The first time I swiped on the 10.5” iPad Pro’s 120Hz display last week, I thought it looked fake – like a CGI software sequence. It was incredibly, utterly crisp and fast. It didn’t look like iOS belonged on the screen: after years of iPad usage, my brain was telling me that something didn’t seem normal about the way iOS was animating. Except it’s all real, and it simply takes a couple of days to get used to the new display and the work Apple has put into ProMotion for smoother scrolling and fluid animations throughout the system.
Personally, after a week of usage, I’ve appreciated the 10.5” form factor and new display so much, I’ve ended up somewhere in the middle. The 10.5” iPad Pro feels great to hold with one hand when catching up on Twitter, reading articles saved in Safari, and putting together advanced automations in Workflow.
After playing with the new iPad Pro 10.5″ for a few days, I am convinced that it’s fairly impossible to do a detailed review of it in its current state. Not because there is some sort of flaw, but because it was clearly designed top to bottom as an empty vessel in which to pour iOS 11.
I know this isn’t really helpful to those of you who have or wish to buy the device when it drops on Tuesday, but don’t worry, I can save you all of that flim flam. This is an amazing iPad. It pays off years of setup in ways that come home when you see how well iOS 11 works.
Knowing what we do about iOS 11, any review of an iPad Pro running iOS 10 is going to feel unfinished. iOS 10 neither taxes nor takes full advantage of this hardware. The iOS 9-era multitasking features (nearly untouched in iOS 10) feel clunky and anachronistic two years in, especially with foreknowledge of the altogether more natural and macOS-esque improvements that are coming in a few short months.
So we’re left to evaluate the improved hardware without the virtue of the improved software that Apple announced with it. And it is very good hardware!
To me, if you’re going to spend $650 on a computer, it should almost surely be your main computer. And if you’re going to make the iPad Pro your main computer, you should probably get more than 64GB of storage and you should also probably get a keyboard to go with it (to say nothing of the Apple Pencil). It hits the $1,000 mark very quickly.
If you’re going to spend that much money on an iPad, you should know exactly what you’re going to do with it that takes advantage of all the Pro features. There are people who are already doing that, but I don’t think the majority of computer users can be comfortable using an iPad as their main device. For those who can, go out and buy the hell out of this thing.
I keep going back and forth on the the value of the iPad Pro. I feel it’s ultimately a little bit of the right product at the wrong time and a little bit of the chicken-and-egg story.
Firstly, I was surprised when all reviews spoke about how expensive it is. Isn’t this the most value for money product category in Apple’s line-up? It’s on par with an entry level iPhone (in US, cheaper than in most other countries) and blows away the latter in display quality, speakers, size and performance, not to mention doubling the storage. It’s cheaper than all Macs as well, if you don’t need that kind of functionality; but that’s exactly the point: what is its functionality?
iPhones can be charged at a higher margin because they are exactly that; everyone needs a phone and they use it all the time. Thus spending on an iPhone is only a question of spending more, and the premium quality (and better camera) is more advantageous.
The iPad Pro cannot yet compete with a MacOS interface in getting computery tasks done [especially on the current OS.] And Macs are still bought at a fraction; part due to the high prices and part due to most people being comfortable and familiar with Windows. For all of its merits, neither of these operating systems are as simple as the mobile operating systems (and in fairness that’s by design and a good thing.)
Unless you’re an artist, the iPad Pro makes little sense as it stands today. I’m surprised that Apple decided to ship it before (or without) iOS 11, since the new features define and justify the price point, and Apple knows well how important it is to marry software with hardware. Right now it feels like driving a Ferrari on a busy paved road.
I can only assume they’ve done this to accelerate developer app support. Whatever the case, it’s a better buy for the fall. They’ve already bridged the gap for people needing a bare-bones laptop or media consumption device; it’s the regular 9.7-inch iPad.