I Tried the New iPad Pro's Nano-Texture Anti-Reflective Display

It definitely reduces glare, but it costs extra and most people should stick to standard glossy.

The 11-inch iPad Pro with nano-texture display running DaVinci Resolve while attached to the new Mag...
Photograph by Raymond Wong

I know, new iPads. But hear me out: The new iPad Pros and iPad Airs are really nice. They’re expensive, but they’re so, so nice and powerful. So are the upgraded Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil Pro accessories.

After the “Let Loose” virtual event yesterday, I got to spend around 45 minutes with the new iPads and get a better sense of why you should pay top dollar for any of them. Here are my first impressions.

Thin and Powerful

Apple boasted how the new iPad Pros (11 and 13-inch displays) are thinner than the last iPod nano the company sold (5.4mm). The tablets are indeed really slim — thin enough for me to wonder if I could use one to slice a loaf of bread. (Probably not, but somebody will surely try on TikTok.) The thinness doesn’t mean flimsy, though — the aluminum unibody design (in silver or Space Black) didn’t flex when I applied a little pressure, which hopefully means we won’t get another #bendgate.

More than the skinny profile, I was surprised by the weight. Both tablets are light (0.98 lbs for the 11-inch and 1.28 lbs for the 13-inch). I have a 2021 13-inch iPad Pro with M1 chip and it is a tank; it’s thick and heavy and I hate using it with one hand because it hurts my wrist holding it. These new iPad Pros — especially the 13-inch model — are a return to the thinness and lightness of the 2018 iPad Pros, and I love it. The reason why the 13-inch iPad Pro was so manageable back then was because it didn’t feel like a massive tablet when you actually used it.

The 2024 11-inch iPad and 13-inch iPad Pros with M4 chip on display at Apple.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

I was drawn to the Space Black iPad Pros even though they do show fingerprints more than the silver. But I don’t care. Space Black is the only “pro” color to me.

I’m really happy to see the FaceTime HD selfie camera has moved to the landscape edge of the iPad Pros. And on the topic of the cameras, Apple has removed the ultra-wide camera that was on past iPad Pros — there’s only a single 12-megapixel camera. The rear camera bump is CNC’d as part of the aluminum body this time and not glass, and there’s a new ambient light sensor that helps calibrate the screen alongside the Lidar scanner and adaptive True Tone flash.

The webcam is finally on the landscape side.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

Apple had a bunch of apps on hand to demo the power of the M4 chip. I saw a 3D modeling app where a 3D model of a mask made up of 12 million polygons was manipulated in real-time with no stutter. Another app that stood out was Procreate Dreams and I could use an Apple Pencil Pro to animate the movement of a traffic cone across a scene just by rotating it using the barrel roll feature. This would have required individual keyframing on a desktop computer, but it was as simple as rotating an Apple Pencil from left to right on the iPad’s screen. If these apps are so responsive on the new iPad Pros, I seriously wonder how slow they’d be on older iPads.

Gorgeous Display

It’s impossible to not get sucked into the iPad Pros’ displays when they look so good. The move to OLED definitely has its upsides, including 1,000 nits of sustained brightness (most laptops or other tablets max out at 500 or 600 nits for sustained) and rich colors. I didn’t see any of the blooming issues that plague past iPad Pros with mini-LED displays; blacks look pure blacks and whites are blinding whites. If I could have, I would have licked the screen. Content, particularly HDR content, looks incredible on it from all angles.

I was able to try out the iPad Pro with nano-texture display. This is the matte display option that costs an extra $100 and is only available for the 1TB and 2TB storage models. Similar to the nano-texture display on Apple’s Studio Display and Pro Display XDR, the display option dramatically reduces reflections and cuts down on glare, but the downside is that colors don’t look as vibrant. Some people on X and Threads also seem to really hate that the nano-texture doesn’t extend to the bezels.

New Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil Pro

The nano-texture display costs an extra $100 and is only available on the 1TB and 2TB iPad Pro models.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

Both of these accessories are a solid upgrade, too. The new Magic Keyboard is sturdier with an aluminum base, and more functional thanks to the row of function keys for adjusting settings such as screen brightness, volume, and media. The whole accessory is more compact and slightly slimmer than the previous one. Apple says the trackpad is larger and more responsive; it felt the same to me, which is not a knock, but a testament to how good the trackpad already is on the previous Magic Keyboards.

As for the Apple Pencil Pro — it’s really nice. The squeeze gesture is really convenient for bringing up toolbars and menus in apps; the barrel roll feature, as I mentioned, can make certain tasks simpler (the iPads even cast a digital shadow of the Pencil Pro that’s tracked in real-time as you move and rotate it); the haptics are nice confirmations that you’ve done something like a squeeze or double-tap. It pairs and charges to the iPad Pros magnetically on top of the webcam bezel; because of the webcam’s new location, Apple Pencil (2nd-generation) isn’t compatible with the new iPad Pros. The tablets only work with the Pencil Pro and the Pencil (USB-C).

Like the iPad Pros, the accessories are on the pricey side, but these are from Apple and the integration is spot on.

The 13-inch iPad Air

The 2024 13-inch iPad Air and 11-inch iPad Air.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

I’ll keep this short because the new 13-inch iPad Air is the only one worth talking about. It’s got the same size screen as the 13-inch iPad Pro, the only difference is that it’s a regular LCD and not OLED and not mini-LED. That means it doesn’t support HDR content.

Performance is “only” M2, but that’s no slouch. Sure, it’s not as fast as the M4 chip, but for basic iPad things, you’re not going to miss out on much.

From a size and weight perspective, the 13-inch iPad Air is lighter than the 13-inch M1 and M2 iPad Pro and I could feel it; the 13-inch iPad Air weighs 1.36 lbs and the M2 iPad Pro weighs 1.5 lbs.

The 11-inch iPad Air attached to a current-gen Magic Keyboard.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

Like the iPad Pros, its FaceTime selfie camera is also on the landscape edge. Instead of Face ID, it has Touch ID in the power button. It has two landscape stereo speakers and two microphones compared to the four speakers in the iPad Pros and four “studio-quality microphones.”

To Buy or Not to Buy?

That depends on how much iPad you want or need, right? If you’ve got an iPad that’s chugging along and can barely run iPadOS smoothly, then it might be time for an upgrade.

For the iPad Pros, most people should probably stick with the standard glossy display. The nano-texture is really for creative professionals who need the option to better color-match with their professional monitors. Plus, it costs extra and can only be configured for the two high-end storage models. That tells you exactly who Apple is targeting.

As for the iPad Air; it’s really for anyone who wants the display sizes of the iPad Pro, but doesn’t need all the bells and whistles like a thinner and lighter design, M4 chip performance, and more base storage (256GB on the Pros versus 128GB on the Airs). Get the iPad Air if you want to save a few hundred dollars and don’t need the bleeding edge.

Overall, Apple has finally made the iPad compelling for the first time in years. The last few years of iPad releases have been fine, but never felt like they had a lot of thrust to them, just more of the same old. At least with the iPad Pros and the 13-inch iPad Air, Apple seems to have kicked into fifth gear, and even people who have never owned iPads (like Inverse senior editor James Pero) are taking serious notice.

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