iPad Pro (3rd–gen, 12.9–inch)

Not just the king of iPads, but of all tablets

Mac|Life - - CONTENTS -

From $999 From Ap­ple, ap­ple.com Fea­tures 12.9–inch IPS dis­play, A12X Bionic chip, USB–C port, Smart Con­nec­tor, 64GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB stor­age, Wi–Fi (add $150 for mo­bile con­nec­tiv­ity)

The ques­tion of whether tablets are real com­put­ers or not is long dead. Even be­fore com­pa­nies started putting ‘pro’ on the end of the names, peo­ple were us­ing tablets for busi­ness, cre­ativ­ity, per­sonal ad­min… you know, things you use com­put­ers for. The fol­low–up ques­tion is whether you might buy the new iPad Pro in­stead of a Mac­Book next time you up­grade, and that’s where it gets com­pli­cated. The third–gen­er­a­tion iPad Pro is the best tablet ever made, and is a marvel of en­gi­neer­ing, but it still might not be right for you.

Cut­ting cor­ners

This year’s iPad Pros fea­ture the big­gest change in Ap­ple’s tablet de­sign since the orig­i­nal iPad’s cre­ation, dropping the Home but­ton and pinch­ing the curved cor­ners from the iPhone X. This is a much big­ger deal than it seems at first, be­cause it has made the foot­print of the 12.9–inch model dra­mat­i­cally smaller, cut­ting the chunky area at the top and bot­tom (when held in por­trait ori­en­ta­tion). The old ver­sion felt mas­sive and kind of ridicu­lous in the hand — this new de­sign just feels like a good, us­able size. It’s still on the big side, sure, but there’s also an 11–inch model (start­ing at $799), which is es­sen­tially iden­ti­cal other than screen size (it’s a wider as­pect ra­tio than the still 4:3 dis­play on the 12.9–inch model) and screen res­o­lu­tion of 2388x1668 pix­els (still 2732x2048 pix­els here).

The iPad Pro’s re­duced thick­ness of 6mm and 631g weight also help make it easy to han­dle. Com­pared to a 13–inch lap­top, it’s so breezy to carry, or pull out of your bag, that it doesn’t feel like a has­sle to just grab it, open a file, and do some work.

One part about the de­sign that sur­prised us was the flat sides, which are more rem­i­nis­cent of the iPhone 5 than the front’s mim­ick­ing of the iPhone X. That isn’t a bad thing, and it’s al­most cer­tainly been done to ac­com­mo­date the far su­pe­rior way the sec­ond–gen­er­a­tion Ap­ple Pen­cil works, but it’s a weird mix of Ap­ple de­sign past and present.

The Pen­cil now mag­net­i­cally at­taches to one side of the iPad, and wire­lessly charges while it’s there. It’s im­pos­si­ble to over­state how much of an im­prove­ment this is, for so many rea­sons. For a start, the mag­nets are strong enough that this is the best way to store the Pen­cil in gen­eral, so it’s al­ways to hand with your iPad. It also means it’s al­ways charged and ready to go, whereas with the last Pen­cil, you might have needed to plug it in to the iPad to get some power, mak­ing for a gi­ant, in­con­ve­nient con­trap­tion. So of­ten in meet­ings we’d pull the first Pen­cil from its stor­age, write on the iPad and… noth­ing. No juice, no dig­i­tal ink.

The write stuff

As a re­sult of all this, we’re us­ing the Pen­cil so much more than on the last Pro — grab­bing it to an­no­tate maps, or sketch notes we wouldn’t have both­ered to do be­fore. You can tap the Pen­cil to the screen of a locked iPad to jump straight into a new note, too.

The Pen­cil works pretty much the same, with pres­sure and tilt sens­ing. There’s now a flat edge to avoid it rolling off a desk, and you can dou­ble–tap near the nib to trig­ger one of a few ac­tions. That’s con­fig­ured in the Set­tings app, where you can choose to switch be­tween the cur­rent tool and ei­ther the eraser or the last tool used, show the color pal­ette, or turn off the ges­ture al­to­gether. We set­tled on the con­ve­nience of tog­gling to and from the eraser; as much as we liked the idea that Ap­ple might make the other end of the Pen­cil into an eraser, so we could twirl the Pen­cil, that would be a need­less re­cre­ation of a tra­di­tional pen­cil and eraser. What Ap­ple has done works bet­ter. A new

The iPad Pro’s Home but­ton and Touch ID is re­placed by Face ID, eas­ily un­locked via the front–fac­ing cam­era.

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