The hype around the M4 iPad Pro is real.

If you were watching like I was on YouTube, news feeds were flooded for months and months leading up to this one’s release with speculation about all the new specs it was going to have. OLED screens were correctly predicted, and some people even thought it was going to be a 15-inch version.

There were all kinds of theories about what it would have and how good it was going to be—or not.

I made a video talking about this recently and shared my feelings. I got a lot of great feedback from people that made me rethink some things, so I wanted to remake this piece to talk a little more thoughtfully about the hype cycle. Is the release worth the hype? That kind of stuff.

My Initial Impressions of the M4 iPad Pro

As somebody who’s watched a gazillion videos on iPads for years, reads comments thoroughly, I’ll say that my initial impressions were not exactly favorable.

And that’s not to knock the OLED display — I know that OLED is pretty much better than anything on the market in a lot of ways. And the dual-stacked one Apple made is better than anybody else’s OLED on the market, so yeah, that’s great.

But it’s not like the last two generations of iPad Pro with the mini-LED had a bad display that was lacking in colors or black quality or anything like that. I think the worst thing most people said about it was they didn’t like the blooming.

Opinions vary a lot on that. I tend to lean more toward it doesn’t bother me a whole lot; I don’t think it’s that noticeable, especially if you’re not in a super dark room. But some people have said that they feel it completely ruined the screen experience and they hate it.

If you’re one of those people, maybe this is a worthy upgrade.

Reviewers and Perspective

I feel like a lot of the big review channels that obviously get the new device every year because they want to be able to review it, the tough part that creates for them from a review standpoint is they’re often thinking in mainly terms of how big of an upgrade this is from last year.

When for the rest of us, that’s not how often you probably upgrade your iPad. A lot of people talk about having it for five, six, seven years. That was some of the feedback I even got on videos where people said they have a 2017 model, before there was even mini-LED, and so for them, this new screen is amazing.

That’s worth bearing in mind as well.

It’s a very different discussion if you’re asking: if you have a few generations back, is this a cool upgrade versus if you have last year’s model is this exciting?

For me, I don’t think a lot of the changes from the M1/M2 series to this iPad are worth spending a thousand-plus dollars. Moving the webcam from portrait view to landscape view is nice, and is probably where most people are going to be doing video calls and stuff.

Arguably this should have been the layout the whole time. It’s great to see that it’s there, but is that worth a thousand dollars?

However, if you were already having an iPad that was old enough, it was time to upgrade, awesome.

The Thinner Design

I was of mixed opinion about this at first, too, because of the comments I’ve read numerous places. I can’t really say that I’ve ever seen the masses saying, “You know what we need is a thinner iPad.”

Whereas a comment that I have seen a lot is people saying the iPad has pretty much had 10 hours of battery life from the very first one. That was cool back when a laptop only had three hours of battery life, but now that MacBooks are getting like 20-plus hours, can we get an iPad that lasts a little longer?

And it seemed like Apple instead went the route of, “No, let’s just try to keep it the same-ish and go thinner.” To me, that was a little bit of a disappointment.

But from a lot of the people that have held it, a popular saying is, “Trust me, if you hold it, the difference in what that feels like to hold is incredible and you can’t really describe that—you just have to feel it for yourself.”

I don’t have any reason to doubt that, and so maybe that’s a cool upgrade too.

That’s another one where you’re like, “If you had the last gen model, would you upgrade just for that?” No. But if you’re already willing to upgrade, this would be a really cool reason to finally pull the trigger on it.

It’s Mainly A Hardware Upgrade — It’s Still The Same iOS As Other iPads

The other major thing that I thought was where this iPad struggles to live up to the hype is one that I’ve seen predominantly all over the place on the web: people saying you either love iPadOS or you don’t.

If you’re happy with it and you don’t feel it limits you, awesome.

But a lot of people feel like, even if they’re not strictly trying to make this a MacBook replacement, there’s still a lot of apps that are dumbed down versions of the ones you could get on Mac.

Sometimes there aren’t even the right apps.

Despite Apple saying that they’ve given the iPad a desktop-class version of Safari, that’s only sort of true. I work in web design a lot, and so there are builder tools and rendering stuff that is still a little wonky on the iPad but works fine on the MacBook. They’re not one-to-one; they’re not exactly the same browser despite Apple saying that it is.

I obviously understand that not everybody does video work and photo editing, and I see that in the comments a lot to reviewers where people are like, “Reviewers always talk about how good this is for video editing, but they need to acknowledge that not everybody edits videos.”

Heard 100%.

iPadOS Apps & Limitations – Examples

For reference, when I first got an iPad Pro in 2021, I went for two weeks saying, “Let me try to run my entire life, my business, and my personal life from the iPad and not touch my computer.” In a lot of ways, I was impressed that I could. But it was stuff like video editing that made me think, power-wise it’s very capable, but interface-wise, I don’t know.

It was hard to say how much of what felt wonky to me was just that I’m not used to it—I’m more comfortable with a real computer—and how much of it was real limitations.

I will say that when I edit photos, the Lightroom version that’s on iPad is dumbed down. You can do a lot of the same stuff, but you can’t do things like add noise or do HDR stacking. To me, that’s important, so I end up doing a lot of that stuff on the MacBook.

However, I also know that there’s a ton of professional artists that make their money every day with an iPad, and it’s great. I wouldn’t stand up like some people have and say you can’t do real work on an iPad and it’s a toy. It is an expensive entertainment device if that’s what you’re going to use it for, but there are a lot of people who use it for stuff that an iPad is not limiting to them for.

I would say if you’re a person who has felt like the problem with the iPad is the operating system and if you’re one of those people who’s had that opinion, it’s fair to say this new iPad is not going to change any of that.

You’re still going to have the same limitations; you’re just going to have a better screen with an even faster processor.

All the limitations that you had before, like the files app and its limitations, are still here.

For example, you cannot format an external drive using the iPad. Now, I know that’s not something you have to do very often, and for some of you, you might be like, “Who cares about that?” It matters to me because in those two weeks where I was exclusively using the iPad for everything, I ran into a scenario where I needed to format an old Western Digital drive and quickly found out that the iPad can’t do that.

Luckily, I had both a Windows computer and a MacBook in my house, so I had options. But it occurred to me, if I were trying to make this thing my only computer, what would I do? Suppose I didn’t have any other computer—would I now have to go to a friend’s house to format my drive on their computer? Just silly things like that where you’re like, “I don’t really understand why the iPad can’t do that stuff.”

Those may or may not matter to you, but if they do, those limitations are still here 100%. This new iPad is just a hardware upgrade—nothing about the software is going to be any different.

That was where I initially thought this doesn’t live up to the hype because people have complained in the past, even when the M2 version came out, that the software is still limiting and they haven’t done anything that fundamentally changes the experience of using an iPad. With that argument in mind, this new one doesn’t do anything that fundamentally changes the way the iPad works either.

It just does the same thing faster and with a sexier screen. In that way, there’s a lot of hype around this that I don’t know if it lives up to.

However…

To be fair, public opinion has swayed me a little bit. The last video I made about this was more leaned toward seeing where legitimately some of these hardware upgrades are exciting to some.

For someone like me, there’s no sense of urgency to upgrade for those things. Like I said, I think the mini-LED display is great. I’m very happy with it; I think it looks awesome. It’s probably one of the best-looking displays of any device I have in my house. I’m not saying that I don’t think the OLED would be even better, but it’s not a thousand-dollar upgrade worth it to me.

Obviously, I have a recent model (M2). If I was rocking a six-year-old iPad, maybe I would feel differently.

If you do pro work on your iPad, other than digital art or AI-related things where this new M4, as I understand it, is much faster at AI neural processing type work, one gentleman said to me that it literally cut his rendering time in half with the new M4. I admit that’s something I hadn’t thought of initially—that is a benefit of all this new horsepower.

Otherwise, you might say if the M2 is already fast enough for you, what’s the point of even more? I’m curious to see what you guys think. I love polling the viewers for that.

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