead, the offerings are as follows, for both the 11-inch and 12.9-inch:
- 128 GB storage, 8 GB RAM
- 256 GB storage, 8 GB RAM
- 512 GB storage, 8 GB RAM
- 1 TB storage, 16 GB RAM
- 2 TB storage, 16 GB RAM
That means, to get 16 GB of RAM on your iPad Pro, you need to buy at least the 1 TB option; the 11-inch with 1 TB of storage will run you A$2,249, while the 12.9-inch with 1 TB of storage costs A$2,699.
Why would you want more RAM in an iPad?
Here’s the deal; not only is 16 GB of RAM a huge amount of memory for an iPad, but 8 GB is still more memory than any iPad had before these Pros. The 2020 iPad Pros sported 6 GB of RAM, which, at the time, felt like a huge step for the device. In 2021, and for a while after that, 8 GB is still going to feel like overkill.
So, why would you want 16 GB, especially when you need to spend so much more to get it? I think, in the short term, it’s beneficial for people who push their iPads to the absolute limit. If you’re editing 4K HDR video, producing music, or doing any kind of graphics work, you might find some additional benefit to the extra RAM.
That said, the 8 GB models certainly perform well enough. At this time, what you’re likely to see the most from a 16 GB iPad is a true lack of app refreshing. Because iPadOS is already so efficient with memory, that 16 GB of RAM ensures that most apps can stay open for a long time. And you’re likely to see that level of performance longer than the 8 GB model; there will come a day when the newest software starts to weigh on the 8 GB of RAM, while the 16 GB of RAM will continue to handle multitasking without much issue.
In my opinion, we won’t see the benefits of 16 GB of RAM in an iPad for some time. Perhaps Apple will finally — finally — bring its professional apps like Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro to iPadOS; maybe iPadOS will adopt more macOS features and abilities, under the support of additional memory. That said, that’s entirely speculation. We wondered similar things when Apple first released the iPad Pro in 2015, and yet here we are, six years later, with no Final Cut Pro or macOS on the iPad.