Apple Silicon iPad Pros offer the choice of 8GB or 16GB of RAM with a cost difference of at least $400. Are there any good reasons for a tablet to have that much RAM? Well, there’s enough to write a whole list!
Future-Proofing and Pro Apps
Apple’s iPads don’t need upgrades nearly as often as other tablets or smartphones in general. The iPad Pro is comfortably ahead of the competition in performance, so there’s not much incentive to get the latest iPad unless yours is broken. Even the 2018 iPad Pro is still perfectly serviceable nearly five years later, and people are certainly using even older models.
The M1 and M2 chips present in the latest iPad Pros were designed for Apple’s Mac computers. In other words, they have to be powerful enough to do desktop-class jobs such as having lots of apps open at the same time, editing, videos, doing graphic design work, and anything else that people typically use Macs for.
Putting an M1 or M2 into an iPad, then, seems like a case of overkill for a product that’s already overkill when you think of it as a tablet. However, maybe we shouldn’t just think of the iPad Pro as a tablet anymore, but think of it more in the same way we regard Macs.
When you choose a 16GB MacBook over an 8GB model, it’s usually because you want to use it with applications that benefit from the extra memory. With “pro” applications such as DaVinci Resolve on iPadOS, it’s clear that the same benefits you’d get from 16GB of RAM on an M2 MacBook will also come into play on the equivalent iPad.
Less SSD Wear
Apple’s iPhones and iPads have always been top performers with less RAM than similar Android devices. Part of this is down to how Android manages memory, but it’s also thanks to Apple’s fast, high-bandwidth SSD. This is also why a base model M1 or M2 MacBook Air with just 8GB of RAM can run applications that would have brought a 16GB Intel MacBook to a grinding halt.
By rapidly streaming data back and forth between the SSD and RAM, everything keeps ticking along nicely. However, this means that the SSD accumulates disk writes that will wear the drive down more quickly.
This is mitigated somewhat by the fact that only the 1TB and 2TB Apple Silicon iPad models have 16GB of RAM, but it’s worth remembering that the fuller the SSD becomes, the less room there is to spread the wear around from RAM being swapped with SSD storage. With a 16GB iPad, you may cut how often the SSD is written to and perhaps extend its life.
The CPUs and GPUs in Apple Silicon chips trade blows with midrange gaming PCs and the entry-level Xbox Series S current generation console. Apple has also introduced MetalFX, a new part of their Metal gaming API that brings AI-powered upscaling similar to NVIDIA’s DLSS to iOS, iPadOS, and macOS games.
Previous iPad Pros have already featured amazing console-grade games and console ports, but with this new generation of hardware, we’re likely to see some truly impressive titles. For example, No Man’s Sky is an iPad title that features the MetalFX upscaling technology and will push an M1 or M2 iPad to show off its performance.
With 16GB of unified memory, this allows for large and detailed textures and more complex games. Apple’s iPad is also getting true external display support, so if you want to blow your iPadOS games up to the size of a TV, more texture memory won’t hurt!
Ever since Apple introduced true split-screen multitasking to the iPad, it’s become a viable replacement for a laptop. At least for basic users. Since then, the multitasking features have been increasing fast, and with the introduction of Stage Manager and true multi-screen multitasking, iPads aren’t playing second fiddle to MacBooks anymore.
This is most likely why Apple has increased RAM allocations so dramatically with the M1 and M2 iPads, anticipating that users will have multiple apps on-screen and running at the same time. It’s one thing if these apps are all relatively light on memory, but if you’re hoping to run the heavy stuff while keeping your browser, Twitter, Spotify, or your mail client open at the same time, more RAM is a good idea.
How “Pro” Are You?
If you plan on using your M2 iPad Pro about the same as you did your older model, the 16GB versions are probably safe to skip. Except for some potential future games, or attempting truly ambitious video editing or other professional projects on your tablet, you likely won’t notice the difference.
2022 Apple 11-inch iPad Pro (Wi-Fi, 1TB)
The M2 iPad Pro line brings desktop-class performance to the tablet form factor, just in time to take advantage of new professional apps, multitasking, and mobile gaming enhancements.