iPad Pro 12.9 (2017) review
Apple invented the tablet market with the iPad in 2010. It also reinvigorated the laptop market with the evolution of its MacBook over the last 20 years. So why has it seemingly tried to meld the two with the iPad Pro?
Can this new 12.9-inch version replace your laptop? Does Apple even want it to? It largely depends on what you need it for. If you watch TV and surf the web: yes. If you work with desktop operating systems and need it to replicate that experience: no.
It leaves me at pains to rate what is a fine product. It is too expensive for most casual consumers but could be ideal for digital illustrators and aspiring creative professionals with deep pockets who want a second device. Yet, it is a dream to fire up Netflix on, and with the right keyboard is great to word process with.
So is it overkill? Maybe. Some problems remain with iOS and even though Apple has moved away from the replace-your-laptop marketing, it is an OS that feels limited when you try to do everything on it, even with the keyboard and Pencil.
But the hardware is beautiful, and Apple has always known how to provoke lust for its products. Consider me torn.
Price and availability
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro can be bought directly from Apple from £769. That price gets you an acceptable 64GB storage and Wi-Fi only connectivity.
It is also available at a discount from certified Apple Reseller KRCS.
You can get it in Space Grey, Silver or Gold, but not the coveted Rose Gold (that’s reserved for its 10.5-inch brother).
It’s a product that you could pay up to £1,169 for if you need 512GB storage and the option for a 4G SIM plan. You can also opt for 256GB.
No combination of pricing, colour and connectivity comes with the Smart Keyboardor Pencil. They cost £169 and £99 respectively; the cheapest 12.9-inch iPad Pro set of all three costs £1,037.
If you have the money and 12.9 inches isn’t too big a display for you, then it’s just about worth the dough. But you might prefer the surprisingly compact 10.5-inch iPad Pro that has very similar internal specs.
Design and build
The iPad’s design has come a long way in seven years. Compared to older models, the 12.9-inch Pro is comically large and isn’t a device you’ll be comfortable using with one hand to read on. But this isn’t an iPad aimed at the casual reader of news or browser of web. Though it does those things with aplomb thanks to the expansive Retina display that’s bigger than the smallest MacBook’s.
The design remains largely unchanged from the 2015 model that introduced the world to the mega-Pad. The external design is identical, with a pleasingly clean look and feel that recalls Steve Jobs’ love of the Bauhaus movement in its minimalism.
It’s my favourite iPad in this sense despite its size, with only a Touch ID button, power/lock button and volume keys on the chassis (plus a nano-SIM tray on cellular models).
Aside from these, there’s a Lightning port, 3.5mm headphone jack and four speaker grilles. The Apple logo on the rear is reflective aluminium and the weight of the device, while not the most shoulder-bag friendly, has a reassuring heft behind it.
The camera, now the same as on the iPhone 7, has the tiniest of bumps to it but does not cause the whole unit to rock when on a table, which is good news for drawing and note taking with the Pencil, or just typing onto the screen.
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