The first thing you think when you get your hands on the new iPad Pro for the first time is “wow, this is huge” but once you adjust to the size you’ll come to appreciate the latest addition to the Apple product family.
With a Retina display size of 12.9-inches, there’s a lot to love about the iPad Pro apart from the added screen real estate which has a resolution of 2732 x 2048 and more than 5.6 million pixels.
There’s the thin and lightweight design – the iPad Pro is about the same weight as the original iPad introduced more than five years ago.
There’s also the A9X processor which provides 64-bit desktop class performance and there’s also the four speakers which makes the iPad Pro Apple’s best sounding iOS device.
Throw in the Apple Pencil to draw, sketch, paint and write directly on the iPad Pro’s screen and you’ve got more features that provide a wow factor that extends beyond a large dazzling display.
When it comes to looks the iPad Pro has the same design at the iPad Air 2. The only thing is the fact it dwarfs the iPad Air 2 as if it’s a prop from Land of the Giants.
But while we get used to the size because we haven’t seen an iPad this size, it’s actually only a fraction larger than a A4 piece of paper.
And that’s appropriate when you consider that one of the standout features is the ability to draw on the screen with Apple Pencil.
But Apple hasn’t just made everything bigger. To power a product this size, there’s plenty going on behind the scenes starting with the Retina display.
It has a redesigned multi-touch subsystem and a timing controller that tells each pixel what to do which is important considering there are more than 2.5 million extra pixels than the iPad Air 2.
In fact, Apple brought across the oxide TFT technology from the iMac’s Retina display to provide better brightness on the larger display.
It also has a variable refresh rate which means the iPad Pro can detect static images and lowers the refresh rate of the screen down from 60 times a second down to 30 times a second which makes the display even more energy efficient.
The A9X processor give the iPad Pro serious grunt to power through tasks like editing multiple streams of 4K video and creating 3D designs.
We don’t think there would be many people who buy the iPad Pro who won’t buy the Apple Pencil.
It goes with the iPad Pro like a tie goes with a suit.
It’s got a little bit of weight to it and feels great in your hand like a quality writing instrument should.
Writing on the screen you notice incredible responsiveness and this latency comes from the new touch subsystem.
The iPad Pro scans for the unique tip signature of Apple Pencil 240 times a second so it collects twice as many data points as it could with your finger.
It even works out the exact angle and orientation of your hand so it can also predict the trajectory of your strokes.
The result is immediate response so you can see what you’re drawing or writing or painting instantly.
But it is so accurate and lifelike users can even tilt the nib to shade as you would with a real pencil.
And it does have palm rejection which means you can rest your writing hand on the screen without it affecting what you’re doing.
Under the cap at the top of Apple Pencil is a Lightning connector which is how you pair the device to the iPad Pro and also how you charge it when you connect it the iPad Pro’s Lightning port.
A full charge takes about two hours to get about 12 hours of usage.
But if you find the Apple Pencil’s drained and you need a little more power to continue, connecting it for just 15 seconds can provide 30 minutes of use.
And you can use Apple Pencil with lots of apps including Notes and Mail but there’s no shortage of other apps that have been optimised for the Apple Pencil and iPad Pro.
These include Procreate 3 for sketching, painting and illustrating, AutoDesk sketch book, Adobe Photoshop Sketch and Paper by FiftyThree.
And just to be clear Apple Pencil will only work with iPad Pro. It won’t work with the current iPad Mini or iPad Air but it’s a pretty good bet it will work with next year’s models.
On the audio side the iPad Pro has also has a major leap forward.
It now has four speakers with housing machined directly into the unibody enclosure and sealed with a carbon fibre cap.
Each of the four speakers located in each corner has a wide frequency range to deliver rich high and mid times and respectable bass.
They are a lot louder too with three times the output of the iPad Air.
And the iPad Pro can intelligently detect whether it is positioned in landscape or portrait mode and adjust the sound to match.
The result means your movies not only look amazing but they sound great as well.
On the music side, the iPad Pro sounds good enough and loud enough to play on its own so you don’t even need to think about buying a Bluetooth speaker to improve the quality.
There are range of accessories for the iPad Pro including the Smart Keyboard cover.
Bringing a keyboard like this to the iPad Pro is a step closer to the device being used as a replacement for your laptop.
The keyboard itself is made from a single sheet of custom woven fabric which not only covers the keys but also acts as the key mechanism.
The result is a keyboard that feels as natural and comfortable as typing on a regular keyboard.
It’s also coated with water and stain resistant finish so it can handle an accidental spill.
The keyboard connects to the iPad Pro through a new smart connector which relays both power and data to the keyboard through the actual fabric of the foldable cover.
And when you’re done it all folds up like a smart cover to protect the iPad Pro.
The iPad Pro is not for everyone. It’s simply too big for some customers which is why Apple will continue to offer the iPad Mini and the iPad Air 2.
But anyone who likes to draw and paint or design and anyone who wants to use detailed apps and get even closer to what they’re designing or studying will find the iPad Pro hard to resist.
For anyone else who has a “go big or go home” attitude will also relish the iPad Pro and how it allows everyone to enjoy their content and apps on a grander scale.
It’s not cheap – it starts at $1249 for the 32GB model – but that’s still cheaper than the entry level Surface Pro 4 which is competing for the same audience.
The iPad Pro easily shows that bigger can be better.
Price: $1249 (32GB wi-fi), $1499 (128GB wi-fi), $1699 (128GB wi-fi + cellular).
Apple Pencil $165
Smart Keyboard $269