The second version of Apple’s tablet aimed at ‘professionals’ is a fantastic piece of kit, but it’s certainly not for everyone. If you want something for Netflix binges and web browsing, the 9.7-inch iPad 2018 is all you need.
But if you’re after something that can stand in for your laptop when you’re on the move, the iPad Pro 10.5 is worth your attention, offering the best camera, screen and performance we’ve ever seen on a tablet.
It comes at a price, though – and a steep one at that. For some, it’ll be worth every penny. For others? It might feel like overkill.
iPad Pro 10.5 – Design
The design of the iPad has evolved very little since its inception seven years ago. The iPad Air slimmed things down and the 12.9-inch Pro from 2015 stretched things out, but the basic look hasn’t changed much. There are a few key alterations to this year’s model that make it feel a lot more like a modern tablet, however.
First off, the new 10.5-inch screen size means the tablet is slightly bigger than the outgoing 9.7-inch Pro but, due to a slimmer bezel around either side of the display, in your hand it feels about the same. Width-wise it’s almost the same as the outgoing model, but it’s slightly taller and that means your old iPad cases probably won’t fit.
The bezel on a tablet doesn’t bother me as much as it does on a phone, since you need more edge space to get a proper grip. But it did feel like there was a lot of wasted space on the iPad Pro 9.7-inch and it’s nice to see Apple addressing that here.
The rest of the tablet feels very familiar and, as before, the aluminium back offers no flex and the chamfered edges still reflect light in a very eye-catching way.
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The four speakers sit next to each corner and there’s a headphone jack on the top and a Lightning connector on the bottom, along with the three-pin Smart Connector on the side. It’s all very run-of-the-mill stuff, but I can’t deny it’s a well-built tablet that looks good.
The 10.5-inch iPad Pro comes in Apple’s usual array of hues; including space grey, gold, silver and rose gold, but sadly no matte or jet black like the iPhone 7.
iPad Pro 10.5 – Screen
Apple says that the new 10.5-inch screen here offers 20% more usable space than the outgoing 9.7-inch model, and you will notice that extra screen real estate. But, if you found the 9.7-inch too small, I don’t think the extra four-fifths of an inch will really make much difference. Apple claims the larger display lets it include a full-size virtual keyboard, but for me it still feels much smaller than that.
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What’s really special about the display here is Apple’s so-called “ProMotion” tech that powers the 2224 x 1668 resolution IPS LCD Retina display.
Previous iPads ran at 60Hz, which meant the screen refreshed 60 times a second. On the new iPad Pro, the screen is 120Hz, which means it refreshes twice as often. The effect is obvious even on the setup screens; everything is so smooth, so fluid that it almost doesn’t feel like you’re touching the screen.
The real power of ProMotion, though, is how it cleverly adapts the refresh rate of the screen depending on what you’re doing. Movies generally display at a lower refresh rate, but if you’re drawing you’ll want closer to 120Hz to remove any perceivable input lag. As an added perk the feature also saves battery life in the process.
It can even run at two different speeds if you’re in split view, keeping it at 120Hz in the Notes app and lower it in the Video player. It also doesn’t suffer from the “soap opera” effect, where high-refresh-rate video looks unrealistically fast and smooth.
The display still covers the entire wide DCI-P3 cinema grade colour gamut and is also brighter at 600 nits, 100 nits more than the iPad Pro 9.7-inch. While it does seem slightly brighter you’ll only notice this if you put it directly beside another iPad. This extra brightness bump will help when viewing the iPad outside, but it was already exceptionally bright, so it’s more of a nice-to-have than a crucial addition.
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The boosted brightness will also let the iPad Pro 10.5-inch to display HDR content, when apps that support it finally arrive.
There’s also a new coating on the screen that’s meant to reduce glare and aid outdoor usability, but to my eyes it doesn’t look any better than the older model.
Simply put, this is the best screen on any tablet. No competition.