“In testing, the new iPad Pros have used a Thunderbolt connector, the same port on the latest Macs with custom Apple processors. The port doesn’t require new chargers, but it would enable connectivity with additional external monitors, hard drives and other peripherals. It’s also faster at syncing data than the USB-C technology used in the current models.”
Now, the 2020 iPad Pro employs a USB Type-C port, which actually looks identical to a modern Thunderbolt port, unless you see that ‘lightning’ logo. But there is a key difference. A Thunderbolt port does everything a USB-C port can do, but a LOT faster. Be it charging or data transfer, everything is speedier. Plus, it is tailor-made for driving high-resolution models and transferring heavy video signals.
For example, the Thunderbolt 3 port on the new M1 MacBook Pro allows a theoretical data transfer rate of 40Gb/s. Plus, it can drive up to a 6K external monitor with 60Hz screen refresh rate. If the 2021 iPad Pro refresh indeed comes with a Thunderbolt port, it will be a major boost to its appeal as a serious computing machine.
The A-series chip inside it is reportedly as powerful as the M1 silicon inside the new Macs, so you won’t have to worry about running low on firepower either. However, it is unclear if Apple will give the same treatment to both sizes, or a Thunderbolt port will be exclusive to the larger 12.9-inch model.