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2018 iPad Pro Review: "What's a Computer?"

At the beginning of the year, Apple ran an ad containing a young girl who used an iPad as its primary data processing unit. An elderly woman asked the girl a question about her computer and she replied, "What is a computer?"

The ad became widespread. Firstly, an iPad is a computer . But also the hypothetical future when the children do not even know what a desktop or laptop is, seems very remote at best. Yes, tablets and smartphones have replaced laptops and desktops among many young people for personal use like social media, browsing and games. However, despite some high school students like sometimes writing their papers on smartphones, mobile devices are still not where the real work is being done. Actual work is done on a laptop or desktop.

But now Apple has released an iPad Pro as it has explicitly positioned itself as a computer to do the real work. Really. Apple's "Why iPad Pro" page says, "Here are some reasons why your next computer can only be iPad Pro."

After using 2018's new 12.9-inch iPad Pro for a week, I find myself wondering what a computer is too. This device breaks many rules and challenges some prerequisites for what a real productivity machine looks like – especially for creative work.

But the 2018 iPad Pro is both impressive and deeply disappointing. It offers performance as opposed to everything we've seen before in a mobile device. The pencil's accessories are a really powerful art tool. And a range of robust applications like Photoshop and AutoCAD make way to the platform, challenging assumptions that a tablet should be a stripped down, pinch striking experience.

But it became apparent within a day that iOS, otherwise an excellent operating system for phones, is still not designed with that kind of real work in mind. Limitations on how the new USB-C port can be used ultimately undermines the path as this board is a real workhorse.

The new iPad Pro tries to redefine data processing, but in many ways it feels like a technical demo for that redefinition, not the final product. Despite an incredible leap forward in performance, the software seems to lie a little behind.

Table of Contents


Specifications: 2018 Apple iPad Pro
Display 2,388 x 1,668 11-inch or 2,732 x 2,048 (264 PPI) touchscreen
OS iOS 12.1 [19659024] CPU Apple A12X CPU
RAM 4GB or 6GB
GPU Apple A12X GPU
Storage 64GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB 19659025] Network 802.11a / b / g / n / ac, Bluetooth 5, GPS, LTE
Camera 12MP rear camera, 7MP front camera
Ports USB-C
Size 9.74 & # 39; & # 39; x 7.02 & # 39; & # 39; x 0.23 & # 39; & # 39; (280.6 x 214.9 x 5.9 mm) for 11-inch; 12.0
Weight 1.03 pounds (469g) Wi-Fi, 1.05 pounds (477g) with mobile
Battery [19659024] 29.37WHr for 11-inch; 36.71 for 12.9
Starting price $ 799, plus $ 179 for Smart Keyboard Folio and $ 129 for Apple Pencil
Price as reviewed $ 1,899
Other advantages Chargers , USB-C cable

We'll take you to the silicon (possibly the most exciting with this device) for a moment. First, let's get some other specifications out of the way.

From $ 799, but varies up to $ 1,899, the new iPad Pro comes in two sizes: 11 inches and 12.9 inches. The 11-inch device measures 9.74 x 7.02 x 0.23 inches (247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9 mm) and 12.9-inch one at 11.04 x 8.46 x 0, 23 inches (280.6 x 214.9 x 5.9 mm). Apart from size and screen resolution, technical specifications for both are identical. Both come in configurations with or without LTE support. The smallest weighs 1.03 pounds (468 g) and the largest weighs 1.4 pounds (633 g) for the LTE model or 631 g for the only Wi-Fi model.

You can configure them with 64GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB flash storage. Strange, developers who use the devices have discovered that there are two different RAM configurations, and they are not announced. The 1TB configuration seems to come with 6GB of RAM, but the other comes with 4GB-the same as last year's iPad Pro, and this year is the iPhone XS or XS Max. Our 1TB review device has 6GB of RAM. Apple probably molded the RAM at the 1TB configuration because users who need 1TB flash storage need it to open massive Adobe Photoshop files. More RAM would help it run smoothly. (A full-featured Photoshop comes to iPad Pro next year.)

Both devices have a variety of sensors used for different functions: an accelerometer, a barometer, an ambient light sensor and a treaking gyro. [19659014] The 11-inch model has a 29.37-watt-hour battery, the 12.9-inch man has a 36.71 watt-hour battery. Apple promises the same battery life in these models as last year: 10 hours of browsing over Wi-Fi or consuming music or video content.


The star of the show is Apple's custom system-on-A-chip, A12X. It follows the A12 in 2018 iPhones and A10X in 2017 iPad Pros, both of which were already the best in their respective product categories.

A12X is the first table SoC produced in a 7nm process. This means that it provides better performance while using less power and taking up less space. It has a central processing unit (CPU), a graphics processing unit (GPU), an image signal processor (ISP), a Neighbor Processing Unit (NPU), Apple calls Neural Engine, a storage device, an integrated memory controller and more.

The CPU has eight kernels-four high performance and four high-efficiency. Unlike previous iPad Pros, all of the kernels can be engaged simultaneously when needed. Apple says that A12X's single-core CPU performance is up to 35 percent faster than the A10X last year's iPad Pro, and that multi-core CPU performance is up to 90 percent faster. The company has not come up with many technical details about the architecture, but a recent deep dive on Anandtech with its iPhone counterpart, A12, suggested that increased cache sizes may be part of the equation.

Apple also claims almost dual graphics performance last year's iPad Pro thanks to improvements to the GPU of the A12X. Thanks to the 7nm process, Apple managed to pinch another kernel into the GPU, bringing total to seven.

We drove references to confirm these allegations and found them to be virtually true, which puts iPad Pro spitting away from some of the most powerful workstations, including the latest MacBook Pro models.

The second development of the note here is that Neural Engine has come to the iPad for the first time. The first iteration of Apple's machine learning silicon was introduced to the A11 SoC in iPhone X, and a second generation came to the iPhone XS, XS Max and XR earlier this fall. While the A11's Neural Engine could handle 600 billion operations per second, the A12 and A12X can handle 5 trillion. Neural Engine helps with Apple's calculative shooting features, Siri, search, palm rejection when using Apple pencil, Face ID, magnified reality, and more.

A12X is the most interesting thing with iPad Pro, so we went into a more detailed article in a related article, this piece also contains our interview with Apple representatives on the company's internal silicon strategy.


It's only a port on iPad Pro, but in a big shift from Apple's previous iOS device strategy, it's USB-C, not the proprietary Lightning connection. This is a very welcome change and it offers many benefits. At first glance, we look for the dongle-free (or at least dongle-lite) utopia we have long dreamed of. USB-C means external 5K display support, support for a wider range of headphones, support for USB-C charger and more accessory support in general – at least theoretically. It also means that you can leave devices like your iPhone, an Android phone or a Nintendo Switch from your iPad Pro.

  USB-C is here and it's a welcome change.
Enlarge / USB-C is here and it's a welcome change.

Samuel Axon

There is no doubt that iPad Pros harbor situation is now better than Lightning's. But there are creepy reservations and limitations.

First and foremost, iOS does not offer file system access for external drives over USB-C. Frankly, that's ridiculous. Yes, apps can access files on external drives under certain conditions if they have been specifically built to do so, but that's not enough. No device called "Pro" should be sent without this basic capacity. Apple has for a while offered a "File" app to browse file systems, but it does not work for this.

There is a similar situation with external monitors. Yes, it's OS support to mirror iPad Pros original resolution on external monitors. However, which extends to a screen instead of mirroring, app developers require implementation of support for it. I have no doubt that very popular and high-profile pro apps will do just that, but this should be built right into the operating system as it's on, say, a MacBook Pro.

Oh, and the (strangely short) USB-C cable that comes into the box? It's USB 2.0 so you have to buy an extra cable to do a lot of this.

On paper it looks very exciting that iPad Pro now uses USB-C, and it is. As I said, it is better than the previous condition. But it does not bring all the promises to prospects when they first read rumors this came. I'm pretty sure these are all restrictions in iOS, not in the hardware. Apple can fix this and maybe it will in next year's big iOS release. But until then, USB-C feels half implemented – at least in terms of consumer and power users' specific needs.

It's very disappointing. The applications of USB-C here are sufficient for a consumer device as an iPhone, but iPad Pro has it as a prerequisite for being professionals who need these capabilities. If Apple had implemented this in the same way that this product's target users wanted, I would have spent half of this review, sharing all the fresh, powerful new things you can do with an iPad. Unfortunately, these limitations mean that there is not much more to say for now.

Listed image by Samuel Axon

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