With the latest iPad Pro, Apple has extended its lead in the tablet segment. But is that enough?
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Having cornered the tablet market, Apple’s latest iPad Pro has increasingly set its sights on the laptop segment. This pivot to personal computing isn’t such a stretch for a device with the technical chops of the new iPad Pros... a theory further confirmed by Apple’s claim that the iPad Pros are more powerful than 92 per cent of PCs sold last year! After using the 12.9-inch model for two weeks, I am sold on Apple’s vision for the future of personal computing, but its Pro nomenclature begs the question – will it do the job for you?
The big design overhaul is immediately obvious – for starters, the tapered edges are gone, as is the home button and most of the screen bezels, making way for a device that is practically all screen. The stark nature of the industrial design is perfectly contrasted by the gorgeous high-resolution, fast 120Hz refresh-rate displays with those rounded corners that the new iPhones have made popular. Much like the iPhones XS, the iPad Pros feature a front-facing TrueDepth camera that enables features such as Face ID for secure logins and selfie portrait mode, all without having to go the way of the notch. The all-new design includes a USB Type C port, four well-tuned speakers and a slick magnetic mechanism to attach the new Apple Pencil, which wirelessly charges when attached as well. The USB-C port is more versatile than the proprietary Lightning connector, allowing you to plug in a bunch of dongles for reading camera SD cards, connecting to external displays or use a wired Internet connection…or even charging your other devices off the iPad’s capacious battery! Conspicuous by its absence is the headphone jack, which may annoy folks who need to connect audio gear to the iPad.
Under the hood is Apple’s A12X Bionic chip, which is a souped-up version of the already class-leading chips found in the iPhone XS. Expectedly, it is blazing fast whether you are launching apps or switching between them or even running benchmarks and editing 4K videos on the device with nary a hint of lag. The updated accessories — the new Pencil, which features the ability to tap a touch-sensitive area to switch between tools in the app, or the Smart Keyboard Folio, which offers dual-side protection and a set of convenient screen angles — complete the experience.
All that power on tap is great, but some of the Pro’s laptop appeal is undone by the iOS software it runs. For instance, when it comes to more functional ‘computer’ tasks, like quickly copying a work file from a USB drive and editing it, the limitations of iOS and its lack of a true file system become obvious. A lot of what you do on a PC with no add-on hardware or software suddenly becomes a complex sequence of specific apps, possibly some additional hardware and dongles and maybe even creating some automated tasks using Apple’s Shortcuts app. However, a writer or someone who lightly edits their photos will manage just fine, as will a lot of creative or sales professionals who will leverage the power of the iPad with apps that suit their workflow.
All said, the iPad Pros are exceptional devices but they are still very much an iPad, with the software forcing you to often adapt to the way it works rather than the other way around.
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