Setting up Face ID on the 2018 iPad Pro.
The new iPad Pro feels incredibly thin in the hands. Compared to last year’s 10.5-inch iPad Pro, the size and weight difference is immediately apparent, with the 2018 model’s squared off the edges providing a slim but sturdy feel.
The Space Gray model looks brilliant with a dark contrasting antenna line at the top and the repositioned Smart Connector near the bottom. Interestingly, the three-contact communications interface is no longer color matched to iPad Pro’s body and instead sports a polished silver sheen.
iPad Pro camera bumps compared.
Opposite the Smart Connector on iPad’s back side is the notorious camera bump. It sticks out a bit more than the unit on the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, and it’s also a lot wider as well, but we feel the addition adds to Apple’s industrial design. It should be noted that Apple is borrowing the camera from its new iPhone XS, stripping out optical image stabilization and adding a couple of minor changes to make it work for iPad users.
On the side is a dark plastic piece that serves as a window for Apple Pencil’s inductive charging components. This year, Pencil snaps onto iPad via a series of magnets and charges wirelessly, a step up from the cumbersome — and potentially dangerous — Lightning connector solution introduced with the first-generation stylus.
New Apple Pencil dock.
Also on the side, new volume buttons feel more flush with iPad’s chassis as compared to the pushers on last years’ iPad Pro. As usual, they feel nice and tactile. The power button operates the same way, but outside it feels different because the sides are now flat, not tapered like before.
We also have four speakers, two on top and two on the bottom of the iPad Pro, and there’s now 13 speaker holes in each grille instead of 11 on the 10.5-inch model. Two microphones are located on the top of the device and the new USB-C connector is on the bottom. The headphone jack is now gone, but Apple does sell a $9 USB-C to headphone jack adapter online.
View of speakers and camera bump.
On the topic of connectors, Apple now includes a new 18W USB-C power adapter in the box, which is superior to the old 12W adapter that came with previous iPads.
Now looking at the displays, the new edge-to-edge screen on the 11-inch iPad Pro is obviously the star of the show. With no home button and an integrated front-facing camera, Apple was able to substantially slim down the bezels.
Interestingly, the chassis on the 11-inch model is actually a bit wider in comparison to its predecessor, as the 10.5″ iPad Pro has thinner bezels on its sides.
Replacing Touch ID is TrueDepth and Face ID, which on iPad Pro works in both portrait and landscape orientations.
We ran Geekbench 4’s CPU benchmark on both iPad Pros to see just how much more performance the new model’s A12X Bionic chip offers over the A10X Fusion SoC.
The 2017 10.5-inch iPad Pro scored 3,985 in single-core and 9,564 in multi-core, decent numbers for a mobile processor but nothing compared to the 5,017 single-core and 17,784 multi-core scores achieved by the new iPad Pro.
Testing Geekbench 4’s graphics test, the 10.5-inch iPad Pro scored 29,934 points compared to the new iPad Pro’s 42,219 points. That’s not quite the doubling of performance that Apple claimed in its keynote, but it does come close with a 41 percent improvement.
iPad Pro Geekbench scores.
Maxing out the brightness on both the 2017 and 2018 iPad Pros, we navigated to Amazon’s homepage. With True Tone on, we noticed that the new iPad Pro’s display is actually quite a bit warmer. We turned the feature off and witnessed the same results — the new iPad Pro’s display is warmer compared to the old iPad Pro.
iPad Pro with True Tone enabled.
Just like the iPhone XR’s display, we noticed that the new iPad Pro’s display gets dimmer when looking at it from an angle, more so than the older 10.5-inch iPad Pro. Not only that, but the new iPad Pro’s display was dimmer in general. We also noticed that the corners of the new display were darker than the center on the screen, probably due to pixel masking and other engineering effects applied to the curved corners.
The new 11-inch iPad Pro’s speakers are just as loud as before and we did not perceive any improvements in fidelity. However, we noticed a substantial improvement in bass reproduction. The new iPad Pro has punchier and deeper bass than its predecessor.
Like the revamped iPad Pro, the new Apple Pencil feels nice in the hand. Instead of using a glossy chassis, Apple went with a matte finish that is not as slippery. One side of Pencil is flat, both for ergonomics and magnetically connecting to the iPad Pro.
New Apple Pencil design.
Comparing it to the original Apple Pencil, the new version is actually a bit shorter and it seems to be lighter as well.
The magnets connecting Apple Pencil to the iPad Pro are very powerful. Coded magnets attract each other and repel others to force Pencil into proper alignment for charging, even if you try to intentionally offset its placement.
Upon first contact, iPad Pro asks to pair the Apple Pencil, which is accomplished with a single tap. A popup allows users to explore the new double tap feature that enables quick switching between app tools. For example, a double tap in the Notes app toggles between pencil and eraser input. Apple designed the control scheme to be configurable, so third-party apps will be able to implement their own unique Pencil settings.
New Smart Keyboard Folio
Placing the iPad Pro the new Smart Keyboard Folio is a breeze thanks to iPad’s internal magnet array. The bond is very strong. We even hung the iPad Pro from the keyboard and shook it — it didn’t budge.
Smart Keyboard Folio.
We love the design because there’s nothing going around the edge that has to physically lock onto the iPad Pro to hold it in, so three of the four sides are exposed. With the year’s Smart Keyboard Folio, the back of the iPad Pro is covered and protected as well, and it honestly still feels very slim. The camera bump is completely covered and protected as well.
With the Smart Keyboard Folio on, users can still attach an Apple Pencil for charging and carrying. Opening up the Smart Keyboard provides two different typing angles, one being close to vertical and another that lays down a bit more for laptop work. The keys are nearly identical to the older design and are still small and difficult to type on compared to a MacBook keyboard.
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