It’s the event you’ve all been waiting for, ever since Apple announced it way back on 18 October. The company opted for a reveal event during South African work hours (the American ones go without saying) at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Howard Gilman Opera House rather than using their own campus, which should have been our first hint that Apple had something different in store. Well, different-er.
On the big screen
Remember the iPhone XR? Yeah, the new iPads are taking their screen skills from Apple’s ‘affordable’ smartphone display tech with a Liquid Retina display that utilises an edge-to-edge LCD panel and — happily — narrower bezels than we’ve ever seen before in an iPad.
Apple’s retained the overall size of the existing 10.5in iPad Pro for the new, smaller one, but is using an 11in Liquid Retina display this time around. The 12.9in iPad Pro is sticking to its screen dimensions, but it’s also getting a Liquid Retina display… and a smaller chassis, making it about the size of an A4 sheet of paper. Both new slates will measure just 5.9mm thick. Yup, both of ’em.
And both of them are getting the iPhone X’s FaceID, with the True Depth camera rig hidden in what remains of the bezel rather than using a notch. Well, good. That means the Home button has been chucked, as expected. Gestures seen in the iPhone lineup have been added to the iPad Pro as a result to make for simpler navigation. We particularly like the ability to switch between open apps by swiping a finger across the bottom of the display.
We have the technology
Apple’s gone one better than the A12 Bionic processor found in the newest iPhones. The iPad Pro duo are playing host to a new A12X Bionic processor that uses Apple’s 7nm tech. Obviously faster than the smartphone-specific A12, Apple’s claiming some very impressive things.
The octa-core CPU and septa-core GPU will apparently put more than 92% of current portable PCs in the corner (their sentiment, not ours… not yet, at least) and the graphics processing will apparently match up with the Xbox One S. Based on the demo of NBA 2K running on an iPad, we’re pretty close to believing that — though we still want to take a closer look.
Apple’s neural engine has been included on-chip as well, so expect to see a lot of the iPhone’s smarts here. It’ll also handle all of the new augmented reality functions that Apple’s touting for these slates.
A place for my stuff
Up to 1TB of storage for an iPad Pro? Has the world gone mad? Nope, you’ll be able to get either new iPad Pro in either 64GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB models, though those last ones are going to require a car-sized loan, we reckon.
Apple’s gone with USB-C rather than Lightning for these tablets, making them a little more versatile for everyday use. It’s a lot easier to connect something via USB-C than Lightning. Oh, and as a result of the new port the iPad Pro models will support charging out — you can charge your iPhone by connecting it to the iPad Pro… assuming you have a USB-C-to-Lightning cable, of course. Drat, we’re going to need more cables.
The Apple Pencil has been upgraded. Nothing much, it just attaches magnetically to the new iPads, automatically pairs and also charges that way, meaning that you won’t ever run out of juice. Unless you lose it. That’s an update we didn’t know we needed and now we’re never going to be able to live without it. The sides have also been flattened, which could make it more comfortable in hand… not that the existing one is exactly uncomfortable, but still…
The Pencil supports a few new features we’re very keen on. You can tap it on the iPad Pro display to wake it, where it’ll launch the Notes app. Double-tapping on the Pencil itself while holding it changes functions (a feature which can be used by apps other than the ones Apple makes). A new keyboard folio case will be launching alongside the new iPad Pros, if you’re in need of a lightweight tablet/computer combo… and you have a lot of cash for extras.
Getting creative (cloud)
The new iPads leverage that improved chip for a smarter augmented reality tech and Adobe is going to be launching a new AR app for the devices called Project Aero which will allows intrepid folks to edit AR content on the tablet. And yes, they totally did show off Adobe Photoshop running on Apple’s newest slate. It’s impressively fast, though we’re still not convinced. We’re going to need to see a row of at least five of these tablets editing massive documents, live and in person. And then we’re not giving them back.
Apple’s new 11in iPad Pro will start at $799 (around R11,700 for the 64GB model), while the 12.9in model will start at $999 (R14,700 for the 64GB model). We’re not sure we want to see what the 1TB pair cost. Both are up for pre-order now, internationally, with a launch date of 7 November. We’ll let you know as soon as we have info on local availability and pricing.