The iPad Pro is more than a bigger-screened iPad Air. It features an all-new design that, in its subtlety, is a lot more similar to the iPad Air 2 than to the iPad Air, at least until Apple releases a larger model. It features a smart connector that accepts a new dock that can turn an older iPad into a more powerful and full-featured computer. With Apple’s FaceTime, AirDrop, and Apple’s third-party streaming apps, it can have the capabilities of an Apple laptop, including a physical keyboard and wireless mouse.
That gorgeous screen is a different story: It is so big that a case is needed to hold it in place, and that has led to many complaints that the iPad Pro isn’t completely hassle-free to use without one. At 12.9 inches, the iPad Pro is considerably larger than the iPad Air (10.5 inches), the latest iteration of which is very similar in size to the previous iPad Air. The width of the new iPad Pro is slightly longer than the old one (8.37 by 6.85 by 0.31 inches), and its thickness is 0.30 inches taller (7.41 by 4.74 by 0.30 inches) and 0.01 inches thicker (0.57 by 0.37 inches) than its predecessor. The iPad Pro is still one of the thinner, lighter iPads Apple makes, but it’s certainly not as slim as before. It measures a mere 6.1 by 6.1 by 0.27 inches.
Apple claims the A9X chip in the iPad Pro is the company’s fastest and most powerful mobile processor ever. The iPad Pro is no slouch, with a base speed of 1.3GHz, and with 4GB of RAM and an M9 coprocessor (similar to the one in the iPhone 6S) for image processing and quad-core graphics. These specs put the iPad Pro on par with high-end laptops like the iPad Pro 2. Unlike the iPad Air 2, however, which uses Apple’s newer 64-bit A8X chip, the iPad Pro uses the slightly outdated 32-bit A9 chip, which means it can’t keep up with the just-released MacBook Pros with their faster Skylake processors. The iPad Air 2 comes close, though, with its new Core M processor. The iPad Pro’s other specs are close to the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus.
Display The biggest difference between the new iPad and the iPad Air 2 is the display: It’s nearly a full inch larger on the new Pro, giving it a 2732-by-2048 resolution. The screen looks excellent at any size, and as a tablet, it makes the iPad Pro feel like a true laptop replacement, as opposed to an oversized tablet. Portability The iPad Pro looks and feels solid, with a unibody aluminum build and a glass back panel. There’s no kickstand, which is probably for the best. While the Pro includes some ports on its bottom, like an audio port, a Lightning connector, and a port for the Apple Pencil, it doesn’t come with a set of speakers—though you do get a set in the box for the new 9.7-inch iPad.
12.9-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit LED-backlit display (1334-by-1536 pixels) A10X processor 2GB RAM 8MP rear-facing camera 1.2MP front-facing camera 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.2 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.2 Built-in front-facing speaker NFC Bluetooth 4.2; Wi-Fi Calling; Apple SIM 5,134mAh battery Running costs of $500 to $650 a year for LTE data 4K video recording Outstanding specifications for a tablet that costs less than a car and is smaller than most people’s laptops, yet not an Atom or other low-end smartphone. But that begs the question of whether the new iPad Pro is worth buying over the higher-priced 12.9-inch iPad Air 2, especially since the Air 2 is getting old and is getting less future-proof with each iOS update. Let’s take a closer look.
We gave the iPad Air a perfect 5-star review last fall, and many readers assumed that Apple was conceding to the competition and upping the iPad’s price. Apple announced the iPad Pro on Tuesday, which immediately solved many of the problems we’d identified. Apple dropped the entry price to $599 (along with more storage and cellular support), and it provided several new features we’d wanted on the iPad Air that we’re just starting to appreciate. It had the same beautiful screen, best-in-class battery life, fast performance, and even an improved camera. The new iPad Pro is a quad-core, 12-inch tablet with a high-resolution display.