The next iPad Pro (opens in new tab) could come with an upgraded take on the A14 Bionic chip the iPhone 12 (opens in new tab) is expected to have, potentially giving it the power to take on fully-fledged laptops.
A reasonably reputable tech leaker on Twitter going by the name of Fudge (opens in new tab) noted that the next wave of iPad Pro tablets will come with the A14X chip. Fudge didn’t note where this information came from or any expected specs of the A14X chip, but it’s likely to a powered-up version of Apple’s next-generation A-series chipset that will almost certainly debut in the next iPhone.
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An upgraded A14 Bionic could promise laptop-beating performance in the next iPad Pro. That’s because the A14 Bionic is expected to be Apple’s first 5-nanometre chip. Leaked iPhone 12 benchmarks show that it could not only destroy rival Android phones (opens in new tab) on performance but also potentially challenge (opens in new tab)the power of Apple’s own MacBook Pro laptops (opens in new tab).
iPad Pros with A14x, codenamed J517 (small) and J522 (big)June 3, 2020
The benchmark leak came courtesy of an alleged Geekbench 5 scorecard which appears to feature the A14 Bionic running at 3.1GHz. If the benchmark is to be believed, the chip’s processor managed a single-core score of 1,658 and a multi-core score of 4,612. Comparatively, the MacBook Pro 13-inch 2020 (opens in new tab) yielded a single-core score of 4,399 in our review.
So there’s a good chance that an upgraded take on the A14 Bionic in the form of the A14X could turn the iPad Pro into an absolute powerhouse of a tablet. That's impressive, considering that the current iPad Pro is hardly a slouch.
In our testing, the iPad Pro 2020's A12Z Bionic chip scored 4,720 on the multi-core benchmark and 1,126 on the single-core test in Geekbench 5, beating the Surface Pro 7’s score of 4,443 in the multi-core test. Considering the Surface Pro 7 is using Intel’s latest 10th Gen Core i5 CPU, the iPad Pro’s performance is especially noteworthy.
So if the A14 Bionic can beat the A12Z Bionic, an A14X-equipped iPad Pro could have enough performance to beat even some of our best laptops (opens in new tab). And it could make a mockery of Android and Windows 10 tablet performance.
Beyond the benchmarks
Of course, raw performance in benchmarks isn’t always indicative of the true real-world performance of a laptop or tablet. A lot of apps and tools that run well on a macOS laptop might not translate well to iPadOS and thus run badly despite all the performance an iPad Pro could bring to bear.
And even if a 2021 iPad Pro could trounce a MacBook Pro in raw performance, it still needs to be as usable and good at getting things done as Apple’s slick laptop. A lot has been done with iPadOS, including the addition of mouse cursor support, to make it feel more like a laptop when used with the iPad Pro Magic Keyboard (opens in new tab).
But there are still apps that don’t seem to behave well with iPadOS when one tries to use a cursor with them. So Apple still has work to do before iPadOS can pull double duties as both a tablet and pseudo laptop experience.
A new iPad Pro isn’t likely to arrive until 2021, meaning Apple has plenty of time to refine iPadOS into a more laptop-like experience without compromising its core mobile operating system. If Apple can do this, the iPad Pro could really start to be a proper laptop replacement.
Even if Apple falls short, the performance potential of the A14x paints a positive picture for the idea of a MacBook SE running on an ARM-based chip. Such a machine could be a powerful reworking of the now-defunct 12-inch MacBook, and act as a new rival to Chromebooks and lower-end Windows 10 laptops.