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M1 iPad Pro vs. M1 MacBook Pro: What's Actually the Difference at This Point?

There are fewer distinctions than ever between the pro iPad and MacBook. These are the most important ones.


Apple's new MacBook Pro and iPad Pro are more similar than ever. Both have the same exact M1 processor. Apple also integrated the new iPad Pros with a USB-C port that supports USB 4 and Thunderbolt, which allows them to work with more high-performance external accessories, like faster SSDs, more powerful docks and more beautiful external displays. Basically, the newest iPad Pro and MacBook Pro are both powerful computing devices.

Despite being so similar, there are still some very important differences between the M1 MacBook Pro and the M1 iPad Pro. The most obvious ones are because of the differences of form factor — laptop vs tablet — but there are a few other key features that distinguish M1 MacBook Pro and the M1 iPad Pro.

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MacBook Pro with M1 Chip (13-inch, 2020)

  • Cooling fans for better performance editing photos/videos, powering 4K displays
  • Runs macOS, supporting desktop apps
  • Keyboard and trackpad are built into the form factor and price
  • Better built-in speakers and microphone than iPad Pro
  • More USB-C ports than iPad Pro

  • No cellular option
  • No touchscreen or Apple Pencil support
  • Display isn't as great as iPad Pro's Liquid XDR Display (though still great)
  • Storage tops out at 2 TB

The 13-inch model is currently the only MacBook Pro that's integrated with Apple's M1 chip (although, you can expect Apple to change that later in 2021). It's fast, powerful and quiet. Plus its battery life is incredible — well over 12 hours. 

iPad Pro with M1 Chip (12.9-inch, 2021)

  • Best-in-class Liquid Retina XDR display, 10,000 mini-LEDs
  • 5G options available
  • Ultra-wide front-facing cam specifically made for video-conferencing
  • Has a 2 TB storage option
  • LIDAR camera for improved augmented reality apps

  • iOS can't run Mac apps
  • More expensive than it seems because you'll need accessories
  • No cooling fans, which could hinder high-end performance

The 12.9-inch and 11-inch iPad Pro share the same M1 chip, USB-C port and support for 5G. But the 12.9-inch iPad Pro has a Liquid Retina XDR.

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