FutureFive New Zealand - Consumer technology news & reviews from the future
Story image
Hands-on review: iPad Pro 2020
Wed, 3rd Jun 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

In their advertisement, Apple is pushing the 2020 iPad Pro as everyone's new laptop that is 'not' a laptop! Armed with the new iPad OS update, a new chip and the Magic keyboard, does this year's iPad actually have what it takes to replace a MacBook?

The Design

At first glance, the 2020 12.9 inch iPad Pro looks the same as the older model. The only difference is the additional camera and the Lidar sensor on the back.

And while the lack of 'change' might upset some people, I think it is perfect. The iPad has a sleek design so why change that?

The iPad is still rocking the edge-to-edge all-screen liquid retina display that we all loved. The Retina display provides bright and colour-accurate experience. With the 12.9-inch screen being big enough, I found myself consuming all my content on the iPad just due to how amazing everything looks on it. 

The New Chip

Apple decided to add their new A12Z Bionic Chip to the iPad Pro. This chip's 8-core fusion design with the four performance cores make the iPad one of the strongest 'computers' out there.

It now has the power to outperform actual portable PCs. The Chip also helps with graphics performance. Due to how amazing and responsive the Apple pencil is, the iPad Pro is one of the most popular design tools.

Now, with the help of the A12Z chip, the graphics performance is much 2.6 times better than older models. Considering that we already were very happy with the older one, this is an amazing update!

The Cameras

Apple updated the cameras on this year's iPad Pro. While this is not something I use in my day to day life, it is still a great addition.

The new Dual-Camera system features a 12MP wide camera and a 1oMP ultra-wide camera. Those two mixed with the improved true tone flash, the smart HDR and the powerful chip make for a great camera experience.

The iPad Pro now can shoot amazing stills, take panoramas, and shoot 4K video at 60 fps. This means that creators can now shoot, edit and publish videos straight from their iPad Pro wherever they are.

The iPad Pro also has a really good front-facing camera. The 7MP true-depth camera enables Face ID and other great features like Portrait mode, Selfie Scenes in Clips, and Animoji and Memoji in Messages and Group FaceTime.

The Face ID feature when using the iPad Pro as my main laptop was a game-changer. How did I ever live without it?! At a glance, you can have your passwords authenticated. This is definitely a 1 point for iPad, zero for MacBook situation. 

LiDAR Scanner

While this may not excite some Apple users now, LiDAR is the future and having a LiDAR sensor on the iPad Pro is a step in the right direction. LiDAR is short for light detection and ranging which essentially measures distance by how long it takes light to reach an object and reflect back. This means that the iPad Pro can now accurately capture where items are around you.

The best way to see this improvement is to try some of the Augmented reality applications. Something as simple as using the Kmart app to place furniture in the room shows how much better the iPad's AR experience is with LiDAR. Now when you “place a shelf” in a certain corner of the room, you can walk in front of it, behind it, under or on top of it without the iPad confusing where it is.

It is truly fascinating and I can't wait to see what developers do with this technology. For now, applications like Hot Lava and Complete Anatomy do a great job showcasing the technology. 


I am one of those people who did not believe in hybrid devices. Products like the Microsoft surface made me believe that Apple should not turn the iPad into a hybrid device. The way they just threw Windows on a tablet threw me off. But boy was I wrong about this! I should've known that Apple would have a plan.

iPad OS is essentially the best of both worlds. It has the best features of iOS mixed with the best features of macOS.

Mainly, iPad OS respects the touch experience and has it as the main focus. Users can take full advantage of its capabilities with just their fingers. However, when you connect a mouse, trackpad or the Apple Pencil, everything is taking up to a new level.

The redesigned cursor is possibly the best addition. It is just so intuitive. It appears on screen as a circle and elegantly transforms into the tool you need. If you are editing text it becomes a cursor. If you are opening an app or navigating menus it snaps to the button perfectly. It truly transformed how I use the iPad. 

The Magic Keyboard

While the iPad Pro is still great with the magic mouse and Smart Keyboard folio, the Magic keyboard provides the true 'PRO' experience. The Magic keyboard fixes the main issue I had with all the iPads to date and that is the typing experience.

I know the regular Smart Keyboard is good enough and it does the job, but it doesn't feel as good. The Magic Keyboard has a full-sized keyboard with individual hard keycaps and a scissor mechanism with 1.0 mm of travel. It feels great to type on it. I no longer feel like I am compromising.

The keys also are backlit which means I can type in darker rooms at night. My one complaint would be that the function keys row is missing, however, I understand why they could not include it as the design wouldn't have worked. The keyboard also has a trackpad. While that looks small, it is actually all you need and it brings all the gestures we are used to on macOS to the iPad Pro.

The second most exciting feature about the Magic Keyboard would be USB-C pass-through charging. The Magic Keyboard features a USB-C port for pass-through charging. This means that we can FINALLY charge while iPad while connecting it to hard drives, accessories, external monitor, etc. This feature is a complete game-changer.

Did I mention that this keyboard also makes it look like the iPad Pro is floating? The iPad attaches magnetically to the keyboard that gives the impression of the floating iPad. It also allows for accurate angle adjustments. 


The iPad Pro when combined with the Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard is better than a MacBook and better than a stand-alone iPad. This is the first iPad that I cannot put down.

The one thing that would make this better is Apple moving some of their Pro apps like Logic Pro and Final Cut to the iPad Pro as well as allowing for a more intuitive second display connection. Those two additions would make this device the ultimate Apple Hybrid that will fit every workflow.