All signs, leaks, and rumours point to the announcement of a brand new iPad with a large 12.9-inch screen at Apple’s annual iPhone event.
The new iPad is being called the iPad Pro, and we’ve heard some pretty exciting news surrounding it. For example, the iPad Pro will be able to display two full apps with iOS 9’s Split View feature.
Other rumours claim Apple could be making a stylus and a keyboard accessory for the iPad Pro, which would make it seem like Apple’s direct answer to Microsoft’s Surface.
Either way, if the iPad Pro is indeed coming, it’s pretty much guaranteed to cost a pretty penny.
9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman claims an iPad Pro with maximum storage (128 GB) and LTE connectivity could cost as much as $US1,299, which is also the same price as the base MacBook model, which has 256 GB of storage.
For comparison’s sake, the 128 GB iPad Air 2 with LTE costs $US829, which is potentially $US470 less than an iPad Pro with the same storage and LTE capabilities.
The iPad Pro might seem like a tough sell when you could get a MacBook with twice the storage (and Apple’s desktop operating system OS X) for the same price. And then there’s the 128 GB Microsoft Surface Pro 3, which costs $US899 for a 12-inch screen, the full version of Windows, and potentially superior hardware.
So why could the iPad Pro be so expensive?
More screen, more money
To no one’s surprise, a bigger screen is going to cost more money. In fact, screen size might be the biggest factor for the iPad Pro’s supposedly large price tag.
There’s a $US100 difference between the 7.9-inch iPad mini 3 and the 9.7-inch iPad Air 2. That’s $US100 for a 1.8-inch difference.
If rumours of the iPad Pro’s 12.9-inch screen are true, that means there would be a 3.2-inch increase from the iPad Air 2. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be absurd for Apple to charge much more than $US100 for the bump in display size in the iPad Pro.
Also, consider this: If the iPad Pro has a 12.9-inch screen, it would be almost a full inch bigger than the 12-inch MacBook and Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 tablets. More screen real estate means more room to do… well, everything.
It might still be hard to justify the iPad Pro’s supposed price tag when it’s the same as laptops that are more powerful and run full versions of their respective operating systems (MacBooks run Mac OS X and the Surface Pro 3 runs Windows 10).
But the iPad Pro could have one killer feature that neither of those ultra-portable laptops have.
The killer feature: Force Touch
On the iPad Pro, Force Touch could be the key factor that differentiates it from the Surface Pro 3’s touch screen and the MacBook’s familiar form factor.
Force Touch offers a new, more efficient way to navigate and interact with iOS 9, which will be great for productivity.
Force Touch is currently featured in the MacBook’s trackpad and in the Apple Watch. It adds a new way to interact and navigate around those devices by registering harder presses as well as regular finger taps.
Some rumours have claimed Apple might unveil a stylus for the iPad Pro, which would work with the Force Touch display to register varying levels of pressure when you draw on the screen. For example, the line you’re drawing could become thicker as you press harder on the screen with the stylus. This could be useful for artists, designers, or anyone who needs to draw out ideas. This level of precision, even if it’s just for taking handwritten notes, could be a big reason people would want to buy an iPad Pro over any other iPad, or even a laptop.
Force Touch is pretty much essential on the Apple Watch, as it replaces the need for on-screen buttons that would otherwise take up valuable screen space on the Apple Watch’s tiny screen. For example, instead of pressing an on-screen button to get to an app’s settings menu, you can press deep into the Watch’s screen to summon the menu.
Force Touch is also great on the MacBook: You can press down on a link to show you a quick preview of the website it leads to, which is nice so you don’t need to open a new browser tab if you don’t need one.
It’s still unclear how Force Touch will impact the iPad Pro, so we’ll have to wait until Wednesday’s event to see all the new features.
You can’t beat the apps, especially two at the same time
And of course, the iPad Pro will be expensive because it’s an Apple product, plain and simple. You’re not just paying for beautiful, functional hardware; you’re also paying for the rich ecosystem, iOS 9, and access to Apple’s thriving App Store.
Apple’s App Store has arguably the best and most comprehensive library of apps out there, compared to the Microsoft Windows Store and Google’s Play Store. More often than not, app developers release their apps on iOS first, and they generally look and work better than their Android counterparts.
It will be interesting to compare the iPad Pro to the Surface Pro 3, which can run Windows 10 in “tablet mode” and also has a touch screen. But while the Surface Pro 3 runs Windows 10, the Windows Store doesn’t have anywhere near the same volume, variety, or quality of apps.
Furthermore, the iPad Pro will also take advantage of iOS 9’s Split View feature, which can display two full-size apps at the same time. Compare that to the iPad Air 2, where Split View makes those apps look condensed. Again, it’s more rewarding to have a bigger screen.
So, if you’re still wondering why the iPad Pro could be so expensive, consider Force Touch, Split View, and it being a premium Apple product. Together, it means the iPad Pro could help you get your work done more quickly than you could a rival device, be it a tablet or a laptop.
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