Apple iPad Pro || A Detailed Review

Apple's tagline for the new 2020 iPad Pro models is “Your next computer is not a computer.” It’s a cheeky way of addressing the tension that’s at the heart of most iPad Pro purchases: they cost as much or more than many laptops but may not be able to replace your laptop.

Apple Ipad pro

The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $799 and the 12.9-inch model starts at $999, but in both cases, a more realistic cost is at least a couple hundred dollars more: you should factor in the price of a storage bump over the anemic 128GB of base storage and the price of a keyboard case. iPad Pro buyers will quickly spend as much or more than the cost of a good MacBook Air or even a MacBook Pro — hence the tension.

Unfortunately, you can’t spend the extra $299 or $349 for the new Magic Keyboard case that Apple announced alongside these new iPads — they won’t arrive until May. Brydge is selling a more traditional clamshell attachment for $199 or $229, but it’s not shipping until next week.

The internet has been arguing whether the iPad can replace your laptop for years now. And over those years, Apple has slowly filled in the software gaps, but not all of them. I’ll just lay my cards out and say that, yes, the iPad Pro is a computer. It’s just one that works differently than you’re used to and sometimes stymies your efforts to achieve certain tasks.

If you were hoping these new iPads would resolve that tension, they do not. I think a more interesting question is what “pro” means in the iPad context. The real tension isn’t between the iPad Pro and the MacBook Air, but between the iPad Pro and other iPads.

The 2020 iteration of the iPad Pro is essentially a minor spec bump over the 2018 models. There are really only three things that are new here: the processor, the camera array, and the microphones.

Oh, there’s also the trackpad support you’ve heard so much about, but that’s going to be available to any iPad that supports the latest version of iPadOS. Apple’s Magic Keyboard accessory also isn’t available to test yet, either.

That’s one reason I think the real tension is with other iPads. Trackpad support might be the most important feature to come to the iPad this year 

Not even knowing what Apple has planned at its digital-only Worldwide Developers Conference. But since it’s coming to all iPads, it’s hardly a differentiator for this iPad Pro. 

Maybe the Magic Keyboard will change that calculus, but there will likely be plenty of trackpad options for less expensive iPads. Apple has already partnered with Logitech on a trackpad case for the various 10.5-inch iPad models out there, for example.

Anyway, the bright side of the iPad Pro changing so little from the previous generation is that there is a lot of stuff you don’t have to worry about. The screen is still beautiful, tack-sharp, and color accurate. The hardware quality is still top-notch, but outside of a case I still feel that there’s something a little antiseptic about it.

Battery life is all-day for me — though now that I’m using it full time for work, the eight to ten hours I can pull out of a charge really only does manage a single day for me instead of not worrying about it for several.

There’s still just the one USB-C port awkwardly placed on the side, but its functionality is less locked down than it was before iPadOS. And I’m still going to point out the lack of a headphone jack because it is more of pain here than on phones. I use regular headphones on my laptop all the time because of their reliability: no lag, no awkwardly messing with Bluetooth settings at the start of a Zoom call while your colleagues patiently wait.

And that’s the story of the iPad Pro in a nutshell, isn’t it? The iPad Pro line has always featured incredibly powerful and beautiful hardware alongside software that has struggled to take advantage of it.

I started this review by talking about the tension between iPads. The core of that tension is that for most people, the iPad Pro is overkill.

Unless you’re quite sure what you are going to do with these cameras, that LIDAR, or the faster processor, chances are you’d be equally served by the much-less expensive iPad Air — or even the base iPad. Neither of those iPads is as nice from a hardware perspective. But if you don’t need the extra power, saving hundreds of dollars is also nice.

Still wondering which is the best iPad for you? checkout our article on ...

>>Best iPad to get in 2020

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