Big iPad Pro – big review

iPad ProI know it’s little late to review Apple’s biggest tablet – iPad Pro. Internet is full of reviews and I decided to rewamp my old review from my old weblog. If I decide to buy next generation of 12.9-inch iPad Pro, I will compare it with this review. What leaded me to get tablet for over 1000 euro, when I could have for almost same price great Tablet PC with full Windows, or Microsoft Surface Book if I add some bucks, and not mobile iOS like in iPad Pro? I decided so, because I have already MacBook Pro Retina and if I needed Windows, I can simply install it on my Mac. I wanted a fully touch-optimized tablet with many touch-optimized apps. Yea, I can run Windows 10 in tablet mode, but it totally sucks, because it’s not fully optimized for touch like iOS and tablet mode lacks of touch apps. Working with full Windows apps via touch is very confusing. I know I can attach keyboard and mouse and use Tablet PC as classic laptop, but I want portability and if I needed to use my tablet with mouse and external keyboard, I can simply take my Mac laptop. My next computer will be desktop Mac, because I can imagine combo desktop Mac + iPad Pro. I spend more time on iPad than Mac, because it’s almost perfect for my work. I use Mac for working with professional apps like Final Cut Pro X or Affinity Photo and, of course, gaming. Thanks to Apple ecosystem, I can simply synchronise data between my Mac, NAS and iPad, and thanks to Handoff I can start working on iPad and continue on Mac and vice versa. My contacts, calendar, notes and e-mails are synchronised over-the-air and Apple’s services make a great workflow. Some apps, like Tweetbot for Mac and iOS, are synchronised via iCloud, so when I read some tweets on iPad and then I sit at Mac, I can continue where did I leave. You will need to install some apps, including paid, but it’s worth it. It just works. I can’t imagine to use Mac + tablet with Windows. Apple’s ecosystem is simply great. Reviewed product is iPad Pro Wi-Fi + Cellular 128 GB Space Gray with iOS 9.3.2.

In the box, you can find iPad Pro itself, Lightning to USB cable and 12W USB power adapter. Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard are not in the box, you will need to purchase them separately.

Let’s look how big is this iPad. It has 12.9-inch display and relatively high weight – 723 grams. In portrait mode, it is 220.6 mm width, 305.7 mm depth and 6.9 mm height. In photo below, you will see how big is it compared to little iPod touch 4th generation:

iPad Pro vs. iPod touch 4th generation

Display resolution is amazing – 2732 x 2048 Retina display with 264 DPI, so display is very sharp and your eyes won’t see standalone pixels. It’s even more pixels like in 15.4-inch Retina MacBook Pro. Display features fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating and antireflective coating. Display is fully laminated, so you will feel like you are directly touching on-screen elements.

And what about flash disk capacity? I personally got 128 GB variant. Wi-Fi versions cover 32 GB, 128 GB and 256 GB versions, it’s Wi-Fi + Cellular counterpart lacks 32 GB version. Flash memory should be about 2x faster in compare to iPad Air 2.

On iPad’s body are few HW components: iconic Home Button with Touch ID feature, sleep/wake button (by holding it you can turn on/off your iPad), 4x stereo speakers, 3.5 mm headphone jack, Smart Connector, Lightning Connector, nano-SIM tray, volume buttons and dual microphones. Smart Connector is interesting – your accessories no longer needs battery, it’s charged directly by iPad itself. Lightning Connector of 12.9-inch iPad Pro is capable of speed USB 3.0.

One of the most interresting are internal speakers. They are really loud, about 3x louder like iPad’s Air 2. Maximum volume is 88 dB. And now, speakers can gain data from accelerometer. Topmost speakers are dedicated to mid and high frequencies, while down ones are additional subwoofers. Sound reproduction is much, much better in compare to iPad Air 2.

And what about performance? iPad’s Pro heart is SoC A9X. CPU is dual-core at 2.25 GHz with 64-bit technology and Motion coprocessor M9. Don’t worry, this dual-core CPU can beat most CPUs found in Android devices or ARM-based systems. GPU is unknown model of PowerVR Series 7XT with 12 cores. It’s even more powerful as today’s most powerful integrated notebook graphics Intel Iris Pro. In compare to iPad Air 2, CPU is 1.8 times faster and GPU is faster 2 times. And this all with passive cooling without overheating iPad itself. Amount of RAM is reported to be 4 GB. Smaller 9.7-inch iPad Pro only got 2 GB of RAM.

Big iPad with big display needs big battery. Battery got capacity of 38.8 Wh (10307 mAh, 3.77 V) and recharging with USB port is really slow, even while you are not using it and screen is turned off. With included 12W power adapter is recharging significantly faster, but it’s still about 4.5 hours of charging time form zero to 100%. If you are using your iPad Pro daily, I strongly recommend to purchase 29W power adapter (if you have Retina MacBook, you already got one) and USB-C to Lightning cable. 12.9-inch iPad Pro supports fast charging (9.7-inch version does not!) and with this 29W charger it’s about 60% faster. When you are using your iPad Pro and charging at the same time, the difference between 12W and 29W charger is even higher.

Key feature of big iPad Pro is multitasking. You can run 2 full-sized iPad’s Air 2 apps at the same time. It’s because of resolution. Big iPad Pro got 2732×2048 pixels and iPad Air 2 got 2048 x 1536 pixels, so in iPad’s Pro 50/50 Split View you get two apps at 1356 x 2048 pixels (20 pixels are dedicated to the black divider between apps). It’s very similar to iPad’s Air 2 resolution. But you still can’t transfer data between apps on screen by touching and dragging. Split View with full-sized apps look like this:

Two full-sized apps

Click here for full-sized screenshot

And app picker is one of the most terrible affect of iOS 9 on big iPad’s Pro screen:

App Picker

Click here for full-sized screenshot

Another great feature is new keyboard. It looks like classic computer keyboard. However, app must be optimized to iPad Pro, if you want to enjoy new keyboard. If not, you will see old, terrible keyboard from olders iPads. Look at it:

iPad Pro Software Keyboard

If you are using older iPads running iOS 8 or higher, you can use 3rd party keyboards like ProType by NCODX.

Camera is same as in iPad Air 2. You need good conditions if you want to take good photos. Rear iSight Camera got 8 megapixels with support for HDR photos. It has autofocus, f/2.4 aperture, five-elements lens, hybrid IR filter, backside illumination, face detection and geotagging. You can record video at 1080p or slo-mo at 720p with 120 FPS. Front FaceTime HD Camera got 1.2 megapixels with support for HDR photos and videos. It has f/2.2 aperture, backside illumination and face detection. It features maximum of 2000 ISO, while rear iSight Camera only 800 ISO.

Wi-Fi module supports standards 802.11a/b/g/n/ac at 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz including HT80 with MIMO. Bluetooth version is 4.2 Low Energy.

Cellular version does not allow you to use iPad Pro as mobile phone. It’s for data usage only. iPad Pro supports UMTS/HSPA/HSPA+/DC-HSDPA (850, 900, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz); CDMA EV-DO Rev. A and Rev. B (800, 1900 MHz) and LTE (Bands 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 28, 29, 38, 39, 40, 41) up to 150 Mbps.

Apple equiped iPad Pro with five sensors: Touch ID, Three‐axis gyro, Accelerometer, Barometer and Ambient light sensor.

Location services includes digital compass, Wi-Fi, iBeacon microlocation, Assisted GPS and GLONASS, cellular. GPS works very well and really fast, even in buildings.

Last chapter will be about what should be improved for iPad Pro. First it’s space between apps on home screen. It’s still 5×4 grid + bottom dock with max. 6 apps. And Apple should redesign “Open with…” menu, it’s terrible on big iPad Pro:

Open With...

Click here for full-sized screenshot

And here is how looks unoptimized app on big iPad Pro screen:

Unoptimized App

Click here for full-sized screenshot

And additional accessories – I haven’t tested Smart Keyboard, my review of Apple Pencil is HERE.

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