Tim Cook looks like he’s got fingers plugging all the leaks because there wasn’t a peep out and about before last week’s WWDC event in San Jose suggesting the iPad would get a bigger screen. Yet, that’s exactly what we got.
When you cram 100 announcements into one event, it’s not hard to almost overlook one of the biggest hardware announcements of the event.
Nope, I’m not talking about the iMac Pro or HomePod – both were “sneak peeks” at items you’ll be able to buy at the end of this year.
I’m talking about the new iPad Pros, and specifically the new 10.5 inch model.
Bigger is better
Since day dot the iPad has had a 9.7 inch screen, the overall device size has changed many times over those years, and it’s not often the thing gets bigger – yet that’s what’s happened this year. The screen is bigger, as is the device.
It’s not radically larger, but side by side you can notice the difference.
Where this matters most is using the Smart Keyboard. While it seems a small thing, the slightly larger width in landscape mode means the keys on the Smart Keyboard can be spaced more similarly to a full-size computer keyboard.
Tapping away on this keyboard is the most natural I’ve felt on a Smart Keyboard to date. That’s a huge win for iPad and for Apple in what they call the “Post PC era”.
The screen is not just bigger, it’s better. Brighter than ever – and noticeably so, it also has a much higher refresh rate.
Think about those times you’ve been shopping for a TV – a good sales rep will ask you what content you watch – if you watch a lot of live sport a higher refresh rate would suit you.
But how does that apply to an iPad. As crazy as it seems, it makes things scroll smoother. So whether it’s scrolling through a web-page or playing a game, this iPad is just that little bit better on the eye.
And using that smart plus more smarts in the processing power, there are battery benefits too – with the refresh rate dynamically dropping when you’re looking at static content.
A touch cheaper as an optional accessory (Now $145), there’s no radical change in what the Pencil can do, but it feels a whole lot more natural and “real” – even though I always thought it was so – Apple have ramped it up, and using the power of the device reduced the latency, referring to the delay between when you touch the screen and the moment it appears on the screen.
I must admit I hadn’t noticed the delay before, but sitting here the last few days I’ve been hard pressed to fault the new iPad pro and Pencil combo.
Aside from the Pencil, the Smart Keyboard is a $235 extra. And a sleek and simplistic new Leather Sleeve is also a must have at $189. To my surprise the iPad Pro will fit into the Sleeve even with the keyboard on.
Importantly, the Leather Sleeve also keeps your Apple Pencil in place – tell me you haven’t misplaced the Apple Pencil somewhere?
While I really don’t want you to do this, the camera in this iPad Pro is iPhone quality – iPhone 7 in fact. The 12 Megapixel camera is taken from the iPhone 7 so has Optical Image Stabilisation, 4K Video, True-tone flash and live photos.
But come on – don’t be using an iPad for taking photos.
You will pay $1,629 for the iPad Pro 10.5 inch with 512GB on board storage and 4G connectivity. That price goes down to as little as $979 with 64GB of storage and just WiFi.
Remove all the Pro features (screen, screen size, Pencil compatibility, processing power, camera and more), you can get the standard iPad for $469, up to $799 for the 128GB with 4G.
A device for September
In day to day use, the iPad Pro 10.5 inch is a cracking device, the best advantage it has is the full-sized Smart Keyboard – typing just feels so natural with that small increase in size.
Yep, the screen is stunning, the Pencil interactivity is beyond magic.
Are those things enough reason to upgrade? Probably not for most.
But if you want to be ready to be transported into the Post PC era full-on, get the iPad Pro 10.5 inch, buckle up and get ready for iOS 11.
I feel like this device reveal should have waited until September, when the full force of the iPad Pro could be released to the public. But the fortune teller and crystal ball reader in me thinks that September event is going to be all about the iPhone.
iOS 11 offers a whole new Dock to the iPad, it’s like they designed iPad for iOS 11.
I intentionally didn’t install the Beta version of iOS 11 – I wanted to review this device as you would get it from the store, but I had a good long look at iOS 11 running on iPad last week in San Jose. The dock, plus the new Files app, Multi tasking and more would make many consider their laptop future.
Frankly, it’s the reason Apple don’t need the smaller MacBook Air.
Tough one. The Pro is so much more expensive than the basic iPad. If you’re just streaming Stan and Netflix, checking Facebook and Email the web – you’re really best off with the standard iPad, saving hundreds of dollars.
But, if there are high end gaming, graphics or other apps there’s nothing better than the iPad Pro. Multi-tasking on the iPad Pro is going to be PC-like or even better once iOS11 drops making this a real alternative to the PC.
The iPad Pro is the perfect mobile office. No matter where you are you can keep across things, and that multi-tasking on iOS 11 is really next level stuff on a tablet.
Just like you don’t need the new iPhone but you want to have it, you will want the iPad Pro. It’s an exhibition of everything Apple can do – and bloody hell they do it well.