iPad Pro 11″ M1 Review – Still Kicking It If you can get a Deal

iPad Pro 11" M1 design

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Current testing methodology is v1.2

Release Date
May 21, 2021
1.03 lb
9.74 x 7.02 x 0.23 in

The title might be a bit confusing for this review because I’ve included the terms iPad Pro 11″ M1, which is actually a 2021 model, not 2022. 

The purpose of that is really just to say that I bought the 11″ iPad Pro 2021 M1 model instead of the M2 in 2022 and it’s still a powerhouse.

I did extensive research, and had a lot of reasons for why I chose the M1 model over the M2 model, why I chose the 11″ instead of the 12.9″, and why I chose the M1 iPad Pro over the 2022 iPad Air. 

But that’s all explained in this post.

Best Value

iPad Pro 11″ M1 – 256GB – WiFi

Still an impressive iPad, especially if you can get a deal on it. Powerful, good looking, great sound and portable.

Price Range: $$$
Brand: Apple
iPad Pro 11" M1 bottom speakers


I’m glad I picked one of these up while the price was discounted.

There was no reason I didn’t go for the M2 model, other than price. There isn’t enough new in the M2 iPad Pro that makes me want to spend the extra for it.

If you can find an iPad Pro 11″ M1 model, or 12.9″ model, it’s a great piece of hardware.

Of course, if you can’t find the M1 model, the iPad Pro M2 is even better…just more $$.

The Specs

  • Display:  11 inch Liquid Retina display
  • Display Resolution Maximum:  2388-by-1668-pixel resolution at 264 pixels per inch (ppi)
  • Battery Life:  Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi‑Fi, watching video, or listening to music. Up to 9 hours of surfing the web using cellular data network
  • Processor :  Apple M1 Chip
  • Front Camera:  12MP Wide Camera
  • Camera:  12MP Wide and 10MP Ultra Wide Cameras
  • Video:  4K video recording
  • Connector:  USB-C connector

What’s in the Box?

  • iPad Pro
  • USB-C Charge Cable (1m)
  • 18W USB-C Power Adapter

Stuff I like

  • Great form factor – I like the square edges
  • Full 11″ screen (unlike 10.9″ iPad Air) that goes almost to the edge
  • Powerful processor for anything you need
  • Stage Manager is a good software edition
  • Thunderbolt Support
  • Great sounding speakers

Stuff I like less

  • Accessories are expensive
  • Not that light to travel with, but lighter than a full laptop

Comparable products to consider

iPad Pro 11
iPad Pro 11″ M2 Model

11-inch Liquid Retina XDR display with M2 chip and FaceID unlock feature

iPad Pro 12.9
iPad Pro 12.9″ M2 Model

Brilliant 12.9-inch Liquid Retina with M2 Apple Chip, Face ID for secure authentication and Apple Pay

Originally, I had my heart set on the 12.9″ iPad Pro and had been looking at it for about a year before I decided that I really did have a use for a portable powerhouse to take on the road. 

Recently, they upgraded to the M2 model, and of course, being a guy that likes the latest things, I thought that I would dive in on that.

After looking at the pricing of it, however, once you add on the Magic Keyboard and the Gen 2 Apple Pencil, the thing is so flipping expensive that I couldn’t justify buying that over a brand-new MacBook Pro. 

So, after looking at the iPad Air 2022 and the new M2 iPads, I finally got lucky and scored an iPad Pro 11″ M1 256-gig model from the local hardware store that was doing a runout clearance.

So, the purpose of this review isn’t to compare the M2 to the M1, although the core basics between the two units are: one has the new pen hover functionality, the M2 model has that, and the M2 also has slightly improved 6E Wi-Fi, and some screen improvements. 

Fundamentally, though, they’re a very similar unit other than the increased processor.

So, if I can get the M1 iPad Pro, why would I bother spending another almost $1,000 on the M2 Pro if the M1 is so discounted? 

Unfortunately, I hit the sales late, and there were no 12.9″ available in the M1 model. 

But I’ve realized that that’s probably a good thing, because if I am going to get the new 14″ MacBook Pro, then I also don’t need a super large tablet. I think something a bit more portable is good enough.

So, after all of these decisions have been made, and I’ve ended up with the iPad Pro 11″ M1, how does it perform?

iPad Pro 11" M1 display
11-inch Liquid Retina display | Make Life Click

Setup of the iPad Pro

What I love about the setup of new Apple devices is they really have perfected the art of transferring files and getting it all set up. 

Back in the early Mac days, with the old colored Macs, changing Macs was an absolute drama, having to connect them with cables, and hope that all the file transfers went well.

These days, the ability just to stick your iPhone next to your iPad, and Apple does the rest of the magic, certainly takes the pain out of buying new Apple hardware. 

It probably only took 20 minutes for me to get everything set up, and then I did a quick download of the latest OS for the iPad Pro.

The M1 has Thunderbolt capabilities with a USB-C port. It also has a four-speaker built-in system, which was pretty impressive, a Liquid Retina Display, a full 11″ screen size, and of course the M1 chip.

Once I had it set up, I installed all of the apps that I wanted to continue using for my productivity, including ClickUp, Google Suite, and Adobe Lightroom. 

My real interest was in how Adobe Lightroom would perform, and the M1 takes it easily in its stride, quickly syncing with the cloud, and pulling down all the photos that I need to work on.

What I love about Lightroom on iOS is that it does really have all the functionality that I need from the desktop version, unlike the browser-based version, where, if you need to export photos and things, it’s a lot more difficult to get custom settings and watermarks included. 

My basic workflow is to edit on the iPad, select and export the images, sharing them directly into my Google Drive, which then sends an automated update via Pabbly to ClickUp which notifies my content manager that there is a new post ready to go on the website.

I love this workflow, and I love the portability of the iPad Pro 11″ M1 for this.

Editing settings on all of the individual images, which I shoot on a Sony a6400, was no problem. I do find there is a small lag in the speed at which the photos update, and I’m still not sure whether that is the software or the iPad Pro processor.

After using Lightroom on the web, I actually suspect that it’s probably a software issue, but if anybody knows better, then please let me know in the comments below.

The screen is rich and bright, and all the photos that I took of the unit for this post don’t really reflect how nice the screen is. The 11″ Liquid Retina is bright and clear and crisp, which is especially handy if you are doing any Lightroom editing on the device.

iPad Pro 11" M1 design
Nice square edges | Make Life Click

Form factor of the iPad Pro

I love the square edges, and I’m glad that Apple has returned to that hard-edged bevel. It also means that the screen looks nice, coming right out to the edge of the unit.

We all already know that iPad is fantastic for video, and for photos in general. But when you’re editing images at hi-res, the ability to pinch and zoom in Lightroom to see really up-close details on the photo, and then do things like masking at that zoomed-in level, is

Sound quality

I don’t know what the DAC chip is in the iPad Pro, and I haven’t done a lot of music listening from it, because, in general, I don’t tend to be too picky about the source when it comes to iOS devices. I’m more concerned with what I am listening to at the end of that source, in terms of headphones. 

The built-in speakers absolutely surprised me.

The fact that there is actually some decent depth in the iPad Pro 11″ M1 speakers was just fantastic. And as there hasn’t really been a change in the M2, there was no need to get the M2 for this improved sound experience.

But if I’m honest, I’m not really sure how often I have ever used iPad speakers. 

I’m either going to be using it in the lounge, in a public place, on an airplane, or in an airport lounge, which means that no one else wants to listen to me watching “Drive to Survive” out loud, especially my wife.

If you have Plex and you have a public server available, then you can absolutely have a blast if it comes to watching entertainment on the iPad Pro.

iPad Pro 11" M1 top speaker and front camera
2 Speakers at the top
iPad Pro 11" M1 bottom speakers
& 2 Speakers at the bottom

Working and workflow

But I didn’t buy the iPad Pro just to be entertained. In fact, I really just bought it for work.

So I also intend to install the full Adobe Suite on the device, and I understand that DaVinci Resolve, which is the video editing software I use, is about to come out with a decent version for iPads as well.

I find this really exciting, because, as a DaVinci Resolve user, the ability to edit videos on the go will be excellent, and I don’t doubt that the M1 processor will handle that really well also.

The iPad Pro, as opposed to the iPad Air, has not only a strong front-facing camera but also a 10-megapixel ultra wide-angle camera. So I expect that if I want to get funky, I’ll be able to do some video shots with the iPad Pro also.

When you’re a content creator on the move, and you don’t always have your primary mirrorless camera on you for shooting video, it can be really handy to have an Apple or mobile device that still shoots video at a high enough resolution to make it not be too embarrassing on your YouTube channel.

Stage Manager is now part of my workflow. 

And although I can’t work as quickly as I can on my MacBook Pro, I can still do a pretty decent job of switching between applications, editing photos in Lightroom, exporting those to Google Drive as I’ve already mentioned, but also switching between browsers, camera, Lightroom, my Notes application, where I keep a full list of all the things I need to be working on at any time, and research that I might have done for any particular article.

I just love that Apple is finally catching on to making the iPad a functional all-in-one device.

iPad Pro 11" M1 camera design
12MP Camera and 4K Video recording | Make Life Click

File Manager

Since it’s been installed or introduced by Apple, also has come a wee way since its launch, and it’s really made a difference for me in terms of being able to functionally work with files on my iOS devices.

Add to this that it’s all synced to the cloud and available on all my devices, and all of a sudden, not only am I able to be productive on my MacBook Pro but right through my iPad Pro, down to the iPhone, is now something I can use anywhere, anytime to communicate with the team at “Make Life Click,” or even anything else that I’m working on.

Admittedly, these are more general comments for any iPad that you might buy, but knowing that the M1 iPad Pro has the horsepower to do what I need to do when I need to do it, just gives me that peace of mind. 

The lack of any lag or latency in the speed at which I work makes a huge difference when my brain is usually going a million miles an hour.

iPad Accessories

Unfortunately, accessories for the iPad Pro 11″ M1 are still as expensive as the accessories for the M2 iPad Pro. 

I can’t understand why the Magic Keyboard is as expensive as it is, or the Gen 2 Apple Pencil, which can add such a significant amount on top of what you’ve already spent for some decent hardware.

Of course, I’m still going to get them, because they’re just so natively and intuitively integrated with the iPad Pro. And after carrying around the iPad Pro for the week without a case, I realize that I need one ASAP.

You can take a look around at some of the third-party accessories that you can buy. My previous iPad had a Logitech keyboard built in, which was Bluetooth, which was a great case and much cheaper. I also had the original iPad Pencil Gen 1.

This was a great unit for taking on the go, but never really felt very productive on it, and with the very small hard drive, it was a bit useless when it came to actually stack up a decent amount of files that I could work on remotely. 

iPad Pro 11" M1 camera with Apple Pen
Compatible with Apple Pencil | Make Life Click

But that hardware does exist, and while you probably still want to at least invest in the pencil that Apple has built for the iPad, if you’re not sure if you’re going to use it, don’t buy it.

I had the Apple Pencil on my last iPad, and never really used it. I ended up giving that to one of my kids, and he’s quite artistic, but even he didn’t really bother with the pencil, preferring to use his finger to do any design and art that he worked on.

It’s not to say that the pencil is a bad idea, but if you don’t know that you’re really going to use it, then try going without it for a while until you really feel like you have a need.

And if you do want to scratch that itch, then head into an Apple store somewhere and try it out in-store for a while, to see what the experience is like.


I love the M1 iPad Pro, and I’m really glad that I got it. I still would have been as happy to get the M2 and spend the extra money, but so much better if you can find a good deal on it somewhere before it completely runs out. In 2022, in 2023, I can see this iPad lasting me years for what I’m doing currently.

I’ll also pick up the new MacBook Pro 14″, which is now not going to be upgraded this year, until next year, as that, too, has all of the horsepowers I need even for my video editing and photo editing and design work in Photoshop. 

I actually have a MacBook Pro now which is about seven years old, and it’s still absolutely powering along, except that the fan gets a little bit excited these days, and when I have over about 30 or 40 browser tabs open, it’s not loving it.

The reason I’m going to get the 14″ MacBook Pro now is that the price is decent. I could wait for runout models next year, but I figure that the M2 MacBook Pro might even see a bump in price. 

Apple 11-inch iPad Pro M1 Wi-Fi + Cellular 256GB - Space Gray MHMV3LL/A (Spring 2021)
2021 M1 Apple 11-inch iPad

But who knows? 

With the end-of-year deals all around, I guarantee I’m going to get a pretty solid deal on buying it, and Apple has already talked about giving some pretty large gift cards back for people buying hardware during the sale season.

So, the fundamental bottom line, give-it-to-me-straight point of this post is to say, you don’t have to upgrade to the latest M2 iPad Pro to get what you need. 

The M1 from 2021 is still a fantastic unit, that performs fabulously in pretty much any situation that I’ve thrown at it.

Is the M2 a faster processor? Yes. Does the M2 have a pen hover? Yes. Does it have improved Wi-Fi and a slightly upgraded monitor (XDR Liquid Retina)? Yes.

But if you don’t need all of those extra features, then try and pick up the iPad Pro M1 for a deal if you can still get one.

iPad Pro 11" M1 bottom speakers
M1 iPad Pro 11"
Touch Screen
Build Quality
Battery Life
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Endless hours of experimentation, professional work, and personal investment in Home Theatre, Hi-Fi, Smart Home Automation and Headphones have come to this.

Former owner of Headphones Canada, a high-end headphone specialty retailer.

This post was last updated on 2024-05-27 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.

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