iPad Pro review roundup – great computer but limitations hold it back

The new iPad Pro was unveiled at Apple’s October 30 event at the Howard Gilman Opera House in Brooklyn, New York. The event also saw fresh coats of paint applied to MacBook Air and Mac Mini. While all the devices were enough to have the audience cheering with joy, the true showstopper was the revamped iPad with its all-screen design, FaceID integration, super-fast internals and new Apple Pencil.

iPad Pro 11-inch 12.9-inch

2018 iPad Pro Reviews

The new tablet ships in 11-inch and 12.9-inch display sizes. Apple calls the new screen ‘Liquid Retina Display’, borrowed from the iPhone XR. The display is surrounded by bezels which are slimmer than ever, but thick enough to house a TrueDepth Camera. This allows for the removal of the Home Button and for FaceID to take its place, which works in landscape and portrait orientations and even upside down. The new tablet is powered by the A12X Bionic chip. This is a faster version of the A12 Bionic chip that powers the latest Apple flagship phones.

We also got a look at the new Apple Pencil which only works with the new iPad Pro and is incompatible with previous models. Both devices seem to be a match made in heaven. You can magnetically attach and charge the Apple Pencil with the iPad Pro so you never have to worry about charging or carrying each device separately.

Many publications have been playing with the new device for some time. Here is a roundup of some of the best reviews.

The Verge

Even though they spent the entire article heaping praise onto the tablet and its improved capabilities, The Verge said that the new iPad Pro faces the same limitations as its predecessors. The performance, battery life, and improved hardware are engineering feats for Apple but it is, as the writer so succinctly puts it, “still an iPad.” The review emphasized that the device is still a tablet at heart and has a long way to go before it can be called a true replacement to the laptop. 

Nilay Patel from The Verge writes:

“…either you have to understand the limitations of iOS so well you can make use of these little hacks all over the place to get things done, or you just deal with it and accept that you have to go back to a real computer from time to time because it’s just easier.”

iMore

iMore has a more positive outlook on the gadget’s capabilities but fear the starting price. They rave about features like FaceID, Smart Keyboard Folio, and connectivity to the new Apple Pencil; stating that Apple is pushing the limits on what their hardware can offer. Their concern is the starting price of $799. While it’s worth its weight in dollars, iMore thinks that only true power users can effectively use the power that the iPad Pro offers. 

Rene Ritchie from iMore writes:

“If you just need or want an iPad, get an iPad. Apple has good ones, compatible with the original Pencil, going for just a few hundred bucks now. If you need more, something that combines raw power and absolute portability better than anything else on the market, then get an iPad Pro.”

Wired

The Wired reviewers are in love with the new mini-computer, stating that the iPad Pro may be as close to a PC as ever before. Tim Cook bragged that it is “faster than 92 percent of all laptops sold in the last year,” and Wired proves it in their testing. The tablet’s graphics prowess matches that of an Xbox One and the impressive terabyte of storage is enough to cater to everyone. The only worry, and reason for an 8-star rating, is whether or not its limitations hold it back from being a viable replacement for your personal laptop.

Jeffrey Van Camp from Wired writes:

But Apple has begged the question: Can an 11-inch ($799) or 13-inch ($999) iPad Pro replace your need for a MacBook or Windows PC at work? It’s possible, but you’ll need the right kind of occupation, and a lot of patience and determination.”

TechCrunch

TechCrunch focuses on another aspect of the iPad Pro which is its connectivity to the Apple pencil. They believe that the tablet lives up to its potential as a PC but the added help from the accessory makes it a winning combination. The Apple Pencil brilliantly complements the productivity aspect of the iPad Pro, serving as an ingenious replacement for the traditional keyboard and mouse. They think that if the software can match the advanced refinements of the hardware, Apple can really create a worthy device.

Matthew Panzarino from TechCrunch writes:

The Pencil, to me, stands out as the bright spot in all of this. Yes, Apple is starting predictably slow with its options for the double tap gesture. But third party apps like Procreate show that there will be incredible opportunities long term to make the Pencil the mouse for the tablet generation.”

Engadget

Engadget conclude that life with the new 12.9-inch iPad has been well worth the price. The design shift allows for use with a single hand, a welcome change to the device’s handling. They also appreciate the intuitiveness of the Smart Keyboard Folio, even if it does widen the tablet’s slim figure.

What they really focus on, however, is the inclusion of the USB-C port. They welcome the debut of the universal port; something that was sorely missing from previous versions of the tablet. Even though Apple removed the Lightning port, it was a necessary sacrifice. With a small USB-C dongle, a huge number of ports become available: Ethernet, SD-card slot, HDMI, USB-A and more can be used with just a dongle.

Chris Velazco from Engadget Writes :

What I can say for now is that this new generation of the iPad Pro feels more capable than any other I’ve tested, and it seems to advance the idea that an iPad could, under certain circumstances, be a person’s primary computing machine.”

Daring Fireball

This review goes into depth about the performance power that Apple brought to the new iPad Pro, straight up comparing the tablet to a MacBook Pro. When looking just at the processing strength of their 2017 model, this iPad almost doubles the numbers. It boasts 5,007 in single-core, 18,051 in multi-core, and a staggering 42,574 in compute. This almost rivals the power of the 15” MacBook Pro.

John Gruber from Daring Fireball writes:

“They’re tablets, yes, but there’s no just to them. Dollar for dollar, they’re a better value than any MacBook Apple has ever made. They match — and in some areas exceed — the CPU and GPU performance of MacBook Pros that cost $3000 or more. These are serious iPads for serious iPad users.”

As a consensus, all of the reviewers agreed on some common aspects. The thin bezels and overall sleek design was heavily praised by all. The 5.9mm aluminium shell was described as incredibly sturdy and refined. Features like FaceID and the Liquid Retina Display were seen as giant steps towards a revolutionized system, but the MVP is the inclusion of the A12X Bionic Chip. While the price tag may have been point of debate, no one can argue the effectiveness of the chip in taking the tablet to a new level of processing performance. However, despite all the performance advantages, the iPad Pro is held back by its software. Perhaps, iOS 13 will change that.