Noel Campion has been using the iPad Pro 12.9-inch since November; he looks at the creative new features which make it such a great addition to the iPad stable
In 2010, Steve Jobs introduced the first iPad to the world and although it has been one of Apple’s most successful products ever, initially it was met with some scepticism.
People said: “Where’s the USB port to plug in a memory stick.” Or: “How can I hook up a printer?”
People didn’t really get that this was something new.
I have been using the new iPad Pro 12.9-inch since it was launched in November, and am ready to finally do a full review.
I’ve seen so many reviews, both positive and negative about the new iPad Pro and many of them harped on about whether or not, this was a laptop replacement.
This is not a laptop
People still don’t get it. The iPad is not a laptop replacement nor is it a PC or Mac for that matter. It fits into its own category. To be fair, a lot of this came from Apple saying that the iPad Pro is faster than over 90% of current laptops out there when it was launched.
Could this device replace your laptop? Perhaps, but that totally depends on what you use your laptop for. For many who only use their laptop for media consumption and casual browsing, gaming and social media engagements, then the new iPad Pro is the ultimate device.
If you’re an accountant or use software that isn’t designed for a touch device like the iPad then the new iPad Pro isn’t fit for purpose.
Masterful media creation
Where the new iPad Pro really does excel is in media creation. I’ve mostly used my time with the iPad Pro 12.9 drawing in Procreate, video editing in Luma Fusion and iMovie.
I’ve also used it for playing games, watching movies and listening to music. Other apps that I’ve used include all of the apps from the Adobe suite, Affinity Designer, Affinity Photo and Auria for sound mixing and multitrack editing. Of course, I also spent some time using AR apps and other miscellaneous apps.
The new iPad Pro is a major design overhaul of the original including a new USB-C port instead of the proprietary Apple Lightning port. The new shape feels reminiscent of the iPhone 4S with its rounded corners and flat back and front. It’s now available in either 11-inch or 12.9-inch sizes.
Innovative new features
The iconic Home button is no more and is replaced with the same Face ID found on the iPhone X. This works incredibly well and I found it generally more convenient than Touch ID on the previous iPad Pro. Unlike the iPhone X, Face ID works in both portrait and landscape modes. There’s also a new camera on the back that is the same as the one found on the new iPhone XR and yes, you can play with Animojis and Memojis.
The 12.9-inch model starts at €1,129 with 64GB of storage, €1,299 with 256GB, €1,519 with 512GB or €1,959 1TB of storage. The 11-inch model costs €909 (64GB), €1,079 (256GB), €1,299 (512GB) and €1,739 (1TB). You can also buy the new iPads with 4G connectivity for an extra €170 in either Silver or Space Grey.
Choice of sizes
Both sizes have the same hardware under the hood, so which size you choose depends on what you intend on using it for. The 12.9-inch I’ve been using isn’t as big as the previous version yet, it has the same size screen.
This was achieved by reducing the bezels all the way around. Now only 5.9m thick and 633 grams (4G model), the iPad Pro 12.9 is such a pleasure to bring anywhere on your travels. I typically bring this on trips for work rather than my bulkier and much heavier laptop.
New pencil features
The new design features flat edges and one of the long edges now has magnets to dock the new Apple Pencil, which now also has a flat edge. This means you now have a home for the Pencil, but this is where you wirelessly charge it too.
The original Apple Pencil had a very precarious charging method, but the new system is so much better in every way. The Pencil itself feels much better. It’s no longer highly polished. Instead, it has a matt finish, which I found makes it more comfortable to use for longer periods. The feature that allows you to immediately go to the Notes app from the lock screen with a simple tap of the Pencil is great for those who like to take impromptu notes. Double tapping on the Pencil provides gestures which vary depending on the app you’re in. By default, it will toggle from pencil to rubber in Notes for example. The new Apple Pencil is more expensive than the original at €135 and will only work with the new iPad Pro’s. Also, the old Pencil won’t work with the new iPads either.
Improved screen display
The screen still supports P3 colour, making it accurate and has the same iPad’s ProMotion screen that runs at a buttery smooth 120hz. There’s no even better anti-glare and it’s impressively bright at up to 600 nits. The display is stunning but is still an IPS LCD and not OLED. An OLED is great for watching movies, but I’d prefer the more accurate colour display for photo and video editing.
Incredible sound quality
The speaker system has been improved and still sounds incredible for a tablet with four speakers, each with a woofer and tweeter in every corner. These get incredibly loud with amazing stereo separation and sound quality. However, no more 3.5mm headphone jack, although you can use a 3.5mm to USB-C adaptor or just use Bluetooth headphones.
I’m really excited to see what Apple will do with the USB-C port in its future iOS updates, but for now I’ve been able to use it to transfer photos (RAW and JEPG) and 4K video from my mirrorless camera with ease. All I need is the USB-C to USB-C cable that comes in the box. You can also use this port to connect the iPad Pro to a monitor and although this works fine, it really just mirrored what was on my iPad screen. Again, this can be developed via future software updates to allow apps use the second screen more productively.
The new iPad Pro uses the Apple A12X CPU, which makes the system and all the apps load and run incredibly fast. That being said, I never felt that the previous model ever felt slow. However, with full desktop apps like PhotoShop coming iOS, we will see the full potential of just how powerful the A12X really is.
The new Smart Keyboard Folio now supports even more keyboard shortcuts, which I found especially useful in apps like Lightroom and Luma Fusion. It now offers two tilt positions and it covers the back.
Long battery performance
Despite the incredible boost in performance, the battery life stays the same and the charging brick is up from 12w to 18w.
I have tried all of the best Android tablets this year and they don’t even come close. The Apple Pencil is just incredible for those who want to use it as a professional device for illustration and art.
I love using traditional mediums for art but this iPad Pro is so good I don’t feel the technology gets in the way of creativity. I love the design, size, power and flexibility. That being said, I’m looking forward to iOS 13 and what that might offer in the way of an improved file system in particular. The new iPad Pro is the ultimate tablet in every way, but at a starting price of €909, it’s not for everyone. Consider the €369 iPad if budget is an issue and you’ll still get Apple Pencil support and good performance.