Two years ago, iPad fans were treated to one of the biggest updates when Apple lifted the lid on a completely refreshed iPad Pro design. This slimline new tablet featured a radical new look, Face ID facial recognition, unparalleled power and new accessories that put it even further ahead of its tablet rivals from the likes of Microsoft and Google.
And now the iPad Pro has had another reboot designed to make the tablet faster and better at shooting photos and videos. There’s also the introduction of a game-changing new keyboard case that could make the iPad a true laptop replacement.
Ahead of its release this week, Express.co.uk has been putting the brand-new iPad Pro through its paces and here’s what we think.
iPad Pro 2020 Review: Let’s Start With That New Keyboard
Perhaps the most exciting thing about the all-new iPad Pro is the updated typing accessory. And it seems Apple agrees, with the flashy new accessory featuring prominently in all of the marketing for this new table.
Dubbed Magic Keyboard, the clever case looks set to definitively transform the Apple-branded tablet into a laptop killer. Featuring a clever cantilever design, users will be able to adjust the screen to the perfect position – a major advantage over Apple’s current Smart Keyboard Folio case, which only has two preset angles, which might not be the most ergonomic if you’re planning to use the iPad Pro at your desk as your main machine.
Another first for the new case is the introduction of a MacBook-style trackpad and backlit keys. Plus, you can charge both the case and iPad at the same time using the USB-C port on the side.
At £349 for the 12.9-inch version, this keyboard will be a massive investment – to put it in perspective, that keyboard costs more than the entry-level iPad in the Apple Store. Not only that, but the Magic Keyboard doesn’t launch until May so there is no way of knowing just how well it will perform in the real world. We’ll be sure to put it through its paces when it launches, but if it is as good as it looks on paper – it could be a game-changing accessory.
iPad Pro 2020 Review: More Power Under The Hood
The original iPad Pro was no slouch and things have only improved with each new iteration. In fact, the 2018 model continues to lead the way and runs rings around a number of the most popular Windows laptops.
With the 2020 iPad Pro, Apple has given its tablet a boost with its new A12Z Bionic chip, which the Cupertino-based company claims is its most powerful ever. That’s undoubtedly true, although it is curious that Apple hasn’t moved the new iPad Pro to a twist on the A13 chipset found inside the iPhone 11 Pro. Instead, it sticks with a new version of the A12 variant found inside the previous generation tablet – moving from an A12X Bionic to A12Z Bionic in the new version. Some of that might be branding, but benchmarks point to this tablet not being leaps and bounds faster than the last iPad Pro.
But that’s hardly a knock on this supremely capable tablet. We genuinely doubt you’ll find much that the iPad Pro can’t cope with – something that still remains true of the older model. You’ll be able to multi-task, edit photos and videos, draw and doodle with the Apple Pencil and web browse without any noticeable lag. Apple is very keen to point out that the iPad Pro’s 8-core fusion chipset design outperforms the vast majority of portable PCs sold in the last year – and we can believe it.
If you’re a really heavy user, you might notice some gains between the 2018 and 2020 model, but we’d wager most iPad fans will probably find they are never truly able to push the previous model to its limits – let alone this one.
If you’re new to iPad and struggling to pick between iPad Pro models, it’s worth remembering that the 2018 iteration is currently a lot cheaper than the new version. Although you won’t find it in your local Apple Store (unless you check the Refurbished section on the website) a number of other high street stores still sell the 2018 model at a much lower price – money that you could put towards that new Magic Keyboard when it launches, as that accessory will work seamlessly with the previous model too.
iPad Pro 2020 Review: Double The Cameras
Apple has been adding more cameras to the back of its flagship iPhone models for some time and now the iPad is joining the fun. On the rear case of the new model, you’ll find a dual-lens camera which brings wide-angle and ultra-wide shots to the tablet.
The new 10-megapixel Ultra Wide camera certainly makes the iPad Pro far more versatile and we like the fact that Apple has now introduced more image options for owners. In our tests, photos and videos from these cameras are excellent with images looking sharp, colourful and packed with detail but tablet photography is still something that slightly baffles us.
Although some will likely appreciate the bumper viewfinder afforded by the laptop-size screen, snapping images with a 12.9-inch slate in your hands isn’t the easiest of things and we’re simply much more likely to reach for our iPhone when wanting to snap a family photo.
We’re not knocking Apple for boosting the photo credentials of its iPad Pro – it’s great to see the iPad catching up with the latest iPhone models – we’re just not sure how many people will actually make the most of the dual lenses.
More useful in our eyes is the fact that iPad Pro continues to feature the clever Portrait mode when shooting selfies, which means you can add some stylish bokeh-style blur to photos of your face. You’re also able to animate AniMoji or MeMoji characters when snapping selfies or making FaceTime calls to relatives.
iPad Pro 2020 Review: Meet The LiDAR Scanner
Along with dual cameras, Apple has also added something called a LiDAR scanner to the chunky camera bump at the back of its new tablet. This is integrated into the rear-camera module and should enable brand-new capabilities never before possible on any mobile device, Apple says.
In a nutshell, LiDAR measures the distance to surrounding objects up to five meters away. It’s the same technology used by Tesla to help its vehicles drive themselves and was also used by NASA for its Mars Rover. So, it’s pretty accurate. It works indoors and outdoors and operates at nano-second speeds. So, what the hell is NASA technology doing on an iPad?
Well, by depth-mapping what is directly facing the tablet, the new iPad Pro is able to perform Augmented Reality (AR) tasks much better and faster than any previous Apple device. AR is the ability to integrate digital elements into the real word – letting you peer through the tablet screen and see virtual game boards, items you’re looking to purchase from retailers, and much more placed in your living room.
Amongst other things, the new hardware improves functions such as the Measure app, making it faster and easier to automatically calculate anyone’s height. Apple has added helpful vertical and edge guides that automatically appear in the viewfinder to let users quickly and accurately measure objects.
This technology is very new to the iPad Pro so the measure app is about all you’ll be able to use for the time being. But expect plenty of talented developers to start using it to bring more features to their apps in the future. This is something that probably won’t impress on Day One with the new tablet, but should evolve over time as apps get creative with the feature.
iPad Pro 2020 Review: Design And Display
Nothing much has changed in the design department. In fact, the new iPad Pro looks identical to the previous version. However, that’s no bad thing as this tablet still offers one of the best experiences on the market.
The stunning Liquid Retina display covers almost the entire front of the device and its lightweight aluminium build means you get the a powerful machine that’s incredibly portable.
In fact, at under 500g this makes most laptops feel like giant lumps of lead.
The screen also continues to offer a sublime experience with Apple including P3 wide support for true-to-life colours, True Tone to automatically adapt the warmth of the screen to match your environment and anti-reflective coating which helps you see what’s on the screen no matter what the conditions.
You’ll also find Apple’s clever ProMotion technology, which automatically adjusts the display refresh rate up to 120Hz for ultra-smooth scrolling, which has been a staple since the iPad Pro line debuted in 2015.
Although the design and screen are very similar to the previous model it’s really hard to fault as the iPad Pro continues to offer a truly first-class experience. One small nitpick, with the gorgeous inky blacks and bright colours available on the latest iPhone models thanks to the move to OLED panels – not to mention the battery life boost when using iOS’s clever Dark Mode feature – it would’ve been great to see Apple switch from LCD on the iPad Pro. Alas, maybe that will be an upgrade for the next generation.
iPad Pro 2020 Review: Battery Life And Charging
Apple is confident you’ll get around 10-hours of playtime on a single charge and that seems pretty accurate. We’ve been running numerous test of our iPad Pro review unit and it seems this tablet will easily last a long haul flight.
As an example, watching an hour of YouTube with the brightness set to high uses around 10 percent of battery life. When things do run dry there’s a USB-C charger which will fill it full in around two hours.
It’s worth remembering that MacBook Pro and Air owners can also use their wall chargers with the iPad Pro which will refuel this machine at faster speeds. Although, AirPods and iPhones still use the older Lighting cable, so you’ll still have to carry a few chargers with you when you travel.
iPad Pro 2020 Review: Face ID and Extras
Apple ditched the Touch ID fingerprint scanner from the iPad Pro back in 2018 and switched to using its clever Face ID sensor to unlock the screen.
This nifty technology returns on the 2020 model, which is both good and bad news. When it works, Face ID is awesome – with the display unlocking in the blink of an eye. Sadly, the position of the True Depth camera at the top of the tablet means when in landscape mode you’ll often find yourself inadvertently covering the sensor with your hands.
Other bonus extras on the iPad Pro include four ear-shattering stereo speakers, which have to be heard to be believed. If you’ve happened to buy a second-generation Apple Pencil, you’ll be able to stick it to the top of the tablet with this digital stylus getting an instant battery boost once attached.
iPad Pro 2020 Review: iPadOS Boost
Apple’s new iPadOS 13.4 makes it easier to use a Bluetooth or USB-C mouse or trackpad with iPad. This update brings a redesigned cursor which now appears as a small circle on the screen but adapts depending on which application you’re using so it’s always clear what you’re highlighting.
Given that iPadOS is an operating system designed entirely around a touchscreen, it’s pretty impressive how well the trackpad and mouse support works. And we can’t wait to see what the next software upgrade, presumably titled iPadOS 14, will bring to boost productivity even further.
Apple has also added a bunch of interactive swipes for those with a trackpad. This means you can navigate and close apps without ever touching the screen. Once you get the hang of it, this new version of iPadOS works well and makes the iPad feel even more like a laptop.
It is worth noting that iPadOS 13.4 is available for most Apple tablets available right now, so you can get all these features without buying a Pro model.
iPad Pro 2020 Review: Price
One thing you can’t ignore is the iPad Pro’s price. If you opt for the 11-inch model you won’t get much change from £770 and the 12.9-inch version starts from £969. That’s expensive enough but things start getting really silly when you start adding the all the extras. In fact, spec the 12.9-inch iPad Pro to the max with the forthcoming Magic Keyboard case and second-generation Apple Pencil and you’ll face a bill of well over £2,000. Ouch!
One thing to note is that Apple has no upped the storage capacity meaning the entry-level Pro now starts with 128GB rather than 64GB found on the previous generation.
iPad Pro 2020 Review: Final Verdict
With the latest upgrade, the iPad Pro remains the greatest tablet on the planet. Nothing else comes close in terms of sheer power, ease of use, and a phenomenal selection of third-party apps.
The fact Apple has now made this machine feel more like a laptop with the introduction of the new Magic Keyboard case and the software tweaks included in iPadOS 13.4 means there’s even more reasons to consider buying one instead of replacing your ageing laptop with another PC.
The new dual-lens camera, LiDAR scanner and performance tweaks all add to the appeal but the biggest challenge to the new iPad Pro comes from itself. The iPad Pro launched two years earlier is incredibly similar to this model – from the speed, the gorgeous ProMotion display, FaceID …all of it.
And despite now being two years old, the original tablet remains an absolute beast and we can still highly recommend buying one today. Although it’s only available from Apple in the refurbished section of its online store, you can still pick up an iPad Pro 2018 from a number of other retailers and mobile networks while stocks last. Best of all, it’s now a lot cheaper than the 2020 model meaning you get more value for your hard-earned cash.
If you want the best of the best, then buy the 2020 iPad Pro as there’s no question that is the greatest tablet Apple has ever made. However, if you’re not too fussed about tablet photography then check out the deals and discounts currently available on the equally-capable 2018 version. It won’t disappoint and you’ll have money left over to treat yourself to an Apple Pencil.
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