Apple’s iPad Pro goes on sale today in more than 40 countries. As is often the case, prospective buyers are turning to the Internet to see what those in tech circles have to say about the new tablet – a wise move considering it starts at $799 for a 32GB model with Wi-Fi and well over a grand if you require a cellular connection (and that’s before purchasing the optional companion keyboard and stylus).
Also see: Apple iPad Pro reviews and ratings
While it may seem like just another iPad to some, that’s hardly the case. Unlike previous iterations, the iPad Pro targets an entirely different demographic: working professionals.
Apple has a lot riding on the success of the iPad Pro. It’s the first major fork (or the second, if you count the iPad mini) and the first serious enterprise play but more importantly, it’s an attempt to revive a category that’s become marred by a combination of market saturation, a lengthy replacement cycle and cannibalization from large-screen smartphones.
Andrew Cunningham of Ars Technica was impressed by the dual-core A9X powering the iPad Pro:
The A9X can’t quite get up to the level of a modern U-series Core i5 based on Broadwell or Skylake, but it’s roughly on the same level as a Core i5 from 2013 or so and it’s well ahead of Core M. And despite the fact that it lacks a fan, the A9X shows little sign of throttling in the Geekbench thermal test, which bodes well for the iPad Pro’s ability to run professional-caliber apps for extended periods of time.
Things are even more impressive on the GPU side, where the OpenGL version of the GFXBench test shows the A9X beating not just every previous iDevice, but every Intel GPU up to and including the Intel Iris Pro 5200 in the 15-inch MacBook Pro and the Intel HD 520 in the Surface Pro 4.
CNET personality Scott Stein discussed the Pencil (stylus) accessory at length:
I'll tell you right now who's going to want an iPad Pro: anyone who draws or works with images. Its killer app doesn't even come in the box. The Pencil, Apple's new stylus is sold separately, for $99. It's specifically designed to work with the iPad Pro, and it blows away any other stylus I've ever used, even Microsoft's Surface Pen. It's fast, accurate, pressure-sensitive, comfortable, and for apps that support it, glorious.
Walt Mossberg from The Verge, a “tablet man” by admission, has three key problems with the iPad Pro:
My problem with the iPad Pro is threefold. First, I found it just too big and bulky to hold and use comfortably for long periods. And that was when held horizontally. Held vertically, it was worse, because it felt unbalanced to me.
Second, I was disappointed with Apple’s optional keyboard case. It’s essentially a shallow Mac keyboard, with keys like Command that mean something only in Mac OS X, but not a single shortcut key to an iPad function, like Home or Search. It’s also not backlit, and it has only one angle in which it holds the screen. Additionally, it’s so light and small compared to the screen that I find it difficult to balance properly on my lap for typing. It’s also really costly, at $169.
Third, I found few apps that took advantage of the greater screen real estate to display panels or functionality often hidden on mobile devices. One of the iPad’s great advantages over other tablets is that it boasts 850,000 apps that have been optimized for tablet use. But few of these used the much bigger screen on the Pro.
TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino shared similar thoughts regarding the keyboard:
The technology behind the keyboard is very cool. They’ve made a special connector for it that connects and holds really well. Three dots, one for ground, one for power and one for data. Those are transmitted via a layer of conductive cloth inside the cover, which has been etched away to create ‘circuits’ that pass voltage from one end of the keyboard to another without any wires. It’s suuuuper slick.
But the feel of the keys are a bit mushy for my tastes and isn’t nearly as good on the rapid fly as a MacBook keyboard. The sealed design is welcome for spills and splashing, and it’s better than OK. It’s just not amazing.
Joanna Stern of The Wall Street Journal on where the iPad Pro stands at a platform:
There’s one thing the iPad has over all other laptops and competing tablets though: incredible apps. The Pro helped me realize that I’ve been living in the past, using legacy desktop programs to accomplish things.
I brainstormed for my video using the Paper app, dragging in photos and videos, marking them up with handwritten notes. I edited a short video by cutting and moving around clips with my finger. I sliced off what looked like a real human leg in an app called Complete Anatomy.
That’s why answering “So… what is it?” is so hard. The Pro may seem wedged between iPads and MacBooks, but it will be your main computer in the future. As our phablets push smaller tablets into retirement, the big tablet and its accessories will do the same for our traditional computers. For now, however, it may be easiest to step back and see the Pro as a… really good, really big iPad.
An opposing view from Wired’s David Pierce:
For those of us who still cling to laptops and desktops, the iPad Pro just doesn’t feel like a serious machine for serious work. We need our keyboard shortcuts and our mice, our apps that work just how we like them. We need our accessories. A touch-first interface just doesn’t feel right, and the iPad Pro can’t overthrow our existing workflows and tools. Maybe we’ll catch up to Tim Cook’s vision of work someday. Maybe. But for right now, we have work to do, and no time to reinvent how we do it.
Nobody’s going to toss their iMacs and ThinkPads into the garbage tomorrow and instead lay a 12.9-inch tablet on everyone’s desk. If there’s a touchscreen revolution underway, it’s going to happen slowly, an app and an accessory at a time.