Apple CEO Tim Cook wasn’t exaggerating when he said the iPad Pro was “the biggest news in iPad” since the iPad.
This thing is gigantic.
The iPad Pro is Apple’s new 12.9-inch iPad. For context, that means the screen is about three inches larger diagonally than Apple’s 9.7-inch iPad Air 2. The screen is about as large as the one you find on a 13-inch MacBook — a full laptop computer.
It doesn’t feel similar to a MacBook screen, however, because it has a 4×3 aspect ratio just like the rest of Apple’s iPads.
Many other large-screened tablets, like Microsoft’s Surface Pro, have screens that are longer and meant to be used in landscape mode (so the long side runs horizontally). The iPad Pro isn’t like this — it’s designed to be held in portrait mode (long side vertical), and this quality makes it feel unlike any other competing big tablet.
Like Apple’s previous iPads, the Pro model is super thin, light, and elegant looking. It’s impressive that Apple managed to keep it so light while expanding its size so drastically.
But it does feel a bit awkward to hold because of its size. In the limited time I had with the iPad Pro, it seems like something that’s meant to be used on a table or a desk rather than in your lap.
So what about the keyboard and stylus?
Apple also sells two brand new accessories to go with the iPad Pro — a keyboard and a stylus called the Apple Pencil. The keyboard also doubles as a folio case that protects your iPad’s screen when it’s not being used as a keyboard.
The keyboard doesn’t feel quite as solid as what you’d find on your laptop or desktop computer. The keys also have a grippy texture — they aren’t slick and hard like the ones you’d find on a laptop.
It seems sturdy enough for getting casual work done or for productivity on the go, but I wouldn’t want to use the iPad Pro as my primary work device. Plus, the iPad’s 4:3 aspect ratio makes it look a little weird when used like a laptop.
(By the way, the iPad does stand up properly when the keyboard is attached — the hand in the picture here was simply somebody trying to reach out and touch it, not holding it up.)
The Apple Pencil has a smooth, glossy feel that’s reminiscent of Apple’s older Mac products. It’s lightweight and comfortable to hold, like a pen.
The Apple Pencil is mostly being pushed as a tool for artists, sketchers, and photographers. The stylus is pressure sensitive, so you can press down harder on the screen to make certain words appear more bold or to simply make the colour appear darker. This worked well in practice, and it felt simple to use.
Many styluses are pressure sensitive, but what makes the Apple Pencil stand out is its ability to detect how you’re using it. If you tilt the tip to the side, for instance, it looks like you’re shading rather than just colouring or sketching.
The iPad Pro seems promising for its intended audience — it’s a beautiful, big-screened tablet that could prove to be useful in the workplace.
But if you’re just using your iPad for things like email, playing casual games, and Facebook, you might be better off getting a smaller iPad like the Air, that’s more portable and easier to hold.
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