iPad Pro Review Roundup: A ‘Game Changer,’ Still Not a True Laptop Replacement

Ahead of the release of the all-new iPad Pro later this week, the first wave of reviews for the device were published by a number of media outlets this morning.

iPad pre-orders began last Tuesday in over 50 countries, while the first deliveries to customers and in-store availability will begin this Wednesday, November 7. Featuring edge-to-edge displays that do away with the Home button, slim bezels all the way around, and a TrueDepth camera system that enables Face ID, the new upgraded 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models also work with the also-new Apple Pencil 2 and revamped Smart Keyboards.

Here’s what TechCrunch‘s Matthew Panzarino had to say about the brand-new tablet’s design, calling it more “much more businesslike and less ‘friendly:'”

The overall aesthetic is much more businesslike and less ‘friendly’ in that very curvy sort of Apple way. I like it, a lot. The flat edges are pretty clearly done that way to let Apple use more of the interior space without having to cede a few millimeters all the way around the edge to unusable space. In every curved iPad, there’s a bit of space all the way around that is pretty much air. Cutting off the chin and forehead of the iPad Pro did a lot to balance the design out and make it more holdable.

Chris Velazco of Engadget thinks that the inclusion of a USB-C port might be a “game changer” for the iPad Pro’s future:

USB-C might be a game changer […] While messing around in GarageBand, I used that port to connect a Blue Yeti microphone and record audio that sounded noticeably better than when I used the tablet’s built-in mic [and] when it came time to edit the photos you see in this story, I just popped in my Canon’s SD card — the iPad launched the Photos app and allowed me to directly import my pictures to the device’s internal storage.

Not everything I tried actually worked, though. Rather than allowing you to, say, move images and documents around using iOS’s built-in Files app, plugging in a USB thumb drive just prompts Photo to try and import whatever is on it. That’s the thing about using this connector sometimes, though: You’ll never really know what to expect until you plug something into it […] I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how I’ve been able to put that new connector to use, but I’m starting to get tired of this guessing game.

Jeffrey Van Camp of Wired says that Face ID works well on the new iPad Pro, but it isn’t “quirk-free”:

It works well, and doesn’t require that cut-out notch on the screen like the iPhone. It’s not quirk-free, though. We usually hold our iPhones in a portrait (vertical) orientation because that’s just how they fit in our hand. With an iPad like this, you almost always use two hands, and that means there isn’t really a “right” or “wrong” way to hold it. From time to time, my hands would sometimes accidentally block the Face ID camera when I held it in landscape (widescreen) orientation. And if I’m lounging around, my face may also be out of view. As I’ve gotten used to keeping my head in front of the tablet screen, and my hands away from its front-facing camera, Face ID evolved from a hindrance to a helpful, secure aid.

The Verge‘s Nilay Patel is impressed by the device’s display, but doesn’t believe it’s truly edge-to-edge:

Apple keeps saying the iPad Pro now has an “all screen design” that “goes from edge to edge,” but let’s just be honest: nothing about these bezels is edge-to-edge. It is, however, an extremely nice 264ppi LCD screen, and I continue to be a fan of Apple’s fancy technique to round off the corners of LCDs. 

Apart from the corners, the new iPad Pro display is substantially the same as last year’s Pro, with Apple’s extremely smooth 120Hz ProMotion variable refresh rate system, True Tone automatic color calibration, and wide color support. This is one of the best, most accurate mobile displays you can look at.

Gareth Beavis from TechRadar says that while the new iPad Pro has “an insane amount of power,” he questions whether it justifies the price premium the device carries:

Apple called this new model ‘the iPad we wanted to make from the beginning’ – but while this is easily the best tablet Apple has ever made, there’s a big question over whether the ‘average’ user will really get enough benefit out of the new iPad Pro to warrant the extra cost over the ‘basic’ iPad launched earlier this year […]

For a number of reasons the iPad Pro 11, despite the power and high price, still doesn’t manage to be a true laptop replacement. You can’t right click and download a spreadsheet you need for work with ease. If you’re using photos shared in Google Drive and want to download them for editing, it’s a laborious process […] Even us, trying to write this whole review on an iPad Pro to test how difficult it was, slunk back to a laptop with larger and more tactile keyboard in search of a more pleasant typing experience.

Raymond Wong’s iPad Pro review for Mashable praises the device’s design and performance, but mentions its iOS limitations, though they’re not necessarily bad:

There’s no question the new iPad Pros, with their spankin’ boxier design and slimmer bezels, are beautiful slabs of glass; Face ID is awesome, they’re even more powerful than any iOS device or competing tablets, and they can do some seriously incredible things with the right apps.

But the tablets are hampered by the same limitations of previous iPads (Pro or not): iOS on an iPad still isn’t as robust for general work as a MacBook running macOS. That doesn’t, however, mean the iPad Pro’s strengths aren’t better than its weaknesses, though […]

It’s such an intimate creation process that it made me realize that Apple’s not merely trying to change my or your old habits. Apple’s not trying to make the iPad Pro a laptop replacement because the device isn’t one. It’s trying to do something bigger: invent a new way of creating for a new generation that is not bound to the old computing laws of clicking a mouse.

Pricing on the 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $999 CAD for 64GB of storage, with 256GB of storage available for $1199, 512GB of storage available for $1449, and 1TB of storage available for $1949. Models with cellular connectivity are available for an additional $200 CAD over the base price for each storage tier.

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