The iPad Pro is Apple’s latest addition to their Tablet Category. Larger than the also recently released Retina MacBook and a lot more powerful, where does it sit?
After spending approximately 3 months with the device, here is my verdict.
The iPad Pro looks a lot like a scaled up iPad Air 2. But it’s a lot bigger. The iPad Pro’s width is basically the iPad Air’s length so the tablet is just shy of double the size. This gorgeous 12.9″ display is actually the highest display on any Apple portable at the moment, just beating the beautiful screen on the 15″ Pro. This makes for a really astounding screen with colours that pop and deep blacks (not as great as OLED but it’s damn close). Some say the iPad Pro is heavy, and it is sorta. The weight is about that of the original iPad and you can feel it if you’re using the iPad one handed for a while or if it’s in your bag. However I think this is a bad use case as the iPad Pro really isn’t for one handed use at all. It’s more a laptop replacement. In terms of surface area to weight, the iPad Pro is probably that of the iPad Air 2, which is really light. Speaking of which, the iPad Pro is really thin. Like really. It’s just about double the thickness of my MacBook Pro’s screen which is ridiculous really. It’s almost just screen, no internals. But no. There’s more.
Inside this tablet is the monster dual-core A9X chip with a confined 4GB of RAM. This chip is the bees knees of tablet cpus. Some may scoff at the dual core rating of the chip compared to some 4, 6 or even 8 cores from competitors but you’d be stupid to not take a look at the numbers. This CPU is on par with the i5 in the 13″ Retina MacBook Pro and leagues faster than that in the 12″ MacBook. All this from a custom designed chip. No tablet or phone even comes close. This translates to blazingly fast performance throughout the OS, in games and multitasking. However I feel that this chip isn’t being used to its full potential at the moment and look forward to WWDC 2016 to see what iOS 10 brings to fully use this chip. Multitasking is a breeze and with the bigger screen, the split-screen viewer is basically two iPads sandwiched together which is very useful.
The sound quality on this machine is next to none. The quad-speaker setup is actually amazing. You can hear the difference compared to anything else. The speakers can get really loud and amazing clarity remains. The tablet also knows when it’s in a different orientation and adjusts the speakers so that the output is exactly where it needs to be. This really makes a difference and makes sure that you can really hear that explosion in the upper left corner. I don’t even need a Bluetooth speaker with this thing which actually saves on weight (something you probably didn’t think you’d hear in a review of this device!).
The cameras are nothing to shout about. I would have liked to see the optics of the 6S put into this with 4K video recording since this thing can edit 4k really well but it’s been set with the 1080p one from the iPad Air 2. The front facing camera is really not nice with a 1.2MP sensor. You can see the graininess in the photos from the front and back due to the high res screen. This really wasn’t supposed to be an iPhone-esque performing device.
We’ve been told that the Lightning connector on iPad Pro is capable of USB 3 speeds but I really would have liked to see a USB C port on this device. It would have really future proofed it and made it so much easier to use more peripherals with it, especially with all the dongles coming out. It would have made it such a better laptop alternative, all with that one small port.
The battery life on the iPad is as good as other iPads. Apple purposefully didn’t fill a lot of the space inside with batteries so that they could add those killer speakers and make sure that it didn’t feel like you were carrying a brick (we all know how much batteries weigh).
The iPad Pro comes with two first party accessories. I have done a more in depth review of the iPad Pro keyboard in this review but not as much the Apple Pencil. Here’s a lightning fast review:
The Apple Pencil has the best latency of any stylus (or finger) that I have ever used. It’s an amazingly simple device to use and charges in an odd manner. It’s tilt control is amazing and Paper and Notes are perfectly optimised for it. It’s really a no-brainer for me, even though I’m not an artist. Note taking in class is a breeze – any diagrams can be copied almost instantly. The battery life is so-so. I have to charge it about once a week. It takes about 30 mins to charge from 0 to 100%
Keyboard integration with the Smart Connector is really really good. It eliminates the chance that you forget to charge the keyboard or any of those annoying Bluetooth troubles.
Verdict – what is it?
It’s a MacBook Pro 13″ without the keyboard with iOS. I feel that this could be made into a real laptop replacement with the right software and backing from the right developers, instead of glorified mobile apps. It’s a very confused device though – it goes against many of the things Apple said it didn’t want, but we’re sure glad that they decided they did and they implemented them in the way they did.