FutureFive New Zealand - Consumer technology news & reviews from the future
Story image
Hands-on review: The Apple iPad Pro, five months on
Fri, 12th Apr 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

At the end of 2018, Apple released two new iPad Pros, an 11-inch one and a 12.9-inch one. I tried out the 11-inch one after the release and I haven't been able to put it down since. Here are my thoughts after five months of extensive use.

The design: 

The first thing I noticed when I picked up the new iPad was the new look. The home button was gone. The screen was stretched to the edge and the curved back was replaced with a sleek, flat polished one. It looked amazing. The design is elegant and feels expensive in your hands.

The iPad Pro uses the same liquid retina display technology found in the iPhone Xr. The technology uses precision-milled glass, advanced pixel masking, and sub-pixel anti-aliasing to allow the display to follow the curves of the device, while a new backlight design allows the display to extend into the corners. The iPad has one of the best displays on any device I have worked on. The true colour technology is breathtaking and it adapts really well to light.

Apple found a way to engineer the new Face ID technology into this iPad. Thankfully the front camera is located inside the bezels on the side, so there's no ‘notch'. Good move - a notch would have looked terrible on this device.

The Face ID supports every single way you could use this iPad: landscape, upside down, steeper angles, etc… In landscape mode, I found myself covering the lens with my finger around 30% of the time.

The one bad thing about the new design is that the screen is a fingerprint magnet. The only way for a perfectionist to use this as their main device is by purchasing a screen cleaner right away.

Software and performance: 

Apple claimed that the new iPad Pro is faster than 92% of portable PCs on the market. I was surprised when I found that to be true. The iPad is powered by Apple's new A12X Bionic Chip. The Chip actually scored better than some of Apple's MacBooks in benchmarking.

I have intentionally tried to stress this iPad out and failed. No matter what I throw at it. It seemed to go through it like a breeze. I tried intensive games, video editing, designing, streaming, and all of them at the same time. The iPad never slowed down.

With that being said, I believe that this amazing hardware is being held back a little by the software. Hardware speaking, the iPad has all that it takes to replace any laptop. The iPad Pro though runs on iOS software but iOS is essentially designed for the iPhone.

Apple added some extra features for the iPad like the multitasking feature where you can open multiple apps on the same screen, but the iPad still runs like a big phone with “Desktop” qualities. I am looking forward to seeing what Apple improves software-wise as this hardware is the future.

Apple Pencil and applications:

Hands down, the Apple Pencil was my favourite part about using the iPad Pro. I have always liked doodling and drawing and the Apple pencil paired with this iPad Pro was a dream come true. 
When the iPad is in landscape mode, the Apple Pencil magnetically snaps into its designated place with a satisfying ‘snap'. Once in its place, the Apple Pencil automatically charges its battery from the iPad itself. Genius! This means that your Apple Pencil is secure with you and fully charged at all times.

I was blown away by how good the Apple Pencil is as a drawing tool. It is very responsive, there is no delay, and it actually feels like a pencil. With a quick double tap to the side I can switch between pencil and eraser. It is very useful for the workflow.

A few days after I got the iPad Pro and I had a chance to play around with the Apple Pencil on the Apple Notes app, I needed more. I downloaded the app “ Procreate” and it was a game changer. The iPad Pro, Apple Pencil and the Procreate app are a must have for any amateur artist. I couldn't believe the accuracy of what I could create.

The Keyboard accessory: 

The Apple store offers a keyboard accessory for the iPad. Even though this falls under the “accessory” section, I found it to be necessary. The keyboard is actually a full folio case. It looks elegant and it protects your iPad.

The case magnetically attaches to the iPad to fit perfectly. The second you connect it, you feel the instant “lift” from iPad to laptop experience. The keyboard opens a whole new world of possibilities, especially because it supports commands. Commands differ from one app to another so if you press and hold the command key at any stage, it shows you all the available commands.

Typing on the keyboard is smooth once your fingers get used to where everything is. My only complaint would be the fact that it only offers two angles to choose from. The two angles are good but I often find myself balancing it on my leg just to change the angle a little.

USB-C connector: 

When I first held the iPad Pro and saw that they changed from the Apple lightning cable to USB-C I wasn't too fussed about it. After actually using it, I am thrilled. It opened up so many possibilities. I connected the iPad Pro to a hub which meant that I can connect it to a bigger display, connect it to faster internet via an ethernet port, connect it to my camera, etc…

The verdict: 

I am a bit of a technology snob. I am picky and always want the best. I can honestly say I have never loved any device as much as I love this iPad. Once paired with the Apple Pencil and the keyboard, it is an absolute must-have.