I purchased an iPad Pro 12.9″ (the big one) a few weeks ago and wanted to give my opinions on it now that I have had it for a while. I got the silver 128gb cellular iPad Pro. I also purchased the Smart Keyboard and the Apple Pencil (more on the accessories later). I was not sure how I was going to like it, at first it seems comically large, but after spending some time with it I absolutely love it.
The Hardware – There’s no denying that the 12.9″ iPad Pro is huge. It is also pretty heavy when compared to the standard 9.7″, 1.57 pounds vs .96 pounds, but it is about as light as it can be given the size of the device. The Retina display is a joy to look at & I just love how big the display is. In fact, it has quite a bit more screen space then my laptop for the last several years, the 11″ MacBook Air. The speakers are a huge improvement over the previous iPads. There are now four speakers as opposed to two and they are on each corner of the iPad Pro. They get really loud if you crank them, so much so that I have not found the need to connect it to a bluetooth speaker. The battery life has been really good as well. I’m getting 12+ hours even when watching a ton of video. And the standby time has been great as well. I love that there is just zero battery anxiety with this device, if you have it fully charged in the morning you will not run it down in the course of a day.
The battery life on the iPad Pro is legit.
Another new hardware addition on the iPad Pro is the new smart connector on the bottom of the iPad when it is in landscape. This 3 pin connector allows it to attach to various 1st and 3rd party accessories wirelessly and with no power required from the accessory. This is a really cool new feature, one that I use nearly constantly with my Smart Keyboard.
The Smart Connector
Lastly, the A9x chip and 4gb of ram make the iPad Pro 12.9″ super fast. Everything just flies on this thing.
Test results from the Geekbench app on my iPad Pro 12.9″
Overall, I really like the hardware of the iPad Pro. However there are a few nitpicks that I have with the hardware:
- Apple ships the iPad Pro with a dinky 12w charger that takes a very long time to charge the iPad. The 12.9″ iPad Pro supports fast charging via USB-C, but you have to pay about $75 for the necessary charger and cable. This is ridiculous on a device at this price point. They should ship it with the proper adaptor and cable.
- The iPad Pro is really not a one handed device, unlike the mini or regular size iPad. It is pretty unwieldy in portrait orientation. If you want something to read books on or slip into your purse, this is probably not the right device for you.
The Software – The new multitasking features introduced in iOS9 for the iPad were just made for the 12.9″ iPad Pro. Multitasking truly feels at home on this big screen. It gives you almost 2 full size iPad apps side by side. Check out the multitasking view in the picture below.
Narwhal (Reddit client) on the left, Safari on the right, and a picture in picture baseball game on top.
I have found myself using the multitasking view so much more with the Pro than I did with my iPad Air 2. There are a few other new software features that the 12.9 Pro gets, namely a full size software keyboard with a number row & a two column today view. These are still the early days for the 12.9″ iPad so while I feel like things will get better on the software front, not everything is rosy right now. A few of my gripes are –
- You can only have the same amount of icons on the home screen as all of the other iPads. There is so much wasted space!
- Some of the apps are still not optimized for split screen (Pocket), picture in picture (YouTube), or even the new screen size 😡 (Facebook).
- The multitasking app picker is just awful at trying to find the app you want. There needs to be a complete redesign as well as a search bar.
The Accessories – When Apple announced the iPad Pro, it also announced two brand new accessories that only work with the Pro – The Smart Keyboard & the Apple Pencil. I own both and would like to tell you my thoughts on each.
The smart keyboard is awesome, it has a full sized keyboard & doubles as a cover for the front of the iPad Pro.
The Smart Keyboard – Before I purchased my iPad Pro, I did a lot of research on various cases & keyboards. I narrowed my choices down to two options – the Smart Keyboard & the Logitech Create. Both keyboards have their pros & cons & both support the new smart connector on the iPad Pro. I decided on the Smart Keyboard due to it’s lighter weight, more minimal design, & the ability to pull it off as easily as a smart cover when I just want to use it as an iPad. That second part ended up not mattering much because I absolutely love the Smart Keyboard and would estimate it is connected to my iPad Pro 95% of the time that I use it. Some combination of it being a full size keyboard, it instantly responding to you pressing a key with no need to wait for a bluetooth connection, never needing to be charged, and all of the keyboard shortcuts available for the iPad in iOS 9, have just endeared me to this accessory in a way I had not imagined it would. I use it setting on a table, my desk, on my lap, as a stand for watching streaming content, etc. This is the accessory for the iPad Pro in my opinion. It also completely takes away one of my gripes with the 12.9″ Pro, namely it being a little hard to hold comfortably for extended periods. With the Smart Keyboard, my iPad simply rests on my desk or on my lap with no strain on my hands at all. Would it be better with backlit keys and a shortcut row of keys? Absolutely, and I hope that a future version does all of that but for what it is, I absolutely love it.
The Apple Pencil – Oh, the Apple pencil. It’s so beautiful and I love it so much, but I am not quite as bullish on it as I am on my Smart Keyboard. On one hand it is the best stylus I have ever used hands down. I’ve tried out a bunch of iPad styluses as well as the styluses for the Surface Pro 4 and the Surface Book, and the Apple Pencil is just better. It has the least amount of latency I have seen and it is a joy to use. It is really fun to use in an adult coloring book app called Pigment. It is also really cool to take handwritten notes in Notability and Apple Notes. It’s useful for editing photos as well. But the main thing it is awesome for is for artists. If you like to draw, this is the stylus for doing that with. Unfortunately, I am not even close to being an artist so using the Apple Pencil for drawing is not something I can really take advantage of. This leads to me not using it that often and for what it cost, it’s hard to justify recommending it if you are not an artist or a big handwritten notes taker. I got it solely because I was excited about trying it out and because it looks so beautiful. I am trying to figure out ways that I can use it but right now it is not used as much as my Smart Keyboard.
So those are my thoughts on the iPad Pro. I love it and use it every day. I go for days without turning on my Mac since I got it. The fact that I can have a 12.9″ Retina display with tons of storage & power, LTE connectivity, all day battery life, and the huge app selection of iOS in a device that weighs what the original iPad weighed is just mind blowing to me. At the same time, I know that the iPad Pro is not for everybody, especially the big one. It’s not a cheap device & some people are still more comfortable with a laptop or a desktop. That’s perfectly fine, use the device that is right for you but I firmly believe that the 12.9″ iPad Pro is the right device for me.