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The Apple iPad PRO reaches its 3rd generation. It’s now slimmer, even more powerful, it has a new Apple Pencil, it has a Type-C port, and it has been able to shed off the Home key that was replaced by the gestures and FaceID for unlocking. When I reviewed the very first iPad PRO, I wrote in my conclusions that it was very hard if not impossible for me to think of it as a computer, which is what a lot of us are looking for from a device like this. This iPad PRO, however, in my humble opinion, is the only one that has the potential, to change it all, although, much will depend on your individual needs and me for once (spoiler alert) I can say to you right now that I still prefer a notebook.
DESIGN, MATERIALS, AND ERGONOMICS
On the design, I have to say that Apple has done it again, and when you see it and feel it, for the very first time, you will love it. Apple has inspired itself for this iPad Pro, which has rounded edges and a profile of just 5.9mm, it reminds us a lot of the iPhone 5. Compared to the old iPad Pro, it is now 15% thinner and 25% smaller.
The 630 grams of weight are well spread. In fact, even though it is nearly a 13-inch tablet, it feels like much more smaller and much more handy to carry around. It’s too bad that it doesn’t have an IP certification, it could be very handy.
The iPad Pro has a default orientation, with the power switch at the top, but you can use it as you like. By taking off the home button, there is no longer a preferred orientation and the display is always turned in the direction in which we hold it. To unblock it there is FaceID that allows for three-dimensional recognition from all positions, from a long distance or even if you hold the device horizontally, juts are aware to not cover the camera with your hands. The FaceID It’s always quick, and we can also use it to access password protected sites or with Apple Pay.
12.9 INCHES & 120HZ DISPLAY
The front of the iPad PRO is almost all occupied by the display that has rounded corners and a fixed edge of 4mm along all sides. The diagonal remains the same as the previous generation, but the resolution grows at 2732×2048, with a pixel density of 264.
There is also support for the P3 color range and the true Tone that regulates the white balance according to ambient lighting. The panel has a variable refresh rate that goes from 24Hz, during display of still content, up to a maximum of 120Hz, which allows for smoother page scrolling and further reducing the Apple Pencil’s latency for greater accuracy.
The analysis of the display confirmed the quality of this panel, which offers an sRGB coverage of 99.7%, and a DeltaE of 1.7 on gray and just 1.1 on colors. It has a maximum brightness of about 605 cd/m2 that allows excellent visibility even under direct sunlight. I did not find the oleophobic treatment to be any good. The display “catches” a little too many fingerprints and is not always easy to clean.
At the moment, not all applications are able to take advantage of the higher screen resolution. In fact, many show a small black band on the top and the bottom of the panel, and some even on the sides. Of course, these applications will be updated to go full screen, and there are already a lot of them that work perfectly.
In contrast to the previous one, the 4 speakers are also improved. In whichever way you hold the iPad, all 4 speakers will reproduce the base but only the 2 on top the medium and higher ones. The end result is very good.
AUDIO AND AUTONOMY
The processor is the new A12X, an upgraded version of the one used on the new iPhone. It’s always a 7nm but has an octa-core architecture with four efficiency-oriented and four performance-oriented cores that sprint into action when higher performance is required. Benchmark tests reach stunning results with the device scoring over 550,000 points in AnTuTu and about 5,000 points in single-core and 18,000 points in multi-core Geekbench test.
This kind of performance translates into a system that is always fast and reactive under any kind of load, both in the most demanding applications and in high-quality graphics games, especially due to its high capacity 7 core GPU, although, I believe very few will be spending this amount of money for a dedicated “gaming” tablet. In case someone does he will be satisfied with the new iPad PRO.
The 36.71 wt/hour battery has made it possible for me to reach about 8 to 9 hours of continuous use, in line with what was declared by Apple. Thanks to the included 18W wall charger, the battery goes from 0 to 20% in about 30 minutes.
As for memory, in addition to the 64, 256 and 512GB versions, there is also a 1 TB one, that also offers 2 more GB of LPDDR4x RAM more than the base 4GB the others have (for a total of 6 GB). In addition to this being the first time Apple equips this much amount of storage space in a device, it is also the first time that the RAM differs for the various versions.
Since the Home button is gone, the interface of iOS 12 is navigated by gestures, like that of the iPhone X. It is also possible to have two applications side by side in desktop mode and the 3rd app in a window. What I don’t understand is why it is not possible to do most of those things using the Apple Pencil? Instead, you will have to use your fingers.
The iPad Pro I’ve tried was also equipped with 4G LTE connectivity. There is also simultaneous dual-band ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0. The mobile version also comes with GPS. But the real news regarding connectivity concerns the presence, for the first time on an iOS device, of the USB 3.1 Type-C port. Also notice the absence, also for the first time on an iPad device, of the 3.5mm audio jack, a very unwise choice, on such a device. You will have to buy an adapter if you want to use your cabled headphones!
The presence of a Type-C port makes it easier to attach external devices, such as a keyboard and a monitor, with up to 5K resolution. You can also use the Type-C port to recharge other devices and we can also easily import photos from a memory card. And this is where we find the first real flaw. All you can do is import photos, and the device doesn’t support external HDs or SSDs. To import different types of files you will have to get creative. We are looking forward to Apple allowing us to freely manage our files in an iOS device, which at this point and for this kind of use is paramount.
PHOTO AND VIDEO
The face recognition and the 7-megapixel front camera also allow you to use Animoji and Memoji in both messages and FaceTime, and there is also the Portrait mode when we take a photo with the possibility to adjust the blurring of the picture. Similarly to the new iPhones, there is also SmartHDR for improved lighting and detailing of the photos.
The wide-angle rear camera is protruding from the shell but does get in the way when we lay the iPad PRO flat on a surface. The rear sensor is as always a 12 megapixel one with an aperture of f/1.8. The only thing missing is Portrait mode. The quality of the photos is still great for a tablet, considering that for a device like this one, the priorities are document scanning and the Augmented Reality apps.
Video quality is also excellent. The iPad Pro can record at 4K resolution and 60fps with stereo audio capture, thanks to its 5 embedded microphones.
BOTH APPLE PENCIL AND SMART KEYBOARD ARE BRAND NEW
The accessories are all new, starting with the Apple Pencil which now has a flat side to connect it to the side of the iPad PRO for wireless pairing and charging.
A new feature is the ability to double-tap for an action that can be personalized by the user (like changing to eraser mode). The rest of the features are the same. The Apple Pencil has always been precise and shows virtually no latency.
Almost new is also the Smart Keyboard that connects via the 3 pins that are now on the back of the iPad Pro. The keyboard now spans the entire back cover, where it magnetically attaches. The buttons are well-spread, have a not very shallow run, and a pleasant click. The keyboard is not backlit and is covered in a single waterproof sheet of nylon that protects them from dirt and spills. It’s more steady than the older model and you can pick between two different angles of use.
Both the new Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard are not compatible with the old-generation iPad PRO and vice-versa. If you wish to switch to the new iPad Pro you will need to buy them new.
The iPad Pro is a powerful tablet, maybe too powerful. For many, it will be the perfect instrument for your job, as long as your work is compatible with what the iPad ha to offer. For the rest of us, the iPad PRO is extremely nice to have and to use, but still can’t completely replace my MacBook Pro.
The main obstacle for me to use it as a laptop is not the hardware but the software. Although on an iPhone, iOS doesn’t have any limitations, as a notebook it misses out on key features such as the ability to easily manage external files, the ability to use a mouse and the fact that the desktop versions of most apps are often much more basic and limited. With an iPad, we can still get our work done, but the limitations of the operating platform, force us to work slower and come up with convoluted solutions to problems that we do not have on a computer. To put it simply, you will have to change the way you work to accommodate the iPad Pro and not the other way around, as it should be. And as long as it is this way, I will continue to prefer my notebook.