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This is the dumbest M4 iPad Pro complaint I’ve seen

Published May 10th, 2024 5:17PM EDT
M4 iPad Pro docked in the new Magic Keyboard
Image: Apple Inc.

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One of the iPad Pro’s big upgrades is the ultra-thin Tandem OLED screen that we knew Apple was working on. The screen has two OLED layers, hence the “tandem” name, and they let Apple significantly increase the screen’s brightness. You also get a better contrast ratio, deeper blacks, and better efficiency from the Tandem OLED panel. Additionally, the tech should prolong the iPad Pro’s lifespan by reducing the risk of burn-in.

Not to mention that the Tandem OLED screen paired with the M4 chip allowed Apple to make an insanely thin iPad Pro that still offers terrific battery life.

But some people have already found a reason to complain about the new OLED screen. The M4 iPad Pros do not support always-on display functionality, something Apple introduced with the iPhone 14 Pro in 2022. I’m here to tell you that you absolutely do not need an always-on display on the iPad Pro or any other computer that’s bigger than a smartphone.

One of the first things I did after buying the iPhone 14 Pro was to turn off the always-on display. I’ve expalined time and again why I don’t need it, and it all boils down to this: Face ID is so fast that I’m already logged into the iPhone by the time I’m looking at any widgets. And let’s not forget that, like many Apple users out there, I also have an Apple Watch with complications that show me all the same info.

Turning the feature off helps with battery life. Unlike other iPhone 14 Pro users, I can’t say that I’ve had battery issues in the almost 20 months I’ve owned the handset.

But there is value in having an always-on display on a phone. It could come in handy in situations where you have no other need to touch the phone. Glancing at the screen might be enough for some people rather than unlocking the device and using it.

iPhone 14 Pro Lock Screen.
iPhone 14 Pro with always-on display enabled. Image source: José Adorno for BGR

I explained my stance towards always-on display functionality on the iPhone, so my bias is clear. But even with that in mind, I still think it’s absurd that people are whining about the lack of an always-on display on the M4 iPad Pro.

If you’re buying an iPad Pro, it’s very likely you own several different Apple devices. You might also be an iPhone Pro user who already has always-on display support enabled on their handset. You’re more likely to check that display before you get to your tablet. Then there’s the Apple Watch, as I already explained.

I think it would be overkill to have always-on information appear on all the screens in our lives. Why waste energy on the iPad Pro when your iPhone or Apple Watch already offers you all the information you might need?

On the same note, I think that MacBooks shouldn’t support always-on display widgets when they finally get their OLED panels. Make no mistake, the Tandem OLED screens in the iPad Pro are certainly coming to MacBooks in the near future.

There’s also a question about the display hardware. Yes, the tablet has an OLED display, a key component for always-on display features to work. But the screen also has to support adaptive refresh rates, which allows Apple to make the always-on display functionality as efficient as possible.

The new iPad Pro supports dynamic refresh rates between 10Hz and 120Hz. That’s not as good as the iPhone 14 Pros and 15 Pro. The refresh rate goes all the way down to 1Hz on these devices. Therefore, the iPad Pro might use more energy to display always-on information.

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.