2020 iPad Pro May Not Have a U1 Ultra Wideband Chip After All

While it was previously reported that all 2020 iPad Pro models feature the same Apple-designed U1 chip as the iPhone 11 lineup, enabling Ultra Wideband support, we have compiled evidence to suggest that this may not be the case.


As a reminder, Apple's tech specs for the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro list an Ultra Wideband chip for spatial awareness, but the chip is not mentioned in Apple's tech specs for the new iPad Pro. Apple also did not mention the new iPad Pro featuring the U1 chip in its press release or in any other marketing materials for the device.

Beyond that, the directional AirDrop feature that the U1 chip enables on iPhone 11 models is not present on the new iPad Pro running iPadOS 13.4. Likewise, the Ultra Wideband toggle switch that Apple added to iPhones in iOS 13.3.1 is not present on the new iPad Pro.

While all of this could suggest that Apple has simply disabled the U1 chip in the new iPad Pro until it becomes more useful, such as when Apple releases its rumored AirTags item tracking tags, more evidence suggests otherwise.

Earlier this week, the teardown experts at iFixit informed us that they had yet to find physical evidence of the U1 chip in the new iPad Pro. However, iFixit did note that it had yet to remove RF shielding from the logic board to confirm this.

The biggest clue of all is that FCC filings for all iPhone 11 models list operating frequencies in the 6GHz range and the 7-8GHz range, and the rules for these frequencies points to "Subpart F — Ultra-Wideband Operation." TechInsights last year reported that the U1 chip in iPhone 11 models transmits on two different frequencies, 6.24GHz and 8.23GHz.

By comparison, FCC filings indicate that all 2020 iPad Pro models operate within a max frequency range of 5GHz for Wi-Fi.

All of this presents a pretty solid case that the new iPad Pro might not have a U1 chip after all, but we have yet to confirm this without a doubt. When published, iFixit's full teardown of the new iPad Pro should provide a definitive answer.
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Apple’s 2020 MacBook Air vs. 2020 iPad Pro

Apple in March updated both the MacBook Air and the iPad Pro, and with the ‌iPad Pro‌ increasingly positioned as a computer replacement, we thought we'd compare both new machines to see how they measure up and which one might be a better buy depending on user needs.

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We're comparing the base model 12.9-inch ‌iPad Pro‌ and the base model 13-inch ‌MacBook Air‌. The base 12.9-inch ‌iPad Pro‌ features an A12Z chip with an 8-core CPU and GPU, 6GB RAM, and 128GB storage space. It's priced at $999, but there's no keyboard included, and a keyboard is a definite requirement for using an ‌iPad Pro‌ in lieu of a traditional notebook computer.


Keyboards can be cheap if you're using a simple Bluetooth solution, or expensive if you choose the $179 Smart Keyboard Folio. If you're holding out for the Magic Keyboard with trackpad that'll bring an even more MacBook-like experience to the ‌iPad Pro‌, expect to spend an additional $350 for the 12.9-inch version ($300 for the 11-inch model).


The base 13-inch ‌MacBook Air‌ features a 1.1GHz dual-core Core i3 processor and Intel Iris Plus Graphics, 256GB of storage, and 8GB RAM. It too is priced starting at $999, and doesn't require any additional purchases, though it's often worth paying extra to upgrade the processor and the RAM if you can afford it.


When it comes to raw performance, if you compare Geekbench scores, the ‌iPad Pro‌ comes out on top, and by a wide margin. Single-core scores for the i3 chip in the ‌MacBook Air‌ are typically right around 1070, while multi-core scores are around 2100.

iPad Pro scores, though, are right around 1,100 when it comes to single-core performance, and much more impressive in multi-core performance with scores closer to 4670. In raw performance, the ‌iPad Pro‌ is going to give you more bang for your buck, but operating system limitations are worth taking into account.


macOS and iPadOS are incredibly different, with ‌iPadOS‌ being quite a bit more limited when it comes to multitasking and attaching peripherals. The ‌MacBook Air‌ has two USB-C ports, while the ‌iPad Pro‌ has just the one. The ‌iPad Pro‌ can support 4K and 5K displays, while the new ‌MacBook Air‌ works with 4K, 5K, and 6K displays, but the ‌iPad Pro‌ also works with Apple Pencil, while the ‌MacBook Air‌ does not.


Both of these devices are designed for content consumption and creation, but are not ideal for some of the most system intensive tasks like 3D rendering or video editing. In general, though, they're both capable of the same kinds of basic tasks - browsing the web, coding, sending emails, writing documents, playing games, etc., but the ‌iPad Pro‌ is going to be better for gaming and it has features the ‌MacBook Air‌ is just lacking, such as the dual camera setup and LiDAR Scanner.


Given the faster processor, the ‌iPad Pro‌ is better if you do want to do things like edit videos, record music, edit photos, and more. It's quiet, it's fast, and it definitely has an edge over the ‌MacBook Air‌ for system intensive tasks. It's a wash when it comes to battery life as both offer 10 to 11 hours, but in terms of connectivity, the ‌iPad Pro‌ offers both WiFi 6 and a cellular option, useful for working anywhere.

As for design, both devices are portable and easy to take anywhere, but there are also a lot of differences to be aware of. You have a traditional notebook form factor with built-in trackpad and keyboard with the ‌MacBook Air‌, but the ‌iPad Pro‌ offers a touch-first experience. You can add a keyboard, of course, but it's still a much different usage experience.


Someone who has a long history working with a notebook form factor may have a harder time adjusting to the touch experience of the ‌iPad Pro‌, while someone who primarily works off of an iPhone or other touch device will be able to adjust to non-notebook life more quickly.

With trackpad and mouse support added in ‌iPadOS‌ 13.4, using an iPad is more like using a Mac notebook than ever, but so far, the trackpad experience just isn't as good as the built-in trackpad on the Mac. It's just not as simple to use, at least not yet. That could change when Apple releases its Magic Keyboard.


Both the ‌iPad Pro‌ and the ‌MacBook Air‌ are capable machines able to easily complete everyday tasks, but the ‌iPad Pro‌ wins out in terms of feature set and power while the ‌MacBook Air‌ wins for ease of use in multitasking situations. It's easy to say the ‌iPad Pro‌ is better because it's more capable, but it's still just not able to replace the functionality that you can get with a ‌MacBook Air‌.

Choosing between the ‌iPad Pro‌ and the ‌MacBook Air‌ as a main machine for work and home use will come down to each individual's work habits, preferences, software requirements, and workflow. A multitasking heavy workload that requires multiple apps to be used at once won't translate well to an ‌iPad‌, but a job that requires more focus on a single app like writing or coding could work well on an ‌iPad‌.

Do you use an ‌iPad‌ as a main work machine in lieu of a Mac or PC? Do you prefer the ‌iPad Pro‌ over the ‌MacBook Air‌, or vice versa? Let us know in the comments.
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A12Z Bionic Chip in iPad Pro Allegedly a Renamed A12X With Extra GPU Core Enabled

Apple's new 2020 iPad Pro models are equipped with an A12Z Bionic processor that's remarkably similar to the A12X chip in the 2018 ‌iPad Pro‌ models, offering little in the way of performance improvements.


The A12Z does, however, feature an 8-core GPU while the A12X includes a 7-core GPU, which sets them apart, but new evidence shared by NotebookCheck suggests that the A12Z Bionic is simply a renamed A12X chip with a latent GPU core enabled.

According to NotebookCheck, teardown site TechInsights confirmed that the 2018 A12X chip physically has 8 GPU cores and not the 7 GPU cores that Apple includes in tech specs. One of the cores of the A12X is disabled.

The A12X and the A12Z appear to be the same physical chip on the surface, with the same number of physical CPU and GPU cores rather, suggesting the A12Z is not a new design. AnandTech has also speculated that the A12Z is a re-binned variant of the A12X.
There can be several speculative reasons as to why Apple chose to do this. It is not uncommon to see chip makers disabling physical cores and enabling them in higher SKUs. For instance, the NVIDIA Titan RTX has all 4,608 CUDA cores enabled while the RTX 2080 Ti offers only 4,352 cores despite both using the TU102 GPU.

The other likely explanation is that Apple's decision to disable one GPU core in the A12X could have been deliberate. Enabling the latent core in an interim refresh like the A12Z would save them from having to develop an A13X and instead, directly focus on the (5 nm?) A14X that is slated to debut with the 5G ‌iPad Pro‌ later this year.
In the future, TechInsights is planning to conduct a floorplan analysis to determine for certain whether there are any differences between the A12X and the A12Z in the new ‌iPad Pro‌ models.

NotebookCheck speculates that Apple is saving an updated chip design for future ‌iPad Pro‌ models, and there are indeed rumors of a second ‌iPad Pro‌ refresh this fall that could bring mini-LED displays and 5G connectivity.
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Hands-On With the New 2020 12.9-Inch iPad Pro

Apple last week announced new 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, and as of today, the new iPads are arriving to customers. We picked up one of the new 12.9-inch models and checked it out to see just what's new and whether it's worth buying.

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When it comes to design, the new ‌iPad Pro‌ models are identical to the 2018 ‌iPad Pro‌ models, but with one important distinction -- a new square-shaped camera bump that accommodates a new camera setup.


There's a 12-megapixel wide-angle camera and a 10-megapixel ultra wide-angle camera, which, notably, is not the same as the 12-megapixel ultra wide-angle camera that's in the iPhone 11 Pro, though it's very similar when it comes to image quality.

Along with the two cameras, there's a new LiDAR Scanner, which is meant to add some pretty nifty new AR capabilities. The LiDAR Scanner uses reflected light to measure the distance from the sensor to surrounding objects up to five meters away, indoors and outdoors. It can basically create a more complete and detailed understanding of a scene and what's around you, which is useful for AR.


There are some improvements you'll see immediately in AR apps like people occlusion and better motion capture, but right now, there aren't a lot of AR apps that can take full advantage of the LiDAR Scanner. We'll have to wait to get a more complete picture of what it does, and we can also expect this same technology in next-generation iPhones.


The cameras look great, and are basically equivalent to what you're going to get with the iPhone, but improved camera capabilities may not be what most people are looking for in an iPad as it's not the easiest device to capture images and video with.

Though there are two cameras, there's still no rear portrait mode, which is something to be aware of. The front-facing TrueDepth camera system hasn't changed and it's still 7-megapixels.


Along with the new square-shaped camera bump, the ‌iPad Pro‌ comes with an upgraded A12Z Bionic chip. It's an improvement over the A12X in the previous-generation ‌iPad Pro‌, but only when it comes to GPU performance. CPU performance is just about the same based on Geekbench tests, though there's an 8-core GPU instead of a 7-core GPU, so there are some modest performance gains.

The processor in the 2018 ‌iPad Pro‌ was powerful enough for gaming, 3D rendering, video editing, and other intensive tasks, and the 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ is just as capable, though not really more capable. Base RAM in the new ‌iPad Pro‌ has been bumped up, though, and all models now ship with 6GB RAM. In 2018, only the ‌iPad Pro‌ models with 1TB of storage had 6GB RAM, while others had 4GB.


Apple's 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ models also have more LTE bands, which is great if you're traveling, and they're WiFi 6 compatible, ideal for future proofing. WiFi 6 isn't widely used yet, but it may be much more widespread in a few years.

There are also now five studio quality microphones, and audio recorded with the new ‌iPad Pro‌ sounds great.

In May, Apple will release the new Magic Keyboard that's compatible with 2018 and 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ models, bringing trackpad functionality. Trackpad and mouse support on the ‌iPad Pro‌ is great so far in our testing, but it's not an ‌iPad Pro‌ specific feature and so isn't a key reason to purchase one of the upgraded tablets.


Given the minor upgrades in the 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ models, it's not worth picking up one tablets if you've already got a 2018 ‌iPad Pro‌. Sure, there's a better AR experience, but as of right now, with no AR apps taking advantage of it, it's not a major selling point.

If you have an older ‌iPad‌ model and are thinking of upgrading to an ‌iPad Pro‌, the 11 and 12.9-inch 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ models are an excellent choice and are more than powerful enough to replace a computer. And with the upcoming Magic Keyboard and the built-in trackpad support, they're also much more capable of serving as a Mac replacement.

What do you think of the new 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌? Let us know in the comments.
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New iPad Pro Begins to Arrive to Customers Around the World

Apple Stores may be closed outside of China, but today is still launch day for the new iPad Pro, with the first online orders beginning to arrive to customers around the world. The photo below was shared by a MacRumors reader from Manchester, England.

If you are patiently waiting for your new iPad Pro to arrive in the mail, be sure to participate in the order status thread in the MacRumors forums.


The new iPad Pro features an A12Z Bionic chip with faster graphics performance, an Ultra Wide camera for 0.5x zoom, a LiDAR Scanner for enhanced augmented reality, better sounding microphones, and compatibility with Apple's upcoming Magic Keyboard with a built-in trackpad. Pricing continues to start at $799 for the 11-inch model with 128GB of storage, while the 12.9-inch model begins at $999.

Online orders placed today on Apple.com are currently estimated for delivery in mid April, but Apple said select retailers will be carrying the new iPad Pro as of this week in regions where businesses are still open.

For more on the new iPad Pro, we have shared a reviews roundup and unboxing videos.
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Apple Suppliers Ramping Up Production of Scissor-Switch Magic Keyboards

Apple suppliers are reportedly ramping up production of hardware featuring Apple's scissor-switch Magic Keyboard, despite concerns over reduced orders owing to the global viral pandemic.


According to DigiTimes sources, suppliers have seen no cutbacks in orders for the products, which include the 16-inch MacBook Pro and Apple's recently announced 13.3-inch MacBook Air and new 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models.

The MacBook models mentioned above have integrated Magic Keyboards, while users of ‌iPad Pro‌ devices can benefit from the new scissor switch design by way of the Magic Keyboard case, which is sold separately and will launch sometime in May.

The new Magic Keyboard for ‌iPad Pro‌ is equipped with scissor switch keys with 1mm of travel and backlighting, making the new keyboard more similar to a ‌MacBook Air‌ or ‌MacBook Pro‌ keyboard. It costs $299 for the 11-inch version and $349 for the 12.9-inch model.

Apple is rumored to be planning to release a new 13-inch or 14-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌ with an updated scissor switch keyboard during during the second quarter of 2020.
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Hands-On With Apple’s New Smart Keyboard Folio for the 2020 iPad Pro Models

Apple last week introduced new 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, which are set to arrive in the hands of customers starting this week. Apple introduced a nifty new Magic Keyboard with trackpad alongside the new ‌iPad Pro‌ models that's coming in May, but it also debuted a new Smart Keyboard Folio, which is available now.

We picked up the ‌Smart Keyboard‌ Folio for the designed for the 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ models and compared it to the ‌Smart Keyboard‌ Folio that was released alongside the 2018 ‌iPad Pro‌ models to see if there are any notable differences.

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Design wise, the two keyboard are close to identical, but the new model is slightly darker in color, though it's still a dark gray shade. The material on the outside feels the same, but there is one major exterior difference - an Apple logo. The new ‌Smart Keyboard‌ Folio is outfitted with an Apple logo, which the original did not have.

There's also a square-shaped camera cutout instead of the vertical camera cutout of the prior model, which allows it to accommodate the new square-shaped camera bump on the new ‌iPad Pro‌ models.

Apple's 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ models feature a dual-lens camera setup with wide-angle and ultra wide-angle lenses along with a new LiDAR Scanner that's designed to scan the area around you for all-new augmented reality experiences.

When it comes to the keyboard and the typing experience, there's no change. The keys are shallow with little travel and have a fabric-like texture that's meant to be waterproof and spill proof. It's not the greatest typing experience, but it's passable.

The new ‌Smart Keyboard‌ Folio replaces the prior model and it is designed to work with both 2018 and 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ models. On 2018 ‌iPad Pro‌ models, the camera cutout will be larger than necessary, but it fits both. Apple is no longer selling the version with the vertical camera cutout.

Apple in May will release the new Magic Keyboard, which is equipped with scissor switch keys with 1mm of travel and backlighting, making the new keyboard more similar to a MacBook Air or MacBook Pro keyboard.

The ‌Smart Keyboard‌ Folio is priced starting at $179 for the 11-inch version and $199 for the 12.9-inch version, which is a good deal cheaper than the $299/$349 asking prices for the new Magic Keyboard options.
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2020 iPad Pro Reviews: Minor Upgrade Today Paves Way for New AR Capabilities in Future

The first reviews of the new iPad Pro have hit the web and we've rounded them up below.

Given that trackpad support is coming to all modern iPad models with iPadOS 13.4, set to be released later today, the actual hardware changes to the 2020 iPad Pro are rather minor. Reviews confirm that the device's new A12Z Bionic chip has very similar CPU performance as the previous A12X chip, and beyond that, the only additions are an Ultra Wide camera, LiDAR scanner, and better sounding microphones.


Moreover, the LiDAR scanner is more about the future than today. The Verge's Dieter Bohn noted that the sensor "improves some current apps for free, but there aren't any third-party apps that take full advantage of it yet."

"As I used the iPad Pro this week, I kept coming back to that LIDAR sensor," said Bohn. "It's a powerful and interesting sensor and Apple's total control over software and hardware means that it 'just works' to improve existing apps. But as powerful as it is, I'm not super sure a lot of users will be able to take advantage of it — it's an extra thing they may not even use."


There are some benefits to the LiDAR scanner today. For example, all existing ARKit apps will now have instant AR placement, improved motion capture, and people occlusion, while the Measure app can more quickly calculate someone's height.

Apple has been heavily invested in augmented reality for years, and with rumors suggesting that the company is working on an augmented reality headset, the LiDAR scanner will likely have much more significance in the years to come.

As for the A12Z Bionic chip, Apple told WIRED's Lauren Goode that it has enhanced thermal architecture, meaning that it should heat up less when pushed to the limit. And while the A12Z does not move the needle with CPU performance, it does have an eight-core GPU — up from seven in the 2018 iPad Pro — for a modest boost in graphics performance.

The new Ultra Wide camera is mostly what you would expect based on the iPhone 11 Pro, enabling 0.5x zoom for those who take photos with an iPad.

2020 iPad Pro Reviews


We've also rounded up 2020 iPad Pro unboxing videos here.
Related Roundup: iPad Pro
Tag: reviews

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2020 iPad Pro Unboxing Videos and First Impressions

Apple last week introduced new iPad Pro models with an A12Z Bionic chip, an Ultra Wide camera for 0.5x zoom, and a LiDAR Scanner for enhanced augmented reality. The new iPad Pro models will be available tomorrow, and ahead of time, the first unboxing videos have surfaced.

The new iPad Pro models will be compatible with Apple's new Magic Keyboard with a built-in trackpad, set to be released in May. Apple did not provide reviewers with a Magic Keyboard at this time, but with trackpad support arriving in iPadOS 13.4, which will be released later today, mostly any Bluetooth trackpad or mouse can be used with the new iPad Pro.





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Benchmarks Suggest New iPad Pro’s A12Z Chip is Nearly Identical to A12X in 2018 iPad Pro

One of the new 2020 iPad Pro models equipped with an A12Z chip arrived early to a Reddit user, who did some benchmarking tests to see how it performs.


In a Geekbench 5 test, the 11-inch 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ earned a single-core score of 1114 and a multi-core score of 4654, which is close to the Geekbench scores of the 11-inch ‌iPad Pro‌ from 2018.

The 11-inch ‌iPad Pro‌ has an aggregate single-core Geekbench 5 score of 1113 and a multi-core score of 4608. Like the A12X, the A12Z is an 8-core chip running at 2.48GHz.

The new 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ pulled ahead a little in Metal scores, earning a 9894 Metal score, up from the 9020 score in the 11-inch ‌iPad Pro‌ from 2018. That's no surprise, though, because the A12Z features an 8-core GPU instead of the 7-core GPU that was in the A12X.

Antutu tests were also conducted, showing lower scores than prior models in the memory category, though the test may not be optimized for the new models and the iOS 13.4 update. CPU was 187648, GPU was 348519, and Memory was 71476 vs. CPU 184553, GPU 357335, and Memory 90598 for the 11-inch 2018 model.


More testing will need to be done to confirm whether there are notable differences in CPU speed between the 2018 and 2020 ‌iPad Pro‌ models, but for now, it looks like any gains are modest.

The new ‌iPad Pro‌ models ship with iOS 13.4, which is set to be released by Apple tomorrow, so new ‌iPad Pro‌ owners will not need to upgrade. Most people who ordered a new ‌iPad Pro‌ on the day they were introduced will receive their shipments on Wednesday, March 25.
Related Roundup: iPad Pro

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