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Apple iPad Pro (2020) review: Is it a notebook killer?

By Kenny Yeo - 29 Mar 2020

Performance analysis and conclusion

Performance analysis

The new A12Z processor is only marginally more powerful than the A12X found in the last-generation iPad Pro from 2018. On Geekbench, which is a pure CPU benchmark, their scores were nearly identical. And on benchmarks with graphics workloads, like 3DMark and AnTuTu with, the new iPad Pro, with its extra GPU core, was about 5% faster. So, overall, the new iPad Pro isn’t all that much faster than the model it replaces.

While that may be a little disappointing, it’s still a beast of a processor. It handily beats the A13 processor found in the iPhone 11 Pro and also Samsung’s newest Exynos 990 processor found in the Galaxy S20 Ultra. In short, it's easily the most powerful processor in any phone or tablet.

 

Battery life

Our standard battery test for mobile phones has the following parameters:

  • Looping a 720p video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
  • Constant data streaming through email

Unsurprisingly, battery life was about identical to old iPad Pro at 282 minutes or 4 hours and 42 minutes. It’s decent compared to the other modern iPads but no match for Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S6, even if the latter has a smaller 10.5-inch display. Still, it’s pretty respectable considering the size and quality of its display, the performance it offers, and how portable it is.

 

Conclusion

Objectively speaking, this is the best tablet you can buy today.

There’s no question that the iPad Pro is a stunning piece of hardware. The display is marvellous, it is slim, it is light, and it is crazy powerful. Anyone shopping for a new mobile computing device would be looking at the specs of this new iPad Pro with lust in their eyes.

However, the reality is that as wonderful as the iPad Pro is, it is still limited in some ways by iPadOS. Apple has made meaningful improvements to iPadOS to make it more multi-tasking friendly and more like a Mac or traditional computer. You only need to look at the new Magic Keyboard to know that. It comes with a trackpad, for crying out loud. But the truth is that most longtime Mac users like me still find it hard to work exclusively on an iPad. There are new gestures to learn and quirks to workaround. To be fair, some of these quirks are not Apple's fault, but the fact remains that it’s much simpler to stick to my trusty MacBook even if the hardware isn’t as impressive.

Also, it doesn't seem like Apple wants the iPad Pro to be a MacBook replacement. Watch the video below, I don't know about you, but it seems to be saying the iPad Pro is another form of computing. So, to answer the question posited in the title: No, this isn't quite a notebook killer but that's because maybe Apple didn't want to kill off notebooks in the first place.

The flip-side to this is that if you grew up on iPhones and iPads, then maybe iPadOS will come naturally to you. And, of course, there are some things it can do a lot better than Macs can, like signing, scanning, and making quick edits on documents, taking handwritten notes, and more. If you are comfortable with iPadOS, then there’s no better mobile device than the iPad Pro. But having said that, this new model is only a minor update to the one it replaces. Because other than the lidar scanner, the two are practically identical. If you already own the iPad Pro from late 2018, I’ll advise you to sit this one out unless you think the lidar scanner will be a game-changer for you.

To end, not much has really changed. This new iPad Pro is going to cost you, but in return, you get the best tablet money can buy today.

8.5
  • Design 9.5
  • Features 9
  • User-Friendliness 8.5
  • Performance 9
  • Value 7.5
The Good
Class-leading performance
Thin and light
Gorgeous display
Best implementation of Face ID
Lidar scanner looks promising
Excellent accessories
Great sound for a tablet
The Bad
Really pricey
Accessories are sold separately
Accessories are pricey
iPadOS has a learning curve
No headphone jack