Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

An iPad Pro M4 would signal Apple’s AI intent before iPadOS 18 arrives

We’ve been waiting for the next-gen iPads to land for a while now, and that release looks set to arrive soon with Apple revealing it’ll be holding an event on May 7.

The invites for Apple’s ‘Let Loose’ event came emblazoned with an Apple Pencil, more than hinting the live-streamed showcase would focus on the iPad range.

Rumours point to an updated iPad Pro with an OLED display, and a larger iPad Air joining a new 10.9-inch model. Oh, and there will probably be updates to the Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil thrown in for good measure.

One spec many had assumed would be a given was that the iPad Pro would get a processor refresh, moving up from the M2 chip to the same M3 found in the latest round of MacBook Airs. However, that now seems to not be the case.

Forget M3, Hello M4

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, a typically reliable source of Apple news, has stated that there’s a “strong possibility” the iPad Pro OLED will launch with the M4 – a chip that wasn’t originally expected to land in anything until later this year.

The reasoning behind this move seems to be that Apple will begin to position devices as having an AI focus, and the new iPad Pros would be the first to have this focus. In Gurman’s Power On Newsletter, he says the M4 will have a new neural engine which is required for AI tasks.

The iPad Pro M2 standing up
Image Credit (Trusted Reviews)

Previous generations of the M-chips have boasted their own neural engines, however it seems like it will be a much bigger focus for the M4. It would also likely be a big selling point of the Apple A18 – the chip likely to power the iPhone 16 series.

Apple’s summer of AI

The timing of this is all very interesting. It is expected that Apple’s upcoming WWDC will focus heavily on AI features being added to its various mobile operating systems, including the iPadOS that powers the iPad range, so the iPad Pro could launch with an AI-capable chip, but no software features to make use it until later this year.

Some might say that Apple should hold off on launching these iPads until both the software and hardware are ready, but it’s been over 18 months since the iPad range was refreshed and it seems like Apple is keen to get them out of the door with the potential to add extra features down the line.

Of course, the M4 wouldn’t be the only selling point of the new Pros so they wouldn’t be without any notable upgrades until the next iPadOS is ready. It’s heavily expected that they will be the first Apple tablets with OLED displays – the same tech the iPhone and Apple Watch use – and come with a design refresh for the first time since 2018.

While the iPad Pro might be the first device from Apple to focus on AI, Gurman states that it won’t be the last. In fact, in the same newsletter, he suggests that Apple will begin to position each product as an AI device, from the iPhone to the MacBook.

AI skills coming to an M4-powered range of MacBooks seems like a given. We’re only a few months into 2024, but the ‘AI PC‘ term has been banded around by everyone from Dell with its XPS 14 to Asus with its Zenbook 14 OLED and just about every other PC maker in between.

The issue is that the term is that it doesn’t seem very well defined as of yet, with many of the AI features simply being rebadged editing effects for video calls. Let’s hope Apple has a more focused approach.

We’ll be covering the Apple Let Loose, so stay tuned for all the big news from the event.

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2003, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.

Trusted Reviews Logo

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the best of Trusted Reviews delivered right to your inbox.

This is a test error message with some extra words