iPad Pro (10.5-inch) review: Dazzles and delights in equal measure, if you can get past the price

iPad Pro (10.5-inch) review: Dazzles and delights in equal measure, if you can get past the price

The numbers in the tablet market don’t look inspiring and for the last few years there has been a gradual decline. Market research firm International Data Corporation’s (IDC) has reported that the tablet shipments in the consumer segment declined 28% in the first quarter of 2017 compared with the same period last year, clearly indicating that the Indian consumer is not keen on buying this gadget.

But that doesn’t mean that the technology giants have given up on this consumer product. With the concept of hybrid laptops, there is hope for tablets.

Apple first introduced its hybrid laptop – iPad Pro – last year in two size options, first a 12.9-inch and then a 9.7-inch. And in spring, the company introduced a new screen size – 10.5-inch — of this 2-in-1 series. It comes in various options in terms of storage, connectivity and colours. The Wi-Fi only variants with 64GB, 256GB and 512GB storage cost Rs 50,800, Rs 58,300 and Rs 73,900 respectively. The Wi-Fi+Cellular models with same storage space cost Rs 61,400, Rs 68,900 and Rs 84,500 respectively. Apart from this, the iPad Pro accessories, the Apple Pencil, smart keyboard are priced at Rs 7,600 and Rs 12,800 respectively.

We reviewed the 512GB variant that offers both Wi-Fi+Cellular as connectivity and here is our review:

Design and display

It’s a new screen size but everything apart from that is utterly familiar about the looks of the iPad Pro (10.5-inch). It has an aluminium unibody design with glass front and well-defined corners. But Apple being Apple it has made some minor improvements here and there. However, they don’t seem to create a huge impact.

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First, the tablet size has increased from 9.4×6.6-inches to 9.8×6.8-inches. Even with this slight enlargement, Apple managed to increase almost an inch on the diagonal due to reduction in the size of bezels. The new iPad is slightly heavier (just 30g) but you won’t notice it. This iPad Pro version comes in Silver, Space Grey, Gold and Rose Gold colour versions, we got the Space Grey variant to review.

Having played with both 12.9-inch and 9.7-inch iPad Pros recently, the new iPad with a 10.5-inch feels more optimum. The front of the iPad Pro is dominated by its 10.5-inch Retina display featuring the 2,224×1,668 resolution. Pixel density has been kept the same as the 9.7-inch iPad Pro at 264 pixels per inch, so images and text continue to look super sharp and crisp. The display comes with True-tone colour support, 600nits of brightness, which is 20% brighter than last year’s 9.7-inch iPad Pro, and the capability to play HDR videos. Besides this, the iPad Pro (10.5-inch) comes with less reflective coating making it more suitable for outdoor use.

One special feature of this iPad Pro is that it comes with ProMotion technology, which brings the refresh rate of 120Hz to the display (up from 60Hz compared to other iPads) for smoother visual experience. The refresh rate is two times faster. ProMotion means the screen also works better with Apple Pencil. It’s now more responsive and reduces latency to 20ms, which Apple claims is an “industry best”.

Above the display, users get a 7MP FaceTime HD camera, while the usual circular Home button lies below the display. On the side, the iPad Pro (10.5-inch) also features smart connector, which is used to dock the tablet with the keyboard and 4 speakers, 2 on each side – similar to features we saw in the last two iPad Pros.

The volume rocker buttons are placed at the top trim along with sim-card tray. The headset jack is located on the left edge, while the USB charging port is placed on the right. At the back, you’ll see a 12MP protruding camera and the shiny reflective Apple logo.

Accessories
Just like the other iPad Pros, this 10.5-inch device is too compatible with the detachable keyboard and the Apple Pencil. But you need to buy them separately as these do not come included in the price of the iPad. It is with the support of these accessories that the iPad Pro is trying to replace the laptops.

Apple Pencil pretty much works the same way as we have seen previously as it hasn’t changed but the ProMotion technology makes it even more responsive. Apple claims that it brought down its latency to 20 milliseconds. Suited best for artists and designers, it comes with pressure-sensitive sensors. According to Apple, the sensors measure the amount of pressure you’re applying as you write or draw, and calculate the exact orientation and angle of your hand.

With the built and weight that it has, the Apple Pencil feels like a real pencil. In our experience, there was almost no latency between the Pencil and the screen. It is remarkably accurate and comes in handy when you need to scribble a note or mark up an image or PDF document in your own handwriting.

The Apple Pencil gets connected to the iPad via Bluetooth and is charged by connecting to lightening port. To sync an Apple Pencil to an iPad one just needs to remove its cap and insert it in the iPad’s charging port. A 15-second insertion time gives 30 minutes of pencil battery backup.

With the iPad Pro gaining a few inches here and there, the keyboard is now a full-sized one. Even though it does make the experience better and convenient, it lacks shortcut keys. It is made from ‘custom woven fabric’ that’s embossed and laser ablated to form the shape of each key.

We could easily connect it to the iPad Pro using the Smart Connectors on the side of it and doesn’t require any separate charging. One problem we faced with this tablet and its plugged-in keyboard is that it is restricted — in terms of tilt angles. The screen is fixed at one angle and you cannot bring it further or drop it down. Also, with three iPad Pros, maybe it is time for Apple to do some upgrades to this Smart Keyboard. Backlit keys don’t hurt anyone, eh?

Software
Currently, the iPad Pro runs on iOS 10.3.0, but it was definitely designed for iOS 11. It doesn’t have any unique features that the company boasted about at the time of launch as they will come later this year when iOS 11 is officially unveiled. The company has improved iOS 11 that will drastically change the way iPads are used.

It will come with extended dock which can house more apps. Users can access the dock from any screen, as well as pull an app out from the dock for enhanced multi-tasking. They can also pull out the app to use it in split-view mode.

Another new feature is drag-and-drop, which will make easier to move files and folders, images, URLs and other content from one app to another.

As of now, it has the same features, which we have seen in the previous iPad Pros slide over and split view. The slide over menu can be accessed by swiping to the right, which lists the compatible iPad apps. This way both apps can be used simultaneously without the need of shutting one down. You can go a step further and turn it into a split view feature by extending the app in such a way that it divides the screen into two equal halves, running both apps side by side. It also comes with the picture-in-picture, which allows you to open a second app while using FaceTime or watching a video. Pressing the home button scales down the video screen to a corner of the display, giving you an option to let it play in the corner as you access the other apps.

Camera and performance


The iPad Pro (10.5-inch) has the same camera as the iPhone 7. It sports a 12MP f/1.8 rear camera with 4K resolution video capture. It comes with features such as Live Photos, True Tone Flash, Panorama (up to 63MP). It captures incredible pictures for a tablet, with lots of detail and amazing colours. This can be seen in images captured outdoors as well as indoors.

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Moving to the performance, the iPad Pro is powered by Apple’s A10X chip, which is based on 64-bit desktop-class architecture. Apple claims that the CPU speed is 30% faster than in the previous iPad Pro generation, with 40% faster graphics. But in everyday usage, it’s hard to see this difference as even the previous generation iPads cannot be classified as sluggish.

The device has a Lightning 3.0 port and packs a 30.4Wh battery and delivers more than 10 hours of backup. We used the iPad for a couple of days and it easily delivered about 12-13 hours.

It also features the M10 co-processor that handles the task of measuring data from motion sensors like the accelerometer and gyroscope without involving the main processor, leading to a better battery life. Paired with the fast refresh rate display, it gives the whole package a great feel. All in all, the new iPad is super responsive, a fine performer and delivers an absolute lag free experience.

Verdict
To sum up, it is hard to pinpoint anything wrong with the new 10.5-inch iPad Pro. It is stylish, powerful and a delight to use – be it watching videos or any other media. The rollout of iOS 11 in September will further boost the tablet’s productivity features and enhance its appeal as productivity machine for business travellers on the go. The tablet is surely a good upgrade over its predecessor and offers some top-end specifications vis-a-vis its rivals.
But then the big question is how keen you are to shell out its hefty price tag (Wi-Fi+cellular variant is available at a starting price of Rs 61,400) considering that it certainly cannot replace your laptop completely. Also, the Rs 61,400 price tag does not include accessories like Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard for which you will have to spend an additional Rs 20,400 (Rs for Apple Pencil Rs 7,600 and Rs 12,800 for Smart Keyboard).
So, you need to make your own decision depending on your fetish for Apple products and how much you are willing to spend on a high-end tablet.

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