So having recently bought the new iPad Pro 9.7″, I have given myself a weekend of use before writing up my first impressions. For those that don’t know, the new iPad Pro is basically the iPad Air 2, with the features of the larger 12 inch pro released late last year.
This includes support for the smart connector keyboard, and the Apple Pencil. It should be noted however that this iPad only has 2GB of RAM, the same as the iPad Air 2. The processor is the same, however slightly under clocked. The reason for this under clocking is that iPads dissipate heat through their case, and with a smaller form factor comes less heat dissipation. Over all though the iPad is still a very significant power upgrade over the air 2. Geekbench gave me the following results against other iOS devices:
So from these results you can see that it is only slightly less powerful than the larger iPad Pro.
The screen in the newest iPad also features a larger range of colours, 25% more according to Apple. The real killer feature o the screen however is the true tone colour. This takes the ambient light from sensors around the case, and tints the screen to reflect this. I have really noticed this when using it at night, along with the night shift feature of iOS 9.3 that shifts all the colours towards the red end of the colour spectrum at night to reduce eye strain. When compared with my iPad Air, the difference is incredible.
You can see from the image on the left that the colour are slightly warmer, whereas the one on the right is a lot more blue. This photo was taken during the day, so the colour differences are even more noticeable at night.
The better cameras on the iPad Pro might seem like a silly feature that could have been better spent elsewhere, but as an iOS developer that works on iPads primarily for the past 3 years in corporate environments, the camera on the iPad is actually a surprisingly useful feature. It makes reading barcodes, QR Codes or even scanning documents a breeze with the larger megapixel count. However this isn’t something the average user would notice.
While not exactly new feautres, it is my first experience of living with an iPad with an attached keyboard and Apple Pencil. These have both been covered online so I’ll keep it brief. The pencil is great for writing notes, and drawing. I really suggest dropping by an Apple Store and trying it for yourself. I didn’t quite believe it could feel as responsive as it does. The texture still doesn’t quite feel like you’re writing on paper, but it is very close. The screen won’t detect your palm at all while using the pencil but you can still use your other hands finger tips to place rulers and similar drawing tools. It’s really intuitive too, my girlfriend Amy doesn’t particularly like graphics tablets, but after 5 minutes with the Apple Pencil this was the result:
The keyboard also has proper tactile feedback on the keys, allowing for a good typing experience. In fact, I am writing this entire blog post from my iPad with the keyboard. I’d say it doesn’t feel quite as good as the keyboards on the surface pro tablets, however it is vastly lighter and more portable.
Overall I really am glad I forked out on the new iPad Pro. I went for the new 256gb version as I’m a bit of an app addict. Even with my 458 apps downloaded and lots of Spotify playlists synced, I still have over 100gb of free space. Apple seems to be beginning to target desktop and laptop users with the iPad Pro. I think this is quite a bold statement to be making. The iPad is definitely a capable machine, and with the pencil, keyboard, and new USB adaptor that allows cameras, microphones, USB Hubs, Ethernet ports and more to be attached, I think it’s gearing towards tablets being the primary computer in the coming years. Is it really now though? I don’t think so. The glaring lack of access to the file system really hurts when trying to get your files between applications. There’s also no support for Xcode or many other development tools, so developers still have to carry about their MacBook if they want to be really productive.