Apple’s new iPad Pro models are advanced but cost more. Picture: AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews
Apple’s new iPad Pro models are advanced but cost more. Picture: AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

The biggest changes to Apple’s iPad Pro

A MAGICAL sheet of glass that seems to disappear in your hands.

This has long been Apple's goal for its tablet computer and this year the company has taken a huge leap towards it.

The top section of its biggest and most advanced iPad has been eliminated entirely, along with its thick screen borders, its bulky fingerprint scanner, and plenty of electronic bulk weighing down your backpack.

It's even delivered Face ID in this iPad without the addition of an unsightly 'notch'.

But Apple has also removed some of the iPad's connections, removed compatibility with its accessories, and vastly increased its price.

So while the revamped iPad Pro is an undeniably slick, capable tablet, the question remains whether it is worth the upgrade, or whether it's worth paying as much as a laptop computer to purchase.

We took the incoming tablet, due in stores on Friday, for a test drive to answer these questions.

THE BIGGEST CHANGE

Apple's biggest iPad has always been its best.

The 12.9-inch Pro model has consistently delivered more screen, more speed, and more capability than its peers.

The drawback to this device, of course, has been more bulk and more weight; something this new addition addresses.

While it still delivers a 12.9-inch screen, it does so in a smaller form. The chunky borders and Touch ID bulk have been cut from the bottom of this device, shaving off as much as 59 grams.

Japanese artist Mako Oke draws on the new iPad Pro using its pencil accessory after an event announcing new products Tuesday Oct. 30, 2018, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Japanese artist Mako Oke draws on the new iPad Pro using its pencil accessory after an event announcing new products Tuesday Oct. 30, 2018, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

In the hand, its weight loss is even more noticeable than the figures suggest.

The newest iPad Pro also comes with a Liquid Retina screen, like the iPhone XR, though it makes only a subtle difference to the model that came before it, and even shares the same resolution.

Delivering a Liquid Retina screen also means retaining some small borders and, merficully, that has allowed Apple to cover up the sensors and dual cameras on the front of this device that deliver Face ID security.

This tablet can scan your face quickly and accurately, and even take a Portrait Mode selfie, without showing a 'notch' on its face, like some iPhones. It certainly makes for a cleaner look.

WHAT'S INSIDE COUNTS

Another big reason you might upgrade to this iPad Pro is for what's hidden inside it.

Apple is making lot of speed and power claims about its benefits over larger computers this year, boasting this iPad works faster than 92 per cent of Windows laptops.

While that's a tough fact to check, this year's iPad Pro is certainly fast where it counts.

Its A12X Bionic chip and Neural Engine makes quick work of demanding tasks, such as showing augmented reality plants from Plantale or refining tiny details in massive RAW files within Adobe's Lightroom.

The latter task bodes well for the arrival of a full-featured Photoshop iPad app next year.

The addition of USB-C also improves the speed of this device.

You can also save lots of time by connecting the new iPad Pro to a camera as transfer speeds will now hit 10 gigabits per second, sucking down high-resolution photos in a pleasingly fast fashion.

Other high-powered additions include a new one-terabyte storage option, and a step up to gigabit-class LTE downloads.

ALL NEW ACCESSORIES

Perhaps it's superficial but some potential iPad Pro buyers might be won over by changes to the Apple Pencil alone.

Every current Pencil owner must have panicked about losing this utensil at least once (it can't just be me) so the ability to magnetically attach it to the top of this tablet is incredibly handy.

Even more useful is the fact that this both connects Pencil to iPad, and recharges it.

Some potential iPad Pro buyers might be won over by changes to the Apple Pencil alone.
Some potential iPad Pro buyers might be won over by changes to the Apple Pencil alone.

Tech pundits will recognise this isn't the first time a stylus has worked this way (Microsoft's Surface got there first) but it solves so many problems around charging and losing accessories that it's an innovation worth 'borrowing'.

The iPad Pro Smart Keyboard Folio has also been upgraded in this year's refresh, and it's by necessity. It can no longer connect to the side of the device (that's reserved for the Pencil) and now uses a magnetic connection on its rear panel.

The keyboard is made from the same material as before but feels more stiff and sturdy. It also offers two viewing angles, including one that is closer to a right angle.

Even though both the new Pencil and Keyboard Folio accessories seem like must-have additions if you're to leave your laptop behind and charge forth with an iPad Pro future, they'll set you back $199 and $299 respectively.

Plus, you'll have to buy the new versions of these accessories. Even the old Pencil won't connect to the new iPad Pro.

WHAT IT LEAVES BEHIND

In addition to upgrading its two Apple-made accessories, you'll need to make more changes to use this new-look iPad.

The new iPad Pro requires an upgraded Smart Keyboard Folio for typing. Picture: AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews
The new iPad Pro requires an upgraded Smart Keyboard Folio for typing. Picture: AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews

You'll no longer be able to plug headphones into this device without an adaptor - Apple has removed the 3.5mm jack from this tablet - and there's no adaptor in the box.

Of course, you'll also need to buy new USB-C cables to replace your old Lightning cords wherever you charge this device.

If you plug in a camera, a memory card, or a hard drive, you'll also need to purchase extra adaptors for those.

Essentially, you could find yourself adapting a lot more adaptors and living The Dongle Life more familiar to a modern-day MacBook user.

Touch ID has also been removed from this tablet, though Face ID works so well, you won't miss it. Apple has even re-engineered facial recognition to work from landscape mode, so you don't even need to move this tablet around - or move your head around - to be recognised.

VERDICT

The latest top model iPad Pro not only looks slicker than before, but it's smaller, lighter, and more efficient.

There's no question that this is the top tablet on the market right now, or that it's a step up from its 12.9-inch Apple predecessor. It can do more and it looks better doing it.

That said, the top iPad Pro this year costs $950 more than the model that came before it, and that's before you consider the addition of new keyboard cover, a new Pencil, and new connections.

These price considerations are likely to make it an uneconomical option for existing iPad Pro users.

Those new to the tablet game, those considering whether to ditch their laptop for a slate, or any iPad Air user who's been patiently waiting for the right moment, however, are well advised to take it for a spin.

 

 

Apple iPad Pro 12.9 (3rd Gen)

$1529-$2869, apple.com/au

4.5 out of 5 stars

 

Pros:

- Smaller, lighter body

- More convenient Pencil

- Face ID security

- More powerful chip

- More storage

 

Cons:

- Big price hike

- No headphone jack

- No OIS in camera

- Must upgrade all connections

- Must upgrade all accessories



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