Apple, introduced the first Pro series of the iPad in 2018. Ever since then, Apple has been saying that hey, the iPad Pro is your computer. Infact, they came up with spectacular series of statistics that made laptops seem like old news. The iPad Pro then, with an eight core A12X processor was faster than the 92 percent of portable PCs sold then. The graphics performance, rivaled an Xbox One S and it had and USB-C port, just like the macs, Apple sold.
Tim Cook, reiterated, the fact by going on to say, “The power in the iPad Pro is going to push what you can do on iPad, or on any computer even further.” The message was very clear, the iPad Pro, is more powerful, more capable, and more the future than any other laptop- the planet earth had seen.
That was 2018, and I know for a fact, many people then, chose to buy an iPad Pro, over equivalent or more powerful MacBooks, coz guess what the iPad Pro with all its combinations put together, costed as much as a MacBook Air. One amongst all of them to choose the iPad Pro, over the MacBook, when he was planning to upgrade from his older MacBook Pro, was our founder, Nilesh Sawant.
So why did people really choose the iPad Pro, and was it really a device that could replace your laptops/computers completely. Well, the answer to that question, was No then. Don’t get me wrong here, yes the device was pretty fast, video rendering capabilities were phenomenal, the speed of the machine was lighting quick, battery life was fantastic, it lasted almost 8-9 hours on single charge, camera’s at the rear were really good, it supported MS Office Suite and did come inbuilt with MS Office products, and the keyboard, worked flawlessly. Still, it was not a computer, because somewhere the iOS came its way, and that is where Apple in 2019, introduced iPad OS, an slightly better alternative to iOS. But let’s just say, it was half baked effort. Didn’t serve the purpose much to call the iPad Pro, a computer.
But come 2020, that is going to change. Coz with 2020, not only did Apple announce the updated 2020 iPad Pro, but with that it got cursor support to the iPad's with 13.4 iPad OS. What it means, that the iPad's now support track-pads, third party or even Apple’s Magic Mouse and that brings in whole lot of new dimensions to already popular iPad. But hold on, if all the iPad’s are going to get the cursor support, what is so special about the updated 2020 iPad Pro, and what makes it worthy of its price. And this time around, is it finally your next computer. I have the new 12.3 inch iPad Pro with me for the review and this time, along with the Magic Keyboard. Let’s explore together.
The 2020 version of the iPad Pro, in literal sense is a minor spec bump over the 2018 model. On the face of it, you cannot make out if you are owning at 2018 model or 2020, unless you turn your attention to the back of the iPad. There are literally, only 4 things new to the iPad Pro, one of them with an external accessory unit- the Magic Keyboard. The other 3 things are- the Processor, the Camera and the microphones.
It is still the same gorgeous looking rectangular design with four speakers which are loud and clear with the USB C port at the bottom and still continues to omit the headphones jack.Turn on the iPad Pro with Face-id, which has become faster, and the screen lights up. The screen resolution is beautiful, and sharp. And the colour reproduction is pretty accurate. It’s an Apple, so as expected, the hardware is top notch, something Microsoft and Google Powered Devices may take time to master. That pretty much sums up the front of the iPad Pro.
Back is where the real change is. And that is due to the new camera system. The camera bump on the back of the iPad Pro is a big square now, with two regular camera sensors and a new LIDAR Sensor.
So overall, unless you really look at the iPad Pro closely, and especially from the back, there are no chances of anyone really telling the difference between the 2020 iPad Pro vs the 2018 iPad Pro. Heck, even the colors are the same.
Cameras & LIDAR Sensor
Apple this time around has put in a 12 megapixel camera with main wide sensor with an aperture of f/1.8, which is good, but probably no match to my iPhone 11 Pro. Does it meet the iPhone 11 standards then? Probably yes.
Additionally, this time around, the iPad Pro gets additional, 10 megapixel camera with ultra wide sensor with an aperture of f/2.4 with a 125 degree field of view. The iPad Pro can this time around shoot 4K videos at 24, 30 or 60 fps and combined with those improved microphones, iPad Pro is an interesting proposition for the upcoming film makers to give them an option of one- all in one device.
The front camera continues to be a 7 megapixel camera. And it can shoot 1080p videos too. What is awkward though is the positioning of the camera, especially while unlocking the iPad using the Face-Id or during your official zoom calls, especially in this COVID-19 times. You need to constantly keep looking on your left while on the call, which kinda feels weird. Apple, may be you should make a note of this.
Coming to the biggest change in the iPad Pro, well the LIDAR sensor. Its phenomenal on what it is able to do. The LIDAR sensor uses lasers to near instantly detect the depth and create a spatial map of a room. Apple says, the LIDAR sensor operates at the photon level and at nanoseconds speed. I quite believe them.
The LIDAR Sensor, practically is next level of augmented reality. But it will work, only if the app developers decide to take benefit from it. Till then, well its just another sensor at the back of your iPad Pro, which may lie unused.
This is new, and as expected the talking point of the new iPad Pro. Well, the 2018 iPad Pro, was pretty fast, with its A12X Processor. It ensured, it made everything else feel practically- Slow
So for 2020, Apple decided not to make any gigantic changes to it’s processor. There was no need. So instead of an all new A13 Bionic Chip found in the iPhone 11 Pro, and now the newly launched iPhone SE 2, Apple introduced what they call- the A12Z Bionic chip. It is a step up from its predecessor.
What Apple has smartly done is that the GPU has been beefed up to 8 cores. This helps high end gaming and substantially brings down the video rendering time- Once Again. Yes this iPad Pro, feels very very rather very very very fast. But then the 2018 iPad Pro also feels fast isn’t it? So how much is the difference really. Well, in layman’s terms, remove one very from the trilogy of very in fast, that’s the only difference. So while the 2020 iPad Pro is very very very fast, well the 2018 iPad Pro still is very very fast.
The Magic Keyboard
This is the biggest change to the iPad Pro. And one, that is exclusive to the range of iPad Pros. While all other iPad’s get the gesture control and track-pad inclusion, it is only the Pro series that gets the magic keyboard.
Luckily, at the time of penning this review, I got an access to the Magic Keyboard, and then I thought, why not pen down this entire review using the Magic Keyboard. So does this “Magic” Keyboard, does anything Magically Different then its earlier avatar?
Well for starters let’s look at what’s different. One, now the keyboard gets a track-pad. Two, it is backlit and Three, the design of the case, and when you open up the case, the iPad floats above and comes closer to your eye balls. what’s more impressive is how well built the keyboard is, as it is absolutely costly. The 11 inch version here is US costs, $299 and for the 12.3 version it costs $349. Bringing Track-pad compatibility to the keyboard was a smart move, as now you can further exploit the iPad OS’s capability and the Apple also just solved my biggest problem with my 2018 iPad Pro’s keypad-struggling to find the right keys in the night, with backlit one this time.
Problem of all this is, in bargain, the iPad has become heavier. I won’t shy away from saying, the 12.3 inch iPad Pro that I am having right now, with this magic keyboard, weighs almost 2.8 pounds. That’s clearly heavier even by my MacBook Air Standards. Look, in the first place, I bought an iPad because it was lighter, but with this Magic Keyboard, well, weight goes out of the window.
However, ignoring the weight and if you can think of spending $349 just on a keyboard, it is a well designed and well finished product, which goes about doing its job-pretty well.
I started off with a question, is the 2020 iPad Pro, finally an iPad which can make you trade off your computer?
Well, there has been lot of debate going on even here in US on this subject. No doubt the iPad Pro is incredibly fast. Probably, it is the fastest computer out there. Oops, did I say computer? Hell yes, if 2018 iPad Pro was faster than more than 90 percent of laptops available out there, this one betters it. The iPad OS 13.4 is far more seamless then what it was earlier. With the combination of the iPad Pro, a Magic Keyboard, and a track-pad or a Magic Mouse at your disposal, you are looking at a formidable machine. But put all the things in total, the cost just blows out of the roof.
The 11 inch model starts at $799 and 12.3 inch at $999, add to that $349 for the Magic Keyboard and combine that with either $129 for Magic Track-pad 2 or $79 for the Magic Mouse 2, so lets look at the probable cost of owning a 12.3 inch iPad Pro
Only 12.3 inch iPad Pro- $999
With Magic Keyboard- $1348
With Addition of Track-pad- $1477
With Addition of only Mouse- $1427
With all the 3 accessories- $1556
MacBook Air, starts at $999, MacBook Pro starts at $1299, which can still do significantly multi task far better for you as compared to even an iPad Pro today.
Then a question why the 2020 iPad Pro, well the simple answer to this question is, while it does if not everything, but most of the things that your MacBook Air or MacBook Pro can do, it does it with more style and panache. Secondly, it is far more handy and you can simply pull it out anywhere and simply start working, something that is inconvenient to do with a laptop, as there is always a boot up time to them. Thirdly, on days, when you don't feel like carrying the entire case with you, just carry the iPad Pro, its a phenomenal tablet. So here's the thing, with iPad Pro, you get a tablet which is phenomenally fast, along with a camera which clicks great shots, has great levels of security and lastly, it does almost most of the things, that your portable computer does.
I think, iPad Pro is definitely inching towards, a product which can replace your computer’s totally, in sometime. For today, for some work, you may still have to fall back on that computer. But the gap has definitely narrowed down with the advent of the 2020 iPad Pro.