iPad Pro 10.5 – Camera and audio
Does a tablet need a really great camera? Personally I would say no, but Apple clearly disagrees. The optics on this iPad are basically the same as the iPhone 7, which still stands up as one of the best camera phones around. It’s a 12-megapixel sensor with a wide f/1.7 lens and a flash.
It captures incredibly good pictures for a tablet, with lots of detail and that wide aperture makes it usable even when the light isn’t great. The app is just like its iPhone counterpart, with a good auto-HDR mode and Live Photos. It shoots 4K video, too, which can then be transferred to iMovie and edited right on the iPad.
I have no time for tablet photography, but having such a big viewfinder does help when setting up a shot. Still, the size of the iPad makes it ungainly and awkward to use.
I think Apple added in such a capable camera setup for two reasons. The first is that iOS 11 brings some clever document scanning features to the Notes apps, and having a better camera will make this much more accurate. But augmented reality is arguably an even bigger push in iOS 11, and again having a better camera will improve this experience.
Whether you’ll make use of either of those situations will vary, but honestly if reducing the quality of the camera meant the price wasn’t quite so eye-watering I would take it.
The front-facing camera is arguably more important on a tablet, and Apple has upped this again to match the iPhone 7. It’s a 7-megapixel sensor capable of shooting 1080p video and the whole screen turns into the world’s biggest true-tone flash. This is great for FaceTime calls, but I can’t imagine many will use this for their selfies.
Just like both previous iPad Pro models, the 10.5-inch version has four fantastic speakers; two on the top, and two on the bottom. Not only are they loud, but they have a great range of sound with enough bass to play music without the need for a Bluetooth speaker. There’s some software trickery going on that beams the sound in different directions depending on which orientation you’re holding the iPad Pro and this works surprisingly well.
iPad Pro 10.5 – Battery life
Battery life is one of the areas that hasn’t received much of a boost this year, but it still manages to go the distance. Apple’s claim of 10 hours video playback was a little conservative in my tests, and I found the tablet can easily last up to 11 hours.
Using the iPad Pro 10.5 as my primary ‘laptop’ for a few days, it comfortably managed between 7-8 hours of heavy use including lots of multi-windowed apps, constant music streaming over Bluetooth and editing photos. Editing some 4K footage and exporting it caused the biggest battery drop, hardly surprising, but I am impressed with how it handles large photo imports and edits without burning through power.
The charging situation is less impressive, and one of the biggest disappointments with this device. Even though Apple has updated the Lightning port to support USB 3.0 and, finally, fast charging, it still ships it with the old 10W power adaptor that takes an absolute age to charge the tablet. Apple will happily sell you a 29w USB-C adaptor and cable that’ll half the charging time for an additional £49, but not including that with a £619 tablet is, in my opinion, total madness.
Should I buy the iPad Pro 10.5?
The iPad Pro 10.5-inch is the best tablet I have ever used, but the mass of high-end features leave it with a price-tag that might be hard to stomach. It’s £120 more expensive than the 9.7-inch model was last year – granted, you do get double the base-storage – and it’s double the price of the basic iPad 9.7-inch, which will offer enough power and features for the vast majority of people.
But, if you have the money and want the absolute best tablet experience there is nothing that comes close. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 pales in comparison, as does the aging Pixel C, and no one else seems to be making high-end tablets anymore. There’s always the Microsoft Surface Pro, but that feels like an entirely different proposition.
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When you take that stunning display, good battery life, the accurate Pencil and the huge number of apps available on the App Store, the iPad Pro 10.5-inch is an exciting proposition. But it’s one that won’t feel completely ready until iOS 11 hits.
Look past the price and this is a stunning tablet that needs iOS 11 to really feel complete.