Event Coverage

Hands-on with new 2018 iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and Smart Keyboard Folio

By Kenny Yeo - 31 Oct 2018

Hands-on with new 2018 iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and Smart Keyboard Folio

The new iPad Pro tablets are thinner, lighter, yet more powerful.

As rumored, alongside the new MacBook Air, Apple announced new iPad Pro tablets today. You have probably read about them first here but now I’m going to share my first impressions of these new tablets after spending some time with them at the Apple event earlier today.

The new iPad Pro comes in two sizes: 11 and 12.9-inch. To begin, the new iPad Pro tablets have a remarkable design and are impressive to behold. The Home button is gone and the bezels have been shrunk. The result is an all-display design that is gorgeous and more compact. The new 11-inch iPad Pro has the same footprint as last year’s 10.5-inch model while the new 12.9-inch model is 25% more compact than its predecessor. Both models are just 5.9mm thick. As for weight, the 11-incher is 468g while the 12.9-incher is 633g. In the hands, they feel unbelievably thin and light. It is, as I said, truly remarkable.

Only 5.9mm thick!

The displays of both iPad Pro models are Liquid Retina-class and look stunning. The 11-inch iPad Pro has a display resolution of 2,388 x 1,668 pixels while the 12.9-inch model has a display resolution of 2,732 x 2,048 pixels. Do the math and you'll find that both models have the same pixel density. Both screens also support the DCI-P3 color space, has ProMotion (first covered in our 2017 iPad Pro review), TrueTone, and a brightness of 600 nits - all of which have been standard for iPad Pro tablets.

See how thin the bezels are.

With the Home button gone, logins are done via Face ID. Since some people use their iPad tablets in portrait and some others in landscape, Face ID has been tweaked so that it works regardless of the orientation of the device. I didn’t get the chance to try this myself but I saw it being demonstrated at the event and it worked flawlessly.

Inside, the new iPad Pro is powered by the A12X Bionic processor. Think of this as the A12 processor (found in the new iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR) on steroids. With 10 billion transistors, the A12X Bionic processor has 8 CPU cores (four performance + four high-efficiency) and 7 GPU cores. Apple claims this processor offers up to 35% and 90% more single and multi-core performance respectively over the old A10 Fusion chip. More amazingly, Apple also claims that the A12X Bionic offers Xbox One S-class graphics. Last generation’s iPad Pro was already a beast and I can’t wait to see what kind of figures the new iPad Pro will generate in our benchmarking tests. At the event, I tested the A12X Bionic’s performance by running Assassin’s Creed: Rebellion (coming out later in November) and it ran smoothly.

The new iPad Pro with the new Smart Keyboard Folio attached. Note the new USB-C port.

Design and performance aside, another big news about the new iPad Pro is the switch from a Lightning connector to USB-C. It’s worth noting that the USB-C connector supports USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps) and not Thunderbolt 3. It’s still plenty for most users and it means that owners of the new iPad Pro can now connect other devices like cameras and displays to their iPad Pro. The iPad Pro can output up to 5K resolution if needed, which is impressive. And if you have a USB-C to Lightning cable, the new iPad Pro can even charge your iPhones!

USB-C aside, Apple has also removed the headphone jack from these new tablets. This means some form of wireless headphone or speaker is necessary if you wish to play audio from the iPad Pro on anything other than its built-in speakers. Not surprising considering their current momentum on other devices.

The new Apple Pencil attaches magnetically to the new iPad Pro and charges wirelessly. Very nifty!

No Lightning connector means a new Apple Pencil is needed and that’s exactly what Apple announced alongside the new iPad Pro. It is just as sensitive and responsive as the old Apple Pencil but it has a few neat tricks up its sleeves.

It now connects magnetically to the side of the iPad Pro and it also charges wirelessly. The magnets are strong and the Pencil doesn’t budge even if I shook the iPad Pro violently. However, the ultimate test would be to see if the Pencil stays in place if I stuff the iPad Pro into a bag with other items.

The keys of the new Smart Keyboard Folio are pleasant despite their low profile.

See the three dots at the bottom? That's the new Smart Connector.

There’s a new Smart Keyboard Folio too, which is necessary because the Smart Connector is no longer on the side of the iPad Pro, it is now behind. The new Smart Keyboard Folio looks like the old one but it attaches differently because of the relocated Smart Connector. It protects the front and back of the iPad Pro and offers two viewing angles. The keys themselves look and feel similar to the old Smart Keyboard and are quite pleasant to type on.

The new iPad Pro tablets are very impressive.

All things considered, the new iPad Pro tablets are impressive tablets and will surely cement Apple’s number one position in the tablet market. Personally, the Mac will always remain my primary computing device but I can definitely appreciate the iPad Pro’s remarkable design, gorgeous display, and breath-taking performance. The latest iPad Pro tablets are easily Apple’s most stunning tablets yet.

The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at S$1,199 while the 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at S$1,419. Two finishes are available - silver and space grey - and readers can choose between Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi + Cellular models. Available capacities are 64GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB. Pre-orders start now and with retail availability starting from 7th November. For the full list of prices of all models and SKUs, head over here.

Additionally, the new Apple Pencil is S$189 while the Smart Keyboard Folio for the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro is S$269 and S$299 respectively.

While we test out the product, in the meantime, tell us what you feel of this new iPad Pro and would you consider replacing your notebook or desktop? We would love to hear your thoughts.

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