Apple iPad Pro (2018) review: Apple's notebook killer is here
Design, Display & Under the hood
This is the newest iPad Pro and it is the biggest update to the iPad Pro ever. The latest iPad Pro has an all-new design to go along with massively upgraded internals. It also comes with new accessories: a second-generation Apple Pencil and an updated Smart Keyboard Folio. You could probably say they've pretty much changed everything.
An all-new design you say?
The first thing you will probably notice is that the new iPad Pro has no Home button. Yup, like Apple’s latest phones, the iPad Pro has no Home Button and relies on Face ID to log in (more on Face ID later). The lack of the Home Button, along with the new Liquid Retina-class display, means Apple was able to shrink the bezels to give the new iPad Pro an all-display design. The bezels are not completely invisible though. It’s not as thin as the bezels on the iPhone XS and XS Max and but it is considerably less conspicuous than its predecessor, especially along the top and bottom of the display when holding it in portrait mode. The chamfered edges of older iPads are also gone and in its place are square sides that call to mind the old iPhone 5.
Does it still come in two sizes?
Yes, it does. We still have a 12.9-inch model but the existing 10.5-inch model has now been bumped up to 11-inches. Because of the thinner bezels, the new 11-inch iPad Pro has the same footprint as the old 10.5-inch iPad Pro. Even their weight is identical at 468g.
The new 12.9-inch iPad Pro, on the other hand, is substantially more compact than its predecessor. Its smaller bezels and thinner form factor have allowed Apple to shrink its overall volume by 25%, making it a lot more portable. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro also weighs about 8.5% less at 633g.
Finally, both the new 12.9 and 11-inch iPad Pro tablets are just 5.9mm thick, the thinnest ever for an iPad. In the hands, as I noted in my hands-on article, the two tablets feel wonderfully thin and light. Apple has said that they always wanted for the iPad to be a ‘magical piece of glass’ that could be anything users wanted it to be. With the latest iPad Pro, they are closer to that vision than ever before.
Wow, tell me more about that display.
The latest iPad Pros feature Apple’s new Liquid Retina-class displays - the same kind found on the iPhone XR. It has rounded corners, supports the DCI-P3 color space, and also supports Apple’s ProMotion technology (variable refresh rate, first covered in our iPad Pro 2017 review) and TrueTone technology. The 11-inch model has a display resolution of 2,388 x 1,668 pixels (similar to its predecessor) while the 12.9-inch model has a display resolution of 2,732 x 2,048 pixels. Both displays have identical pixel density counts of 264 pixels per inch. Apple’s iPads have traditionally boasted had great displays and the latest iPad Pro tablets are no different. The displays on the new iPad Pros are sharp, vibrant, and crisp.
Wait, there’s no Home button so how do you log in?
Face ID, just like the iPhone X, XS, XS Max, and XR. But what’s really cool about Face ID on the iPad Pro is that it has been reworked so that it works regardless of the orientation of the device. It doesn't matter if the iPad Pro is in landscape or portrait mode or even upside down, Face ID just works. Orientation aside, Face ID also works at steeper angles and greater distances. In practice, this also means that the new iPad Pro doesn’t have a fixed orientation. This is hands down the best implementation of Face ID yet and I hope they bring it to iPhones in the future.
What’s powering it?
Powering the latest iPad Pro is the A12X Bionic processor, which is essentially the A12 Bionic processor found in the iPhone XS, XS Max, and XR but on steroids. This processor has a whopping 10 billion transistors. The CPU is an octa-core design with four high-performance cores and four efficiency cores while the GPU consists of seven cores. In comparison, the A12 processor in the new iPhones has two high-performance cores, four efficiency cores, and a quad-core GPU.
More importantly, the A12X Bionic processor delivers substantially more performance than its predecessor, the A10X Fusion. When comparing the two, Apple claims that the new A12X Bionic is up to 35% faster in single-core operations and up to 90% faster in multi-core operations. But more amazingly, Apple also claims that the A12X Bionic is faster than 92% of all portable PCs sold in the past year and that it also offers graphics performance that is comparable to the Xbox One S gaming console.
So is it really that powerful?
I know you are eager to know but we’ll talk more about performance on a later page. Let’s concentrate on the rest of the iPad Pro’s new features that we've covered in-depth on the next page.