REVIEW: Apple iPad Pro

13989786_xxlg_0If you follow Apple’s ads for the new Apple iPad Pro 9.7”, you would believe that this device is a dramatic improvement over recent iPads, but if you look closer, this is not necessarily the case.

In September of last year Apple introduced the iPad Pro, a larger (12.9”) device with much of the specs of smaller iPad but with the introduction of the Apple Pencil for those who need to draw on their iPads.

In late March, Apple introduced a smaller version of the iPad Pro (9.7”) to match the previous iPads in size, yet had newer features found only in the iPad Pro. Check out some of the new features.

New Processor

The iPad Pro picks up major speed improvements thanks to its Apple A9X chip with 64-bit architecture. This chip replaces last year’s A8X chip.. Apple claims this speed makes everything more responsive without sacrificing its 10 hours of battery life.

I was not able to test the speed of the A9X, but those who did found a 200% improvement. From normal day-to-day activities you may not be able to find a significant difference, so speed bumps with this new iPad may be a perception issue.

Those who have tested this processor have found that the A9X chip delivers speed and graphics that rivals many PCs.

iOS 9

Apple has made its newest operating system, iOS9 now standard on the iPhone, included on the iPad Pro.

There are updates for apps like Messages and Photos. For example, every photo you take will now be available on your iPhone, iPad, Mac and iPod touch thanks to iCloud. 13989786_xxlg_2This option was not available with iOS8. Searching for photos has been made even easier.

With iOS9 logged into the same AppleID, your content is available across all your Apple devices enabling you to work more efficiently wherever you are. When I entered my password for the first time on my Pro, I also received cross-device messages warning me that a new device was being added.

True Tone Display

A new technology this year is Apple’s True Tone. This feature automatically changes the color and intensity of your display depending the ambient light. No more bright displays that are hard to read. Instead you will find a warm tone like looking at a sheet of paper no matter where you are.

New Connectivity

Since Apple wants users of the iPod Pro to get the most out of their device, they have added a smart connector on the side.

This proprietary port lets you currently connect Apple’s new keyboard. This keyboard will help users use the Pro much like a laptop. This feature aids in typing, but the combination does not actually replace a laptop. Price of the new keyboard is a high $149 for the 9.7” model or $169 for the 12.9” Pro. Third party manufacturers offer iPad keyboards for much less.

img_5539With the introduction of the iPad Pro 12.9”, Apple introduced an Apple Pencil for those with a graphic background to draw on the iPad. This capability is now also available for the 9.7” Pro. Price of the Pencil is $99. Graphic input on the iPad Pro with a Pencil is similar to an artist using a Wacom Cintiq™ tablet without being tied to a desktop or laptop computer.

Cameras

Although the cameras in the new iPad Pro are similar to last year’s iPad Pro, Apple has added a new 12MP sensor to the 9.7” model that captures images in 2048 x 1536 resolution and 1080p video. So when you view your images on a larger screen, they will look sharper and clearer.

The A9X chip inclusion has added improved face-detection technology providing better focus when taking pictures of friends and family.

According to Apple, shooting with this new tablet is “like looking through the viewfinder of a high-end SLR camera.” I’m just not sure how you can measure that!

Speakers

In previous models iPads featured 2 speakers for good sound. With the Pro model Apple has added an extra 2 speakers (one in each corner) for improved audio.

Touch ID

Apple has added the iPhone’s Touch ID technology to the iPad Pro. This feature was first introduced on last year’s Air 2. Unlocking your iPad Pro is more convenient and secure than ever. Just place your finger on the home button and it automatically unlocks. You still have the 6 or 4-digit unlock code included as well.

Memory

The memory configuration on the iPad Air 2 was 16GB, 64GB or 128GB. With the Pro model memory is configured as 32GB, 128GB or a large 256GB. You will note that there is no 16GB model available with the Pro.

The lowest memory option is not 32GB, for the same price as last year’s 64GB model.   To put it another way, you are paying $100 more for the lowest configuration, but only getting 32GB less memory!

For those who need more memory, Apple has added 256GB memory at a price point of $899 or $1029 for a cellular model. You could buy a full laptop for that much money!

Pricing

With the iPad Pro there are more configurations than ever. You now can select Wi-Fi or 4G cellular models from AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile or Sprint. With the iPad Air 2 you had a choice between the Slate Gray, Silver or Gold models. With the Pro model, Apple has added Rose Gold not only to the 9.7” iPad but to the 12.9” model as well. Prices range from $599 to $1029 depending on the configuration.

For the iPad Pro, Apple has discontinued the 16GB model and replaced it with the 32GB. This is a hidden cost savings for customers.

32GB 128GB 256GB

Wi-Fi

$599

$749

$899

Wi-Fi + Cellular

$729    $879

$1029

Evaluation

The iPad Pro, like similar models still sets the standard for tablets. Its improvements like the True Tone Display, more speakers or faster processor are admirable, but not major reasons for buying this version just for upgrading.

Similarly, the speed of the Pro is welcome, but is not dramatic. On the surface, the displays of the iPad Air 2 and the Pro look comparable. However, when you take a closer look, the iPad Pro makes a solid improvement. Just don’t expect the resolution to jump out at you!

What’s Included

  • Apple iPad with Retina display
  • Lightning connector to USB
  • AC charger
  • Quick Instruction Guide

Conclusion

Do you need to upgrade to the new iPad Pro? If you own an iPad Air 2 and are generally pleased with its operation and display, there is probably little reason to upgrade. To spend $599 at a minimum is a steep price to pay for a modest upgrade.

However, if you need the graphic input capabilities of a pen and ink artist in a more compact and portable unit than the 12.9” model or a Cintiq™, than this is the only way to go.

If you are a first-time tablet buyer or own an earlier model, the Pro is a terrific model to consider. Sure, you can spend less on one of Apple’s competitors, but you would not have a tablet with all these function.

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