One of the brightest stars of this year's Apple Worldwide Developers Conference was that the 10.5-inch iPad Pro is replacing the 9.7-inch model in the tech giant's tablet range. The high-end slate debuted alongside a larger model with a 12.9-inch display and the same hardware specs.
The previous iPad Pro was already the best full-size tablet on the market. With a sleeker design and massively improved hardware, it's certain that the latest 10.5-inch iteration will continue dominating the tablet market in an even more convincing fashion.
More Screen, Fewer Bezels
The 10.5-inch iPad Pro has a slightly larger footprint than the 9.7-inch variant it replaces. However, thanks to the device's thin screen bezels, the actual size difference is barely noticeable in the metal. Speaking of metal, the new iPad Pro is just as exceptionally well-crafted as the model it replaces, or any other iPad for that matter.
In addition to being 20% bigger than its predecessor, the 10.5-inch True Tone Retina display panel offers significantly improved brightness and outdoor visibility. Just like last year's model, it also delivers pro-grade P3 color gamut support.
However, the most important novelty that the new iPad Pro's display brings is its ability to deliver refresh rates of up to 120Hz, which is twice the standard 60Hz that today's mobile displays are capable of. Dubbed ProMotion by Apple, the feature results in an amazingly fluid user experience across the board, including much better-looking videos.
ProMotion also results in an even better and more natural Apple Pencil experience. Overall, the novelty makes the new iPad Pro feel more responsive in a way that a processor upgrade simply can't.
The Hardware Bits
A groundbreaking display is not the only hot new hardware feature that the new iPad Pro brings. The slate also packs a brand new A10X Fusion chip that's up to 30% speedier than its predecessor. The graphics performance is also up to 40% better, allowing for seamless editing of 4K video or large image files.
Apple has also improved the storage options for the tablet. They range from 64GB for the entry-level variant, through 256GB, all the way to a power user-friendly 512GB.
The new iPad Pro is also capable of capturing excellent photos and 4K video, courtesy of the same 12MP camera sensor with optical image stabilization that's found in the iPhone 7. The front-facing camera has a 7MP sensor.
Of course, being an iPad Pro, the 10.5-inch new variant packs a quartet of stereo speakers, as well as a Touch ID fingerprint sensor with Apple Pay support. Optional LTE network connectivity is also on board.
Simply calling the new iPad Pro fast is an understatement. Combined, the A10X Fusion chip and the ProMotion Retina display deliver a user experience that can be best described as seamless, fluid, and just plain instant.
To put the above in perspective, the iPad Pro performs on par or better than the tech giant's own MacBook Pro notebooks in some . Similarly priced portable Windows 10 notebooks and tablets, on the other hand, will likely not come even close. Android tablets don't even deserve a mention on this instance.
Apple rates the 10.5-inch iPad Pro as capable of delivering up to 10.5 hours of battery life on a single charge. In real life, you can easily reach over eight hours of screen-on time between charges — an excellent feat for such a capable device. Depending on your usage, the tablet can last more or a tad less.
The audio experience that the iPad Pro's four built-in speakers deliver is excellent. The sound is loud and crisp, even at high volume.
iOS 11 Will Change Everything
Currently, the new iPad Pro ships with iOS 10.3 on board. The latest iteration of Apple's mobile platform offers the best selection of apps in the business, including a multitude of options that have been optimized to work with the Apple Pencil.
As great as iOS 10.3 is, however, what iPad Pro buyers should really be getting excited about is its successor. Due to arrive in September, iOS 11 will deliver a number of new features and improvements that will make the iPad Pro not only a better tablet, but also a viable alternative to a traditional laptop.
Apple iOS 11 will bring a redesigned app dock that's much better for multitasking, a highly capable file manager that supports all major cloud storage platforms, and a redesigned app switcher. An incredibly powerful drag-and-drop functionality will also arrive, allowing users to seamlessly move text and files between apps.
The Best By a Wide Margin
The new 10.5-inch iPad Pro is a much better version of what's already the best full-sized tablet available today. It's sleek, insanely powerful, and incredibly productive. And it will only get better when iOS 11 arrives in a few months!
The iPad Pro with 10.5-inch display starts at $ for a Wi-Fi-only variant with 64GB of storage. The 12.9-inch variant starts at $799 for a model with the same amount of memory. Power users will need more storage, as well as the tablet's Smart Keyboard — and possibly the Apple Pencil — so if you are looking to replace a laptop, you'll have to spend closer to $1,000 or more. The high price is arguably the only flaw of the device, though it's not a surprise, considering the performance and portability you'll get.
With the above in mind, if a full-size tablet that enables you to spend more time away from a laptop or a desktop computer is what you're after, this is the one to get. If you need a larger screen, consider the 12.9-inch variant, which will deliver the same functionality in a slightly bigger package. In case you want just a great tablet for casual use, consider the more affordable instead.
Photos by Stefan Vazharov