The new iPad Pro is hands down the best-designed iPad the company has released. The flat sides, reminiscent of the iPhone 5, are only 5.9 mm thick.
Apple sent me the 12.9-inch model, but it also announced an 11-inch model. The 12.9-inch model has a footprint of 11.04 x 8.46 x 0.23-inches and weighs 1.39 pounds, whereas the 11-inch model is 9.74 x 7.02 x 0.23-inches and weighs 1.03 pounds.
I’ve been asked a few times about how the larger iPad Pro feels when carrying or holding it. Balanced is the only word that comes to mind. It’s easy to hold and manage without feeling like it’s overbearing. It’s far more comfortable to hold than the previous-generation iPad Pro.
Both devices use the same LCD display technology Apple used in the iPhone XR. Both devices have a Liquid Retina display with 264 pixels per inch.
As with the most recent iPhone’s, Apple has removed the home button from the iPad Pro. Instead, a small black bezel surrounds the display. Tucked behind the bezel on top of the device is Apple’s True Depth camera system with facial recognition.
Due to the nature of using the iPad Pro in multiple orientations, as opposed to the iPhone primarily unlocked in a portrait orientation, the iPad Pro’s Face ID system works in portrait or landscape.
The True Depth hardware itself is identical to what’s used in the iPhone. Apple had to retrain its Neural Engine to work with the various positions that the True Depth camera can be used in. Apple’s Neural Engine is used for machine learning tasks and is found in the most recent crop of iPhones.
A sleep/wake button is found on top of the iPad Pro, with volume up and down buttons nearby on the right side of the housing. That same side is also where the new Apple Pencil magnetically connects to the iPad Pro for charging and initial pairing. The right side is also where the SIM card slot is on the LTE model.
The bottom of the iPad Pro has a new type of charging port. Instead of using its own proprietary Lightning port, Apple has made the switch to USB-C. Included in the box with the iPad Pro is an 18W USB-C wall adapter and a USB-C to USB-C cable.
There are four speakers on the iPad Pro, two on the top and two more on the bottom. Apple has redesigned the speakers to fit into the thinner housing but has figured out a way not to sacrifice quality. In fact, I don’t remember the previous generation iPad Pros’ speakers sounding this good.
On the back of the iPad Pro is a 12-megapixel camera, protruding out from the iPad’s housing. It’s the only blemish on the new iPad Pro’s design. However, the camera bump is required because the camera module itself is behind the display of the iPad Pro, instead of the bezel.
Also on the backside of the new Pro is the Smart Connector, used to connect the iPad Pro to accessories such as Apple’s $199 Smart Keyboard Folio. The three dots provide power and data throughput for the keyboard. The Smart Keyboard Folio is redesigned for the new iPad Pro’s and now has two different viewing angles.
Apple revamped the Apple Pencil for the new iPad Pro. The new $129 Pencil looks slightly different than the first generation model, thanks to its matte white finish and a flat edge that breaks up the otherwise round housing.
That flat side is the portion of the Pencil that magnetically attaches to the side of the iPad Pro. When attached, a brief animation plays, displaying the current battery percentage of the Pencil.
The magnetic connection serves two purposes: Not only does it give you a place to keep your Pencil within easy reach, but it also wirelessly charges the Pencil. Apple won’t say what wireless charging standard — if any — the company is using, but we do know that you can’t place the Pencil on a Qi wireless charging pad and charge it. Your only option is to use the iPad Pro.
The iPad Pro is as powerful as a computer and can even complete common computing tasks with ease. But it’s still a tablet with software issues and a largely mobile experience.