iPad Pro (3rd–gen, 12.9–inch)
Not just the king of iPads, but of all tablets
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.
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.