Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Here’s why I’m confident the OLED iPad Pro will ship with an M4 chip

Published May 2nd, 2024 9:03PM EDT
Apple iPad Pro Display
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

A well-known insider said a few days ago that the OLED iPad Pro models might launch with the M4 chipset instead of the expected M3. I said at the time that I was surprised, but everything Apple has done regarding the 2024 iPad Pro launch seems to support the rumor.

After that, we saw evidence from the iPadOS 17.5 beta code suggesting the iPad Pros will get the M4 treatment next week. Apple’s internal codenames for the unreleased iPad Pros skip a chip-related number, suggesting the tablet will skip the M3 chip.

If that’s not enough for you, I have even more indirect proof that Apple is skating to where the puck is going with the 2024 iPad Pro. Apple is giving the OLED iPad Pro the M4 chip much earlier than estimates, so the tablets are ready for the AI features coming via iPadOS 18 later this year.

A new report says Tim Cook will hint at AI features coming to Apple products during Apple’s May 7th iPad launch event.

The detail comes from The Washington Post (via 9to5Mac):

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook is expected to hint at new artificial intelligence features next week and unveil them at the company’s World Wide Developers Conference in June.

How is that enough to confirm the OLED iPad Pro will rock the M4 chip? By itself, it’s not a surprising claim. WWDC 2024 will happen in a month after the iPad Pro launch. It makes sense for Tim Cook to tease it, particularly considering that the CEO has hinted at big AI announcements for 2024 before.

AI will be the main topic of WWDC. Apple should add generative AI features to iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS 15. Apple can’t afford not to compete against OpenAI, Google, Microsoft, Samsung, and others with its own GenAI products. Not only that, but the AI has to be built into the iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

But it makes even more sense to tease the AI capabilities coming to the powerful OLED iPad Pro if the tablet rocks the M4 chip. Here’s what Mark Gurman said over the weekend about the purported upgrade:

The big change with the M4: A new neural engine will pave the way for fresh AI capabilities. Now, here’s another development. This year’s Macs may not be the only AI-driven devices with M4 chips.

I’m hearing there is a strong possibility that the chip in the new iPad Pro will be the M4, not the M3. Better yet, I believe Apple will position the tablet as its first truly AI-powered device — and that it will tout each new product from then on as an AI device. This, of course, is all in response to the AI craze that has swept the tech industry over the last couple years.

Cook teasing AI capabilities at some point during the event is the right approach here. The M4 upgrade will generate questions that Apple will have to address right after the media event next week. Why would the iPad Pro skip the M3, which is also marketed as a great chipset for AI capabilities? Well, better AI features, of course.

The iPad event shouldn’t be that long. Apple should launch two iPad models (OLED iPad Pro and iPad Air 6) and a few new accessories. But if the M4 upgrade is real, then I expect a lengthy segment where Apple explains the big AI-related upgrades of the M4 over predecessors and competitors.

The segment alone could preemptively address questions about the M4 upgrade. Tim Cook’s teasing that big AI announcements are coming at WWDC would be just the cherry on top for buyers, the press, and analysts looking at Apple’s business prospects this year.

I’m just speculating, of course. But as I’ve shown you this week, there’s plenty of evidence the OLED iPad Pro’s M4 upgrade is real. Also, think of this: if Apple is going with the M3, we’ll have to wait at least a year for the M4 upgrade, assuming Apple wants to upgrade the next-gen iPad Pro that fast. The better play would be making the M4 chip available to iPad buyers right away.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.