The New iPad Pro Is Incredible, But Not Worth The Upgrade

The iPad has a problem that we should all wish to have: It's too damn good. The battery life and standby battery life are superb, the screen is pretty, the apps are nice, and the thing is powerful enough it can last for years. That's wonderful for all of us consumers, but it is not great for Apple or any other company building a tablet device. They want us on the same yearly upgrade cycle we have for our phones. A concept, as IDC noted in February when it reported a big slump in tablet sales, consumers have largely rejected. Which is why every year Apple tries to build some cool new feature into the iPad to lure us away from our old, perfectly good iPads. Unless you're an illustrator, this year's iPad, won't be doing any wooing.

In 2015, the company tried to build upgrade fever with a big 33cm iPad Pro that introduced the Smart Connector, a magnetic connector that was perfect for attaching and powering a keyboard. In 2016, it brought the Smart Connector to its 25cm iPad Pro. Personally, that made the iPad Pro worth it for me, and I use mine daily, for everything from checking my mail and RSS feeds in the morning before work, to reading comics and watching movies while in transit.

The new 28cm iPad Pro really isn't that much larger than the 25cm one.

The new 28cm iPad Pro that's supposed to replace my 25cm iPad Pro can do all those things as well, and it does them while giving me nearly an inch more display but only being .18 inches wider and .47 inches taller. The small increase in size, consequently, gives me a much roomier keyboard. It's still not quite normal sized, but it feels surprisingly spacious after a year of cramped typing.

The new keyboard is slightly less cramped.

When Apple made the iPad larger, it also upgraded its guts. At WWDC last week, Apple talked a lot about the faster A10X CPU and 12-core GPU packed inside. That all sounds impressive until you remember that apps don't ever really lag on an iPad. Most apps are built to provide a near universally pleasant experience across the iPad lineup, that they'd be hard pressed to take enough advantage of the new iPad Pro's impressive guts. Even if they do, you're not likely to notice any time soon.

The biggest feature in this new iPad, and the only noticeable one, apart from its sheer size, is its display. The refresh rate on it is a whopping 120Hz. That means the display can refresh 120 times a second. This is useless for iOS games, which are all capped at 30 or 60 frames per second, and it won't benefit you when streaming something from an app, as most apps stream at 30 or 60 fps too. The only time you'll see a benefit is when you're drawing.

See, as good for art as as products like the iPad and Surface have gotten over the years, they still can't deliver that instantaneous paper-like feel when you're drawing. It's a different kind of friction, and, there's always just a hint of lag with every pen stroke. A screen that's refreshing twice as fast as any other drawing tablet on the market goes a long way towards fixing that lag. It really does feel faster that drawing on my 25cm iPad. If I used the Apple Pencil for anything more than colouring book apps, then this upgrade would feel like a necessity, but I'm not an artist, and if you aren't either, then making a trip to the Apple Store just to upgrade to this iPad is kind of a dip move.

Apple has put itself in an enviable predicament. It's built the best tablet you can spend a chunk of change on, and every new update for the last few years has been a refinement. Last year, Apple refined the typing experience. This year, it's refined that drawing experience. Maybe next year, it will give us an iPad that demands an upgrade. For now, unless you're an illustrator, or entirely iPad-less, save your money. As good as the new 28cm iPad Pro is, it isn't worth it.

README

  • Same great battery life and performance.
  • Slightly larger footprint than the 25cm iPad, but with nearly an inch more screen real estate.
  • 120Hz refresh rate make this iPad great for drawing. If you're an artist, it might be worth a consideration.
  • Keyboard is slightly roomier, but still not full-size.
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Comments

    Yeah, I have the iPad Air - the original one.
    Just wondering if I want to upgrade, the Air's going well at the moment
    I think the Air 2 and later supports the multi tasking.
    If I got the current model I might not notice any difference.

    Years ago I loved the iPad 2 but was convinced to get the iPad 3 by the rave reviews because it had a retina display but I hardly noticed any difference.

    I ask myself, "have I hit the wall?" - I don't think so. As they say, YMMV

      I too have an iPad air and I cannot see a reason to upgrade. I friend's Air 2 is lighter and thinner but it isn't something you really notice during normal usage.

      Could be worth upgrading to the new iPad. Not the Pro, but the iPad that priced reasonably. I have an iPad Pro, and it's almost become a laptop replacement for me. However, the 12.9inch iPad is too big to use like a standard iPad. Which has forced me to keep the iPad Air (1st gen) as an everyday use tablet.

      I should've grabbed the 10.5inch iPad Pro. Would've made life easier.

      But I can say, the power upgrade from first gen Air to Pro is amazing. So much quicker to go between tasks, and split screen is a big addition.

    I upgraded my son's iPad from an original retina to the new Pro. Massive difference between the two.

    As my phone screen's gotten bigger, the usage of my tablet has dropped. I still want an A4 or A3 tablet for sheetmusic and comic books, but I can't even throw money at manufacturers for one of those.

      Sony make a 13" paper ink tablet the DPT-RP1, like a big Kindle, for professionals.

        I've been corresponding with the Sony VP running that program as they've just released a new version. Sadly it's only in Letter format, not A4 and there are no local distributors to get a hands-on experience. It's still quite expensive relative to other tablets.

    I look at new laptops: multiple USB-3 and USB-C connectors. Some have docking stations!
    Drool.
    I look at replacements for my Ipad 2: still just the one connector.
    Meh.

    Thanks for all the moronic centimetres and inches hoohah. Just stick with inches and stop being "dips" about it.

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