Living with Apple’s 2021 iPad Pro: Take it From the Top

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2021 12.9” iPad Pro Box

My new Silver 12.9” iPad Pro arrived yesterday and I am finally getting to kick the tires a little. I got home around 11 PM last night, so that at least gave me enough time to set it up and get the iCloud Restore process started. That meant it was fully charged and ready to roll first thing this morning.

The screen improvement is REAL

The 12.9” iPad Pro’s Liquid Retina XDR Mini-LED display is not just marketing hype. I got a lesson in that when I first turned it on in my almost dark bedroom last night. The brightness wasn’t even all the way up, but that introductory white “Hello” screen was enough of a surprise to get me to look away for a moment. This panel is capable of some serous brightness.

If you put the new 12.9 side-by-side with any other iPad, you can also see a difference in the quality of the picture. The color reproduction and clarity on the last two Pros was pretty impressive, but this new panel is still noticeably better. Put it up against an iPad Air or lower and the gap is even wider. The early reviews are correct in saying that it comes a lot closer to OLED’s production of blacks and grays without all of the trade offs that come with such a panel on a larger device.

I figured the best way to try this new screen out was to watch something with good cinematography and effects. I fired up Disney+ and watched Star Wars: Rogue One this morning and it looked fantastic. The sound quality of the biggest iPad Pro already blew away the competition. Add this screen to it and it is unmatched as a tablet media experience. I’m going to LOVE having this with me on the road from here on out.

The old Magic Keyboard doesn’t appear to be a problem

2021 iPad Pro and 2020 Magic Keyboard

I’ve been critical of Apple’s product marketing lately, and I’m not going to give them a break today. I have no clue why they handled details regarding the use of existing Magic Keyboards with new 12.9” iPad Pros the way that they did, but it was really poorly done. After taking the bait and writing about this myself because I assumed something being labeled as “incompatible” or “not supported” meant something far more traditional than Apple, I can now say that I don’t see any problem with the fit between my MK and new iPad Pro.

2021 iPad Pro and 2020 Magic Keyboard Closed

It’s just been one morning. I will keep an eye out for any key shadow marks appearing on he screen over the next few days. If there is any indication the MK is putting any extra pressure on the screen, away it goes. However, I don’t see any evidence of this yet. A simple note from Apple that owners of Magic Keyboards should expect a tighter fit and to make sure it would be acceptable for them would have been more than enough.

But not everything fits

Unfortunately, not everything is as flexible as the Magic Keyboard. I tried to dock the iPad Pro into my Brydge Pro+ keyboard, but it was abundantly clear that it wasn’t going to fit without force, and there is no way I’m doing that. Take a lesson, Apple. When Brydge says it’s keyboard doesn’t fit the new 12.9” iPad Pro, it was because it literally will not fit. THAT is what incompatible means.

Fit with older iPad Pro cases is going to be hit or miss. My UAG Metropolis case that is form fitting? It doesn’t fit, and neither will any case that was a tight fit on the previous model. However, cases with a looser fit may still work. For instance, the BookBook case from Twelve South that I reviewed last year still fits. It is a little snug holding both the iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard, but it’s not a problem.

Just be aware that any form fitting cases will have to be replaced going into an upgrade and anything else will have to be tested.

The weight of change

I made my choice a long time ago. The 12.9” iPad Pro isn’t as portable as other models and is obviously heavier, but the benefits of that large screen outweigh that for me. However, potential buyers should know that you can definitely feel a difference in this model.

Half a millimeter and couple of ounces don’t sound like much, and to be honest, they aren’t on their own. That said, when you add them to an already large device, you can tell. This difference is not enough to bother me, but it’s worth noting to anyone who may be on the fence. If you are, it’s worth going to an Apple Store and picking one up and holding it before making a judgement.

I’m going to leave it there for today, but I will be back tomorrow with more new impressions of this latest 12.9” iPad Pro with the absolutely killer screen.

If you have any questions or anything specific about the new iPad Pro you would like me to address, just let me know in the Comments section below or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog.

James Rogers

I am a Christian husband and father of 3 living in the Southeastern US. I have worked as a programmer and project manager in the Commercial and Industrial Automation industry for over 19 years, so I am hands on with technology almost every day. However, my passion in technology is for mobile devices, specifically Apple's iOS and iPadOS hardware and software. My favorite is still the iPad.

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2 thoughts on “Living with Apple’s 2021 iPad Pro: Take it From the Top”

  1. I’m very interested in hearing your experience using the old Magic Keyboard and any screen issues. I’ve only seen one post from someone that believes there are marks or smudges on his nw iPP screen caused by the previous keyboard. I don’t see how that’s possible given that the keys are recessed and shouldn’t really touch the screen. But like you I believe Apple was intentionally ambiguous about whether the new device would function with the old keyboard. .5mm never seemed like it would cause a problem.

    1. It’s just been today, but I don’t see any marks on the screen. It’s definitely a snugger fit, but it looks to me like it will be fine.

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