Recently we had the pleasure of test driving the iPad Pro. Is it worth its lofty price tag? Here are our 5 conclusions
The iPad Pro that Apple announced at their celebrated event back in September goes up against every principle the company has stuck to in recent years. First off, it is considerably bigger than previous models have been. This comes after the company made a point of saying from the start that they had arrived at the ideal size for the tablet, and assumed that the entire industry would fall in line after them behind the same standard.
Secondly, and probably the nosiest complaint about Apple that has been aired thus far, is the addition of the stylus. When Jobs first unveiled the iPhone in 2007, he wasn’t shy about his feelings on the stylus, asking, ”Who wants a stylus? You have to get ’em, put ’em away, you lose ’em. Yuck! Nobody wants a stylus. So let’s not use a stylus.”
Perhaps in honor of Jobs, the iPad Pro doesn’t use a stylus. Instead it has a “Pencil” – which is essentially a stylus.
Despite this, it is unfair to judge Apple (or any other company) based on statements splurted out in 2007 at a time when the tech world is changing drastically every few months. Jobs’ quip was relevant to the tech reality of 2007 and relates to a completely different device with a smaller screen. It’s worth remembering that screens at that time suffered from poor resolution, and couldn’t support the level of precision and touch screen and digital pen connection necessary for an especially successful user experience.
The iPad Pro is now available in only a number of countries, but those who don’t want to wait can get their hands on it through stores that offer private import services.
Before we dive into our findings from using the device, it is important to note that our impressions here are based on using the Pro without the external devices that are sold separately. The Pencil is being sold for $99, and the keyboard for an additional $169. Both items are being sold directly by Apple, and the current time to delivery stands between a month to a month and a half.
1. This screen is sharp
The iPad Pro’s touch screen reaches a resolution of 2732 by 2048, and sports a pixel density of 264ppi. For comparison’s sake, the iPad Air 2 has a resolution of 2048 by 1536 and has the same pixel density as the Pro, though the Air 2 has a smaller 9.7” screen compared with the Pro’s 12.9”. Basically, we’re talking about a paradoxical situation where the Pro’s screen is bigger than the new MacBook that stands at only 12”. The difference, even if it sounds negligible on paper, is huge.
The iPad Pro’s screen is without a doubt the best that we have encountered in a tablet so far. This fact shines through when watching high quality videos, and of course when viewing pictures or optimized apps. While most apps haven’t been altered yet to make use of this screen, it is only a matter of time until the important ones will make the necessary changes.
It’s important to point out that the iPad Pro doesn’t have the 3D Touch feature that Apple rolled out at their last event and is now a part of the new iPhone 6S. Our best guess here is that in order to implement the technology that allows for the Pencil’s precision, Apple had to temporarily pass on the 3D Touch feature. That said, we are likely to see it come in for later models.
2. Forget about mobility: It’s not comfortable to hold in one hand
Even though we’re talking about a big screen, the first time you pick up the iPad Pro, it actually feels relatively light. However a minute or two later, you’ll understand that it’s just your initial perception between the size and expected weight that’s off. The device itself looks big and we assume it will be heavy, and therefore the first feeling plays in its favor.
It is actually heavy and not really comfortable to hold. Those of you who are planning to use it while traveling should think again. We’re talking here about a device for using at work or around the house, but is far from being a light and easy to carry around mobile device that you can use for hours.
The iPad Pro weighs 713 grams, compared with the new MacBook that comes with a full keyboard, trackpad, and is extremely mobile and weighs in at only 920 grams.
3. Speakers? Let’s just say WOW
Forgetting all of the other incredible aspects of this device, the listening experience on the iPad Pro is nothing short of perfect. Apple placed four speakers on the iPad’s corners and channel the sound so well that it produces a viewing experience that succeeded in surprising all who tried it out. The volume, sound, and reach that was coming out from all of the speakers alongside the sharp screen makes for an entertainment experience that we haven’t seen from a tablet or any other mobile device thus far.
Apple has really covered all of the angels here on the sound front, with an added feature that uses the gyroscope to know how the device is being held, and produce the best possible sound to match.
4. Long live the divided screen
While competing operating systems have been offering this feature for some time now, Apple’s execution in pulling off the split screen has made it a viable device for work. Try to visualize scanning through your emails on one side while checking dates in your calendar from the other or for lighter fare, simultaneously flipping through Facebook and Instagram. These are just some of the endless possibilities that were made available on iOS 9 for iPads, but is particularly spectacular on the Pro.
Apple’s intuitive design philosophy makes this feature a cinch to use by just dragging your finger from the edge of the screen and selecting the app that you want to use. If you want to give one of the apps more real estate, all you have to do is pull the divider to resize it.
5. This is not a PC killer
One of the biggest accusations that have been leveled at the entire line of iPads is that it is a great device for consuming content but falls short when it comes to creating it. With its keyboard and Pencil, the iPad Pro is amazing for producing creative content. When you add in the sharp screen and its sound capabilities, it easily beats out competing tablets.
The underlying problem (or advantage, depending on how you look at it) is that at the end of the day, the iPad Pro is still running iOS and not OS X. Even if you add the keyboard, it won’t become a lighter MacBook with a better battery life. Users need to understand that this is an iPad with a large screen and a keyboard. If you buy the Pencil with its $99 price tag, it can be an incredible tool for creating content, but really only for a very specific field of those working in graphic design, and should make most people question whether it is worth this extra cost.
During the time that I was testing out the iPad Pro, I found that I was unable to put aside my MacBook for the simple reason that it wasn’t a viable alternative to a laptop. That said, Apple doesn’t really seem to be aiming at bringing users to make this shift at this time.
We’ll finish with the price. In the U.S., the most basic model with its 32GB memory and Wi-Fi only connectivity sells for $799 directly from Apple. This price doesn’t include the pen which retails for $99 or the $169 Smart Keyboard.
While Apple has created a truly beautiful device, the bottom line is that unless you are a designer, architect, animator, or work in another field that requires you to use a tablet as a core element of your job, I’m pretty doubtful that the investment is really worth it.
The device was provided to us courtesy of iShare.