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Apple's Newest iPad Pros Hands-On: iPad X We Expected

Sarah Tew / CNETI could not tell if I watched the 12.9-inch iPad Pro or the 11-inch one. It's a…

 023-ipad-pro-2018-size comparison
Sarah Tew / CNET

I could not tell if I watched the 12.9-inch iPad Pro or the 11-inch one. It’s a testament to how Apple has shrunk the Pro Series and seems to have delivered on a more portable high-octane iPad this year.

New iPad Professionals Announced at Apple’s October Event in New York are quite big changes, if you want to maximize the display in a metal frame. Both new versions fit larger screens in smaller, thinner bodies. Face ID has been added almost invisibly, built into the thinner frame through a deep-sense TrueDepth camera, just like iPhone X has. But there is no notch, which makes it seem much more subtle.

It does not mean any home button. It’s more like a big, magical window now. But with a display and a reinforced A12X processor inside that promises so much, it seems as if it’s time for the iPad to let go of even more inputs and accessories. Apple has delivered on some, and not on others.

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Lighter, More Screen and Face ID Shoving

I kept both new iPad Pro sizes a while in Apple’s demo room, and they are sometimes difficult to distinguish. The 12.9-inch version is lighter and feels finally unbeatable, provided you’re okay holding a metal and glass plate in one hand. I had a call to coddle these tablets more than ever. The piece of edge around the edge of both helps to provide a handy zone, but I really wanted these iPads in protection cases.

It appears that the 12.9-inch version is the most impressive change this time. The new 12.9-inch version has a smaller footprint than last year’s model, while the 11-inch Pro fits a larger screen to a size very similar to last year’s 10.5-inch Pro .

iPad Pro screens now have slightly curved corners like the iPhone X and Apple Watch, but it has an LCD screen. Apple has called “Liquid Retina” that will look like or better on the iPhone XR screen. Screen resolutions this time are 2,388×1,668 for 11-inch and 2,732×2,048 for 12.9-inch, both 264ppi (entry-level iPad has a 9.7-inch 2.048×1.536 screen, compared to the same pixel density).

To me is less better. The difference between iPads, however, feels much more subtle, but resembles bump-up between iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max . The 12.9-inch version costs an additional $ 200 per storage configuration.

USB-C, with some add-on

USB-C replaces Lightning on the new iPad Pro, which sounds exciting, but it’s brand new. Read our breakdown . does not necessarily mean what you think it does. The new professionals will support USB accessories and export video to monitors, but last year’s professionals could also do it with dongles. More interesting, the iPad Pro can use its USB-C port to reverse charging of other USB C devices, or an iPhone via a USB C-to-Lightning cable. It can also mean buying USB-C charging cables and adapters for Pro will be much easier (and cheaper).

Apple has already said that the USB-C port does not support external storage. However, app developers can design specific USB-C accessories that do specific things. Not having to connect via Lightning can open up new opportunities. (Apple supports SD card reader via USB-C, but only for transferring photos and videos to iPad.)

It also gives some complications. There is no headphone jack on the new professionals, and there is no Lightning port either, so Apple’s own Lightning EarPods packed with current iPhones do not work. And that also means that the current Apple Pencil is not working. Instead, there is a new pen.

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 iPad Pro 2018 apple pin

The pen now charges against the side of iPad (and has a drop-on page that performs actions).


Sarah Tew / CNET

Pencil Pen: Now Magnetic Wireless Charging, Double-Sided Pages

Apple’s Improved Pencil Stylus now charges inductively via a magnetic stripe on the side of iPad: paste it and charge it. The pen is still round, but the flat side keeps it from rolling on a table. The latency and pressure sensitivity of the pencil is the same as last year (the new professionals also have similar ProMotion-faster update displays like last year, up to 120Hz).

There is also a new double-button check that can do specific things in special apps. Sketch apps and Apple’s Notes app uses it to switch between the last brush and eraser. Other apps may use it in other ways. But the double-click action seems to be limited to a single action at a time, almost like Apple’s wireless AirPod dual-button features.

These changes are welcome. But I’m not mad that Apple asks us to buy a brand new pen.

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 iPad Pro 2018


Sarah Tew / CNET

A new keyboard folio case

Apple has its own fold-out keyboard set that seems like shades of what Logitech has done for previous iPads. The case is powered by Apple’s new smart connectivity on the Pro models, and evolves into a more lap-friendly base where iPad docks on the keyboard like a small laptop. It looks like a good enough case, but I have not tried or spent enough time writing it. But, I do not want the most: a tram like Google Pixel Slate and Microsoft Surface keyboard has. And it’s also expensive, at $ 179 for the 11-inch version or $ 199 for the 12.9-inch version.

Fancy and $ 19659012] iPad Pro seems like a perfect vision of where Apple touchscreen computers are on its way, but these tablets are expensive this year. Starting at $ 799 or $ 999 for 64GB of storage space means you want the next tier upward, plus $ 129 Pencil and any type of keyboard cover (Apple or otherwise). Expect to pay over $ 1000. At these prices I wonder, would you have been better with an older iPad model and a laptop instead? Last year’s 10.5-inch iPad Pro started at $ 649 for the same amount of storage.

But if you dreamed of an even better art tool at a still super high price, maybe this was the iPad you were waiting for. Even more than the upgraded hardware, these iPads will just be as good as the new apps that make the most of them.

Of course, we get a complete review at CNET at any time. These are just early thoughts in a demo room.

Follow CNET’s live blog for real-time coverage of the Brooklyn iPad event.

The New iPad Pro: Everything We Know Hitherto

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