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REVIEW: Apple's new iPad Pro (again)

Alvin R. Cabral/Dubai
Filed on March 24, 2020
The new iPad Pro's base storage is now double, and higher-specced options have lower prices.

Same looks, but now with a more powerful dual camera and even enhanced performance

Having no distinguishable name for something sometimes works because simplicity is always cool. Apple certainly isn't afraid to use such naming conventions for its iPad Pros (and, really, is this a surprise for a company that has a knack for designs that are minimalistic?).

Because here we are again with their newest top-of-the-line tablet computer. And - you guessed it - it's simply called iPad Pro; attach the 'new' prefix to kinda-sorta distinguish it from its previous iterations.

Call it what you want - iPad Pro 4, iPad Pro 2020; it's being marketed as new iPad Pro, while technically it's the fourth generation - but as with new releases, there are new, great things to expect. Here we go.

TALE OF THE TAPE

REVIEW: Apple's new iPad Pro (again) (KT23708324.PNG)

As with 2018's refresh - which was a great one, by the way - the new iPad Pro is similar to its third-generation design: Thinner bezels (though still way thicker than we would want it to be), no Home button, flat edges with rounded corners, surround speakers and a USB-C port.

There's really no difference up front, and the only sign that you have the new iPad Pro in your hands is when you look behind and see the all-new, iPad-first dual-camera setup. We'll get into that a little later.

And as you saw above, pound-for-pound there aren't really a host of new stuff on the new iPad Pro - but those that are new are quite significant.

First up is the new A12Z Bionic chip that's powering this device. Apple didn't give a specific figure on how much faster or more efficient this would make the new iPad Pro, but they guarantee that it's the most efficient and most powerful in the line-up thus far, with LTE connectivity 60 per cent faster, having more support for more bands.

And even without Apple mentioning any specifics, the real deal is within: The whole point here is that bumping up the chips and the rest of the hardware inside will ensure best-of-class performance for a longer period of time and extended reliability, something that is expected of a device of this stature.

To put it in perspective, Apple says the A12Z makes its tablet more powerful than most Windows laptops; they are indeed serious in the 'Your next computer is not a computer' marketing tag for the new iPad Pro.

Now if Apple is indeed touting this as a replacement to your computer, it better back it up. And quite so, using the new iPad Pro does give that experience: Everything was lag-free, and I truly felt I wasn't working on a tablet. Couple that with the Sidecar and Handover features and you'll just have a seamless transition between Apple devices.

And - thank God! - the base model for the new iPad Pro is no longer 64GB, as you'll now get double at 128GB. That is indeed a blessing for those who want an iPad but who either don't need or don't want to spend much on higher-capacity options.

I've always wondered why Apple has stuck to 64GB, but ever since the iPhone ditched that option, I knew it was just a matter of time before the iPad would get that bump. As I always say, 128GB is the ideal storage option, both on budget and usage perspectives.

Alongside the launch of the new iPad Pro is something I adore - the new Magic Keyboard that has a floating design and which reminds me of certain iMac models. We still don't have it at the moment, but once it's in we'll give you a lowdown on how it actually works and feels.

It attaches magnetically to the iPad and has a pass-through USB-C port as well, giving you more desktop feel. It also has a full-size keyboard - similar to those on 15-inch Macs - has backlit keys, a scissor mechanism for a smoother experience and, for the first time ever for an iPad, a trackpad.

I've always batted for a trackpad on Apple-branded, iPad-specific keyboards, and finally it's arrived. I mean, what took it so long? Users who largely depend on iPads need that extra kick because it allows more productivity and ease of use. I personally would be able to speed up everything I do with this new hardware, woh boy.

Which leads us to what's running the show - iPadOS 13.4. That full trackpad feature - along with full mouse support - is one of the new things introduced in the latest version of the operating system, and will be very much a boon for users who depend on the iPad as their laptop (like me; well, at times, when I'm too lazy to carry around a heavier MacBook).

Other new stuff on iPadOS 13.4 - which rolls out today, which basically transforms your iPad into a Mac and which we detailed here - are quite interesting and useful. Among the most essential are iCloud folder sharing (first shown off at last year's WWDC), combined Mac and iOS purchases (which will then spill over to iPad) and new keyboard shortcuts, among several others (new stuff for Animoji and Memoji are also in, if it interests you).

iCloud folder sharing has been clamored for a while now, and this will be a big plus in integrating all your stuff to your 'heavenly' storage space.

Now, on to the most distinguishable physical feature of the new iPad Pro - its dual-lens camera, a first for the iPad.

REVIEW: Apple's new iPad Pro (again) (KT23709324.PNG)

The ala-iPhone 11 setup combines 12MP wide and 10MP ultra-wide snappers, which means you'll be able to cover more ground using this tablet.

To prove that point, here's a sample; the shots on the left are from an iPhone 11 Pro Max, while those on the right are from the new iPad Pro:

REVIEW: Apple's new iPad Pro (again) (KT23710324.PNG)

But the biggest feature of the iPad Pro's cameras is its Lidar scanner. While Lidar - light detection and ranging - isn't a new innovation, this is a major step in Apple's bid to hasten the iPad's capabilities when it comes to augmented reality (the iPhone doesn't have it yet - we won't be surprised if we'll see it in September - but Apple has shown off some apps that foreshadows what Lidar can complement on it when it comes).

The Lidar feature on the new iPad Pro, basically, allows you to scan objects and measure their distances within a specific range - Apple claims it to be up to five metres - then create a 3D map with a "more detailed understanding of a scene" out of it.

This will be critical for those in the AR space - developers, companies, gamers, etc - who are aiming to create more immersive experiences. For example - arguably the most-cited one - is furniture placing; with Apple's Lidar scanner, you can cover more ground and have a more detailed understanding (as mentioned above) of how you plan to place your stuff. It'll also be a big boost for AR gaming, much to the delight of virtual thrill-seekers out there. Of course, this will be a major weapon for developers in Apple's ARKit army.

Oh, and of course, how can we forget Apple Pencil support. It still wireless connects to the new iPad Pro, attaches to it on the side or above and does every magical thing you can imagine. Perfect for artists, professionals and doodlers.

The new iPad Pro's most potent capability lies within the Lidar-powered dual-lens cameras, indeed a boost for advanced users, professionals and, of course, us regular users. This enhancements pave the way for more immersive experiences, which would touch both businesses and customers. The latest iPadOS, meanwhile, ensures more seamless interconnection in the Apple ecosystem.

And best of all, Apple's offering more value for your money: The starting price point remains the same with double the storage, and - in case you overlooked this in the tale of the tape above - you can get to spend as much as Dh1,000 less as you go higher. Good move.

And I'm getting that hunch that this is a major step into what's being expected later this year - a 5G iPad.

GOODIES: More powerful cameras, base storage now double, price cuts in higher models

GOOFIES: Lack of Touch ID will still be an issue for some, still more expensive than certain laptop models

EDITOR RATING: 4.5/5

- alvin@khaleejtimes.com


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