Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief
November 7, 2018 06:00 am
The new iPad Pro includes a host of upgrades, including a striking full-screen design, a much faster A12X Bionic processor and an improved Apple Pencil. But these tablets are not cheap: The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $799, and the 12.9-inch model starts at $999. And that’s before you spring for the new Apple Pencil 2 ($129) and keyboard folio ($179 to $199).
Is the new iPad for you? Here’s seven reasons to buy one, and three reasons to skip.
Thinner and lighter full-screen design
Taking a cue from the iPhone XS, the new iPad Pro sports thin bezels and ditches the Home button; instead, you now use gestures to close apps and switch between apps. Touch ID gets replaced by Face ID, which works in both portrait and landscape modes.
The 11-inch iPad Pro weighs just 1.03 pounds and measures 0.23 inches thick, compared to 1.08 pounds and 0.24 inches for the previous model. The new 12.9-inch iPad is just as thin and weighs 1.39 pounds, compared to 1.49 pounds for is predecessor.
Gorgeous Retina Display
The new iPad Pro’s panel is bright and vivid. For example, the 12.9-inch model hit 484 nits of brightness on our tests, which is more luminous than the Surface Pro 6 and Samsung Galaxy Book 2. This panel’s hues are the most accurate, too, as the iPad Pro registered a Delta-E rating of 0.56 (0 is perfect). The Surface and Galaxy Book turned in worse color accuracy results.
Other iPad display highlights include Pro Motion technology, which scales the refresh rate based on the on-screen content, and True Tone, which can dynamically adjust the color temperature of the screen for a more comfy reading experience.
Fastest tablet ever
The A12X Bionic processor in the iPad Pro is hands-down the fastest chip we’ve tested in a mobile device. It even beats Core i7-powered laptops in some tests. For instance, it took the new iPad Pro just under 7 minutes to transcode a 4K video to 1080p, while it took the Dell XPS 13 more than a half hour.
The iPad Pro also turned in a much faster Geekbench 4 score than most competing tablets, laptops and 2-in-1s, hitting 17,995. The Surface Pro 6 (Core i5) notched 13,025 and the XPS 13 reached 14,180.
Improved Apple Pencil
The redesigned Apple Pencil is pricier than the previous version ($129 vs $99) but it’s better in every way. It magnetically attaches to the iPad, which means it’s much tougher to lose, and it automatically starts charging as soon as it connects with the tablet. The new Apple Pencil also offers handy gestures, such as quickly activating the eraser function with a double tap on the edge of the Pencil.
If you’re going to kick back with the iPad and watch Netflix or stream Spotify, you’ll be happy to know that its four speakers deliver excellent stereo sound. In side-by-side tests against the Surface Pro 6, Apple’s slate offered louder sound with much more robust bass. Plus, Apple packed five mics into this slate, which means you can bark your “Hey, Siri” queries from across the room with ease.
Long battery life
The 7-nanometer A12X Bionic chip inside the new iPad Pro is quite efficient. On our web surfing battery test, the tablet lasted a very good 13 hours and 14 minutes. That beats the Surface Pro 6 by nearly 4 hours. The Dell XPS 13 with 4K display lasted under 9 hours, but the 1080p version lasted about 12 hours. Samsung’s Galaxy Book 2 endured for 10:41.
USB-C on board (finally)
Apple has replaced the infuriatingly proprietary Lightning port on the iPad Pro with USB-C, which means it’s easier to attach all sorts of peripherals. This includes an external monitor (up to 5K), digital cameras and even docking stations. You can even charge an iPhone with a USB-C to LIghtning cable.
Keyboard could be better
If you’re going to charge $200 extra for a keyboard, it had better be great, and Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio is only OK. The key travel is fine, but the keys don’t have the snappy feel or backlighting that the Surface Pro 6’s keyboard does. Plus, there’s no touchpad on board, and iOS doesn’t support touchpad or mouse input.
Just 64GB of storage to start
Go ahead and search the web for laptops and 2-in-1s that come with 64GB of storage for $999. You won’t find any. Most premium laptops and slates come with at least 128GB of storage, if not 256GB. You can upgrade the iPad Pro so that it offers with 256GB, but you’ll pay $149 more.
Short USB-C power cord
This is annoying. Apple ships the iPad Pro with a 1-meter USB-C cable, which isn’t nearly as long as power cords for most laptops. You can buy a 2-meter USB-C cable, but it costs an extra $19.
Credit: Laptop Mag