There’s an adage for most new tech: don’t buy the first ver­sion. No mat­ter how ground­break­ing that first one is, the sec­ond will be even better. Re­mem­ber how much better the iPad 2 was than the iPad 1? And the iPhone didn’t re­ally hit its stride un­til it had 3G ac­cess, no mat­ter how much peo­ple loved that first model. And so it should be no sur­prise that the smaller iPad Pro’s sec­ond ver­sion leaves its pre­de­ces­sor look­ing like a half-fin­ished thought.

With its eye firmly on the ‘Pro’ side of things, Ap­ple has im­proved things in three key ar­eas from the 9.7-inch iPad Pro this re­places: the amount of space to work; the qual­ity of the dis­play; and the per­for­mance. The move to a 10.5-inch screen with a higher res­o­lu­tion of 2224 x 1668 adds around 20 per cent more area, while keep­ing the same sharp pixel

den­sity (and barely any ex­tra size to the chas­sis, thanks to the new de­sign). Items on the screen gen­er­ally stay the same size as they were on the 9.7-inch model, but you have more space to play with, and it al­lows for bonuses, such as the on-screen key­board (and at­tach­able Smart Key­board) be­ing just about full-size, which does help for typ­ing speed. The size dif­fer­ence is sub­tle over­all, but it’s in­stantly ob­vi­ous if you work in Split View a lot. Be­fore, it was a lit­tle cramped on the smaller Pro – us­able, but you tended not to stay long in Split View if you could help it. Now, we found we could hap­pily do all kinds of work with our email app locked per­ma­nently into the right-hand quar­ter of the screen. That lit­tle bit of space tipped it over the thresh­old from awk­ward to to­tally com­fort­able. Ob­vi­ously, the 12.9-inch model is even more com­fort­able for Split View work, and will be the best plat­form if you’re con­sid­er­ing us­ing the op­tion of four apps si­mul­ta­ne­ously that iOS 11 will

en­able (see be­low), but this screen is now a re­ally strong bal­ance be­tween space and porta­bil­ity. Whether you go for it or the big Pro comes down to pref­er­ence,

and the kind of work you’ll use it for – they’re essen­tially iden­ti­cal oth­er­wise.

But the new 10.5-inch size isn’t the only up­date to the screen. The mar­quee fea­ture is 120Hz support, which dou­bles the num­ber of frames per sec­ond the screen shows com­pared to all of Ap­ple’s

pre­vi­ous dis­plays. It makes an­i­ma­tions look su­per-smooth, and scrolling text more read­able, which is lovely, but is largely ul­ti­mately

fluff (though it does make all other screens look old-fash­ioned in com­par­i­son).

But it also makes the screen twice as re­spon­sive, ef­fec­tively,

be­cause it shows the re­sult of any in­ter­ac­tions twice as fast. This is huge in the case of the Ap­ple Pen­cil, since apps can now show what you’re draw­ing pretty much ex­actly as you draw, rather than a no­tice­able frac­tion of a sec­ond after. But the point of the Pro­Mo­tion screens is that they

don’t al­ways op­er­ate at 120Hz. If you’re watch­ing a movie at 30 frames per sec­ond, the screen only runs at that rate, sav­ing power. If

you’re read­ing a book, it keeps the frame rate low, since the im­age on the screen rarely changes. And if you start draw­ing, it ramps the frame rate back up in­stantly, to

give you the best feed­back. Of course, this is all essen­tially un­no­tice­able, but the Pros do have ex­cel­lent bat­tery life, so it seems to do its job. We spent a cou­ple of hours writ­ing this re­view, then an­other hour brows­ing the web, and view­ing and edit­ing pho­tos. Then left it on standby overnight.

In the morn­ing, we still had 80 per cent bat­tery left. Dif­fer­ent tasks use up more bat­tery, but in light work use, 12 hours (or more) is no prob­lem for this ma­chine, or its big-screen brother.

The screen has one more im­prove­ment too: the bright­ness has been amped up. Com­bined with the wide colour ga­mut, it makes pho­tos look as­tound­ingly vi­brant, and helps with view­ing in bright light (along with an im­proved anti-re­flec­tive coat­ing). And it’s even good enough to dis­play HDR video, but support for this won’t ar­rive un­til iOS 11, so mark that down as po­ten­tial for the fu­ture. Even be­fore that ar­rives, these are still surely the best screens Ap­ple has made yet, and they make ev­ery­thing else look dull after just a few min­utes with them. (The 12.9-inch iPad Pro has also gained the bril­liant True Tone fea­ture that changes the colour tem­per­a­ture to match the am­bi­ent light – the smaller Pro al­ready had this.)


The screen is the big change that ev­ery­one ben­e­fits from in the new iPad Pro, but there’s an­other huge boost that’s less im­me­di­ately ob­vi­ous: the sheer, raw com­put­ing power. That the new A10X chip is based on last year’s tech is a tes­ta­ment to how far ahead of its com­peti­tors Ap­ple is, be­cause the pro­ces­sor in this thing is a barely caged beast. It’s a triple-core chip (up from dual cores in the A9X), with 4GB of RAM (an im­prove­ment in this 10.5-inch model, but is the same for the 12.9-inch), with a new, more pow­er­ful graph­ics unit to match.

When you just switch be­tween apps, you’ll no­tice that it’s very fast, but then other iPads don’t tend to feel slow. It’s in in­tense test­ing you see its power: in Geek­bench 4, it scores 81 per cent higher than its

pre­de­ces­sor for pro­cess­ing power, and 42 per cent higher than the lat­est gen­er­a­tion of 12-inch MacBook. In fact, its score beats most 13-inch MacBook Pro mod­els…

In real-world tests against its pre­de­ces­sors, you see less dra­matic re­sults, but still big. To test the pro­ces­sor, we used WinZip to com­press a 1.2GB folder of files, and the new Pro per­formed the task in 25.16 sec­onds, which is 30 per cent faster than the 39.93 sec­onds of the 9.7-inch Pro.

The thing is, apps on iOS tend to work fairly dif­fer­ently to desk­top, with even cre­ative ones ac­cel­er­at­ing tasks us­ing the graph­ics chip, mak­ing pure CPU power not that im­por­tant – but then, the GPU com­put­ing power is also around 80 per cent higher in bench­marks.

It all makes this ma­chine hugely fu­ture-proof as more and more pow­er­ful apps ap­pear. Take Affin­ity Photo, which is ba­si­cally full-fat Pho­to­shop on the iPad. On the old Pro, it works great, but with some paus­ing after you ap­ply cer­tain brushes. No such thing on the new Pro – it has acres of head­room for more desk­top-level apps.


There are im­prove­ments for pros in other ar­eas too, such as the op­tion for up to 512GB of stor­age (for a price), and USB 3 support over the Light­ning con­nec­tion (pre­vi­ously re­stricted to the 12.9-inch model only). The speak­ers are still great, too, and while the Smart Con­nec­tor hasn’t been changed, it’s handy for ac­ces­sories like the Smart Key­board, which is ar­guably es­sen­tial if you’re to use this as a lap­top re­place­ment, but is still eye-wa­ter­ingly ex­pen­sive – we’d wait to see if third-par­ties beat Ap­ple at this game with an op­tion that has back­light­ing and me­dia fea­tures, if you can wait.

So should you get this iPad? Ab­so­lutely – if you’re look­ing for a por­ta­ble work ma­chine. For just

an en­ter­tain­ment tablet, its HDR support is great, but it’s very much overkill – the fifth-gen­er­a­tion 9.7-inch iPad is al­most half the price, and fan­tas­tic for non-pro stuff.

But with its gor­geous screen, oo­dles

of power and amaz­ing draw­ing prow­ess, this re­ally can be a lap­top re­place­ment for a lot of peo­ple. In fact, it might be our favourite

por­ta­ble com­puter in years.

ABOVE Size mat­ters: the 10.5-inch screen is 20 per cent larger than the 9.7-inch iPad Pro screen

ABOVE The cam­era matches the qual­ity of the iPhone 7 – nice for tablet photo fiends

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