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10.5-inch iPad Pro review roundup: Apple’s most impressive tablet yet

June 14, 2017

 

The first reviews for Apple’s 10.5-inch iPad Pro are out, and they’re good! From its blazing fast speed to its new variable refresh rate ProMotion feature, the first reviews make it sound like Apple’s latest model could be its most perfect tablet yet.

 

We’ll be getting our own order delivered this tomorrow, but for now, here are the first impressions as reported by the lucky folks who got to test pre-release units:

 

PROMOTION IS WORTH PROMOTING

One of the big improvements of the new iPad Pro is its new variable refresh rate display, which Apple calls ProMotion, and means that it can run at 120fps, or twice as fast as previous displays. It can also cycle down to 24Hz on still images.

 

CNET says that the feature makes scrolling and animations look better. This is repeated in ArsTechnica‘s review, which praises the new ProMotion by saying that it makes it easier to read text and scroll simultaneously, with the “ghosting” effect you get at 60Hz greatly reduced.

 

“None of the display improvements that Apple has made post-Retina—an ever-longer list that now includes the DCI-P3 color gamut, True Tone, and ProMotion—have had quite as big an impact as those sharper screens did, but the 120Hz refresh rate comes close,” Ars writes. “The sooner this trickles outward to the iPhone and Apple’s various Macs, the better.”

 

In theory, ProMotion should help out the Apple Pencil, too, although most reviews seem to think it already worked great — therefore making the improvement more of a subtle tweak than a game changer. “Even stylus aficionados sitting down with the new 10.5-inch model and the older 9.7-inch model might be hard-pressed to appreciate the latency change,” CNET writes. “It’s better, but it’s subtle.”

 

Since many reviews note that they’re not artists or regular stylus users, I suspect we’ll have to wait a longer to get a definitive take on this issue.

 

BLAZINGLY FAST

What everyone can agree on is that the new A10x processor is as blazingly fast as you’d hope, although right now a lot of this is still theoretical — since there’s very little out there to truly test it on.

 

“[It] feels like an engine crying to be fed,” says CNET. “I had a hard time figuring out what I used, on a daily basis, that could take advantage of its power. That’s probably where the extra multitasking possibilities in iOS 11 could help it step up and deliver more.”

 

Taken into account with the new iPad Pro’s 12-megapixel camera, Jim Dalrymple of The Loop writes that it, “the A10X chip is so powerful, it allows you to edit multiple streams of 4K video.” That’s pretty darn awesome!

 

SMART KEYBOARD IS A SWING-AND-A-MISS

If the iPad itself is a hit, however, multiple reviewers don’t feel the same about the Smart Keyboard. For example, The New York Times complains that it is, “thin and the keys do not click well or feel as satisfying to type on as the keyboards on a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air; after a long period of typing, the Smart Keyboard felt flimsy.”

 

Jim Dalrymple echoes similar sentiments, saying that the size of keys makes it uncomfortable to type on. “There seems to be lots of room on this keyboard to have larger keys, but they haven’t done it yet,” he writes. “It would be much more comfortable moving from a Mac to an iPad if the keys were more uniform.”

 

(Not everyone seems to agree with this stance. Engadget notes that the “keys are nicely spaced and bigger,” and notes that most of its review was typed using the keyboard; “something I just couldn’t manage last year.”)

 

IMPRESSIVE BATTERY LIFE

Battery life on a tablet has never felt quite as crucial as battery life on a smartphone or laptop, but the new 10.5-inch iPad doesn’t disappoint. It packs a 30.4Whr battery, which provides typical iPad battery life — which is impressive when you consider it has to do this while accounting for features like ProMotion.

 

“The most pertinent spec after the screen is the battery life,” writes The Verge. “I can report that it’s very good. I have been getting 8 and 9 hours of multipurpose use on the regular, very close to Apple’s claimed 10 hours of web surfing.” It’s a sentiment that’s repeated elsewhere.

 

IOS 11 IS THE KILLER APP

A theme that emerges from every review is the fact that — until iOS 11 ships — users are really only getting half the new iPad Pro experience. TechCrunch, for example, writes that:

 

“After playing with the new iPad Pro 10.5″ for a few days, I am convinced that it’s fairly impossible to do a detailed review of it in its current state. Not because there is some sort of flaw, but because it was clearly designed top to bottom as an empty vessel in which to pour iOS 11.”

 

Indeed, features like iOS 11’s focus on multitasking will almost certainly be where the A10x processor and other features will really be allowed to shine. Here’s The Vergeagain:

 

“With iOS 11, the core UI of how iPad multitasking works is going to completely change. The dock of apps at the bottom will be available with a swipe up from anywhere. Instead of your recent apps getting listed in a horizontal card view, you’ll get a grid of them organized into “spaces” where split views you’ve set up will stay together (not unlike Mission Control on MacOS). There will be real Drag-and-Drop support — and in fact it may be more powerful than what you can do on a desktop. And, finally, you (and all your apps) will have access to a real, traditional file system.”

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