Apple iPad Pro (12.9-inch, 2018)

Apple & # 39; s 2018 iPad Pro stuck back in the middle, now more than ever. The tablet has powerful hardware that begs for software that has not yet been written. It is very beautiful, and very fast, but starting at $ 999 for the 12.9-inch model we've tested, it's too expensive for the operating system and applications it runs. iOS is designed for simple single-tasking workflows with one application. The solution with multiple windows and the Files app to be kludgy bolt-us. There is no great video editing software. Photoshop is coming, but not until 2019. There is less peripheral support than it should. In the end, it simply does not correspond to a professional experience.


The iPad Pro is extremely expensive for a tablet. The 11-inch model starts at $ 799 and the 12.9-inch model starts at $ 999. That's for a 64GB, Wi-Fi unit, though. There are also 256GB, 512GB and 1TB units. Adding an LTE modem costs $ 150 extra. A 12.9-inch, 1TB unit with mobile costs $ 1,899, without a keyboard or stylus. The Smart Keyboard Folio costs $ 199 for the 12.9-inch fashion model, or $ 179 for the 11-inch version. The Apple pencil costs $ 129.

In other words, it is now possible to pay more than $ 2000 for an iPad.

Of course, if you just want an iPad, there is the basic model 6th-gen iPad of $ 329. However, you must stop thinking of the Pro as an iPad. To justify his prize, he has to do a lot more.

Design and accessories

As mentioned, the iPad Pro is available in two models, 11 inches or 12.9 inches. We tested the 12.9-inch 1TB unit. They are both smaller and lighter than last year's iPad Pros, because they have much smaller edges. The "liquid retina" LCDs are excellent as usual, with refresh rates of 120 Hz and wide color gamuts from DCI-P3. To maintain app compatibility, Apple has locked all iPad screens at 264 pixels per inch, which means that as the screens grow, they get more pixels.

Benchmarks of Apple iPad Pro 3

I can not imagine that this tablet is used without the Smart Keyboard Folio from Apple, a magnetic keyboard / case. It has two positions to use your screen: a more upright one that tends to be a bit too reflective, and a more angular one that gives you a better view. The dust-covered keys actually feel better to type than a MacBook Pro of the second generation; they have a final click, but it's a soft click that does not hurt your fingers if you're a difficult typist.The Pro tablets have rounded corners, but harder edges than the standard iPad. They also have a flat back with a noticeable bump for the 12-megapixel camera. There is no start button at the frontlike with the new iPhones, use Face ID with the 3D camera on the front. The tablets have a single USB-C port on the bottom and loud quad speakers on the sides if they are in landscape mode. The tablet's right-top edge (depending on whether you are in portrait or landscape) is magnetic and the new Apple Pencil clips click immediately.

The new pencil is one of the strongest reasons to buy a new iPad. If you are a regular Pencil user, you are probably annoyed by the two major structural shortcomings: the cap is easy to lose and the perfectly cylindrical shape can roll off everything. Your pencil is also nowhere to be stored.

The new pencil has a matte finish and a flat side. If you put it on the table and push it, it stops. The back is not removable and the pencil sits securely magnetically on the top of the iPad, wherever it is being charged. This is so & # 39; s great improvement. It means that you always know where your pencil is and that it is always charged.

There is also new functionality. Double tap on the course of the Pencil mode switches, for example between pencil and wiper; it is controllable by individual apps. This is similar to Wacom styli with buttons, so it really brings the pencil to a place where professional stylus owners are used to.

The pencil is just as sensitive as ever, with an amazing pressure and tilt sensitivity. For example, call up a water color brush in an app such as Procreate and the pressure and tilt sensitivity of the pencil feels practical like a brush. The new pencil only works with new iPads, so if you make money on the basis of artistic efforts, that is a strong argument for getting the new models.

Brute force

Apple & # 39; s A12X processor benchmarks as well as a professional laptop. It is wonderful what this thing can do. I've compared it to three of this year's Macs with Geekbench, a CPU benchmark that I've always thought is a bit biased toward iOS; GFXBench, a relatively neutral graphical benchmark that uses Apple's Metal APIs; and Basemark Web, which tests display performance in Safari. View the results.

Benchmarks for Apple iPad Pro 2

That said, when we tried to make other workflow comparisons, we could not. The pro-applications that we like to use on other operating systems, especially Photoshop and Handbrake, just do not run on iOS, and the workflow benchmarks we like to use, such as PCMark and Cinebench, do not run on iOS either..On the rough benchmarks, the iPad Pro comes out faster than a Mac Mini, and often faster than an Intel Core i7 MacBook Pro. From a hardware perspective, this 2-in-1 is worth every dollar that Apple charges for this. The speeds we saw in our benchmarks were included in our daily experience, with everything that moves effortlessly.

Benchmarks of Apple iPad Pro 1

This illustrates the problem for the next thing I want to say, namely that Apple might consider cutting off low-power Intel chips and instead make its first A13 laptop next year. While the A-series processors, in terms of roughness, are now faster than many Intel chips, macOS and especially Mac third-party applications are being compiled for Intel, not for A-series processors, and there is a significant emulation load.

How bad is the emulation tax? The Samsung Galaxy Book 2 runs Windows 10 on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 processor, an amped-up version of the Snadragon 845 in the latest phones. Snapdragon 845 phones with QHD displays currently score about 330 on Basemark Web in the standard Android browser. The Galaxy Book 2, with Microsoft Edge (which should be the fastest browser), gets 150. Ouch.

So if you try to run MacOS Adobe apps on this processor, they will probably perform much worse than the benchmarks, unless Adobe goes through the complex, heavy lifting of recompiling for the different set of instructions. There is no simple answer.

Networks and battery

The network capabilities of the iPad are just as nice as the performance of the processor. Just like the iPhone XS Max, the mobile iPad Pro is based on the Intel XMM7560 modem, which can handle gigabit speeds. It has a physical SIM card slot and a built-in, software-configurable eSIM. They do not both work at the same time, but you can switch between them. The physical lock supports all American and Canadian carriers; the eSIM supports AT & T, Sprint and T-Mobile and you can choose a service plan via the Settings app.

LTE-wise, the Pro supports a wide range of American and international bands, including all bands that each of the major US carriers use. The to have Sprint and the old CDMA system from Verizon, but that system is useless for data anyway, so that does not matter. What matters is that it verifies on the LTE networks of Sprint and Verizon.

Related storySee how we test tablets

For WiFi, it can simultaneously run 2.4 / 5 GHz 802.11n / ac with 80 MHz channels. It has Bluetooth 5.0. Connectivity is simply excellent.

We still have to run battery tests, but we have no reason to deny Apple's quotation of 10 hours of use with about half the brightness of the screen, similar to the previous iPad Pro generation. This is shorter than some laptops we've seen, but most people think it's enough and you can quickly charge the iPad with the biggest USB-C power you can get (like that of recent Macs). It comes with a new 18W charger, but you should buy a 30W charger instead, like Apple's selling $ 49.

Camera and USB-C

The lack of a home button makes the camera's of the iPad more relevant than ever. The 12-megapixel f / 1.8 camera is definitely better than the 8-megapixel camera of the basic model and seems reasonable on the iPhone X-camera, which is great. Fast autofocus, LED flash and 4K video recording are all supported.

That said, I think the real use of the main camera (and the real use for its better low-light performance) is in augmented reality applications, and the Pro places objects very quickly on horizontal and vertical surfaces.

The front-facing camera is a giant step up from the standard iPad, going from a 1.2-megapixel camera to a 7-megapixel sensor with 1080p video recording and 3D viewing that includes Face ID, Animoji and Memoji. Face ID works in all directions and the front camera is similar to the latest iPhones. With the powerful quad speakers, this is a great device for video chatting.

USB-C is a big step forward for the Pro, but not as big as it could be. Again, it is stopped by iOS. You can connect keyboards and you can connect docks that are branched into USB-A ports, DisplayPortsand Ethernet ports. I have often needed an Ethernet port for an iPad, so the easy availability of USB-C-to-Ethernet adapters is fun. You can connect a USB-C headphone to bypass the absence of a headphone connection.

I am not too concerned about the fact that you can not connect a mouse or trackpad to an operating system that has no possibility for a pointer. But you can not connect any external storage or printers, and those are two big holes. Ideally, you should just be able to connect a drive and display it in the Files app, but that does not work: you have to use special drives that have iPad app support. Printing is only wireless. Apple could have generic external storage drivers for the Files app without breaking iOS metaphors or sandboxes, but it just did not.

Also iOS & # 39; s handling of multiple displays is far from ideal. You can connect USB-C DisplayPort monitors via the USB-C port or translate to DisplayPort or HDMI (but not Thunderbolt) via a USB-C dock. But because iOS does not have a desktop, each application has to figure out how secondary monitors should be handled. Sometimes they are meant for displaying presentations while looking at notes on the main screen. Sometimes they are meant to zoom in or out artwork. They are never meant to multitask more than you could otherwise.

No Pro Flow

The iPad Pro has iOS 12. According to a poll we have kept, about a third of people say that they can use the iPad Pro as their primary computer. This is important because the price is so damn high.

But during testing I kept seeing the same old pro-workflow problems that have infected iPad owners for a while. For example, my daughter applies for a local art high school. She wants to get to know Toon Boom and Photoshop, standard apps in the animation sector. The Pro sounds perfect for that, right? However, there is no Toon Boom for iPad and Photoshop is coming sometime in 2019.

I love creating data visualizations. Excel on the iPad Pro lets me insert diagrams and write them directly, which is very cool. But I can not drag them to a Word document even if the Word document is open in split screen mode. I have to screen them, crop them, save them in the film roll and import them. Also, changing and moving the axes is very difficult, unlike Excel on any other operating system.

There are even some compatibility issues with iPad apps! Animatic, an animation program, crashes. Videoshop, a video editing program, does not go into landscape mode. LumaFusion, the best professional video editing app, has, let's say, an uncomfortable relationship with my OneDrive account.

The iPad Pro does not do a lot of existing work, just like the existing machines that do it. This is not because of the hardware. The processor, screen and pencil are top class. This is due to the lack of mainstream pro applications and the inadequate use of peripherals and workflows with multiple applications. It is the same old story that we have been telling for years.

The $ 329 standard iPad handles many of the simple iPad tasks. Do you want a good-looking, virus-free, well-supported computer for e-mail, word processing, games and cloud-based school work? Maybe a nice little SSH terminal? There is no need for an iPad Pro for all of these tasks. The A12X processor is just overpowered for those workloads and the other big Pro features you pay forthe ProMotion screen, the new Pencil, the better speakersdo not add up to $ 500 really useful value.

So what does the Pro do well? Multilayer sketches are beautiful. Apps such as Procreate and a dozen other art titles can deal with an essentially infinite number of layers with butter-smooth transformations.

The Pro does CAD and AR like no other device. I saw demo's of instructional instruction systems with AR objects for things like repairing jet engines, the kind of things that you would probably like to have expensive AR glasses and which generally runs a bit janky on Windows tablets or less expensive iPads. The Pro is fantastic for this, but it is niche.

Comparisons and conclusions

The standard $ 329 iPad, which is really $ 600 to $ 800, as soon as you add the desired keyboard, pencil and storage options, is a great little computer at the right price. For drawing, word processing, web browsing, a little photo editing, some content usage and gaming, an iPad is converted into a 2-in-1 efficient, no-nonsense and virus-free. That is why it is a Choice of Editors and one of the products that we recommend the most.

The things you can not do with an iPad on basic level are usually not because of the hardware, but because of the software, and the iPad Pro is still running the same software. That means the Pro miles are behind more flexible Windows 2-in-1s such as the Microsoft Surface Pro 6 when it comes to running workflows such as office apps, Photoshop, Lightroom or, for example, Toon Boom animation software. The Pro simply can not perform. The operating system and the applications do not allow it.

The Pro shines like a secondary tablet in precious creative setups. I'm talking about artists, animators and photographers who do not mind spending up to five figures on their workspace and wanting the best. It is better than a Wacom Cintiq, and it can be a useful tool for photographers on the move who want the best possible view of their work.

The technical work of Apple is epic here. The iPad Pro is easily as powerful and just as well designed, as leading Windows 2-in-1 & # 39; s and Mac laptops. But until iOS holds the multi-application, multi-document, multi-tasking and multi-device workflows well, the Pro is a side dish, not a head Class.