When Steve Jobs first introduced the iPad back in 2010, it started the tablet revolution. Soon after the first iPad released, every one of Apple’s competitors from Samsung & Motorola to HP and Lenovo released their own “iPad killer” but none of them have come close to real thing.
I mean, Samsung has tried with their Galaxy Tab S lineup but it still has some compromises. Then when Apple introduced the iPad Pro (12.9-inch) back in 2015, Apple was trying to revolutionize the tech industry but not in the same way that they did with the original iPad, they were trying get people to use tablets as their main computer or as a laptop replacement.
For the most part, Apple has done that but the iPad Pro still makes some compromises but they’re so little that they don’t distract from what an iPad, first and foremost, a tablet.
I’ve been using the iPad Pro for about a week or so and it’s one of the best iPads to date.
Design & Hardware
The most striking feature of the iPad Pro is the 12.9-inch Retina display, it has a resolution of 2732-by-2048 with 264 ppi. The display is beautiful to look at and videos look especially great on it.
No matter what angle you look at the display from, it still looks great. Even though I was sent the Silver colour option with a white front of the iPad Pro to review, I would recommend getting one with a black front, if you’re going to be using it for media consumption (which you’re going to want to).
There’s no denying that this is a big iPad but it only weighs about 1.59 pounds (for the Wi-Fi & Cellular version, which I tested), which makes it easy to carry around. But it is also very thin with its metal body. The iPad Pro is so large, that it’s made to be held in two-hands and in landscape.
The build quality of the iPad Pro is great and feels great to hold. The iPad Pro is a truly premium device, just like most of Apple’s devices.
The iPad Pro is being powered by a A9X chip with a 64-bit architecture and M9 motion coprocessor. The tablet could easily multi-task and games ran smoothly with no lag at all.
The iPad Pro 12.9 comes in three colour options, Silver, Gold and Space Grey and two storage capacities. 32GB and 128GB.
The battery life on the iPad Pro was great and I could easily get 8 hours of battery life, and the standby time on the Pro made the battery last even longer.
The iPad Pro has the standard Lightning port for charging and data transfers, you’ll also find the standard volume rockers, a headphone jack and four speakers, which made watching videos a pleasure.
There is also an optional Smart Keyboard cover which also doubles as a Smart Cover for the iPad Pro and I’m not overly impressed with the keyboard cover. It does the job but the keys are very shallow and have a weird nylon texture which may feel weird while typing. The Smart Keyboard attaches to the iPad Pro via the smart connectors on the left side of the device.
When you have the iPad Pro with the Smart Keyboard in the upright position with the keyboard out, there’s only one angle, in which you can set your iPad Pro at. I wish Apple had gone the extra mile and at least made a second viewing angle when using the Smart Keyboard. I meant, you’re already shelling out an extra $230 CAD for the Smart Keyboard and even the $49 CAD Smart Cover give the option for more than one angle.
I also tested the iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil and even though it was a poor naming choice, it’s one of my favourite things about the iPad Pro. I’m someone who love to draw and being able to draw digital makes it so much easier to add colours and post to Instagram. So I think the Apple Pencil is well worth the extra $129 CAD, even if your iPad will look like a unicorn when you charge it.
However, the iPad Pro comes at a cost. The pricing is as follows:
- 32GB (Wi-Fi) – $1,049 CAD
- 128GB (Wi-Fi) – $1,179 CAD
- 256GB (Wi-Fi) – $1,309 CAD
- 128GB (Wi-Fi & Cellular) – $1,359 CAD*
- 256GB (Wi-Fi & Cellular) $1,489 CAD
*The model that I tested
The iPad Pro 12.9 and the smaller 9.7 version are available from Apple’s website.
If you were to total up the cost to buy the iPad Pro*, the Smart Keyboard cover and the Apple Pencil, then you’re looking at around $1,707 CAD (plus applicable taxes, makes it around $1,940 CAD) and that’s a lot to ask for a tablet that’s meant to replace your laptop. And I don’t think that at this point, I would be able to replace my Macbook Pro with a iPad with a keyboard. There’s still some things that require a bit more power that an iPad.
Fair warning, I’ve been an Android user for about 7 years now and I have used iPads before but I’m calling BS on Apple’s claim about iOS being the “most advanced mobile operating system”. Sure that iOS was one of the first major mobile operating systems, that doesn’t mean it’s without its quirks.
iOS 10 is similar previous versions, meaning that you tap, swipe and scroll to get around. Your homescreen is just a grid of icons and to get back to the homescreen, is just a button press away. iOS 10 is a smooth experience and there’s zero lag.
Features like Multitasking and Slide Over and Split View were all introduced back with iOS 9 (which is what the iPad Pro launched with) but I found that some features like Slide Over still needs some work. Slide Over is there, so you can open a second app without leaving the one that you’re in but most of the time, when I tried to use Slide Over, it only opened YouTube in that view and wouldn’t let me choose another app to open.
Split View is a feature that allows you to use two apps at once and that’s one feature that does work well but I didn’t find myself using it that often.
Picture in Picture does work, but it only works for certain apps and sadly YouTube isn’t one of them but at least Netflix works in the mode.
One feature that I absolutely don’t like about iOS 10 is the press home to unlock. Gone is the swipe to unlock, because that was replaced by the new homescreen widgets, which I didn’t find useful. And even though the iPad Pro has Touch ID, whenever I would press home button to unlock the device, it wouldn’t always work. I don’t know if it’s because of which generation Touch ID sensor the iPad Pro has but I’ve set at four fingers and when I press home to unlock, it doesn’t seem to work and asks for my passcode.
The iPad Pro’s rear-facing camera is an 8-megapixel iSight camera and it takes okay photos and please don’t be one of those people who takes photos with their iPad, it’s just weird and awkward and you’re guaranteed to get at least one weird look (possibly more). The rear-facing camera can also take 1080p HD video at 30fps and slow-mo video at 120fps.
The front-facing FaceTime HD camera is 1.2-megapixels and is great for FaceTime calls and that’s about it.
If you’re looking for the best iPad you can get, then look no further than the iPad Pro 12.9. But if you’re not looking to replace your laptop with an iPad, then I would consider looking at the iPad Pro 9.7 which has the same features as the bigger iPad Pro 12.9 but just with a smaller screen and body. If you’re looking to do more than just tablet things, you should look elsewhere (maybe a Macbook Pro or Surface Pro 4 or some other laptop).
However, with the Canadian dollar as it is, that has made the iPad Pro 12.9 that much more expensive, the iPad Pro 12.9 starts at $1,049 CAD and that’s not including the cost of the Smart Keyboard, which is an additional $230 CAD and $129 CAD for the Apple Pencil. As mentioned earlier in this review, that makes the iPad Pro 12.9 about $1,400 which is serious laptop territory. For a few hundred dollars more, you can get a great laptop like a Macbook Pro.
And most people nowadays have at least one tablet (whether it’s an iPad or an Android tablet) and nobody is really in the market for a second tablet or to replace their tablet, because chance are, they already have one. That’s why Apple is pushing the iPad Pro as a laptop replacement, especially for creatives.
And I don’t think that many people are ready to give up their laptop for a iPad. If you were able to do more on the iPad, then maybe but at this point, I don’t see myself buying an iPad Pro 12.9 to replace my Macbook Pro, my Mac is working just fine and will continue to do so for years to come.
- Beautiful display
- Premium design
- Great battery life
- Solid performance
- Apple Pencil is great for drawing
- Awesome speakers
- Can get as expensive as a laptop (especially when adding cost of accessories
- TouchID issues
- Nowhere to store Apple Pencil
- Screen isn’t adjustable on Smart Keyboard
- iOS is somewhat limited