REVIEW: Apple's new iPad Pros

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REVIEW: Apples new iPad Pros
The new iPad Pros come in 11- and 12.9-inch screens.

Dubai - Overhauled and streamlined tablets pack more punch

By Alvin R. Cabral

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Published: Tue 6 Nov 2018, 1:26 AM

Last updated: Thu 8 Nov 2018, 3:35 PM

Apple has come full circle with its iPhones and iPads.
For those who are unaware, the design for what became the iPhone was originally meant for a tablet, but the late great Steve Jobs saw it more fitting to use it on a smaller device. The rest, as they say, is history.
Now, the iPhone has fully returned the favour, so to speak: Apple's new iPad Pros now feature key stuff from the iPhone X line, plus some other new tricks. Time to look at these new machines in-depth.
TALE OF THE TAPE


The design of the new iPad Pros have been significantly altered. And used the word 'significant' because it will change the way you'll use Apple's tablet.

No notch!
It comes in the usual 12.9-inch biggie, along with a new 11-incher. The most radical change made is up front: they now have an edge-to-edge display (adios, home button), though I personally wouldn't term this as it is: the bezels are still a bit thick, and shaving off a bit more of those will make this a truly edge-to-edge machine, adding more spunk to its frontal aesthetics.
The usual suspects, meanwhile, are in their usual places: power/sleep button at the upper-right-hand corner and, not far from it, the volume rocker on the right. Screenshots can be taken by pressing the power/sleep button then volume-up, while Siri can be accessed by briefly holding the power button.
With the home button gone, so is Touch ID. I'm quite sure, however, that using your fingerprint will come back in the near future, when Apple slaps in an in-screen fingerprint sensor - though it's widely expected that we'll see this first on a future iPhone, possibly as early as next year.
That means the way to unlock the new iPads is to use another crossover feature from the iPhone X line: Face ID, but with a little twist (and turn; pun intended). Unlike on the iPhone X devices, Face ID can only recognise you if the phone is positioned upright (read: front camera on top). On the new iPads, Face ID will detect you even if they're sideways and even upside-down. Now this makes real sense since, compared to the iPhone that you normally use in a portrait orientation, there are lots of other stuff you do on an iPad in landscape. So this saves you the hassle of pointlessly turning your iPad to unlock it when you're all set to use it in the orientation you wish. That, or you can just use the ol' reliable PIN.
Also, going to the home screen means you have to swipe up from below ala-iPhone X, again.
Face ID, like Touch ID, also brings with it Apple Pay. Purchase till your heart's content with just one (gorgeous) look.
And looking for that notch? Sorry to disappoint all of those mesmerised with it, but you're not getting that on the new iPad Pros. The TrueDepth camera is embedded within the top bezel, so those annoyed by that notch can heave a sigh of relief. I'm guessing, though, that if Apple decides to cut off some more bezels, we may see the notch reappear.

Previous iPads have edges that are slightly curved; the new ones have flat sides, and this wasn't made just for the sake of changing the design: it has a special purpose, particularly for the new Apple Pencil, which we'll get into a little later (though you may have a clue now what that is). And this new side build reminds me of the iPhone 5.

That's a USB-C cable alright
Remember when Apple ditched the iconic 3.5mm audio jack starting with the iPhone 7? A lot of people were up in arms over this move. Guess what: Apple made another critical change to connectivity on the new iPad Pros by replacing its own Lightning port with a USB-C one.
What does this mean? Well, for one, it ensures seamless connectivity to more third-party devices.
The drawback here is that it will render all your other Lightning cables useless - but that can easily be solved if you cough up some extra cash for a Lightning-to-USB-C adaptor.
Added bonus: the new iPads can also act as a charger for other devices. It does not, however, support wireless charging. I'm tempted to put a 'yet' to that because, with all other flagship devices going in that direction, that's one thing that isn't too far off in the future.
One more thing of note before we leave the build section: Apple says that the new iPad Pros are made from 100 per cent recycled aluminium, making them the 'greenest' iPads to date.
iOS 12 on a bigger stage 
The new iPad Pros come with iOS 12, the key features of which we've discussed in our review of the iPhone XS and XS Max. Here's some tidbits...

Of course, these screens will look slightly different on the iPad's.
...Animoji and Memoji... wait, here's how it looks like on the new iPads:

I wish I had that hair
Cameras 
The iPad isn't really meant for taking photos, but with the power that's in it right now, it's a great tool to have if you want to capture a moment then edit or doodle with it right away:

Yes, my balcony is my favourite photo-snapping vantage point
Now, for the front TrueDepth camera, which has Portrait mode and True Depth, with which you can adjust the bokeh effect of your shots:
 
Hi (again) 
The new iPad Pros, like the iPhone XR, don't have Portrait mode in its rear camera. If you're in the camera app and you select Portrait, it will automatically switch you to the front snapper.
The better stuff
The new iPad Pros are powered by the A12X Bionic chip, a variant of the A12 found in the latest iPhones especially built for these tablets. Coupled with another iPhone staple today, the Neural Engine, Apple promises smartness and power; it's able to run five trillion operations per second and enables advanced machine learning.
That'll be great for professional users that have a knack for using more portable devices to go about their work. Case in point: the long-awaited Photoshop CC for the iPad is finally coming in 2019.
 
(Apple)
As you can see above, that's a full-fledged Photoshop at work, complete with all the tools and layers that have made it the holy grail for image editing. During the launch, we were treated to a demo showing the capabilities of Photoshop CC, and it's quite frankly something to look forward to, as it runs smoothly on the new iPads.
During the same event, Apple showed how detailed it is. See the bird among the butterflies at the centre of the image below?

Here it is zoomed in...

...and zoomed in a bit more...

...and more...

...and even more...

...and even more...

...until you get to this itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny bit. Seeing going from that entire large-scale image going all the way down to pixel level with this detail shows what kind of detail this new machines have.
Photoshop's maker, Adobe, will also link us to the next key feature of the new iPad Pros: augmented reality. It's been there for a while, but Apple has been doing its best to belt out some more neat stuff. With Adobe's Project Aero, you can do this:



From a 2D image in Photoshop CC to a glorious, 3D AR work of art. You can add stuff to that, such as those flying butterflies.
And much like that Galaga game first seen on the iPhone XS devices, AR games are also a focus. Apple has partnered with Lego for a Ninjago game: to cut it short, get a compatible Ninjago playset, point your new iPad Pro at it and start slicing away at the bad guys. This is all possible with Apple's ARKit technology that brings these things to life (virtually).
More on games: 2K Sports, the publisher of the popular NBA 2K and WWE 2K franchises, also has some new tricks up their sleeves:


Sorry, Warriors; we were in Brooklyn, right?
2K Sports touted the extra-smooth quality of its game. To drive home the point, they made the Brooklyn Nets' D'Angelo Russell the poster boy for in-depth detail:


We're only into the first month of NBA action, but this is a playoff look already 
In other words: Apple promises console-quality gaming on the new iPad Pros. Not bad for a portable machine (shout-out to Nintendo).
Apple Pencil
And what's an iPad Pro without its li'l stylus buddy, the Apple Pencil? It's also undergone a some change:

As you can see, there's now a flat portion on the Pencil, where its name is printed. Why? Because it can now do this:

Apple has decided to let the Pencil stick around the new iPad Pros all the time thanks to a new magnetic connector, which means it doesn't have to lay around elsewhere and risk being misplaced. This magnet isn't any ordinary magnet, though: it's able to automatically pair the Pencil and charge it wirelessly (yet another reason why the Lightning port was kicked out). Its power level, as soon as you attach it, will appear on top. (Shout-out to the Microsoft Surface as well.)
Here's the thing: the Pencil will only attach to the right side of the new iPad Pros when they're upright, or on top if you put it in landscape mode with the camera to the left, nowhere else. It would've been better if all sides were able to hold it, but that could explored, right? (Ideas, ideas...)
It also has new gesture controls, similar to what you can see in other styluses like those from Wacom, except that it doesn't have an actual button - you just have to tap on it: for example, double-tapping on the side of the Apple Pencil can switch brushes or functions in certain apps, or zoom into an image (just like the Photoshop example above).
Speaking of brushes, a demo showing its artistic strokes proved that the Pencil is capable of bringing real-life artistic tools. Put it this way: it's as if your painting on an actual oil canvas, seeing all the colours spread out on its screen.
One thing I observed: the Pencil cannot be used to swipe up to unlock the screen or go through your recent apps. Apparently, its sensors are limited only to the iPad's screen, not including the bezels. 
Downer: the Pencil is sold separately, so that means you'll have to shell out additional cash to experience its wonder.
And don't forget about the new smart keyboard cover, which converts your iPad into a laptop in its own right:

Battery is pretty much the same with its previous generation of 10 hours. My standard one-hour YouTube-at-full-brightness test eliminated 10 per cent of life, which is pretty decent.
AND SO...
There's really nothing much to say against the new iPad Pros; it's Apple's way of sending a message that it's ready to take on the rest of the mobile PC world. That said, the Apple Pencil is still a sold-separately accessory; a bundle offer could've worked great, but maybe the point is that not everyone needs that for an iPad. The switch to USB-C can also be an issue if you don't have an adaptor readily available. In any case, this new generation of iPads will be the springboard for even more improvements in its next iterations.
GOODIES - Streamlined design, improved Apple Pencil, powerful graphics
BADDIES - Battery life could be a bit more, the price hike
EDITOR RATING - 4.5/5
- alvin@khaleejtimes.com



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