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iPad Pro review roundup: A powerful tablet that shouldn’t have been released

Published Jun 12th, 2017 7:45AM EDT
Apple iPad Pro Review

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If you’re still debating whether or not to buy Apple’s next-generation iPad Pro, there are two things you should know on Monday morning: 1. iPad Pro reviews have been published, and 2. they’re not terribly exciting. If the prospect of diving into a bunch of reviews of consumer tech’s most “meh” product segment isn’t overly appealing to you, don’t worry because we’ve got you covered with this quick iPad Pro review roundup.

It’s not that the new 10.5-inch iPad is boring, it’s just that the consumer tablet market hasn’t really been exciting since Apple first gave it a shot of adrenaline with the original iPad back in 2010. Tablets aren’t like smartphones, and even the most crazed Apple fans out there don’t bother upgrading every year like they do with iPhones. Is the new 10.5-inch iPad Pro good enough to warrant upgrading your current iPad, which is probably still functioning just fine? Let’s find out.

CNET gave Apple’s 2017 iPad Pro a score of 9.0 out of 10, noting that improvements in the areas of display quality and performance are big plusses. The site also noted that having double the storage is a nice feature, and the Apple Pencil is more responsive thanks to the iPad Pro’s improved refresh rate.

On the flip side, CNET’s main complaint is in line with most other reviews that ran on Monday morning: The new iPad Pro shouldn’t have been released yet. Nearly all of the tablet’s cool new features come baked into iOS 11, which won’t be released until sometime in September. Until then, it’s pretty much just a faster version of last year’s iPad Pro with a slightly bigger display.

From the review:

Can the new iPad Pro tablets replace my laptop? Can they change the equation?

We won’t know definitively until that new operating system arrives. In the meantime, I can tell you the hardware is solidly improved. Most existing owners can wait until that iOS 11 upgrade hits before taking the plunge, though the upgrade from the 2015 12.9-incher to the 2017 version is more substantive than the step up from the 2016 9.7-incher to its 2017 10.5-inch replacement. Anyone with more modest tablet needs — those who don’t need to sketch on the screen with the Apple Pencil, for instance — should stick with the baseline 2017 iPad that was introduced back in March.

Those looking for a more enthusiastic iPad Pro review will of course find it on MacStories, where respected reviewer Federico Viticci discusses why the new 2017 model is better in just about every conceivable way.

There’s something about the screen of the new 10.5” iPad Pro that feels immediately novel but quickly becomes normal, and something that seems obvious at first but reveals itself as a deeper change after a few days. As a heavy user of the 12.9” iPad Pro, I’ve been pleasantly deceived by this new iPad, and the more I think about it, the more I keep coming back to the display and the story behind its new form factor.

Viticci is a serious fan of the larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro though, and he does note that physical size limitations obviously prevent the 10.5-inch model from being as useful as the larger model when it comes to productivity. While the 10.5-inch model is the “nicest, most powerful iPad” available, the 12.9-inch model can fit more content on the screen, which is of course important while using Split View.

Over on Buzzfeed, the reviewer there noted that Apple’s new 10.5-inch iPad Pro is as powerful as some laptops these days. Even still, the site says there’s simply no way to pretend that a tablet is a must-have device, even if it is as powerful as this one.

As one would expect of an Apple product, it’s pretty expensive (starts at $649, but you can spend well over $250 on accessories if you want an Apple Pencil stylus and a keyboard) — more than an iPhone, but less than a MacBook. This pricing makes sense because an iPad, especially the Pro, can do more than an iPhone but, in many ways, falls short of a Mac. In other words, the iPad is an in-between device. People don’t *need* a tablet in the same way they do a smartphone and, for some, a computer.

The Verge says

that the new iPad Pro is “overkill,” and the blog also mirrors other reviews in stating that the new iPad Pro needs iOS 11 in order to really shine. It’s also pricey for a tablet, according to the site.

Apple has definitively made clear what the differences are between a regular iPad and an iPad Pro. Those differences include a murderer’s row of specs that don’t seem very necessary for what most people do with iPads. Here is what makes an iPad Pro, Pro: a bigger, better screen; a faster, more powerful processor; better cameras; support for the Apple Pencil; a keyboard connection port; and more speakers.

There’s one more difference, though, and it’s the biggest and most important one: the price. The iPad Pro starts at $649 for a 64GB model, and it can be priced all the way up to $1079.00 for 512GB of storage and LTE. Oh, and the Apple Pencil is $99 and Apple’s Smart Keyboard is $159, though there are cheaper third-party keyboards available.

Meanwhile over at Engadget, the reviewer there doesn’t view the iPad Pro’s power as overkill at all. The power is a huge plus according to the blog’s review, as is the new display and the improved cameras. The lack of iOS 11 is once again a big strike against the new iPad Pro though, and the site says the device’s battery life doesn’t measure up to some rival tablets.

iPad Pros have always been great options for people who need high-powered tablets, and the new 10.5-inch model is no exception. It’s a more exciting update than it might initially seem: The screen is bigger and brighter than before, and the new A10X Fusion chipset makes this model one of the most powerful in Apple’s Pro lineup. Throw in an excellent main camera and the same 10-hour battery life we’ve come to expect, and we’re left with a great — albeit expensive — tablet for users who crave excellent performance. It still won’t replace your laptop, but it might be able to soon. iOS 11 is set to launch this fall, and the update will make these new Pros even better for people who need to multitask.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.