With the iPad Pro 11” and iPad Pro 12.9” 2018 Apple released two very interesting tablets that could be the best tablets ever made. They promise a great design, nice displays, and an outstanding performance. Other features include Face ID, four speakers, a new Apple Pencil 2 and a keyboard cover. I’ve been using the new 11-inch iPad Pro for over a month now. How good is it? I’m Andrzej for MyNextTablet.com and that’s what you’ll find out in my iPad Pro 2018 review.
Design & Build Quality
The new iPad Pro generation has a completely new design. While you can still see that these are iPads, they look much different compared to previous generations. One major change is the home button. There is none anymore. And instead of those relatively thick bezels, we get very thin and symmetrical bezels. Because of that, it looks very modern and elegant.
As with all predecessors, we still get a full metal body with an Apple logo imprinted on the back. It seems to be very well built and is certainly premium-feeling. The new iPad Pro is expensive and when holding this tablet, that is the feeling you’re heaving. At the same time, it is very thin with just 5.9mm and weighs just 468g.
While the home button is missing, we still do get a power button and the volume controls on the sides. That’s where you can find a little plastic bar to charge the new Apple Pencil too. Another feature built into the frame are four speakers. And, considering this is a tablet, the speakers are outstanding. They do offer a decent bass and are the best speakers of any tablet I reviewed.
USB C: No External Storage Allowed
Apple changed another major part of the design. Instead of the old lightning connector, we finally get a USB C port. Because of that port, you can charge the iPad Pro much faster and connect accessories much easier than before. For example, you can use every USB C card reader now and can transfer images from your camera easily. The transfer speed is much faster too. And you can connect external monitors using the same port.
Sadly, you can not connect external USB C hard drives. I mean, you can connect them, but nothing will happen. And while you can transfer images easily, the same is not the case for videos. For example, the iPad Pro does not recognize the videos shot with my Sony A73 and that is a new and popular camera. Apple does support the file format. But not the folder structure that Sony is using.
Cameras & Face ID
On the back, there is a 12-megapixel camera with an LED flash and the front-facing camera has a resolution of 7 megapixels. Again, especially when considering that this is a tablet, the picture quality is very good. You can record better videos and take better pictures than with pretty much all other tablets.
When holding the iPad Pro in portrait mode, the front-camera sits on the top. Next to it, we get a TrueDepth camera which enables Face ID. I’m sure you’ve heard of it from the iPhone X already. It pretty much works the same. In the beginning, you let the iPad scan your face and then you can unlock it using facial recognition. And Face ID is awesome. I really like fingerprint scanners – but facial recognition works very well here.
Display & Apple Pencil 2
Let’s get to the display of the iPad Pro. Again, I’ve got the iPad Pro 11-inch, so this one has an 11-inch screen with a very high resolution of 2388 x 1668 pixels. If you decide to get the 12.9-inch version, that one has a resolution of 2732 x 2048 pixels. Both tablets have a pixel density of 264ppi.
Apple is calling them Liquid Retina Displays. Well, they are standard IPS screens but really good ones. They’ve got rounded corners, are fully laminated and are very bright. At the same time, the viewing angles are very wide, color reproduction is excellent and with Apple’s ProMotion technology they’ve got a refresh rate of up to 120Hz.
Overall, the screen is outstanding. I’ve got nothing bad to say about it at all.
A new accessory for the iPad Pro and its screen is the Apple Pencil 2 which you have to buy separately. Yes, it is a bit disappointing: You can not use your old Apple Pencil with the new tablet.
Well, compared to the first generation, a couple of things have changed. The new pen got more expensive, has a matte instead of glossy finish and one side is flat now. By double-tapping the flat side, you can switch tools in the notes app. This gesture can be customized by app developers.
Its main new highlight is inductive charging. You can connect the pen magnetically to the iPad and the iPad charges the pen. With the first generation, you had to plug it into the lightning connector which always looked a bit weird.
The Apple Pencil 2 is excellent. It is pressure sensitive, so you can draw a thicker line by drawing harder and a thinner line by drawing lighter. The stylus can recognize how you tilt it to draw shading as well. I really like the pen because it is very precise, has no lag and just works great.
However, it does have one downside. With the Apple Pencil, it clearly feels like you are drawing with hard plastic on glass. Because that is what you are doing. However, you don’t have that feeling with the Microsoft Surface Pen and Samsung S Pen. They’ve got a tip that feels much smoother – it feels more like writing on paper.
Hardware & Performance
Inside the iPad Pro runs an Apple A12X Bionic processor which is an octa-core chip with eight cores. Other specs include 4GB to 6GB of RAM and a 64GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB internal storage. There is no microSD card slot, so you are not able to expand the storage.
As you can see in my benchmark comparison, the new iPad Pro is much faster than all Android tablets I ever reviewed. To be fair, it is more expensive too. However, the gab to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 is huge. And it also is much faster than the standard 2018 iPad. And in benchmarks like Geekbench, it even is faster than the Microsoft Surface Pro 6.
Due to the fast chipset, the iPad Pro 2018 really can compete with higher-end notebooks. At least when you look at the performance only. You can edit and render 4K videos with it.
Well, not everybody is rendering videos. But the tablet is very fast with other tasks too. For example, I’ve been editing a lot of pictures using Adobe’s Lightroom and some of them I edited further in Affinity Photo. That works great and that is awesome. Lightroom and the iPad Pro are handling huge RAW files without any hiccups at all. That really is great and, by the way, better than 1000 Dollar notebooks handle it.
With that being said, I did notice that the tablet can get very hot. Especially when editing RAW files in Lightroom or when gaming. Not just warm. I mean really hot, so hot, that it is almost uncomfortable to touch. Yes, I guess that is something we have to expect. I mean, we do get a very fast processor in a very thin aluminum body. There is not much room for cooling except for using the body itself. But still, that is something that surprised me negatively.
iPad Pro Gaming Test
The new iPad Pro tablets are the fastest iOS devices you can get right now. And that means that games run much better on them as on any other iOS device. So, obviously, the gaming performance is outstanding again. Every game you throw at it runs very smooth.
I tried Assassins Creed Rebellion and the graphics look very good and this game runs without any lagging at all. Another game I played is Fortnite. And, as you might expect, this is a great tablet to play Fortnite on. With that being said, as of now, Fortnite is not customized for the new iPad Pro yet. That means there are black bezels around the screen. The graphics might look even better once Epic Games has customized it for this new platform.
Alright, let’s take a look at its battery life. And again. Regarding this, the new iPad Pro is outstanding. In fact, in my standard battery test, it got a runtime of 18 hours. That means it has the best battery life of all tablets I ever reviewed. Some of the Lenovo Yoga Tablets came close but are very old by now.
For my battery test, I’m always looping the same HD video at 50 percent brightness, activated WiFi and turned down speakers. I know, you probably won’t use your tablet like this all the time, but it is a good way to get comparable results.
Well, if you want to watch an HD video locally you will be able to get to those 18 hours. I think one of the reasons why the battery life is so good is Apple’s own 7nm chipset. It is very efficient and probably does not need much power to decode an HD video. At the same time, we get a huge battery. And keep in mind that the screen is bright. At 50 percent brightness, it’s totally fine to use insides.
Now, if you are surfing the web and are watching Netflix you will get closer to 10 or 12 hours of active use. And if you are playing demanding games, are editing videos and pictures, the battery life will be much lower. However, even when using demanding tasks, the battery will last much longer as if you do the same on expensive Windows tablets like the Surface Pro.
Let’s take a look at the new Smart Keyboard Folio. This is an optional accessory that Apple is selling separately. And it is quite expensive.
Well, with that Smart Keyboard Folio you can kind of use the iPad Pro like a notebook. Kind of. While it adds a keyboard, it does not add a mouse or a touchpad. In fact, iOS does not support a mouse at all.
The new keyboard cover is well designed. It looks nice, feels high-end and is protecting the front and back of the tablet. However, the frame is exposed and not protected. It is connected magnetically to the tablet using a Pin connector on the back. That works very well.
Now, the keyboard of the 11-inch iPad Pro I am using is a bit smaller than what you would get with a standard keyboard. Even though it is a bit smaller, I’ve been able to type on it fast and without having to get used to it that much. Actually, the keyboard works pretty well for what it is. I typed a lot of articles with it and did not have many issues.
There are some though. For example, unlike the Microsoft Type Cover, you cannot angle the keyboard up a bit. It is lying flat on the tablet. Another issue is that the keys have a very low travel. So, if you prefer mechanical keyboards, this is most certainly not the one for you. I think most can get used to it though.
I think the Smart Keyboard Folio is a great accessory if you are looking for a small and light keyboard for your iPad Pro. And if you are willing to spend over 200 Dollars for it. If you really want to type for lots of hours every day, you might be better off with a desktop-class keyboard though.
Let’s quickly talk about software. Like on all current iOS devices, the new iPad Pro tablets are running iOS 12. If you haven’t used iOS in the last two years, it is important to note that a lot has changed in the last year or so. Especially for iPads. While it is far from perfect, iOS can be a very productive operating system now. Not just to consume content. But also to create stuff.
For example, iOS has a split-screen-view now. In fact, you can open up to three apps at the same time. It also supports great Drag & Drop and has a built-in file manager – even though it is a bit limited.
Since this is the first iPad without a home button, it is the first one to support certain gestures. Using those gestures, you navigate through the operating system, switch between apps, change quick-settings, and use the split-screen-view. They’re the same as the ones for the iPhone X and upwards.
Compared to iOS 10 and lower, a lot has changed. I really like iOS for tablets by now because you can be productive with it. With that being said, it still has some annoying limitations. As I mentioned before, you can not connect a mouse. And hard-drives or USB sticks are not supported either. And you don’t have real access to any kind of file system.
Sure, most of the times you probably don’t need that. But sometimes you might. Maybe a coworker has a presentation on a USB stick and you need to edit it. But can’t, at least not when using the iPad Pro as your full notebook replacement.
Those are some downsides compared to Windows and, to lesser extend to Android. However, iOS has one major and huge advantage over Android. The selection of apps that are optimized for tablets is huge.
While all platforms support standard apps like Microsoft Word, Chrome, Gmail, YouTube, and even Adobe Lightroom, you cannot get great professional apps for Android. For example, with Affinity Photo, there is an image editor that is almost as powerful as real Photoshop for the desktop. In fact, Adobe is going to bring almost full Photoshop to the iPad.
There are a lot of examples like these. You can get a lot more productivity apps for iOS than you can get for Android. Now, obviously, you can get those for Windows and macOS.
iPad Pro Review: Final Verdict
Alright, that’s my review of the new iPad Pro 11-inch. Is it a good tablet? Yes, obviously it is. In fact, I think it is the best pure tablet ever made. All aspects are outstanding. It has a great build quality, a very pretty display, outstanding performance, and great software. Other features like those four speakers, the cameras, and Face ID are very good too. And the Apple Pencil 2 is awesome and the keyboard cover is good enough.
In my opinion, the iPad Pro has one major downside. And that is the price. I think it is too expensive for most. Especially if you just want to play some games and watch Netflix. It also is too expensive if you are just looking for a decent tablet for office work. There just are much cheaper tablets out there that give you a similar experience for that.
But if you can use the new iPad Pro professionally, then it obviously might be worth it to invest that much. For example, I think it can be a great editing machine for photographers. And designers seem to love the iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil as well.
And, if you are just looking for the best iPad and don’t mind the price, then obviously you can get it. It is the best iPad and the best pure tablet. Just a very expensive one. Alright, let’s take a look at some possible alternatives.
If you are just looking for a good tablet to watch Netflix, YouTube and even to do some gaming, you could check out the standard iPad 2018. Yes, it has a weaker performance, a weaker display and not an as modern design. However, I still think that it is a great value.
Now, if you are looking for a real notebook replacement to do some work on, you should at least consider the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 and the Microsoft Surface Go. While the iPad Pro is a much better pure tablet, I think these two are better notebook replacements that can be okay tablets. You can get awesome keyboard covers for the Surface lineup and the Surface Pen is at least as good as the Apple Pencil.
The iPad Pro can be outstanding for apps like Lightroom. But if you still need to handle files, maybe even using hard-drives and USB sticks, those are better. And that also is the case if you want to use a mouse. Or use desktop apps like a real desktop-class browser. So… I would say, if you mainly are looking for a tablet, go for the iPad Pro. But if you are mainly looking for a notebook replacement, go for the Surface lineup.
- Premium design
- High-resolution screen
- Outstanding performance
- Up-to-date software
- Four great speakers
- Very long battery life
- Good stylus
- Okay keyboard cover
- Very expensive
- Can get quite hot
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