Apple iPad Pro 10.5in
THE SLICKEST TABLET YET, THE APPLE IPAD PRO 10.5IN IS A COMPACT POWERHOUSE AND A VIABLE LAPTOP REPLACEMENT
W hen you scroll, it’s buttery smooth.” So said Apple’s Greg Joswiak, on stage at WWDC 2017, waxing lyrical about the 10.5in Apple iPad Pro. You can imagine those words printed 20-feet high on a billboard outside Palo Alto, along with a picture of someone smearing Lurpak on a tablet.
Turns out, smoothness is very much the iPad Pro’s biggest advantage. The new model has a slightly dierent design to its Pro and non-Pro iPad siblings, but what truly sets it apart is how it couples compactness with a bright display that has an outstanding refresh rate. Responsive to touch and optimised for multitasking, this is Apple’s best pitch yet against the laptop.
SPOT THE DIFFERENCE?
At a glance, the device looks to have the same dimensions as the 9.7in iPad Pro it replaces. Measuring 251 x 174 x 6.1mm, it is in fact slightly larger, but makes the most of this real estate with thinner side bezels. The result is a tablet that oers around 20% more screen space than its predecessor despite their similar size. At 469g, it’s only a fraction heavier than the 437g 9.7in iPad Pro too.
Slim bezels are in vogue, with the Samsung Galaxy S8 demonstrating that there’s plenty of demand for devices that spread their displays across the whole of their face. The 10.5in iPad Pro doesn’t quite have Samsung’s “Infinity Display” design, but the thinner side bezels give the new iPad Pro a premium aesthetic that sets it apart from its predecessor.
The one natural worry with this new design is accidental activation of the touchscreen, but Apple’s palmrejection technology does an excellent job of judging what’s purposeful from accidental.
SO SLICK IT HZ
The iPad Pro range’s display was already fabulous, but Apple has improved on its screen technology with this year’s revamped line-up. Both the 12.9in and 10.5in models come with a redesigned Retina display, each packing a pixel density of 264ppi. In the 10.5in variant, the resolution rises to 2,224 x 1,668 (versus standard iPad models’ 2,048 x 1,536) and Apple’s wide colour display claims to cover the entire DCI-P3 colour gamut – which means redder reds, greener greens and bluer blues.
Cleverly, iOS switches between the wider DCI-P3 and standard sRGB gamuts automatically, so colours won’t appear under- or oversaturated. In our testing, that colour management worked flawlessly, with the 10.5in iPad Pro’s display covering an impressive 95.8% coverage of the sRGB gamut.
Monument Valley 2, for example, is a joyful bloom of colour that looks spectacular on the iPad’s screen, regardless of whether it’s played indoors or outdoors. The iPad Pro’s True Tone display, which debuted in the 9.7in iPad Pro, automatically adapts colour and hue to suit the light of a given environment, and with the tablet’s anti-reflective, oleophobic coating keeping glare and fingerprint smudges to a minimum, I could play games on a café patio, write emails underground and read articles in the back of a car as it passed in and out of shade, just as comfortably as if I was sat in the o£c e.
If you’re used to the iPad Pro, you’ll already be familiar with True Tone and this coterie of extras. What the new lineup brings to the mix, however, is a refresh rate of 120Hz. This “ProMotion” display setup isn’t pure marketing: it genuinely raises the game when it comes to screen responsiveness. Using either fingers or Apple Pencil feels astonishingly smooth, with images looking crisp in motion, and text maintaining readability as it whizzes across the screen. The refresh rate also dynamically changes depending on what’s onscreen, with the aim of maximising battery life.
The new iPad Pro models both come with a six-core, A10X Fusion chip and 4GB of RAM, improvements on the 9.7in iPad Pro’s A9X and 2GB. Quite simply, the A10X blows both its competitors and its predecessor completely out of the water, with a 30% increase in single-core performance over the A9X, and a hugely impressive 82% increase in multi-core performance.
As the graphs to the right show, the new chipset is incredibly quick, especially for graphics. The 10.5in iPad Pro managed a Geekbench 4 single-core score of 3,930, beating both the 9.7in iPad Pro and the original 12.9in iPad Pro. That’s impressive enough, but it’s the multi-core score that provides a real feel for the new Pro’s
power. While the 9.7in and original 12.9in models managed 4,844 and 5,095 respectively, the 10.5in iPad Pro recorded a staggering 9,380.
In terms of professional use, this means that the new iPad Pro is even more capable of editing 4K video and rendering 3D images, not to mention playing even more graphically demanding games.
Battery life has also seen a jump, lasting just shy of 13 hours in our videorundown test. That compares to 8hrs 36mins for the iPad Pro 9.7in, and few people complained about that model’s battery.
Camera-wise, the 10.5in iPad Pro comes with the same 12-megapixel, ƒ/1.8 aperture camera as the iPhone 7 and a 7-megapixel FaceTime camera. Encompassing optical image stabilisation, quad-LED True Tone flash and the ability to shoot 4K video, the main camera is a stellar shooter, delivering pictures that look rich and full of detail. It’s noticeably better than the 8-megapixel unit on the regular iPad. Couple it with a few editing tools and the new iPad Pro could make a convincing all-in-one film studio.
As with previous iPad Pros, it has punchy, four-speaker audio, which adjusts mid and high frequencies depending on how you’re holding the device. As for connectivity, you have the usual Smart Connection situated on the long left side of the tablet – three dots that promise a number of accessory match-ups.
There’s a new Smart Keyboard – if you have one for the iPad Pro 9.7in, it won’t cover the full frontage of the new tablet – and it’s an identical design to the old model, sticking to the edge of the 10.5in iPad Pro like an extra limb. While I still prefer the heft of a laptop keyboard for prolonged writing sessions, this lightweight attachment is a useful tool for professionals less focused on typing.
TURN IT UP TO IOS 11
Our review model didn’t come with iOS 11 (it won’t be ocially released until Q3) but I had a chance to play around with the new OS at WWDC and it’s worth noting a few of its features, as they stand to provide some major upgrades to the iPad Pro.
In particular, this is the update that puts questions about the iPad Pro’s usefulness for “real work” to bed. The plethora of tweaks and additions are all aimed at increasing the device’s use as a multitasking work hub. First, there’s a new Mac-like Dock, with the option for adding multiple shortcuts to apps, along with a trio of apps the iPad predicts you’ll use. Both are valuable features, reducing the number of taps and swipes required to open apps.
Multitasking has also been given an important upgrade in iOS 11. Whereas previous software versions have allowed multiple applications to open on a single screen, the new setup has much more flexibility. An app such as Twitter, for example, can be opened beside Safari, but can also be dragged into a hovering “pop-over” window before being plonked down to occupy a portion of the screen on either side.
iOS 11 also adds a useful, multitouch drag and drop. Cleverly, Apple has broadened this interactive grammar beyond the single-pointer, singleoperation choices we’re used to with a computer mouse or a smartphone finger. If you want to, say, drag multiple pictures from an onscreen app into an o¡-screen app, you first use one hand to select di¡erent images, then use your other hand to swipe between apps, before releasing the first hand.
While iOS 11 won’t be available for a few months yet, it’s worth bearing in mind the improvements it’s set to bring if you’re buying an iPad Pro now. Soon these excellent tablets will be even more capable of handling the pace of professional work, with touch- based interactions that go further than mimicking those of laptops.
PRICE AND VERDICT
Starting at $979 for 64GB and running to $1,429 for 512GB, the 10.5in iPad Pro is a big step up in price over the tablet it replaces. And, as ever, you’ll have to fork out $235 on top of that for the Smart Keyboard and $145 for the Pencil, bringing the price to $1,359.
But if you’re looking to use a tablet as a replacement for a work laptop – and that work covers a lot of design or editing – then you should seriously consider the 10.5in iPad Pro. It’s more portable than a MacBook, less expensive and works out cheaper than many 12in or 13in ultraportable Windows 10 laptops.
With the match of iOS 11 and a newly responsive display, Apple looks like it has finally reached a tipping point with iPad Pro functionality. Will it redefine the professional iPad, finally winning over naysayers and convincing users to opt for workplace touchscreens? Or will it be the final gasp for a sector that’s unable to find a place for itself between the worlds of laptops and smartphones? On the basis of the excellent 10.5in iPad Pro, it deserves to be the former.
Apple announced a new 12.5in iPad Pro at the same time as the 10.5in model
There’s a range of accessories, but naturally you’ll pay through the nose for them all
Apple’s palm-rejection technology means writing and drawing is seamless