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iPadOS limiting apps from making the most out of iPad Pro’s hardware

By Nadeem Sarwar May 28, 2021, 6:30 pm
ipad pro display

With the latest-gen iPad Pro, Apple crammed the sleek machine with all the firepower it could lay its hands-on, which includes the blazing-fast M1 chip and up to 16 gigs of RAM. However, the biggest limiting factor is iPadOS – something many tech experts have pointed out in their reviews – as the operating system simply doesn’t offer features or an ecosystem that can fully push those powerful innards to its limits. The best example? Procreate – one of the most powerful and well-known digital illustration apps for the iPad.

As pointed out by multiple users in the Procreate Forum, the iPad Pro is only able to use 5GB of RAM while running the Procreate app, despite packing up to 16GB of RAM inside the higher-end 1TB and 2TB storage models. Here’s what one user mentioned in clear words:


“There is a big problem with M1 iPad Pro. After making stress test and other tests on new M1 iPad Pro with 16GB or RAM, it turned out that app can use ONLY 5GB or RAM! If we allocate more, app crashes. It is only 0.5GB more that in old iPads with 6GB of RAM! I suppose it isn’t better on iPad with 8GB.”

ATTACHMENT DETAILS procreate-iPad-Pro-issue.png May 28, 2021 98 KB 892 by 883 pixels Edit Image Delete permanently Alt

Another user pointed out that after running multiple tests, he found that both the 8GB and 16GB RAM versions of the iPad Pro limit the RAM usage capacity at exactly 5.1GB. While that number sounds acceptable for the 8GB RAM model, using less than a third of what is available in terms of RAM capacity on the higher-end model simply means you aren’t able to exploit the hardware you paid for.

We tested RAM limit on iOS 14.5.x, 14.6 and 14.7beta, on both iPad M1 8GB and 16GB, and in all cases memory limit that app could allocate was exactly 5.1GB. We got these numbers by doing stress tests (allcating memory until app crashes), and by calling “os_proc_available_memory()”.
From Apple documentation:
os_proc_available_memory() – returns “The number of bytes the app may allocate before it hits its memory limit”.

Needless to say, a lot of users either found themselves stuck with a “This image exceeds the capabilities of this iPad” error or they had to move to their older machine. However, Procreate appears to have taken cognizance of the issue and has released a patch that is being rolled out on a regional basis at the time of writing this. 

The core issue is that if you have the base model of the new M1-powered iPad Pro, the maximum number of layers you can work with stands at 115. And even if you get the top-end models with 16GB of RAM, the highest number of layers the app lets you access is still 115. So, you’re essentially paying for a pricey hardware upgrade that has been rendered non-functional by the OS itself.

View 2021 iPad Pro 12.9-inch on Amazon


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