In March 2020, Apple updated its popular iPad Pro lineup, introducing a faster A12Z Bionic processor, dual rear cameras, a new LiDAR scanner for improved augmented reality capabilities, improved audio, and an optional Magic Keyboard accessory that adds a trackpad to the iPad for the first time.

Apple new iPad Pro 03182020

Although the previous 2018 models are no longer sold by Apple, they tend to be readily available at third-party retailers. As the 2018 model is two years older than the most recent ‌iPad Pro‌, it can often be found for a considerably lower price. Superficially, the two generations of ‌iPad Pro‌ appear to be very similar, so should you consider purchasing the older model to save money? Our guide answers the question of how to decide which of these two generations is best for you.

Comparing the 2018 iPad Pro and the 2020 iPad Pro

Most of the features of these two generations of ‌iPad Pro‌ are almost exactly the same. Apple lists these same features of the two generations of ‌iPad‌:

Similarities

  • 11-inch or 12.9-inch Liquid Retina display with ProMotion technology and True Tone
  • Up to 1TB storage
  • Compatible with Magic Keyboard, Smart Keyboard Folio and Apple Pencil (2nd generation)
  • USB‑C connector

Apple's breakdown shows that the two generations share an overwhelming majority of key features. Even so, there are a small number of meaningful differences between the 2018 ‌iPad Pro‌ and the 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ that are worth highlighting, including the camera, the processor, and the LiDAR scanner.

Differences


2018 iPad Pro

  • A12X Bionic chip with seven active GPU cores
  • 4GB RAM, 6GB on 1TB model
  • Standard microphones
  • Single 12MP Wide camera
  • Wi-Fi 5 connectivity

2020 iPad Pro

  • A12Z Bionic chip with eight active GPU cores
  • 6GB RAM
  • "Studio-quality" microphones
  • Dual 12MP Wide and 10MP Ultra Wide cameras
  • Wi-Fi 6 connectivity
  • LiDAR Scanner

Read on for a closer look at each of these aspects, and see what exactly both generations of the ‌iPad Pro‌ have to offer.

A12X vs A12Z

The 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ is equipped with an A12Z Bionic chip, which is a slight upgrade over the A12X chip featured in the 2018 ‌iPad Pro‌ models. The 2018 and 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ contain the same A12-series processor. The only difference is that the A12Z Bionic's GPU contains one more active core than the A12X, with eight cores in total.

Apple new ipad pro performance 03182020

Benchmarks of the new ‌iPad Pro‌ have suggested the A12Z's performance is close to identical to the performance of the A12X in the 2018 ‌iPad Pro‌, though there is a small boost in GPU performance due to the inclusion of an eight-core GPU. In single-core, the two chips perform almost exactly the same.

ipad pro single core benchmarks

In multi-core, the A12Z performs only marginally better.

ipad pro multi core benchmarks

It has been confirmed that the A12Z is a re-binned version of the A12X with an extra GPU core enabled. The A12X actually has an eight-core GPU, but one of the cores is deactivated, so it is functionally a 7-core GPU. The A12Z is an A12X with that extra GPU core available. This explains why the performance and benchmarks are so similar.

For graphics-oriented tasks, both ‌iPad‌ Pros should perform identically in single-core, but in multi-core, the 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ will be at a slight advantage. The newer processor also has a new thermal architecture and an updated performance controller.

The A12X in the 2018 ‌iPad Pro‌ already had impressive performance. While Apple has clearly refined the chip for the 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌, the original A12X remains a powerful mobile processor.

It is difficult to encourage an upgrade simply on the basis of the processor since they are ultimately the same chip with minor differences, but users intending to use the ‌iPad Pro‌ for graphics-intense purposes, such as video editing and 3D model design, should consider the newer model for a slight performance bump.

Users who opt for the older model with the A12X are highly unlikely to notice a difference in performance. So, unless you need maximum performance for graphics-based tasks, the A12X will be more than enough for your needs.

Memory

All 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ models feature 6GB of RAM. Only the 2018 model with 1TB of storage had 6GB of RAM, while all other 2018 models had 4GB.

RAM management and multitasking on iPadOS tends to be excellent, so the amount of RAM is not a pressing requirement when making a decision about which ‌iPad Pro‌ to buy. Both 4GB and 6GB configurations will provide enough memory for a very capable device.

If you are concerned about intense multitasking and need moving between spaces to be as fluid as possible, the 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ will certainly be the more future-proof model, but this isn't to say that the 2018 ‌iPad Pro‌'s RAM is insufficient.

Camera

Apple new ipad pro ultra wide camera 03182020

The 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ has a new dual-camera system, featuring a 12-megapixel wide-angle camera with an f/1.8 aperture and a 10-megapixel ultra wide-angle camera with an f/2.4 aperture and a 125 degree field of view. Apple says that the ultra wide-angle camera can be used to zoom out two times for a much wider field of view, doubling the photo and video possibilities, enabling different perspectives and multi-camera use. This added flexibility will be appreciated by users who are keen on photography or videography with their ‌iPad Pro‌ as a large viewfinder.

The 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ adds support for 4K video recording, up from 1080p on the 2018 model. Videography and live-streaming will be distinctly better with four-times higher resolution videos. Like the 2018 models, the 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ models do not feature optical image stabilization.

The 2018 model has a single 12-megapixel camera on the rear. The lens is actually the same as the 2020 model, so unless you are particularly interested in using the ultrawide lens or photography is a vital part of your ‌iPad Pro‌ use-case, there is little reason to upgrade for the improved camera setup.

Microphones

Apple new ipad pro audio 03182020

The 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ features a redesigned microphone array, which Apple calls "studio-quality mics," capable of capturing "super clean audio." With five separate microphones across the device, audio-recording is multi-channel and higher fidelity. If you intend to use your ‌iPad Pro‌ for podcasting, videography with sound, or any other audio-recording, the 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ offers a noticeable improvement on the previous model. On the other hand, the 2018 ‌iPad Pro‌'s microphones will still be suitable for video calls and casual sound recording. The 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ simply offers audio recording at a far higher quality.

LiDAR

LiDAR stands for "light detection and ranging." Accompanying the two-camera setup on the 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ is a new LiDAR Scanner that uses reflected light to measure the distance of objects up to five meters away in nano-second speeds. This means that the LiDAR scanner can build an exact 3D model of objects and the layout of rooms. Apple says that new depth frameworks in iPadOS combine depth points from the LiDAR scanner with data from cameras and motion sensors for a whole new class of AR experiences on the ‌iPad Pro‌.

Apple new iPad Pro AR screen 2 03182020

Existing ARKit apps will benefit from instant AR placement, improved motion capture, and people occlusion. With new ARKit capabilities, developers can access a new Scene Geometry API that will result in new scenarios not possible without the LiDAR Scanner.

The 2018 model does not have a LiDAR scanner, and is entirely reliant on its single camera lens for AR. It cannot map objects or rooms in three dimensions. AR developers should definitely buy the 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ for this reason. If you are simply interested in AR, and enjoy AR experiences and gaming, the 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ is worth considering. For most users, LiDAR and AR is a niche interest and still at an early stage, and it will not be worth getting the 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ for its scanner.

Design

The 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ models have received no major design refreshes and continue to look almost exactly like the 2018 ‌iPad Pro‌ models, available in 11 and 12.9-inch sizes with an all-screen design and an edge-to-edge display that does not include a Home button. Like the 2018 ‌iPad Pro‌ models, the 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ features a TrueDepth camera system with Face ID that uses facial recognition for biometric authentication and a 7-megapixel front-facing camera. Apple offers the ‌iPad Pro‌ in either a Silver or Space Gray aluminum.

iPad Pro hand 5mm 10302018

The back of the ‌iPad Pro‌ is where the main design change is, with 2020 models featuring a square-shaped camera bump housing the wide-angle lens, ultra wide-angle lens, the new LiDAR Scanner, and a True Tone flash. The new square-shaped camera bump is considerably larger than the prior vertical camera bump in the 2018 ‌iPad Pro‌, which featured a single-lens camera setup.

The 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ is also slightly heavier than the 2018 model. The difference is virtually imperceptible at just 0.01 pounds heavier, however. The industrial squared-off design premiered on the 2018 model and still feels fresh, so design likely won't factor into the decision as to which of the two generations you should buy.

Connectivity

The 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ models support WiFi 6, otherwise known as 802.11ax. The updated standard offers faster speeds, improved network capacity, better power efficiency, lower latency, and upgraded connectivity when there are multiple WiFi devices in the same area. WiFi 6 devices also support WPA3, which is a security protocol that offers improved cryptographic strength.

The 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ offers Gigabit-class LTE on cellular models. Apple says that these new modem chips support the most bands ever in an ‌iPad‌. Both the 2018 and 2020 ‌iPad‌ Pros feature a single a USB-C port for charging and connecting to accessories, and support Bluetooth 5.0 technology.

The 2020 ‌iPad‌ has a clear advantage in terms of wireless connectivity, but in most cases, the difference means that it is a more future-proof model, rather than a distinctively faster experience. This is because many users will not have a WiFi 6 network to take advantage of. If you intend to keep your ‌iPad Pro‌ for many years, the 2020 model will offer newer wireless connectivity options that will be useful in years to come.

Accessories

Both the 2018 and 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ use the second-generation ‌Apple Pencil‌, which attaches and charges via a magnetic connection on the side of the ‌iPad‌. Neither is compatible with the first-generation ‌Apple Pencil‌.

Apple new iPad Pro apple pencil and smart keyboard folio 03182020

Apple designed a new Magic Keyboard for the 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌, which is essentially a new version of the ‌Smart Keyboard‌, equipped with a trackpad, backlit keys, and a scissor-switch mechanism with 1mm of key travel. Despite the fact that the Magic Keyboard premiered alongside the 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ and features a larger camera cutout to account for the newer model's ultrawide camera and LiDAR scanner, it is still fully compatible with the previous 2018 ‌iPad Pro‌. This is because both the 2018 and 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ have the same Smart Connector on the back. The ‌Smart Connector‌ interface is able to transfer both power and data, so accessories that connect to the ‌iPad Pro‌ through it do not need batteries or a Bluetooth connection.

Any third-party USB-C or Bluetooth accessories for the 2018 ‌iPad Pro‌ will continue to work on the 2020 model, and vice versa. This means that accessories and connectivity don't need to factor into your decision when choosing between the 2018 and 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌.

Other iPad Options

Apple offers three kinds of ‌iPad‌ beyond the ‌iPad Pro‌: the low-cost 10.2-inch ‌iPad‌, the 7.9-inch iPad mini, and the 10.5-inch iPad Air. If you are already considering the ‌iPad Pro‌, it is highly unlikely that the low-cost ‌iPad‌ or the ‌iPad mini‌ could meet your requirements. With support for a ‌Smart Keyboard‌ and first-generation ‌Apple Pencil‌, the only real substitute for the ‌iPad Pro‌ is the 10.5-inch ‌iPad Air‌.

ipadairroundup

The 10.5-inch ‌‌iPad‌‌ Air sits in the middle of the ‌‌iPad‌‌ family, starting at $499 for Wi-Fi only models. The ‌‌iPad‌‌ Air is the perfect mid-tier option with an adequate screen size, speedy internals, and first-generation ‌‌Apple Pencil‌‌ support. The ‌‌iPad‌‌ Air has a ‌Smart Connector‌ for easy connection to a ‌Smart Keyboard‌ accessory if you prefer a physical keyboard‌. If your workflow revolves around lighter content consumption, digital illustration, or writing, the ‌iPad Air‌ may be a viable option instead of the ‌iPad Pro‌.

Which iPad Pro Should You Buy?

The 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ is very much an evolution of the previous 2018 model, with certain aspects being improved and fine-tuned. It is these specific areas, such as LiDAR, the camera setup, and the additional graphics core on the A12Z, that would be the reason to favor the 2020 model. Users intending to keep their ‌iPad Pro‌ for the long-term should also consider the 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ as its minor improvements will make it much more future-proof in years to come.

If these aspects are not important to you, there is no significant reason to spend more on the newer model. For most users, the 2018 ‌iPad Pro‌ should be more than adequate for your needs. Despite arriving a year and a half later, the 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ only displays very minor improvements over its predecessor. The two models are generally very similar, and the experience of both ‌iPad‌ Pros will likely be equally good in all but the most niche use cases.

The 2018 ‌iPad Pro‌ remains a very compelling option for most customers considering buying an ‌iPad Pro‌.

Related Roundup: iPad Pro
Related Forum: iPad

Related Stories

Universal Control Colored Feature

Universal Control vs. Sidecar: What's the Difference?

Tuesday February 1, 2022 2:02 pm PST by
Apple's Macs and iPads include support for two separate features called Sidecar and Universal Control that allow the devices to be used together, but in different ways. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. In this guide, we'll go over everything you need to know about Universal Control and how it differs from the Sidecar feature that's been available since 2019. What...
iPad mini vs Air Feature

iPad Mini 6 vs. iPad Air 4 Buyer's Guide

Monday September 27, 2021 3:00 pm PDT by
Apple recently introduced the sixth-generation iPad mini, featuring a complete redesign, a larger display, the A15 Bionic chip, and more. The iPad mini now effectively shares the design of the fourth-generation iPad Air from 2020, with both devices possessing many of the same features such as an all-screen design with no Home button, Touch ID in the top power button, and stereo speakers....
m1x feature dark blue

Apple M1X Chip Rumor Archive

Tuesday October 12, 2021 1:44 pm PDT by
The M1X was one of the rumored names for the Apple silicon chips that followed the M1. These chips actually turned out to be called the M1 Pro and the M1 Max, and Apple did not use the "M1X" nomenclature. Though the naming was wrong, the rumors about the chip were accurate, and this guide serves as an archive for all of the rumors about the M1X prior to the launch of the new MacBook Pro...
iphone se 3 vs iphone 11

iPhone SE 3 vs. iPhone 11 Buyer's Guide

Wednesday March 9, 2022 9:34 am PST by
The third-generation iPhone SE and the iPhone 11 are Apple's lowest-cost iPhone options, starting at $429 and $499 respectively. Apple released the iPhone 11 in late 2019, and has bumped it down in price since then to make it more accessible as new iPhone models have been released. On the other hand, the third-generation iPhone SE launched in early 2022, refreshing the most affordable iPhone...
Pro Display XDR Blue

Apple is Finally Making a Cheaper Display: What We Know

Monday February 14, 2022 2:21 pm PST by
Apple has not offered an affordable Apple-branded display since the 27-inch Thunderbolt display was discontinued in 2016, but that's set to change sometime in the not too distant future. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Right now, Apple only sells the $5,000 Pro Display XDR, but rumors suggest new standalone displays are in the works. We don't know a lot right now,...
Universal Control Colored Feature

Universal Control: Everything You Need to Know

Thursday February 3, 2022 1:48 pm PST by
iOS 15.4 and macOS Monterey 12.3 introduce Universal Control, a long-awaited feature that Apple first previewed at the 2021 Worldwide Developers Conference. Universal Control is designed to allow you to control multiple Macs and iPads with a single trackpad/mouse and keyboard, and this Universal Control guide covers the ins and outs of the feature and answers all the questions you might have ...
maxresdefault

iPad Pro 2020 vs. iPad Pro 2021 Buyer's Guide

Wednesday May 5, 2021 6:19 am PDT by
In April 2021, Apple updated its popular iPad Pro lineup, introducing a faster M1 chip, a Liquid Retina XDR display, a Thunderbolt port, and more, replacing the previous models from March 2020. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Although the 2020 iPad Pro models have now been discontinued by Apple, it is common to find them available at discounted prices with...
Studio v Pro Feature Purple

Mac Studio vs. Mac Pro Buyer's Guide

Friday March 18, 2022 11:26 am PDT by
The all-new Mac Studio is now Apple's most powerful desktop computer, surpassing even the high-end Mac Pro. The Mac Studio also starts at $1,999, substantially less than the $5,999 starting price of the Mac Pro. So why is the more expensive Mac Pro still in the lineup and should you buy it over the new Mac Studio? Our guide helps to answer the question of how to decide which of these two...

Popular Stories

iOS 16

Apple Releases iOS 16.0.2 With Bug Fixes for iPhone 14 Pro Camera Vibration, Copy/Paste Issue and More

Thursday September 22, 2022 1:04 pm PDT by
Apple today released iOS 16.0.2, addressing a number of bugs that iPhone 14 owners have been experiencing since the new devices launched. iOS 16.0.2 comes two weeks after the launch of iOS 16, and it follows iOS 16.0.1, an update made available to iPhone 14 owners on launch day. The update is available for all iPhones that are capable of running iOS 16. The iOS 16.0.2 update can be...
apple watch series 7 aluminum colors yellowbg

Don't Want the Apple Watch Ultra or Series 8? Amazon Has Record Low Prices on Series 7 Models This Week

Friday September 23, 2022 6:56 am PDT by
The Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra are now available to purchase, but if you aren't interested in these updates you can save a lot of money on Series 7 models right now on Amazon. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. The best deals are on cellular...
Dynamic Island For Android Users Feature

Android App Copying iPhone 14 Pro's Dynamic Island Released on Play Store

Thursday September 22, 2022 7:57 am PDT by
A copycat version of the iPhone 14 Pro's Dynamic Island has arrived on Android's Google Play Store in the form of an app called "dynamicSpot." The app, still in beta, offers customers several different experiences at the top of their smartphones. In its current form, dynamicSpot offers playback control for songs, timers, battery status, and more features coming soon, according to the app's...
maxresdefault

Video Review: Four Days With the iPhone 14 Pro Max

Wednesday September 21, 2022 7:49 am PDT by
Apple on Friday released the new iPhone 14 models, and MacRumors videographer Dan picked one up on launch day. He's been using the iPhone 14 Pro Max non-stop since it came out, and over on the MacRumors YouTube channel, has shared his initial thoughts on the day-to-day experience with the latest iPhone. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Dan's mini review highlights...
14 vs 16 inch mbp m2 pro and max feature 1

New 14-Inch and 16-Inch MacBook Pros Reportedly Launching Later This Year

Friday September 23, 2022 7:08 am PDT by
Apple plans to release new MacBook Pro models in the fourth quarter of 2022, according to supply chain publication DigiTimes. The report does not mention specific models, but it very likely refers to the next-generation 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros given that the 13-inch model was already updated earlier this year. There has been uncertainty surrounding the timing of new 14-inch and...
facebook meta

Meta Sued Over Tracking iPhone Users Despite Apple's Privacy Features

Thursday September 22, 2022 5:12 am PDT by
Meta is facing a new proposed class action lawsuit that accuses it of tracking and collecting the personal data of iPhone users, despite features and policies made by Apple which are meant to stop that same type of tracking. In August, it was revealed that with the Facebook and Instagram apps, Meta can track all of a user's key taps, keyboard inputs, and more, when using the in-app browser....
AirPods Max 2022 Colors

Ten Things AirPods Pro 2 Tell Us About AirPods Max 2

Saturday September 24, 2022 1:00 am PDT by
Upon the release of the second-generation AirPods Pro, the AirPods Max became the oldest current-generation AirPods product still in Apple's lineup. Introducing several new features like Adaptive Transparency and the H2 chip, the second-generation AirPods Pro may provide some of the best indications yet of what to expect from the second-generation AirPods Max. Almost two years later, rumors...
new airpods pro ear tips

Apple Explains Why Second-Generation AirPods Pro Ear Tips Are Incompatible With Original AirPods Pro

Thursday September 22, 2022 3:12 pm PDT by
Apple today explained why the new silicone ear tips for the second-generation AirPods Pro are not officially compatible with the original AirPods Pro. In an updated support document, Apple said the original AirPods Pro ear tips have "noticeably denser mesh" than the second-generation ear tips. Apple did not provide any additional details, but the mesh density could result in acoustical...
AirPods Pro Second Generation 2 Pairing Feature 1

AirPods Pro 2 Engravings Appear in iOS During Pairing and Connecting

Friday September 23, 2022 9:40 am PDT by
Customers who personalize their second-generation AirPods Pro charging case with an engraving will now have that engraving reflected directly on iOS as they pair and connect their AirPods Pro. Apple allows customers to personalize their AirPods Pro charging case with a special engraving that can include select emojis and Memojis. Unlike before, starting with the second-generation AirPods...