Apple's iPad. This magical thing that was supposed to reshape the way we thought about laptops and mobile computing. Well, five years later and we're basically still at the same place we were and the iPad Pro doesn't really help move it along. So let's go ahead and dive into our review of the Apple iPad Pro.
Apple now has three iPads in their lineup-- the iPad Air 2, the iPad Mini 4 and now, the iPad Pro. The Pro is the top of the range model featuring a giant 12.9-inch display and the latest and most powerful pieces of hardware. The iPad Pro features a 12.9-inch IPS LCD panel with a resolution of 2732x2048—making it the most pixel packed iOS device around. And with 264ppi, it's right there next to the iPad Mini and iPad Air. Internally, it's the most powerful iPad ever made. It's packed with a 2.3GHz Apple A9X processor, 4GB of RAM and the M9 motion co-processor. This gives this thing an unbelievable score on Geekbench. Size-wise, the iPad Pro is definitely one large device. It spans a little longer than 12 inches in length, about 8.5 inches in width and it comes in at 6.9mm thick. It's slightly thicker than the iPad Air 2, which is still the thinnest iPad at 6.1mm.
One of the biggest selling points of the new iPad Pro is the new display. It has about 78% more screen real estate than the iPad Air 2. You can actually fit two iPad Air 2 panels in one iPad Pro. It's kind of incredible. That also means the iPad Pro in a 50/50 multi-tasking view has essentially two iPad Airs on its panel.
The performance of the iPad Pro is through the roof good. If you want to experience iOS with real power and performance, then the iPad Pro is the only iOS device that can deliver that right now. It's really showing the potential of iOS with true horsepower. Even though the iPad Pro has mega horsepower, it's not really “Pro.” You see, when you apply a Pro badge to something, you imply that it's meant for work. For example, the Mac Pro. You don't see your typical desktop user draw out $4000 minimum on a machine of that sort. Unless you like decorative pieces of tech that look like a shiny trashcans. So the iPad Pro, while Pro's in the name, there's really nothing pro about using it. Just because you have a bigger display and optional accessories such as the Apple Pencil and the Apple Smart Keyboard doesn't mean you'll transform this thing to replace a MacBook.
Going through iOS 9 on this thing is really comedic. The spacing is absurd. The lack of widgets or anything to take advantage of the extra screen estate makes me question how this product came to be. I think the iPad Air 2 and the iPad Mini really fill the spectrum of the iPad in terms of getting a big iPad or a small iPad. And the iPad Pro really has no place to go. And when I see people with iPads, they use them as iPads; usually to play games, watch movies and whatnot. And when I see people work on Apple devices, it's usually on a MacBook of some sort. So Apple wants to replace those MacBooks with iPad Pros and without sufficient software, it's just not going to happen. With things like the iWork on iOS and the flexibility of iOS, I can see college students attracted to this thing. I, for one, am a college student but I run intensive software that requires an actual operating system with a terminal of some sort. And with only one lightning port on the iPad Pro, flexibility is non-existent.
That's not to say I didn't enjoy using the iPad Pro. I loved its bigger display and megapower and its battery life was phenomenal. I got well over 10 hours of actual usage on this thing, more than I could ever achieve on any MacBook product.
But the lack of availability of the Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard really took away from my experience of the iPad Pro. I used this thing as a standalone product and like that, it absolutely doesn't work. The iPad Air really matches out the size you want to have as a standalone iPad. So if you can buy the iPad Pro, you must buy the keyboard at least. That already stretches to the near $1000 price range and wouldn't you just rather buy an Apple MacBook and call it a day for a little more cash? If it was my decision, I definitely would.
Though there are a couple of upsides in owning the iPad Pro. For one, the speakers on this thing are quite incredible. But so are the ones on the Apple MacBook. Also the FaceTime camera is 720p unlike the 360p FaceTime camera on the MacBook and that display is just unbelievably beautiful.
It has some other things to note as well. It's heavy, about 1.5 pounds. So reading a book, watching movies, videos and other things like that get tiresome if you hand hold the iPad Pro. Secondly, I wished the iPad Pro had USB Type-C instead of lightning. And even though Mac OS X would not run very well on an iOS-esque device, I wish the software was something different; perhaps create a different of iOS that is made 100% for the iPad Pro to take advantage of the extra screen real estate.
So while I really wanted to like the iPad Pro, I couldn't get over the name. Name it the iPad Plus and it's great. Though a Pro machine, it's not. And to expect people to pay an extra $169 for a keyboard and $99 for a pencil is-- well, I was going to say absurd but it's Apple. There's a reason why they're sold out of them. So my recommendation is, if you really want an iPad and you're deciding between an iPad Air and iPad Pro, make sure to watch my comparison video. But ultimately, you'll be a lot happier if you just pay a little extra money and get a MacBook rather than an iPad Pro.