10.5-inch iPad Pro

Ap­ple‘s tablet gets a sec­ond wind

Mac|Life - - REVIEWS -

From $649 From Ap­ple, ap­ple.com Fea­tures 2224x1668-pixel dis­play, A10X pro­ces­sor, Light­ning port, Smart Con­nec­tor, Ap­ple Pen­cil sup­port, up to 512GB of stor­age

There’s an adage for most new tech: don’t buy the first ver­sion. No mat­ter how ground­break­ing and good it is, the sec­ond will be even bet­ter. And so it has come to pass that the smaller iPad Pro’s sec­ond ver­sion leaves its pre­de­ces­sor look­ing like an un­fin­ished thought.

With its eye firmly on the “Pro” side, Ap­ple has im­proved things in three key ar­eas from the 9.7-inch iPad Pro: the amount of work­ing space, the qual­ity of the dis­play, and the per­for­mance. The move to a 10.5-inch screen with a higher res­o­lu­tion of 2224x1668 pix­els adds about 20 per­cent dis­play area, while keep­ing the same sharp pixel den­sity – and barely any ex­tra size to the chas­sis, due to the new de­sign.

Items on the screen gen­er­ally look the same size as on the 9.7-inch model, but you have more space to play with, and it al­lows for ex­tras – such as the on-screen key­board (and sep­a­rately pur­chased Smart Key­board) be­ing just about full-size, which helps with typ­ing speed. It’s sub­tle over­all, but in­stantly ob­vi­ous if you work in Split View a lot. It was us­able but a lit­tle cramped before; now we find we can hap­pily do all kinds of work with our email app locked to a quar­ter of the screen.

Of course, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is even more com­fort­able for work­ing in Split View, and will be the best plat­form if you want to use four apps si­mul­ta­ne­ously (com­ing in iOS 11), but the 10.5-inch dis­play here is now a won­der­ful bal­ance be­tween space and porta­bil­ity.

But size isn’t the only in­ter­est­ing change to the dis­play. One big fea­ture is sup­port for a 120Hz re­fresh rate, which dou­bles the num­ber of frames per sec­ond the screen shows com­pared to Ap­ple’s pre­vi­ous dis­plays. It makes an­i­ma­tions look ex­tremely smooth, and scrolling text more read­able. This is lovely but, more im­por­tantly, it also makes the screen twice as re­spon­sive, be­cause it shows the re­sult of any in­ter­ac­tions twice as fast. That’s huge in the case of the Ap­ple Pen­cil.

The dis­play is pow­ered by Pro­Mo­tion tech, which varies the re­fresh rate; if you’re watch­ing a TV show or read­ing a book, the screen runs at a lower rate to save power. This is all es­sen­tially un­no­tice­able, but re­sults in ex­cel­lent bat­tery life: We typed this re­view for a cou­ple of hours, spent an­other hour brows­ing the web and view­ing pho­tos, then left it on standby overnight – and the bat­tery was still at 80 per­cent the next morn­ing, so Pro­Mo­tion seems to do its job.

The screen’s bright­ness has been amped up, too. Com­bined with the wide color gamut, it makes pho­tos look as­tound­ingly vi­brant, and helps with view­ing in bright light, in con­junc­tion with an im­proved anti-re­flec­tive coat­ing. It’s even good enough to dis­play high dy­namic range (HDR) video, though sup­port for this won’t ar­rive un­til iOS 11. The 2017 iPad Pros have Ap­ple’s best screens to date.

There’s an­other huge boost when it comes to the iPad Pro’s sheer, raw com­put­ing power. The new A10X pro­ces­sor is a triple-core chip (up from the dual-core A9X), with 4GB of mem­ory and a new, more pow­er­ful graph­ics unit. Open­ing and switch­ing be­tween apps is very fast, but other iPads don’t feel slow in com­par­i­son. It’s in in­tense tests that you see its power: in Geek­bench 4, the A10X scores 81 per­cent higher than its pre­de­ces­sor, and 42 per­cent higher than the lat­est gen­er­a­tion of 12-inch MacBook. In fact, its score even beats most 13-inch MacBook Pro mod­els.

In real-world tests against its pre­de­ces­sors, you’ll see less dra­matic re­sults, but still con­sid­er­able gains. To test the pro­ces­sor, we used WinZip to com­press a 1.2GB folder of files, and the new Pro fin­ished the task in 25.16 sec­onds – 37 per­cent faster than the 39.93 sec­onds of the 9.7-inch Pro.

Not many apps use this much power now, but it helps fu­ture­proof this ma­chine as more and more pow­er­ful apps ap­pear. Take Affin­ity Photo, which is ba­si­cally the equiv­a­lent of Pho­to­shop on the iPad. On the old Pro, it works great, but with some paus­ing af­ter you ap­ply cer­tain brushes. There’s no such wait­ing on the new iPad Pro.

There are im­prove­ments for pros in other ar­eas too, such as up to 512GB of stor­age, and USB 3 sup­port over the Light­ning port. The Pro’s speak­ers are still great, and the Smart Con­nec­tor, though un­changed, is handy for things like the Smart Key­board (which still costs an eye-wa­ter­ing $159 – wait for a cheaper op­tion if you can).

So, should you get this iPad? Ab­so­lutely – if you’re look­ing for a por­ta­ble work ma­chine. If you just want 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 dis­play, oo­dles of power, and amaz­ing draw­ing prow­ess, this re­ally can be a lap­top re­place­ment for some. In fact, it might just be our fa­vorite com­puter in years.

The Bot­tom Line. A stun­ning dis­play and pow­er­ful fu­ture­proof­ing make this a top mo­bile work­ing ma­chine – and it’ll only get bet­ter when iOS 11 is re­leased.

The new A10X pro­ces­sor and graph­ics per­for­mance im­prove­ments pro­vide real pro power.

The 120Hz Pro­Mo­tion dis­play makes the Ap­ple Pen­cil feel more fluid and re­al­is­tic than ever.

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