When Apple launched the first iPad Pro a few years back, the idea was to clearly push the envelope on what a mobile device could do. The tablet was a popular segment then, but it still could not do a lot things a laptop could, and hence put off some of the potential buyers.
The first iPad Pro was way more powerful than any tablet before it and it also came with the Apple Pencil stylus and audio quality unheard of in any mobile device. Three years on, Apple has refreshed its iPad Pro range with two new models, one 11 and the other 12.9 inches, but both with the capability to out any laptop to shame.
Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch specifications: 12.9-inch (diagonal) LED display with IPS technology 2732 x 2048-pixel resolution at 264 pixels per inch (ppi) | A12X Bionic chipset | 64GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB storage space | 12MP rear camera with f/1.8 aperture, 4K recording | TrueDepth 7MP front camera, Face ID | iOS 12 | Type-C USB port | 10 hour battery life
Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch price in India: Starts at Rs 89,900
As someone who has used an iPad for many years, it was apparent that this was a different tablet altogether in terms of design. The new iPad Pro is thinner and has a consistent thickness all through. It seems like a slick slab of metal and glass, and that is something I can live with.
The other noticeable change is the missing Home button, which also means Apple could afford a much thinner bezel than before. As a result this version also ushers in FaceID onto Apple tablets. There are still power and volume buttons on the sides. In horizontal orientation, the tablet is flanked by two sets of speakers on both sides.
The iPad Pro has a stunningly clear Liquid Retina Display, which at 2732 x 2048-pixel resolution makes it a pleasure to consume content on. Now, there is more to the consumption angle here. If the first iPad Pro showed the world great audio can be achieved on mobile devices too, this version gives this audio quality serious stereo capabilities.
You can actually hear car chases as you would in a cinema, with sound moving from one side to the other. On a tablet, that is just something you have to hear to believe.
Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch: FaceID
Apple is ushering its FaceID with the new iPad Pro. This for me is the most natural way to unlock any device — there’s a bit of wishful thinking here, hoping the technology comes to laptops too soon. On the iPad, while the set up has to be done in vertical orientation, the unlocks works even when the tablet is horizontal, as you would use it most of the time with the keyboard folio.
This presents an awkward problem: that of the hand coming in way of the camera. So Apple detects this and prompts you to let the camera see your face. FaceID on the iPad, with no hindrance, is as fast and accurate as it is on the iPhone.
Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch: Apple Pencil and Keyboard Folio
The Apple Pencil launched in the earlier version didn’t really offer an experience at par with the Samsung S-Pen or the Microsoft Surface Pen, primarily because it didn’t feel natural. For me the experience was akin to holding a marble stick. Now, Apple has a version 2.0 of the Pencil, which is natural to hold and is easier to use overall.
And it solves another major problem. The Pencil now pairs and recharges by just sticking to the side of the tablet. While this ensures the Pencil has charge at all times, it also makes sure it is literally at spot where you will end up using it.
I for instance have not really bothered to use this or other stylus much because they are easily forgotten. Overall, the Apple Pencil is much better than before, but I still won’t call it the best one around.
There is a new keyboard folio too. While the concept is essentially the same, there are two slots now which means you can keep the iPad more upright or in a lean back mode, which works better for consuming content.
Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch: Performance
This is where the Pro in the Apple Pro starts making more sense. If the first iPad Pro could offer performance better than any other tablet till that point, the 2018 iPad Pro, powered by A12X Bionic processor can do better than a lot of laptops out there, certainly the standard issues in most offices across the world.
A testament to this power is the fact that Adobe will in a few months release Photoshop for iPad, and that too a full-blown version, not something toned down to work on an underpowered device.
You can see this raw power at work even now. With apps like Trace, you can work on multiple layers and create vector images. You can run multiple-power hungry apps and cycle between the as you please. You can run scores of tabs pop Google Chrome. You can run AR Apps like Augment and play music as you run it. At no point will the iPad Pro groan or complain. Nor will it heat up or crash.
And this is the audience that Apple is clearly looking to woo. With apps like Photoshop and Autocad, it will be trying to shift laptop users to the iPad which could for some workflows be more natural that using the a laptop with a mouse.
Despite the better display and more powerful battery, the iPad Pro 12.9-inch battery easily lasted me a day or regular work. Or should I say you can work eight hours on this device on a full charge with network on.
Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch: Verdict
I have made at least two trips where I have had just the iPad for work. I have been able to do my regular writing, even working on the WordPress CMS, opening and working on Google Sheets and Slides and consuming all forms of content from text to audio books and video with no cause for complaint.
The only extra feature I kept craving for was a mouse and maybe even that’s possible now thanks to the USB-C port which as replaced the earlier lightning port.
The iPad Pro is now good enough to let you leave your laptop at home and even if you are not thinking of this a replacement for a laptop, it is clearly the best tablet out there. However, buy the Apple Pencil only if you need it.
But then do get the keyboard, despite its hefty price tag, as this is an important part of the replace-laptop experience. Come to think of it, the iPad Pro is now a better buy than the MacBook Air, certainly for that target audience. What else do I need to convince you that the best tablet has just gotten better.