Interface and Functionality

Apple's tablet support has come a long way, but iOS still has few issues left unresolved


Right now, there's not a lot unique and special going on with the interface you're going to find on the iPad Pro – if you're familiar with iOS 10 already, expect more of the same. Mind you, iOS 11 is just around the corner, and we can look forward to a number of upgrades and new features focused specifically on Apple's tablet lineup – but that's still a few months away.

For the moment, we can reflect on how Apple's mobile OS responds to larger-screen devices than the typical 9.7-inch iPad fare. On a very basic level, iOS still doesn't feel particularly optimized for tablets, and that's made clear the moment you power the tablet on and see the operating system's home screen with the same paltry 4 x 5 array of app icons you get on a much, much smaller iPhone display.

Sure, they're not much worse here than on a 9.7-inch iPad, and the situation is far more pronounced on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but it's still just a bit infuriating that – with the default wallpaper – we literally have tiny icons floating on a vast sea of empty space between them. Some users may find serenity in the low-density layout, but for those who thought that a big-screen Pro-branded tablet would be all about optimizing the tablet's interface with a focus on productivity, it's something in the neighborhood of maddening.


What works better is split-screen and picture-in-picture support, letting you view two apps side-by-side or superimpose a video thumbnail over another full-screen app. The limited screen real estate compared to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro does make split-screen a little less functional here, but it's still handy in a decent number of scenarios, like viewing a map to a restaurant while checking out its menu to the side.

With both of these features, though, we wish there were more flexibility. You're highly limited in terms of how you can resize apps, as well as video windows. And there's still the issue that PIP isn't supported at all in popular third-party apps like YouTube.

Processor and Memory

With some of the best performance we've ever seen, the new iPad Pro is in a league of its own

A new generation of iPads is more often than not an opportunity to get to know Apple's latest silicon, and that's very much the case this time around. For both the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro and the now-discontinued 9.7-inch edition, Apple used its A9X chip, which was already a quite powerful processor. With this new wave of tablets, the company's introducing the beefed-up A10X, which produces what Apple claims to be a 30 boost in processing power, and 40 percent increase to graphics computational speed.


Not content to just take Apple's word for it, we ran the 10.5-inch iPad Pro through our full assault of benchmark tests, and it's done nothing less than utterly blow away the competition. While each test we run measures a slightly different array of variables, we're looking at performance that's roughly 20 to 25% better than you'll get from an iPhone 7. Put simply, we've yet to see another tablet with speeds anything like this.

That's not just a benchmark determination, either, and subjectively the iPad Pro is phenomenally fast. The speed has a way of sneaking up on you, not always leaving you aware of the improvements – and that's a very good thing. Rather than thinking to yourself, “my stars, this app is fast,” it's more like you don't think about the speed at all – things are just running so smoothly that you never see those slowdown moments that get you pondering performance bottlenecks in the first place.

While Apple continues to play coy about the topic of RAM in its mobile devices, teardowns have confirmed that the new iPad Pro is equipped with 4GB of LPDDR4 memory. We might look for more on a full-blown laptop, but for an iOS device, that capacity feels more than sufficient to keep app-multitasking running smoothly.

As far as storage is concerned, Apple offers 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB editions of the tablet, starting at about $650, $750, and $950 as WiFi-only editions, respectively. For the purposes of this review, we're looking at the 64GB model, but if we had to pick a sweet spot on that storage/pricing curve, 256GB is feeling like a pretty nice balance.

AnTuTu Higher is better
Apple iPad Pro 10.5-inch 220321
Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch 156667
Apple iPad Air 2 62856
JetStream Higher is better
Apple iPad Pro 10.5-inch 203.63
Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch 142.93
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen Higher is better
Apple iPad Pro 10.5-inch 60
Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch 59.8
Apple iPad Air 2 52.2
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
Apple iPad Pro 10.5-inch 50
Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch 35
Apple iPad Air 2 24.1
Basemark OS II Higher is better
Apple iPad Pro 10.5-inch 3983
Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch 2765
Apple iPad Air 2 1880

Connectivity


As per usual, Apple offers its latest iPads in both WiFi-only and cellular equipped models, and no matter which storage configuration you go with, opting for cellular connectivity will add $130 to your final cost.

But perhaps the more relevant connectivity concerns accessories, and as an iPad Pro model, this tablet supports both the Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard. While the former is obviously a wireless devices, the keyboard connects to the iPad Pro through a proprietary edge interface. We didn't evaluate the Smart Keyboard as part of this review, but if you want to pick one up, Apple's got a new edition custom-sized for the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, priced at just about $160.

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65 Comments

1. peace247 unregistered

This thing should get atleast 9/10.....

6. combatmedic870

Posts: 984; Member since: Sep 02, 2015

OMG.... Apple has be disgraced!!! Phone arena is over

12. maherk

Posts: 6768; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

I agree, butnI guess PA wanted to sabe themselves from the backlash of giving another 9+ score. This should easily get 9/10, it's hands down the best tablet on the market.

18. maherk

Posts: 6768; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

but I* save** another Apple product***

57. yann

Posts: 612; Member since: Jul 15, 2010

You are dummy fanboy. How is the best tablet on the market? With useless OS? Even PA give con: "Even with split-screen, iOS doesn't feel optimized for tablets". What you will do on that expensive $hit? With "nice" bezels? Buy yourself Surface and at least you will have working OS. Buy huge hump iPhone 8 or X or whatever. Because it is Apple product.

60. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

It isn't the best, never will be unless the surface pro is somehow not a tablet anymore.

19. Bankz

Posts: 2531; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

This clearly a 9+/10 device.

22. maple_mak

Posts: 953; Member since: Dec 18, 2013

Triggered! LOL

24. AmashAziz

Posts: 2898; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

I guess even the most, sane, android fan will be close to triggered too. Because this iPad does really deserve atleast a 9/10. Nothing beats it overall, in my opinion.

40. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

"Nothing beats it overall, in my opinion." Surface Pro 4 says HELLO!

50. AmashAziz

Posts: 2898; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

First of all, what does "in my opinion" mean? And second of all, I knew some genius would mention the Surface Pro 4 without realising that it's running a desktop OS on desktop-grade hardware. It's essentially a laptop that can act as a tablet to some extent, thereby a hybrid. So it's not a direct rival to the iPad Pro which is a mobile device. I hope this would help you clear your mind.

53. IT-Engineer

Posts: 532; Member since: Feb 26, 2015

Hey Genius, you can compare it with the Surface Pro 4 since it has the same price tag.

54. AmashAziz

Posts: 2898; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

Technically, you can compare anything; the brain makes it possible. But our sense tells that it would be stupid to declare one as a rival of the second when both are based on different platforms. Just having the same price doesn't mean they both are direct rivals when looking at them overall. However, if one looks at specific things such as screen:body, then your statement is correct. But not otherwise. Sure, each of them can do certain tasks that the other is designed for in a better way. For example, the iPad Pro can let you make presentations like the Surface Pro 4. But can it reach the same level of productivity in that regard? Of course not!. That's ONE of the reasons why both aren't direct rivals. Because by your logic, can I compare a $4000 car with a new iMac 5k? Absolutely. But, when looking at them overall, does the comparison seem sensible?

55. IT-Engineer

Posts: 532; Member since: Feb 26, 2015

Nope, that is a bad example you gave there. We are talking about tablets. Both are tablets, one running full Desktop OS, the other is just running IOS. Sure it looks good, and is better buy than all of the android tablets out there. But the moment you price it as the Surface Pro 4 which is also a tablet, then you need to compare it with it. That is just pure logic. Therefor if i wanna buy a good tablet without paying the hefty price of a Surface, i'll go with the normal IPAD, but i would never pay for this over grown tablet the same price as the surface, then i'll go and pick up a surface pro 4 tablet. That is common sense.

56. AmashAziz

Posts: 2898; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

The reason I gave that 'bad example'was to show that your logic cannot be applied anywhere. Even though both can act as tablets, both are largely different due to the hardware and software. As I already stated, both can do each other's work but each one is suited for different purposes, better. And iOS and WIndows have drastic differences aside from being for different platforms. And yes, it is sensible to compare them in daily life when you wanna know which is a better buy for the price while considering your own needs at the same time. But, when you look at them without considering yourselves, then you will know that they aren't direct rivals. What you said is right, as it takes into consideration the user. But I doing quite the opposite, that's why my statements might seem incorrect to you. Though tey don't seem as such to me.

58. yann

Posts: 612; Member since: Jul 15, 2010

Even Surface Pro 3 is better than this useless cripple OS device.

32. Luuthian

Posts: 332; Member since: Sep 09, 2011

This probably won’t happen but I’d hope they re-review it for iOS 11. I’m using the beta on the brand new 12.9” and even in beta format it’s a massive, massive upgrade (and surprisingly stable). With the right accessories it really can replace a laptop now, for anyone who isn’t a power user anyways. Only thing I miss is my emulators.

33. nctx77

Posts: 2540; Member since: Sep 03, 2013

I didn't read the article, but I bet they didn't give it a 9 because they reviewed it as a Laptop replacement and not a tablet. 8.8 isn't a bad score though.

59. UnlimitedSkye03

Posts: 290; Member since: Apr 27, 2012

I'm not an apple fan but I agree this new iPad deserves atleast a 9/10. It looks like a pretty great device, and this is the only iPad that made me really think of getting one, and I really might get one, not as a laptop replacement though but as a multimedia device and a drawing tablet.

2. LGV20

Posts: 21; Member since: May 22, 2017

Yeah, this deserves 9 and iPhone 7 deserves 6.5 instead...

14. AmashAziz

Posts: 2898; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

And LGV20 deserves -10/10

20. Bankz

Posts: 2531; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

Lol, u just ruin him.

3. Papa_Ji

Posts: 836; Member since: Jun 27, 2016

Still it can't beat Tab S3 it's look, feel, productivity and value... iPads display still look white washed in comparison to AMOLED on tab s3...... Basically it's same iCrap with 120Hz display wrapped in aluminium foil.

8. maherk

Posts: 6768; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

I'm sorry, but apart from the Amoled panel and the free S-pen, this is way better than the Tab S3, and as much as I prefer anything Android, I would gladly take this over the Tab S3.

15. AmashAziz

Posts: 2898; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

please ignore papa-ji; he's a troll. Btw papa-ji in english means 'dad'. Just so you guys know

48. PapaJi

Posts: 60; Member since: May 15, 2016

Beta apny papa ki baat ko ignore nhi krty.... Madrch*d pakistani.

49. PapaJi

Posts: 60; Member since: May 15, 2016

Think different ...think more than one PAPA Kashmir to mily ga nhi ek or papa hy ly ly...

51. AmashAziz

Posts: 2898; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

Hah! Ignorant troll!!

10. pixel_ftw

Posts: 83; Member since: Jun 19, 2017

It can beat Tab S3 even in its sleep. Android tablets are crap compared to ipad and surface. With ios 11 it'll be even more productive.

47. Papa_Ji

Posts: 836; Member since: Jun 27, 2016

The display (mostly for media) is the most important part of a tablet ....Tab S3's AMOLED capable of HDR video playback for true-to-life view and it's quad-speaker system by AKG/HARMAN can easily blow any of the iPad out.. Fast charging , Micro SD card support , S Pen , better battery backup and more premium built with best look and feel is a plus for me. Yes, Windows powered Galaxy Book and surface are best overall tablets.... iPad feels lamb, for both productivity and media.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

iPad Pro 10.5-inch
  • Display 10.5" 1668 x 2224 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 7 MP front
  • Processor Apple A10X Fusion, Hexa-core, 2380 MHz
  • Storage 512 GB
  • Battery 8134 mAh

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