With the $400 iPad Pro M4 display Apple chose elegance before battery life

With the $400 iPad Pro M4 display Apple chose elegance before battery life

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Apple took a risk to revive its flagging tablet sales and fragmented its iPad line into something for every taste yet again. It now sells no less than six tablet models, from the tiny 8-inch iPad mini, to the mighty iPad Pro M4 13-inch that it just announced.

The throw-everything-at-the-wall to see what sticks strategy worked with the iPhone, so Apple is now trying it with the iPad series. By worked, we mean that Apple managed to successfully push iPhone demand towards the higher priced Pro tier that now accounts for the majority of purchases.

Apple fragmented the iPad

With the fresh out of Foxconn iPad Pro M4 11-inch and iPad Pro M4 13-inch, Apple did what it managed to do with the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max last year.

It set the 2024 iPad Pro models so far ahead of the new iPad Air line that those looking to buy an Apple tablet would always feel their slates inadequate, despite that the Air series also got a facelift, and a new 13-inch model.

Exclusive M4

For starters, Apple debuted its newest M4 chipset not on a MacBook but on that very same 2024 iPad Pro, and chose the tablet keynote to announce it. The tailored M4 chip is not only 50% faster than the M2 processor in the previous iPad Pro, but it also sails past the M3, which is the current top-shelf processor used in Apple’s venerable MacBook laptops.
In fact, Apple M4 scores 25% higher than the MacBook’s M3 in the Geekbench 6 tests, while its 3nm production node means that it can hit 4.4 GHz peak speeds, which is unheard of for ARM-based chipsets so far.
That’s not even mentioning the 4x faster GPU or the upgraded Neural Engine, which should make editing photos and videos with the new AI-laden software tools that Apple provides a breeze. For comparison, the next best 2024 iPad thing, the Air, is still powered by the M2 processor of the previous Pros.

Thinner than Air

Speaking of the iPad Air, the iPad Pro now beats something that Apple calls the Air in the compact thin and light category by the margin extent that Apple calls “our thinnest product ever,” another fragmentation point.

Heck, the new iPad Pro slogan is “Thinpossible,” corny as it may sound, and it is all thanks to its new and exclusive OLED display!

To achieve this, Apple took full advantage of the hybrid OLED technology that doesn’t require a fat backlight layer like on LCD screens. It tasked LG with making an ultrathin 0.2mm base glass substrate and thin-film encapsulation which slimmed down the whole display package significantly, and allowed for a device thinner than the 5.4mm iPad nano 7.

LG, which supplies the tandem OLED for the 13-inch iPad Pro, and most of the ones for the 11-incher, uses Avatec for the etching of the thin substrates, while Samsung’s substrates come from Chemtronics, and it is only tasked with making some of the displays for the iPad Pro M4 11-inch.

World’s most advanced display

All of that is not even stepping into the biggest added value of the iPad Pro M4, the specs of its unique tandem OLED screen. The so-called Ultra Retina XDR display (yeah, we know) brings the dual-stack OLED technology from automotive applications where lifespan and brightness are paramount, to the consumer electronics realm.

It is nearly twice brighter than the IPS screen on the previous iPad Pro, with unsurpassed contrast and color gamut coverage among iPad tablets so far. There’s one advantage of tandem OLED screens conspicuously lacking from the 2024 iPad Pros, though. 

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When Honor teased the first phone with dual-stack OLED display made by BOE, it hinted at a 40% increase in efficiency.

Skimping on battery life, we are

About the only way Apple didn’t fragment the iPad line with is battery life. Heck, it even equipped the top-shelf 1TB and 2TB iPad Pro models with a boosted 10-core M4 chip and nano-texture cover glass option, yet the battery life on all of its tablets is exactly the same.

Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi or watching video” is now the official battery life for every tablet that Apple sells, even the 2024 iPad Pro with its tandem OLED display that is supposed to be 25%-40% more frugal than single-stack screens. 

Apple stayed mum on the power draw of the 2024 iPad Pro, even though it uses the latest tandem OLED generation by LG that is very power efficient.

It’s not the resolution, as both 2024 iPads sport 264 ppi pixel density. It’s not the mighty M4 chipset as it is built on the efficient 3nm process and Apple says it is so frugal that it uses half the power of its predecessor.

Apart from the unlikely case of using an older tandem OLED generation, a more plausible explanation is that Apple skimped on battery specs to save on production costs. We won’t know until the first teardowns roll in, but the leaked certification specs indeed hint at a smaller 2024 iPad Pro battery, which would explain the only spec Apple chose not to fragment.

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Why? Well, its product team must have deemed 10 hours of operation as sufficient, so Apple did away with one of the main advantages of tandem OLED displays, choosing elegance before larger battery and better battery life. 

Can we blame it, considering that the tandem OLED in the 13-inch iPad Pro M4 costs Apple nearly $400 apiece, compared to $150 in the M2 iPad Pro?



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