Apple’s iPad has been such a success story, that no one, not even Apple itself could have imagined it being any better – a runaway success, a brand new product line, immense revenue generation and such a head start that it took competition almost two full years to come up with viable alternatives. However the story palled over the last year or two.
It’s true that tablet sales are slowing down, but that’s not because the product sucks, its due to different reasons – primarily, not as many people need tablets, and most of those who do, have already bought one. Add to the burden, people don’t change tablets as often as they change phones.
Lastly, and for the most part, tablets (of every hue so far) have tended to only be vehicles for content consumption.
Apple chose this last roadblock to be the one they wanted to conquer. Hence the gargantuan 12.9 inch screen and two handy peripherals and a slew of apps designed to extend the iPad into “Pro” league – where professionals and serious users could consider the Tablet as a viable workhorse.
The huge, beautiful 12.9-inch Retina screen packing 5.6 million pixels – the biggest and highest resolution display ever made for an iPad.
Apple has used what it’s learnt from building the magnificent screen on their 2015 5K iMac and applied it here. The iPad Pro uses a similar oxide thin-film transistor (TFT) as the 27-inch desktop, which results in delivering uniform brightness across the screen. The oxide TFT also allows Apple to add a variable refresh rate to this device, which in theory, reduces the refresh rate resulting in longer battery – until you need it to actively support your antics such as for gaming or for 4K videos.
The result of all this tech wizardry is a display that’s simply stunning – in terms of colour accuracy, uniformity and peak brightness.
Some folks will pooh-pooh at the fact that it’s not an AMOLED screen and that contrast levels won’t be “as good” as those on Samsungs AMOLED devices. Don’t listen to them.
Take it from us – you will not find a better screen on any tablet, anywhere in the world, at this time. And don’t worry about the seemingly low pixel density of 264 ppi – please keep in mind, that the screen is so big, that anything about 250 pixels in every inch, will result in a brilliant, sharp, well-defined output.
This device is geared towards work, but the high quality display on it is good for entertainment as well.
Apart from its size the iPad Pro is similar to the iPad Air 2 in many respects, but better, much better.
You get an upgraded version of the excellent Touch ID fingerprint scanner built into the home button. It’s twice as fast as the original Touch ID, and substantially more accurate.
Now, there are some key design differences to be noticed in the iPad Pro. One is that there are four speakers, as opposed to the twin speakers on the iPad Air 2. And they’re equally powered speakers, smart speakers.
Apple says that the device figures out which way you’re holding it and intelligently balances the output in order to give you the optimum results.
So movies will sound as good, no matter which way you’re positioned.
Is it heavy? Yes and no. It’s light for it’s size and girth – though it is bigger and wider than other iPad devices, it retains the series’ lightness and thinness, enabling you to handle it with ease. But holding up 700+ grams of aluminium is an exercise by itself. So, this is undoubtedly a two-handed device, and one that will mostly be found on the table, not in your hands.
Lastly, for all it’s span, the iPad Pro (12.9) is an amazingly sturdy device. Built from the best metals and materials yet available. There isn’t an iota of material compromise you’d be able to find on this machine.
The iPad Pro is far ahead of any other device you can lay your hands on in this segment.
Be it in terms of power or speed or capability.
It carries a super-powered A9X processor chip, one that Apple claims is close to twice the speed of the iPad Air 2’s A8X. Running at 2.26 GHz and supported by 4 GB of RAM, the A9X provides blistering performance.
In fact, with a Geekbench 3 multi-core score of 5,523, the iPad Pro is comparable to the entry-level MacBook and i5-toting Microsoft Surface Pro 3. Image editing is similarly impressive, with changes appearing instantly in the new range of Adobe apps. Apple says you can even edit 4K videos on the iPad Pro (12.9) and it won’t break a sweat.
And they’re not exaggerating!
That said, it seems that most users will really see the benefit in a little while – apps that can push this device to its limits are still in the works. Games are already out there that puts the iPad through it’s paces; but they don’t worry the iPad.
Having said all this, there is scarcely the need to discuss how the device benchmarks. All the games that are available today run smooth as butter and there are no issues with the performance of the device. The CPU intensive tasks don’t seem like CPU intensive tasks.
The iPad Pro is incredibly fast for a tablet and the high level of performance is all the more admirable considering how cool it stays under stress. At no point have I found it becoming even warm following an hour of gaming, let alone hot.
The iPad Pro runs iOS 9, Apple’s latest mobile operating system. There have been lots of changes and upgrades on this OS. We will discuss the most significant ones that affect the iPad Pro.
To start with there is Split View multitasking. You can have multiple apps opened at once. For example, you can put together a beautiful presentation using Keynote while at the same time be pulling images from a Safari browser window. That too, without having to switch from one app to the other.
There are some apps however, that won’t work side by side (at this time) such as Facebook and video streaming apps which brings us to another feature upgrade in the OS. For apps such as these, you can use the Slide Over functionality of the new iOS.
Slide Over lets you, well, slide compatible apps over the app you’re currently using. So if you want to send a quick email or Skype message, but don’t want to interrupt the latest episode of your favourite TV show, you can. Well, you can if you’re watching content from the iTunes Store, that is.
There’s also a beautiful new avatar of iPhotos that comes with iOS 9 and it adds a lot more functionality and capability to the ecosystem. And the large screen really helps you work on these photos – editing them, or just plain enjoying them.
There are compatibility problems with some of the apps. However, the nature of these issues suggests that they are going to be short-lived, this is a new OS and fixes should be on their way.
The only other disappointment of iOS 9 on the iPad Pro is the lack of any changes on an OS level, to make the most of the big screen. The number of app icons on the home screens remains the same as on any other iPad, and you can still pin only five apps to the quick-launch bar. It’s a wasted opportunity! Hopefully Apple’s working on that and will remedy it soon. There’s just so much space on that screen and it seems criminal to be underutilising it so!
Clicking photos from a tablet has always seemed a little over the top and downright awkward, thanks in part to a device’s huge dimensions and also because of the trivial camera quality found on tablets.
The iPad Pro does not change that significantly. However, the camera seems to be a little better than other devices in the category.
Since the iPad Pro is for both work or play Apple has plugged in cameras that take very good pictures for a tablet, and they’re equivalent to the cameras on the iPhone 5.
The front shooter is the obligatory FaceTime HD 1.2 megapixel camera for video calls, and the main shooter is a more impressive 8 megapixel iSight unit. Both are of the same specification as the cameras on the iPad Air 2 and both do a decent job.
The Facetime shooter shoots in 720p and surprisingly for a tablet, the low-light images are good enough.
The rear camera shoots at 1080p thanks to the higher number of pixels on the sensor. But don’t expect to frame most of the photos.
So what’s the iPad good for, at an entertainment level?
Well, anything, actually. With the amazing display and because of its sheer size, you can be rest assured that you will be thoroughly entertained with this device.
Games look and perform beautifully. Videos are rich, stutter free, well lit and beautifully rendered. Images (taken from the device, or your iPhone, or from a regular camera) are absolutely smashing, and like we said earlier, the new iPhotos adds a lot of capability on the photos editing side.
To take your videos experience up several notches, the iPad Pro includes four stereo speakers. Bass and higher frequencies adjust according to the position in which the device is held.
All four speakers pump out bass, but only the top two, depending on how you hold the iPad, produce mids and highs. All this leads to a surprisingly balanced audio experience and stereo separation that I’m totally unaccustomed to on a tablet!
The iPad Pro is made to be used everywhere – including public areas. So, for additional security, the Apple iPad Pro comes with an amazingly fast Touch ID fingerprint scanner built into the home button. This not only protects your device, but also prevents unauthorised access to your data stored therein.
As it were, Apple has been focusing on Business Use and Device Security for many years now. The combination of the OS and their amazingly vibrant App Store provide enough avenues to use the iPad as a tool for any form of work or play.
Working with content is absolutely effortless once you’re used to the device.
Thanks to iOS 9, enhanced ‘share extensions’ make it possible for apps like Pages to import documents directly from cloud solutions like Box or iCloud. So now you don’t need to leave the app you’re in to get the documents you need!