Apple's new iPads: UAE price, release date and features of Pro M4 models

The new M4 chips provide enhanced AI features and powers the new iPad Pro models delivering a 'giant leap in performance'

Apple's new iPads now have the front camera on the landscape edge, which makes it more ideal for video calls. Photo: Apple
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With Let Loose over, Apple really did let loose with its new iPads and a refreshed Pencil – and seemingly gave the world, what some are calling, a sneak preview to its grand artificial intelligence ambitions.

Alongside the latest iPad Pro, Apple upped its AI game with the M4 chip. The company says its newest top-end tablet is an "outrageously powerful device for artificial intelligence".

How many new iPads were released?

Apple introduced a total of four new iPads – two each for the iPad Air and top-end iPad Pro.

For the sixth-generation iPad Air, the standard 11-inch model is now joined by a new, bigger 13-inch option, which marks the first time the popular tablet offers two variants.

The seventh-generation iPad Pro, on the other hand, comes in the usual 11-inch and new 13-inch versions (from 12.9 inches), streamlining both series.

What makes the Pro stand out is that it now uses OLED panels, a first for iPads (OLEDs have been used in iPhones since 2017's iPhone X).

Apple used what it calls Tandem OLED, which stacks two OLED panels that deliver better lighting and more accurate representations of content, a marked improvement on the previous iPads.

The OLED display also makes the new iPad Pros Apple's thinnest device ever – even thinner than the iPod Nano. The 11-inch and 13-inch iPad Pros clock in at a thinness of 5.3mm and 5.1mm, respectively.

The new iPad Air and iPad Pro also share another key update – the front camera has now been moved to the landscape edge, making it more ideal for video calls. The rear cameras are still in their usual top left-hand corner slots.

It is unclear what plans Apple has for the standard iPad, which is currently in its 10th generation and sports a 10.9-inch screen.

The M4 debut: What makes it special?

After Apple made the promise of a surprise announcement at Let Loose, speculation grew that the company would unveil a new chip, the highly AI-powered M4 – and that indeed was the case.

Apple's latest in-house silicon processor powers the new iPad Pro models and delivers a "giant leap in performance", according to the Cupertino, California-based company.

For the M4, Apple used second-generation 3-nanometer technology to make it even more power efficient, which is necessary for a system-on-chip that fits powerful capabilities into a small space.

The M4's redesigned CPU has up to 10 cores while its 10-core GPU – the vital AI component – builds on key features introduced in the M3.

The chip introduces hardware-accelerated ray tracing and mesh shading – which basically provides more realistic scenarios in computer graphics – to iPads for the first time.

The M4 also brings Apple's Dynamic Caching to the iPads, a key M3 feature that basically allocates the right amount of memory to perform tasks, allowing more seamless and efficient operations, and "dramatically increases GPU utilisation and performance for the most demanding pro apps and games".

Of course, the M4 has Apple's fastest Neural Engine, capable of crunching up to 38 trillion operations per second, which the company says is faster than the neural processing unit of "any AI PC today". Neural tech is an AI technique that teaches computers to process data similarly as the human brain.

The new iPad Airs, meanwhile, are powered by the now two-year-old M2 chip, and we've seen what it's capable of in their predecessors.

That's not to say the iPad Airs are inferior: the category is hugely popular among Apple users thanks to its affordability and, more critically, ability to provide what users require – and the M2 chip only augments that.

Finally, a new Pencil

After nearly six years, Apple finally released a new top-end Pencil, and in line with its big splash, aptly named it the Apple Pencil Pro.

The original pencil was introduced in 2015 and it took more than three years to release a second-generation Pencil. An entry-level, USB-C Pencil was launched last October.

The new stylus now has haptic feedback, which means users will feel vibrations for certain Pencil actions, along with a squeeze feature that triggers certain tasks.

For instance, a squeeze, pop up a tool palette to let users switch between tools, line weights and colours. There's also a gyroscope for precise control of the tool being used.

Interestingly, rotating the Pencil changes the orientation of shaped pen and brush tools being used. A hovering feature lets users preview exactly where the tool is and its orientation before making any marks.

Apple also introduced a new aluminium Magic Keyboard, which it says is thinner and lighter.

How much are the new iPad Pros and when are they available?

The 11-inch iPad Air starts at Dh2,499 ($681) for the 128GB version – same as its predecessor – and goes up at Dh2,899, Dh3,699 and Dh4,499 for the 256GB, 512GB and 1TB options, respectively. The 13-inch models is priced at Dh3,299, Dh3,699, Dh4,499 and Dh5,299. They come in blue, purple, space grey and starlight.

The 11-inch iPad Pro, on the other hand, starts at Dh4,199 for the 256GB model, going to Dh4,999, Dh6,599 and Dh8,199 for the 512GB, 1TB and 2TB versions, respectively. The 13-inch options are priced at Dh5,499, Dh6,299, Dh7,899 and Dh9,499. It comes in only two colours – silver and space black.

The Apple Pencil Pro, meanwhile, is priced at Dh529 – at par with its predecessor.

As an added bonus, Apple dropped the price of the 10th-generation iPad to Dh1,399 and Dh1,999 for its 64GB and 256GB versions, respectively, from the previous Dh1,849 and Dh2,499. Reservations for the new devices are ongoing and they will be generally available starting on May 15.

Ad gone wrong

Meanwhile, Apple has issued a rare apology for an advertisement for the new iPad Pro that depicted destroying long-time and well-loved creative tools, which didn't go well with some users.

The Crush ad, which is still on chief executive Tim Cook's X account as of press time, showed a giant industrial press destroying objects such as musical instruments, arcade game machines, cans of paint, sculptures and scientific instruments – implying the iPad can replace all of them.

Apple "missed the mark", vice president of marketing communications Tor Myhren said in a statement sent to AdAge.

“Creativity is in our DNA at Apple, and it’s incredibly important to us to design products that empower creatives all over the world. Our goal is to always celebrate the myriad ways users express themselves and bring their ideas to life through iPad ... we’re sorry.”

Quicktake: Apple made the right and 'quick' decision

Again, Let Loose was a kind of a surprise – and Apple made the right call, but come to think of it any Apple event is highly anticipated anyway.

Never mind that the shelf life of the M3 was brought to an abrupt end: the M3 was released just over six months ago in October. The time between the M3 and the M2 was 16 months, and it took even more than that for the M2 to be introduced after the M1.

The point here is Apple is looking at the bigger picture: saying that AI – generative AI in particular – is a hot commodity right now is a big understatement.

Apple cannot waste time when it comes to AI. Sure, the company is known for observing and waiting out before introducing new tech, but AI is a different ballgame altogether.

At the pace the other companies including Samsung, Google, Nvidia, Microsoft and others are moving when it comes to AI, Apple needs to keep abreast, if not overtake, to further cement its position in devices, services and chips.

That being said, Let Loose was a stepping stone, and we should find out more at next month's Worldwide Developers Conference. A generative AI-powered Apple ecosystem – and, of course, Siri – sounds very interesting.

Updated: May 10, 2024, 2:27 PM