The iPad Pro 2024 could be a legitimate laptop replacement — here's 3 reasons why

iPad Pro 2022
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All signs point to Apple unveiling the iPad Pro 2024 during the May 7 “Let Loose” event. The company hasn’t said it will announce new tablets, but considering how the event’s poster prominently shows an Apple Pencil, we’re inclined to believe Apple will unleash new iPads soon — specifically, the iPad Pro 2024 and iPad Air 2024.

Of the two, the iPad Pro could be the most interesting. According to Bloomberg reporter and Apple tipster Mark Gurman, the iPad Pro will run on the rumored Apple M4 chip. We’ve also heard rumors that the 12.9-inch iPad Pro will sport an OLED display — something folks have long asked for. A smaller but still interesting rumor also claims Apple is updating the iPad Pro’s Magic Keyboard with a MacBook-like appearance.

People have discussed whether or not an iPad Pro could be a laptop replacement for years. That hasn’t happened yet, and it may not happen with the new iPad Pro. However, the aforementioned factors I outline give Apple’s largest tablet a decent shot of making the dream a reality. Some folks already use iPad Pros as their main computing device, and it’s possible the new iPad Pro’s expected features could (potentially) make it as good as one of the best laptops.

Here are 3 ways the iPad Pro could be a laptop replacement.

Apple M4 power

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The most surprising iPad Pro rumor suggests the giant tablet will be the first Apple device to feature an M4 chip. Before that, all rumors said we’d see an Apple M3-powered iPad Pro. As with everything I’m discussing in this post, take this rumor with a healthy dose of skepticism. That said, an M4 iPad Pro could be a game-changer in terms of overall performance and machine learning capabilities — placing it closer to a laptop.

According to Gurman, the M4 processor’s main feature is an upgraded neural engine that will enhance the slate’s AI performance. The reporter believes this will mark the beginning of Apple’s shift into AI hardware — which is something the Cupertino-based tech company has been slow to get involved in. M-series chips have always had a neural engine but with the tech industry’s infatuation with AI, it makes sense Apple suddenly wants to play up the AI capabilities of its processors.

It’s hard to say what the M4 chip can do until Apple officially announces it. But supposing the rumors are true, then we should see performance and efficiency boosts over M3, which would make the iPad Pro the most powerful tablet in Apple’s lineup. This extra horsepower should also make the iPad Pro more than capable of running graphically demanding games, such as Resident Evil Village, Baldur’s Gate 3 and Lies of P which already run marvelously on the best MacBooks with an M3 chip.

AI generated image of 3 Llamas on a chip

(Image credit: Adobe Firefly - AI generated for Future)

What about AI? The iPad Pro should be able to run powerful AI loads right on the tablet instead of via the cloud. As our own Ryan Morrison detailed in his piece about new features he wants to see on the next iPad, the current iPad Pro M2 can run models like Llama 3 and handle complex AI tasks such as image generation and video editing. With the camera, it can perform a range of AI vision tasks like those revealed for the new Meta Ray-Bans. An iPad Pro packing and M4 chip could expand or surpass these capabilities.

We might see easier integration of third-party models. Apple currently has MLX, a framework designed to facilitate integrating third-party AI models into iPadOS and work with them through the apps. To that end, Mark Gurman reports that Apple could bring ChatGPT to iOS. If true, we can assume the LLM (large language model) would also be available on iPad. Other rumors claim Apple has plans to launch an AI App Store and will create a new suite of APIs and developer kits that third-party developers can use to get the most out of the M4 chip. 

OLED display

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The most noteworthy iPad Pro rumor that made the rounds before the M4 bombshell was the addition of an OLED display. The current 12.9-inch iPad Pro’s mini-LED Liquid Retina display makes everything it shows appear stunning. However, a proper OLED display should significantly improve image quality.

According to Mark Gurman, the OLED panel on the iPad Pro should be “crisper and brighter” and “reproduce colors more accurately.” This is for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, as the 11-inch model will retain the same LCD as the current model.

Display analyst Ross Young claimed the new OLED iPad Pro will have an LTPO display, which is a more power-efficient form of OLED capable of both a high refresh rate and resolution. This panel will also boast a "120Hz refresh, a tandem stack and glass thinning resulting in ultra-thin and light displays with high brightness, extended battery life and long lifetime,” the analyst said in a note to investors.

OLED technology generally offers better image quality than mini-LED. And with each pixel being individually lit, it ensures perfect blacks and incredible contrast. I think the mini-LED on the iPad Pro provides rich picture quality but I know an OLED panel would make everything look crisper and vibrant. An OLED panel would certainly help the iPad Pro feel more like a (fancier) laptop.

Updated Magic Keyboard

iPad Pro 2022

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For those who use an iPad Pro for work or everyday computing, the Apple Magic Keyboard is an essential (and very expensive) peripheral. Like the best iPad cases, it provides the tablet with an extra layer of protection against accidental drops and spills. And of course, it allows you to type as you would on a laptop.

Mark Gurman says Apple will revamp the Magic Keyboard to make “the iPad Pro look even more like a laptop than the current setup.” In addition, the peripheral will also feature a “larger trackpad.” The reporter also claims the Magic Keyboard could get an aluminum finish that would give it the appearance of Apple’s laptops.

The new Magic Keyboard could make the iPad Pro appear indistinguishable from a MacBook Pro, at least from a cursory glance. But what about the typing experience? We don’t know if Apple is changing the keycaps or adjusting the keys’ travel distance. However, considering how the current Magic Keyboard is pretty good for typing, we don’t need a radical change. That said, a larger touchpad could at least make the on-screen cursor easier to control.

What about iPadOS 18?

Screenshot of Apple iPadOS 17 Stage Manager Enhancement.

(Image credit: Apple)

We’ve heard very little about iPadOS 18. Right now, it’s hard to say if Apple will announce it during “Let Loose” or if it will instead unveil the tablet’s OS during WWDC 2024 where it has historically announced the upcoming version of the operating systems coming to its devices. My bet is on the latter, but you never know.

We haven’t heard anything regarding an update to make iPadOS 18 function more like macOS. Such a change could help the iPad Pro feel like a proper laptop replacement since some iPad apps feel like hobbled versions of Mac apps. I’m not expecting a major overhaul of iPadOS since we likely would have heard something from the usual tipsters and leakers, but anything’s possible. That said, AI will no doubt be a major theme — especially if the iPad Pro runs on an M4 chip.


If I were a betting man I’d say the new iPad Pro won’t be a laptop replacement. Maybe that’s cynicism on my part, but we’ve been through this plenty of times before. Tablets have come a long way but they still don’t deliver the streamlined experience a laptop can.

That said, if what we’ve heard about the iPad Pro is true, it should be a more competent computer than its predecessors — especially if it has an M4 chip and a redesigned Magic Keyboard. An OLED display would be icing on the proverbial cake. And who knows, if iPadOS 18 functions more like macOS, then maybe the iPad Pro could be a legitimate laptop replacement.

Once the "Let Loose" event is over I’ll let you know if the iPad Pro can replace your laptop, or if you’re better off sticking with a proper notebook. But only after I've gone hands-on with the tablet whenever it arrives.

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Tony Polanco
Computing Writer

Tony is a computing writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on X/Twitter. His non-nerdy pursuits involve attending Hard Rock/Heavy Metal concerts and going to NYC bars with friends and colleagues. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.