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iPad Pro review

evan kypreos

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Summary

Our Score:

8

Pros

  • Slim and incredibly light
  • Awesome screen and speakers
  • Excellent performance
  • Good on-the-go typing experience

Cons

  • Not as portable as other iPads
  • Most will still need a proper computer
  • No iOS optimisations for the big screen

Best Deals for Apple iPad Pro

  • amazon
  • ebay

Key Features

  • 12.9-inch 2,048 x 2,732 screen
  • A9X 2.26GHz dual-core processor
  • 4GB RAM
  • 8-megapixel rear camera
  • 1.2-megapixel FaceTime camera
  • 4 stereo speakers
  • iOS 9
  • Manufacturer: Apple
  • Review Price: £679.00

If you're on the look-out for a new Apple tablet, then you'll probably be wondering whether to pony up for the huge iPad Pro 12.9 or keep things a little more compact with the 9.7-inch version. Both are great, but cater for very different audiences and come in at varying prices. Here we’ll compare the two and you can read our full, in-depth iPad Pro reviews.

12.9-inch iPad Pro vs 9.7-inch iPad Pro: What's the difference?

Unlike the two sizes of iPhone 6S, which are almost identical, the iPad Pros have totally different screens and cameras, as well as some altered internal hardware. This means that there are very real reasons why you might want the smaller iPad Pro more than its big brother, aside from the size and price differences.

Video: Which iPad Pro should you buy?

While the 9.7-inch iPad Pro has a smaller and lower resolution screen it retains the same pixels per inch (PPI) of the 12.9-inch variant and that means it looks just as sharp. Screens aren't just about resolution and the small Pro has a fantastic LCD panel, probably the best we've ever seen on a tablet. For a start it has a huge colour gamut – that's the range of colours it can display. This means it can display a more varied range of colours than the bigger screen can, and it can do it more accurately too. That's great if you're a designer.

The newer iPad Pro also comes with a great trick called True Tone. This adapts the colour-tone of the screen based on the ambient light around you. It makes reading in bed or lower light a lot more comfortable. If you're a designer and want perfect colours you can turn this off.

The cameras are also much better on the smaller Pro. In fact it has the same front and rear facing cameras as the iPhone 6S. That makes it the best tablet to take photos on bar none. By comparison the 12.9-inch model is years behind.

Finally there's the size to consider. I found the smaller iPad Pro a great deal easier to transport and to use when out and about, particularly on a plane where the large iPad Pro just wouldn't fit comfortably on the folding table.

If it sounds like I'm recommending the 9.7-inch iPad Pro over the big one you'd be right, in most cases it's better and it's almost £200/$300 cheaper, but there are a few exceptions.

The larger screen means a larger keyboard and the 12.9-inch version is a lot easier to type on. It's also a bigger canvas if you're using it as a graphics tablet with the Apple Pencil.

There's also a little more grunt behind the big iPad Pro. It comes with 4GB instead of 2GB of RAM. In day to day use this doesn't seem to make much difference, but if you like to work with large AUTOCAD files or do lots of video editing on the go this could save you time.

To read about the smaller iPad Pro click here or read on for the 12.9-inch model.

What is the iPad Pro?

The iPad has been more successful than Apple could have hoped for.

Sure, the company was aware that its handsome slab of glass was going to be the perfect platform on which to bring folk closer to content – be that web browsing, watching videos or casual gaming. What it may not have foreseen, though, is the slew of third-party peripherals and apps that have been designed to extend its functionality beyond solely a "play thing" into a workhorse too.

Enter the iPad Pro, the daddy of all iPads thanks to an enormous 12.9-inch screen. More than two inches bigger than the iPad Air 2 – and five more than the iPad mini 4 – the iPad Pro provides around 80% more viewing area when compared to its 9.7-inch counterpart.

The iPad Pro is bigger than all iPads that have gone before it – although incredibly, this increase in size is delivered in a package that's only 33g heavier than the first version released back in 2010.

Every other feature of note receives a boost too. The screen has a higher resolution, there’s a brand-new A9X processor and 4GB of RAM. Apple claims the iPad Pro is faster than 80% of portable PCs shipped last year, and while I'd take that declaration with a pinch of salt, it may not be too far off the mark. The reason being that the vast majority of laptops sold tend to be cheap and cheerful – particularly with the advent of the Chromebook.

iPad Pro pictures 3

The real question is, does it have what it takes to be the laptop replacement that closest rival, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, is aiming to deliver? Would you rather have a iPad Pro in your bag than a MacBook or Dell XPS 13?

For some, the answer is yes. The iPad Pro is a stylish, powerful tablet that, when combined with a keyboard and Apple Pencil, has the ability to stand toe-to-toe with traditional laptops – despite running a mobile operating system in iOS 9.

Those accessories are key, though. Without them, the iPad Pro is just an oversized tablet – great for entertainment and consuming web content, but not much else. Unfortunately, as with most things Apple, neither come cheap. The keyboard costs £139/$169, while the less essential Pencil will set you back a hefty £79/$99. Add this to the £679/$799 cost of the basic 32GB Wi-Fi-only model, and you're looking at a considerable dent in your wallet.

Watch our iPad Pro vs Surface Pro 4 comparison video:

iPad Pro – Design

Holding the iPad Pro makes you feel like a little kid, especially if you normally use an iPad mini. There’s just so much of it.

In all other respects, the iPad Pro is identical to the smaller tablets in the range. You get the excellent Touch ID fingerprint scanner built into the home button, a power button and volume controls.

Aside from the Lightning port for charging and connecting to a computer, and a front and rear-facing camera, that’s about it. Like all of Apple’s tablets, the iPad Pro is a simple proposition regardless of its "professional" moniker.

Like all other tablets in its range, the iPad Pro is also super-model thin, just 6.9mm to be precise.

So even though it’s light and slim, its sheer size means you won’t be comfortable using the iPad Pro with only one hand. In fact, it’s a handful even when using two.

iPad Pro pictures 4

This is where the Smart Keyboard becomes handy. It connects via three small magnetic points on the left side of the device, which allow for both data and power to transfer. As a result, it doesn’t require a Bluetooth connection or charging.

Buy Now: iPad Pro at Amazon.co.uk (£620) | Amazon.com ($739)

iPad Pro Smart Keyboard Cover

Thin keyboards for tablets have come on leaps and bounds, with the Microsoft Surface keyboard being among the best. The iPad Pro’s unit is almost as good – except that it doesn’t include a touchpad; you need to use the screen. A lot.

iPad Pro pictures 9

Covered in a tough fabric, which makes it robust and water-resistant, it also serves as a screen cover for the iPad Pro.

It comes with a full Qwerty keyboard, with low-profile keys that help retain the iPad Pro's overall slenderness. There’s still adequate travel for you to know that you’ve hit a key, and they're large enough and spread enough to make accurate typing a doddle.

Unlike the latest Microsoft Surface tablets, which feature adjustable kickstands, the iPad Pro has only one screen angle. It’s good for typing, but is a little too laid back for my liking when placed on a bedside table. I found myself having to use a small book to prop up the rear and bring the screen a little further forward for some late-night Netflix binging.

iPad Pro pictures 7

Where the iPad Pro trumps the Surface is with stability. It provides a solid foundation whether used on a table or, crucially, on your lap. In fact, I found that typing with the iPad Pro on my lap was more comfortable than using my laptop, primarily because my thighs didn't get singed by the hot components, nor did the fans get blocked by my jeans.

Keyboard shortcuts work too, but only for apps that support them. All of Apple’s native apps – Pages, Notes, Numbers and Keynote – are good to go; Google Docs isn’t. Shortcuts do appear at the bottom of the screen close to your fingers, which helps, but this isn't ideal. App developers will catch up, but at the moment shortcuts aren’t quite the benefit they could be.

It’s the same story with video apps. I found myself regularly whacking the spacebar to pause videos on YouTube only to realise that I wasn't using a Windows 10 laptop. Touch the screen it is, then.

Apple's keyboard isn't the only version out there for the iPad Pro.

iPad Pro pictures 14

Logitech, too, has released the backlit CREATE keyboard that covers the iPad Pro entirely. Slightly cheaper and a lot chunkier than the Smart Keyboard, it makes the iPad Pro look and feel far more like a full-sized laptop, especially since the keys have more travel.

It also comes with handy shortcuts for switching apps, adjusting volume and brightness, and positions the iPad Pro a little straighter. It’s the keyboard I’d choose to pair with the Apple’s giant tablet.

The iPad Pro comes close to emulating the form and function of a laptop, but it isn't quite a replacement. If, like me, you spend much of your day typing then you'll miss a trackpad and screen pointer for editing.

Best Deals for Apple iPad Pro

  • amazon
  • ebay

Dead Words

September 10, 2015, 11:23 am

Why do you keep saying that the iPad Pro is as wide as the Air is tall?
If you turn the Air to landscape mode...isn't it suddenly as wide as the Pro?
Besides, with a 4:3 aspect ratio that isn't all that impressive since iPads are squat and nearly square.

Paul

September 10, 2015, 3:19 pm

its just another apple victory

optiongeek

October 8, 2015, 1:24 pm

Why would anyone get one of these? Surface Pro 4 is cheaper, faster and about 1000% more versatile. Oh look - I've got a severely overgrown iPhone that I need both hands to hold and won't fit in my shoulder bag.

MichaelH

November 13, 2015, 7:28 pm

when you put iPad Pro in landscape, it would be ~two ipad air vertically side by side.

A-thought

November 13, 2015, 9:28 pm

Writers lauding the iPad pro, pencil, split view, and with the experience of an attachable keyboard + ability to interact with the screen using touch, as if Apple has invented something miraculous here.

This in regards to the same company that taught their devotees to laugh at the idea of touch screen laptops or the use of a stylus.

And who put out a device 3 years after others offered all this and more.

And who now tout that their "pro" device can truly speed up the workflow .. of the same people whose productivity workflows slowed down when they started using their limited OS tablets. (as opposed to the rest of us on touchscreen PC laptops and tablets whose workflow was enhanced, not changed).

It's really funny when you think about it.

Nigel Ponsonby smythe

November 15, 2015, 11:49 pm

I haven't read anything where Apple or anyone else is claiming "something miraculous" They just made a bigger ipad for those of us that want a bigger iPad, why come here and read it if all you want to do is bitch about it? You just sound bitter and twisted about Apple for some reason.

Nigel Ponsonby smythe

November 15, 2015, 11:52 pm

Maybe we don't want a surface pro, maybe be some of use like our ipads, judging by how many people buy Apple products they must have something right, suits me fine.

A-thought

November 16, 2015, 3:40 am

Not bitter and twisted, just pointing out the facts. It's all the personal reasons why I moved off the iPad and onto a tablet that I can truly get all my work done on. And I'm getting the word out so that others might experience the same benefits.

Read it or don't read it. Your choice.

mode11

November 16, 2015, 2:24 pm

Lol. Seriously, what 'work' can you get done on any tablet? Even a laptop is pretty painful without a separate (large) monitor, keyboard and mouse plugged in.

The iPad Pro could make a nice painting tool, but iOS really needs a 'Desktop' type area where people can just chuck files / folders on as they wish. Games etc. can stay siloed as they are, but 'pro' apps could make use of this facility, with files being AirDropped in / out to other machines.

MattMe

November 16, 2015, 2:43 pm

"it's for those who want to get stuff done but don't want to be bogged down in a desktop operating system."

Wow, really?
Bogged down by a desktop OS? Has that ever happened? In my experience the only OS that will bog you down is due to limitations of being designed to be purely for a mobile device. A good desktop OS will not bog you down in anything. I'd love to hear just one example.

I can't help but feel the iPad Pro is Apple trolling you all (for want of a better term). It's an iPad with a stylus. It has a very limited audience in terms of it's usefulness over an iPad, but I have absolutely no doubt in my mind it'll sell a lot. I mean, if I have an iPad already why wouldn't I want an iPad Pro? It's called a PRO after all.

toboev

November 23, 2015, 7:37 pm

"The real question is, does it have what it takes to be the laptop replacement..."
You answerd that with a "No".

So does it stack up as a big iPad instead?
You answered that with a "No".

So it fails on both counts. Score - 8/10 (it's an Apple, of course)

Dead Words

November 23, 2015, 9:53 pm

Actually you can get a whole lot of work done on a laptop. In a lot of situations a laptop is a far more viable option, as it brings portability to the table. Yes, I love the large monitor and the sheer brute force of a solid desktop computer but in today's world the only reason I'd pick a desktop over a laptop is for gaming (I don't like gaming laptops). For anything less strenuous than full 3D gaming a laptop is a better choice (if you pick the right one).

LeeTronix

November 23, 2015, 11:08 pm

At first I was oO what are Apple doing and like a lot of people here was ready to slate Apple.

However....

I started to ponder about this and I came to the conclusion its not a bad idea creating this iPad Pro. For example I use a SP3 and its ok it works reasonably well but its not that smooth considering the processing power and Windows is still very chunky to use in my opinion. Then I use my iPad Air 2 which is so easy and super smooth. Now I realise that you cannot compare the Air 2 / SP3 as such but for my work flow needs the Air 2 is easy for me to use, and I know people have different uses or needs. This then leads me into why I have done a 180 on the iPad Pro.

I feel that the the iPad Pro as the advantage of making the work flow even easy to manage due to its large screen size, I just see that working now and having that portability with excellent battery life just makes sense. It offers that smooth operational control elegantly (well so it appears).

So i think it comes down to this - Air 2 even though its IOS has a different purpose or use to the Ipad Pro simply because of the Pro's ability to offer easy work flow dynamics. I agree however the the price is stupidly expensive and 16GB is well frankly dumb. Personally I think it should of started at 128 or 256 or more if possible.

mode11

November 24, 2015, 12:11 am

My comment was kind of tongue in cheek, but my point was really an ergonomic one rather than related to horsepower. Laptops are perfectly fast enough, it's just that when working with multiple documents, large monitors let you comfortably view many things at once in a way that a laptop screen (even a hi-dpi one) doesn't. I can't stand trackpads for anything other than web browsing either - a mouse is a must. I wouldn't want to be hunched over a laptop for long periods of time though, which means I'd want a stand etc. anyway.

Obviously, if you work on the move, then a laptop is the only choice.

Dead Words

November 24, 2015, 12:31 am

Well I always try to use a mouse, even with a laptop (although some trackpads are a joy to use), but I understand your argument. When you need to get a lot done at once multiple monitors and a desktop helps but then again you can have multiple desktops on a laptop and if you really need to hook up the laptop to multiple monitors. I can see why you'd prefer desktops, but for me they're only useful at this point if you want to game or do something graphics heavy (or need a lot of peripherals). Laptops are just so good nowadays.

Dead Words

November 24, 2015, 12:39 am

On the contrary I just can't use iOS for anything seriously productive, no matter how blown up it is or how large the screen it's displayed on is. I think Windows (especially 10) is powerful and intuitive enough that I can use it anywhere and with confidence that I will be able to get the job done. Because if Windows can't do it, then no one can, basically. Now, sure, buy an iPad Air 2 for media consumption and occasional work and productivity, and you'll get your money out of it. Great product (for others). But at the price of the iPad Pro you can get some seriously great Windows products that can do a whole lot more than the iPad Pro and do it more reliably. If the iPad Pro was priced more reasonably...but that's the thing, isn't it? For what it is, this is reasonable. Well, reasonable for an Apple product and compared to other Apple products. And that is why I can't justify it.
I respect your opinion though.

Julien Desgagne

November 24, 2015, 3:45 am

I've read like 12 reviews tonight and I think they pretty much all say the same thing. This is not a computer it's just a big tablet. They talk a lot about designer and the fact that it doesn't have enough tool for them, but what I really wanna know if it would workfor architecture. What I'm looking for is tool I can use to draw sketches, type some text, and make some quick presentation with a powerpoint app or something like that.

I've been looking for a SP4 too, but it's just not powerfull enough to run program like catia, or revit or autocad without lags, and the response is a little bit too bad for drawing (for me at least).

So, what would you guys do? I know there's some other option out there so if you have anything to suggest post it down there.

I need some help :P

toboev

November 24, 2015, 7:12 am

You say the SP4 is not powerful enough for your needs. The iPad Pro has even less power. How will that help?

LeeTronix

November 24, 2015, 8:07 am

I run only Apple products for my music studio for example as there is no way I would run a Windows machine for music production and sound engineering at the highest standards they just cannot cope and will crash crash crash and this is coming from an expert professional in this regard i.e. myself. Also when it comes to Media in general the Macs just far out-strip PC. Now I am not saying Macs are better and Windows is not as I use both. When I compare how windows generally operates against an Apple product I just find the Apple (general usage here) runs silky smooth. On my iPad air 2 I have faster browsing capabilities by a large mile than compared to the SP3 Edge and it is jus a fact. I do not have programs that crash or never have. I agree for work flow practicality the SP3 is better but not necessarily stable.

I have owned an Apple product since 1983 and I run Windows since 1987/88 and now SP2/3 series more recently. As a technical person I find Windows slow, very compromising and chunky and it always has been. For network work environments you have to constantly be on top of it. Now most people will not need to get into things as such that I get but it still brings all these things to the average end user while Apple remains a constant.

So I think it comes down to this for most does the iPad Pro offer something different, Yes for those who enjoy the Apple product and are familiar with their work flow. I get frustrated as everyone about the lack of MSDC etc but then I also see how Apple designs it for people to use the technology we have, i.e.; wireless to cloud etc. Why have these facilities if we do not embrace them. The iPad Pro will appeal to those who want that Apple neatness as well where I do find Windows does not have the neatness like the Apple.

It is always good to have a healthy debate even if it sounds like I prefer Apple which weirdly I have now product preference in that regards contrary to how this reads I just use what is the best tool for me and explain why as Apple and Windows both have lots of positives for different purposes.

Myk Duncalf

November 24, 2015, 10:12 am

How come the Surface Pro 4 gets a negative for needing to buy the typing cover separately, but the iPad Pro doesn't get any for needing to buy the cover AND the pencil separately?

Dead Words

November 24, 2015, 12:25 pm

I understand what you're saying and if the iPad Pro is good for you, that's fine, but I've always preferred using Windows. Windows 10 is smooth and consistent and is constantly getting better and better and I have never enjoyed using Mac's although I've tried many times. I admit they're probably better for media editing and such (as I used them for those purposes) but in general I'd rather use Windows. I can't afford to buy a bunch of gadgets and if I'm going to buy a product it's going to be Windows because I know I'll be able to do on it what I won't be able to do on the iPad. No matter how you look at it, the iPad Pro is a tablet, not a laptop or even a hybrid or two-in-one. It is just a tablet, period.

LeeTronix

November 24, 2015, 5:31 pm

We both agree and disagree makes for a good old chat :D

Jack Hsiung

November 24, 2015, 8:10 pm

your review is no longer to be trusted.

a laptop replacement that is 2x more expensive, can't save to thumb drive, no hdmi, can't run full applications, can't scan, can't adjust angles.. and you guys still recommand it? you FAIL!

Jack Hsiung

November 24, 2015, 8:12 pm

sp3/4 has i7 versions, those should be powerful enough for you.

Jack Hsiung

November 24, 2015, 8:13 pm

and this is IOS, NOT mac.

your experience with windows are back in the days. now a days, its much much better. update your resume.

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