Apple iPad Pro (2021) vs a discounted iPad Pro (2020): Which should you buy?

You want to go pro. But should you rummage around the bargain bins first?

Apple’s latest iPad Pro is the best tablet around. It improves on the 2020 iPad Pro in meaningful ways, not least if you grab a 12.9in one with its mini-LED display.

But when new models appear, older ones get a price cut. You might fancy an iPad Pro but be tempted by offers for the 2020 edition. This article explores whether you should save a few quid or double down on cutting-edge kit.

How the 2021 and 2020 iPad Pros compare

Buying an older iPad inherently means compromise. You’ll get fewer features and an inferior tablet – albeit one that’s nonetheless still objectively better than anything else out there, bar the (depicted above) newer iPad Pro. It’s the trade-off for spending less cash.

Here are the key differences between the 2021 and 2020 iPad Pros, to help you define your priorities:

  • The processor in the 2021 model is an M1, also found in current Macs, rather than an A12Z, boosting CPU and GPU performance by, respectively, up to 50% and 40%.
  • RAM has been increased from 6GB to 8GB – or 16GB in the 1TB+ models – which is potentially a boon for complex creative tasks.
  • The FaceTime camera is up from 7MP to a 12MP Ultra Wide that combined with Center Stage can automatically keep you in frame.
  • The USB-C connector now supports USB 4 and Thunderbolt 3, opening up support for more accessories and faster connectivity.
  • Cellular iPad Pros get 5G rather than 4G.
  • The display on the 12.9in model utilises mini-LEDs for richer colours and contrast.

Initial pricing for the 11in models is £20 lower this year. The 12.9in iPad Pro is £30 more expensive, presumably due to the display. But at 1TB, there are bigger changes: the 11in iPad Pro is up £130 and the 12.9in is up £180. We suspect this is down to the extra 10GB of RAM.

Where you can find an iPad Pro bargain

At the time of writing, Currys has the 256GB 11in iPad Pro in silver and space grey for £719.97. That’s a saving of about £149 over the original price.

More importantly, it leaves the device almost a tenner cheaper than the current 256GB iPad Air – and yet you get a better display (brighter; 120Hz), four-speaker audio (rather than two-speaker), along with LiDAR and an Ultra Wide camera on the rear. If you were considering a 256GB iPad Air, get this 11in iPad Pro instead.

For fans of the 12.9in iPad Pro, there are similar deals: Argos has the 128GB model for £849.99 (down £120). Currys is selling the 256GB model for £919.97 (down £149) and the 128GB cellular model for £949.97 (down £169). Not bad savings, but even when you account for the 30-quid price-hike in the newer iPads, this is a trickier decision when you take into account the 2021 iPad Pro’s display, along with the extra speed and power. Decide what features are important to you before spending your cash. If you have the extra £150 or so, you’re probably better off with a 2021 model.

One final area that’s worth exploring is 1TB models. As noted earlier, these received huge price-hikes, presumably due to the extra RAM in the 2021 editions. But if what you most care about is storage, snap up a 2020 unit instead. John Lewis has the 11in cellular 1TB for £1309 (in silver – space grey is an extra 30 quid). That’s a £110 saving on the original price – and £240 less than the equivalent 2020 model.

Similarly, John Lewis has the 1TB 12.9in Wi-Fi edition for £1349 and the cellular equivalent for £1499 (both down £120). But those prices are £300 less than the 2021 equivalents.

TL;DR: There are bargains to be had in 2020 iPads, but decide whether you’re willing to miss out on features found in the latest hardware. The best bargain is grabbing a 256GB 11in instead of an iPad Air. But if you mostly care about storage, cheaper 1TB models are also worth considering.

iPad Pro price check guide

To help you check whether you’re getting a bargain on spotting an offer, here are the original price points of the 2020 and 2021 iPad Pros:

2020

  • 11in: £769 (128GB)/£869 (256GB)/£1069 (512GB)/£1269 (1TB)
  • 11in cellular: £919 (128GB)/£1019 (256GB)/£1219 (512GB)/£1419 (1TB)
  • 12.9in: £969 (128GB)/£1069 (256GB)/£1269 (512GB)/£1469 (1TB)
  • 12.9in cellular: £1119 (128GB)/£1219 (256GB)/£1419 (512GB)/£1619 (1TB)

2021

  • 11in: £749 (128GB)/£849 (256GB)/£1049 (512GB)/£1399 (1TB)/£1749 (2TB)
  • 11in cellular: £899 (128GB)/£999 (256GB)/£1199 (512GB)/£1549 (1TB)/£1899 (2TB)
  • 12.9in: £999 (128GB)/£1099 (256GB)/£1299 (512GB)/£1649 (1TB)/£1999 (2TB)
  • 12.9in cellular: £1149 (128GB)/£1249 (256GB)/£1449 (512GB)/£1799 (1TB)/£2149 (2TB)