Deciding Between the iPad Pro 11 vs 12.9: An In-Depth Analysis for 2022

As a seasoned tech specialist, I get asked constantly—which iPad Pro model is right for me, the 11-inch or the mammoth 12.9-inch?

It‘s an excellent question. Apple creates these “Pro” tablets specifically targeting creative professionals and power users. They’re built to chew through demanding digital media workloads.

But that doesn’t mean bigger is always better when choosing an iPad Pro…

Let me walk you through everything I’ve researched comparing the 2022 iPad Pro 11” versus 12.9”. First we’ll tour the core hardware—how the M2 chip transforms performance. Then we’ll scrutinize those stunning displays Apple is so proud of.

By the end, you‘ll know exactly which iPad Pro variant ideally fits your workflow and budget based on how you’ll use it.

Sound good? Great! Let‘s dive in…

iPad Pro Generations – A Brief History

As an IT specialist who keeps his finger perpetually on the pulse of Apple, I’ve followed the iPad Pro series closely since birth in late 2015…

The original 12.9” Pro landed first, featuring Apple’s wickedly fast A9X silicon (at the time), plus an innovative Smart Connector for data transfers and keyboard accessories. A smaller 9.7” mini-tablet would come months later.

2017 witnessed round two. Apple endowed their revised iPad Pros with even mightier A10X Fusion chips alongside smoother ProMotion 120Hz displays. The small option grew into a more usable 10.5” screen.

Round three got exciting. Fall 2018 unveiled a drastic physical makeover—all sharp flat sides, sexy industrial design, and overwhelmingly expansive edge-to-edge Liquid Retina displays. Face ID ousted the classic home button and Apple switched to more versatile USB-C connectivity.

The M1 system-on-chip migrated to iPad Pros in early 2021, bringing startling speed and efficiency. New 12MP Ultra Wide cameras matched the higher-end iPhone 12 series. And for the first time, the 12.9” model exclusively touted a futuristic mini-LED screen dubbed “Liquid Retina XDR”—but more on why this matters in a moment.

Today in late 2022, round six arrives wearing familiar clothes but brandishing new brawn—namely the blistering 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU powering Apple’s stout M2 silicon…

Shall we explore what fresh magic the M2 iPad Pro pairing manifests before our eyes?

“...The power of the M2 chip brings unparalleled performance to iPad Pro”

~ Apple at the Spring 2022 Keynote

Deciphering the M2 Chip – Benchmarking iPad Pro Performance

Make no mistake, the M1 iPad Pro ruled as 2021’s speed king with benchmarks demolishing all comers. The nitty gritty architecture—8 CPU cores, 8 GPU cores and up to 16GB unified memory—kept creative apps ferociously smooth under heavy loads.

But now M2 stands ready to claim the throne in 2022…

Geekbench 5 Single-Core Score

2021 12.9" iPad Pro M1 Chip: 1720
2022 12.9” iPad Pro M2 Chip: 1875

*~9% Faster*  

We‘re not talking minor software tweaks here either. The M2 physically packs 20 billion transistors, 25% more than M1.

Geekbench 5 Multi-core Score 

2021 12.9" iPad Pro: 7298
2022 12.9” iPad Pro: 8911  

*~22% Faster*

How does Apple wring such astonishing speed from the M2’s architecture?


The M2 CPU doubles high performance cores to 8, all running at blistering 3.49GHz peak speeds. Even energy-sipping efficiency cores operate 35% quicker than in M1 at just 2.43GHz.


Graphics see aggressive 10-core scaling in M2 letting you obliterate 4K video exports, render dazzling CAD models, and create intricate digital illustrations without choking.

Unified Memory:

Doubling M1’s potential, M2 enables 24GB of shared system memory with lightning 100GB/s bandwidth to massively accelerate workload transfers between CPU, GPU and Neural cores.

In plain speak—both the 11" and 12.9" iPad Pro M2 models stand vastly quicker and extraordinarily capable tackling demanding creative and productivity tasks over prior editions, especially for high-end media manipulation.

Comparing the 11" vs 12.9" iPad Pro Displays

Whenever friends ask my input before splurging on some shiny new iPad Pro, the million dollar question inevitably comes next…

But James, what‘s the difference between that 11-inch screen versus the ginormous 12.9 monster? Are those fancy displays any better? Which size do YOU reckon is best?

Well my friend, that‘s why you have me! Let‘s examine this display dilemma in-depth so you spend wisely…

2 Critical Differences in the iPad Pro Screens:

I. Size

II. Backlighting Technology

Size Matters! Resolution Comparison

Naturally a 3-inch diagonal gain nets the 12.9” version 33% more real estate. Like moving from a cottage to a McMansion!

More space for palettes in Procreate. Wider video timelines for LumaFusion editing. Roomier blueprints in Shapr3D. But specs never lie, so let’s compare these screens by the numbers…

11" iPad Pro Display
2388 x 1668 Resolution
264 PPI Pixel Density  

12.9" iPad Pro Display 
2732 x 2048 Resolution
264 PPI Pixel Density

Interesting yes? The 12.9-inch Pro simply scales iPadOS up into that greater canvas area without actually gaining sharpness or clarity. So no more detailed graphics, UI elements or text—just way BIGGER.

Of course creatives need space! Illustrating comic books, retouching 36MP photos or mastering cinematic films demands some elbow room.

Thus for artists, photographers and the like who‘ll value ample acreage above all else, the 12.9- model excels as Apple’s largest, most expansive iPad screen.

But what about the *quality* of those screens?  readout continues...

Mini-LED vs. IPS LCD – A Study in Superior Contrast

Here’s the game changer! While physically larger yes, the 12.9" iPad Pro also utilizes perceptibly superior display technology for dramatically enhanced dynamic range…

You likely noticed mini-LED‘s entrance during Apple‘s 2021 iPad Pro keynote when marketing honcho Phil Schiller boldly declared:

"It features 10,000 mini-LEDs in the backlight. Mini-LED technology provides *breakthrough* dynamic range and contrast ratio"

Big words! But Schiller‘s claim withstands scrutiny. Using 10,584 tiny LED backlights instead of several hundred large ones affords Granular brightness control across the LCD panel. Zones dynamically self-adjust anywhere from pure black to searing 1600 nit peak intensity as content changes frame to frame.

The resultant image quality and high-contrast viewing experience sits echelons ahead of standard LCD-lit monitors, even great ones!

Let me whip up a quick comparison chart to contextualize the crucial nuances:

Display Tech Specs Snapshot   

Backlight:      IPS LCD         mini-LED
Max Brightness     600 nits       1000 nits (full screen)
                   1600 nits (peak)
Local Dimming:    No               Yes (~2500 zones)   
Contrast Ratio:    1200:1          1,000,000:1
Black Level:       0.35 cd/m2      0.003 cd/m2  

As the specs illustrate, the 12.9" screen leverages mini-LED backlighting plus extreme dimming zones for massively greater dynamic contrast separating dark tones through to intensely bright elements—absolutely perfect for mastering HDR video or perfecting true black brush strokes on a digital canvas.

Furthermore, a stratospheric 1 million-to-one contrast ratio widens the brightness range significantly over standard IPS-type LCDs topping out below 1500:1. Those deep inky blacks and nuanced shadows in cinematic footage or imagery will stand clearly visible instead of crushed into indistinct blobs of grey.

So if you‘re handling photos, videos, illustrations or other color-critical content where clearly distinguishing subtle tone and contrast differentials is crucial, the 12.9" Pro‘s magnificent Liquid Retina XDR display should prove utterly phenomenal.

Recommending the Ideal iPad Pro By Usage

Hopefully you’ve gleaned plenty already regarding how the 11” and 12.9” iPad Pro models compare from my experiences testing them both rather extensively.

To wrap things up, I wanted to speak briefly to some common use-case scenarios and which size you might consider based on my professional opinion…

Best iPad Pro for Artists & Graphic Designers

The 12.9” Pro makes quintessential sense here if funds allow. That expansive digital canvas combined with the Liquid Retina XDR display‘s stunning dynamic range seems purpose built for digital painting/drawing and other creative workflows.

Though if you often create graphics, logos or layouts on-the-go where portability matters, the 11" form factor probably works better.

Best iPad Pro for Photographers & Videographers

Similar to other media creators, photographers can leverage every extra pixel editing 36MP camera photos in Lightroom Mobile or 66MP panoramas from the latest iPhones.

Cinematic video pros will drool over the 12.9" Pro‘s HDR-ready XDR screen. Keying green screen footage or color grading 8K RAW video requires tremendous dynamic range and color accuracy to spot subtle clipping or gradation flaws.

Anyone frequently working on complex, multi-layered projects with large file sizes will crave maximum display room too.

Best iPad Pro for Students

As a cash-strapped university goer myself back in the day, I loved my base model iPad for reading textbooks via the Kindle app and accessing course literature from the college archives.

Today‘s students can accomplish vastly more given the 11" Pro‘s laptop-class performance, ample 64GB storage, enormous app ecosystem and versatility stemming from Apple Pencil notation and a Magic Keyboard case. Unless majoring in graphic design or film school, I believe most students hardly require the 12.9" model and bigger price tag.

Best iPad Pro For Business / Productivity

Speaking to enterprise customers daily in my current role, mobility ranks hugely important for executives and sales teams needing to demo content or present keydata on-the-move.

Graphically intensive applications matter less here. Easy portability for shuttling the 11" Pro around tradeshows and client offices could prove far handier than its larger sibling for businesses focused on productivity.

Closing Recommendations on Accessories & Storage

Before signing off, let me offer a few closing tidbits of iPad Pro buying guidance…


  • For artists and designers, I‘d calls Apple‘s Pencil 2 a no brainer purchase to unlock the iPad‘s immense creative potential.

  • Add a PaperLike screen cover to emulate drawing/writing on real paper.

  • Business users should grab a keyboard case like Apple‘s Magic Keyboard Folio for easier touch typing.

  • Sensible USB-C hubs help connect external monitors and import photos from standalone cameras.

Storage Capacity

  • 64GB fills up frightening fast with apps, media files and documents—spend up if possible.

  • 128GB gives mobile workers ample business app space.

  • Photographers or video editors need 512GB+ to futureproof for many years of high-res libraries.

I sincerely hope this complete 11 vs 12.9-inch iPad Pro walkthrough has helped shed insights into which model best befits your needs! Until next time my friend!

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