Introduction


Sometimes “mobile” devices don't seem particularly mobile, and as our drive for more features, better battery life, and bigger screens influences the product offerings of manufacturers, we can easily find ourselves looking at larger and larger products.

But while Android was quick to embrace the blossoming phablet trend, Apple took its time to come around to the idea, and for years the iPhone was a good recommendation for users who wanted a powerful flagship, but not one with a giant screen.

Over the years, though, Apple's warmed to the idea of bigger and bigger screens on its mobile products, and that was made crystal clear back in 2015 as Apple refreshed its tablet lineup with its largest model yet, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Since the introduction of the tablet, we've seen the iPad Pro line return with new size options – and most recently, featuring an all-new 10.5-inch screen – but if you wanted the most room on an iOS device you could find, ready to enjoy your apps in larger-than-life sizes and take full advantage of the tablet's split-screen mode, the 12.9-inch model was your best bet.

Now it's time for the biggest iPad around to get a much appreciated upgrade, as Apple re-works the 12.9-inch iPad Pro with an updated screen, new processor, more powerful camera, and more. Just what kind of improvement do all these changes add up to? And does Apple make any important sacrifices along the way? You're about to find out, as we take a look at the new 2017 edition of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

In the box:

  • iPad Pro 12.9
  • Lightning to USB standard-A cable
  • Wall charger
  • Quick start guide
  • Apple decals

Design



Apple's not a company to approach a new size option for one of its iconic product series lightly, and that's got to be all the more true when it's reaching out into uncharted waters with its largest tablet ever. So when it built the first 12.9-inch iPad Pro, the manufacturer seems to have ensured that it shipped with a design the company really, really likes. Perhaps as a result, the second-gen 12.9-inch iPad Pro leaves the tablet's build largely unchanged.

Compared to the original, we're looking at the same physical dimensions: a body measuring 305.7 by 220.6mm, and coming in at 6.9mm thick. That's slightly thicker than the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, but only by a fraction of a millimeter.

Despite the outward similarities, Apple has made some internal changes that affect the tablet's overall physicality, and that shows up in the form of reduced weight: about 30 to 35 grams lighter than the first-gen model, depending on whether or nor we're talking about the Wi-Fi-only or cellular equipped edition. Granted, that's only about a five percent reduction, but it does show us that Apple's continuing to fine-tune its manufacturing process, even with aesthetics unchanged.

Apple offers the same sort of color options as it did with the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro. While the smaller iPad Pro hardware has been available in your choice of silver, space gray, gold, and rose gold, the 12.9-inch models – this new one included – only extend those options to include the first three, with no rose gold available.

Display

Bright and beautiful, but is it maybe TOO big to handle?

A new generation for any of Apple's mobile products is going to spell enhanced performance, thanks to the inevitable arrival of the company's latest A-series processors. But let's just pretend that's not the case for a moment. And since we just saw that the shape and size of the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro is essentially the same as we got the first time around, what else about this tablet represents a step forward from the first-gen model? Look no further than that big, expansive screen.


The 12.9-inch screen returns with the same 2048 x 2732 resolution it introduced back in 2015. And while that's obviously both bigger and higher-res than the display on the 10.5-inch model, both panels end up delivering precisely the same pixel density – so images should look just as sharp and detailed on either.

But we're here to talk about improvements, and both this and the new 10.5-inch iPad Pro feature screens employing what Apple's calling ProMotion, a technology that allows the screens on these devices to achieve refresh rates as high as 120Hz, for silky-smooth animation.

That sounds really good, but don't expect it to change every aspect of your iPad user experience. For while the screen's now capable of such high-refresh-rate feats, your actual ability to see them is going to pop up a little less frequently. For one, don't expect to see the sort of motion interpolation you get on some 120Hz television sets; videos are going to look just like they always did. And with many apps, too, you're probably going to see great frame rates as a result of the upgraded GPU, but don't hold your breath for something game-changing here.

Instead, expect more interface-driven improvements like smooth scrolling between screens. And while this review is focusing specifically on the new iPad Pro, and not accessories like the Apple Pencil, that higher refresh-rate should spell more natural-feeling input for users who do take advantage of such hardware.

We have to commend Apple for delivering one of the better-balanced screens we've seen in several months, with approaching spot-on color accuracy. The 10.5-inch iPad Pro fares slightly better, but the screen here is still far better than on most devices. The tablet also has one hell of a bright display, with output coming in brighter than many smartphones, and even brighter than the 10.5-inch model. Sadly, the very brightest output is reserved for the iPad's auto-brightness mode, but this is still easily brighter than tablets like the iPad Air 2 or iPad Mini 4.

For all display measurements in this iPad Pro 12.9" review, we've used Portrait Displays' powerful CalMAN calibration software.



FEATURED VIDEO

17 Comments

1. notfair

Posts: 767; Member since: Jan 30, 2017

"Laptop-competitive performance" - this one should be removed, I mean, you can't run full desktop apps, that statement is a lie and confuses people.

2. Iodine

Posts: 1504; Member since: Jun 19, 2014

And who cares ? You also can't run some "full desktop apps" on a linux super computer, but does that mean it's not powerfull enough to run them ? *nope* And now about performance: it blows everything away, whatever it's marketed as a notebook or tablet or a froaster, nothing even comes close at this size and weight.

4. AmashAziz

Posts: 2934; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

True that, iodine. He doesn't understand that not being made to run something doesn't meaan it's not capable to run it. In fact, the iPad Pro is even more powerful than the Core i5 equipped 'New' Surface Pro (Not Pro 4), according to benchmarks. That's just incredible and goes to show what the iPad Pro is capable of.

6. uzimafioso

Posts: 469; Member since: Jul 15, 2014

Err, it does mean it's not capable to run it. Maybe in your mind the iPad is an equivalent of an FXX K which can run on a track like fire on gasoline, but can obviously run on tarmac at the end of your driveway, if it's allowed to. In truth you'll be down about £2 mil at the first speed bump. If you can boot Windows or MacOS on this device, it would be horrible to see how many apps or programs you can't run. Let's say you managed to run VRay rendering tool or even a simpler Keyshot/Lumion they would just overheat your iPad to death or throttle til you notice the guy with the Surface walking out with renders and animations. ARM reference processors and architecture are just not capable enough to deliver that amount of sustained performance for a long time without active cooling.

9. AmashAziz

Posts: 2934; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

When did I ever say anything about software? I was purely talking it being able to run based on hardware. Is the hardware powerful enough to handle SOME tasks designed for a laptop to handle? That's the question I was trying to answer. Talking about overheating, no one knows if that's true or not. Nothing gives evidence that iPad Pro will overheat doing the tasks possible on the Core i5 equipped New Surface Pro. Same goes for sustained performance. The A9X showed it was capable of continuous sutained performance even on heavy loads, according to XDA testing. Surely a proper software would be needed to et the tasks even run on the iPad Pro, but that's not my point or related to the capability of the hardware. Keep in mind we are not talking about the fully equipped core i7 Surface pro. You completely misunderstood what I and Iodine were trying to say.

7. bucknassty

Posts: 1373; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

Alright, and can we get a cost comparison? COME ON PEOPLE why compare something thats half the price? just compare a BMW to a toyota then

8. MrHate

Posts: 318; Member since: Feb 09, 2015

But it's true. There is a photoshop like app that runs smoother on the new iPad Pro than on many cheaper to mid tier laptops. The problem is only that there aren't a lot of these apps for other desktop application. But the power is definitely there.

10. AmashAziz

Posts: 2934; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

Tell that comment no.6

16. techbuttcheex

Posts: 205; Member since: Jul 25, 2015

Correction: windows can not run full ipad apps, making it inferior.

3. Iodine

Posts: 1504; Member since: Jun 19, 2014

Battery still smaller than the notoriously known 9,7" iPad (3rd generation) Kind of interesting :)

5. seret6

Posts: 279; Member since: Aug 14, 2013

Iodine would you belive it if i told u that 2012 3rd generation ipad lasted me over 15 hours usage? Its battery performance has never been repeated in any device perio

11. AmashAziz

Posts: 2934; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

Note that it only lasted 'you'. That might not be true for everyone else. So your statement is believable but that doesn't mean such long usage times cannot be repeated in any other device. So your second statement could be wrong depending on the usage.

12. iDroidPhony

Posts: 59; Member since: Sep 21, 2016

I'd pick the 10.5 over this 12.9. The new iPad Pro's are keeping the iPads to be the best tablets on the planet. Impressive!

13. kefalin

Posts: 292; Member since: Feb 08, 2015

So many cons and still 8.8? Sony had less downsides and still got 7

14. L0n3n1nja

Posts: 1588; Member since: Jul 12, 2016

I'm amazed there were even cons listed. This site usually praises everything apple does.

15. belovedson

Posts: 1061; Member since: Nov 30, 2010

i can see a big failed product by apple. really no reason to make this. it's not a labtop and it can't replace one.

17. arthur76

Posts: 4; Member since: Jul 20, 2017

Thanks phonearena for the review, but it's never a bad idea to also consider reviews from others. I've googled and found a website which shows reviews from multiple sources and the overall score for iPad Pro 12.9. (rewagg.com)
iPad Pro 12.9-inch
  • Display 12.9" 2048 x 2732 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 7 MP front
  • Processor Apple A10X Fusion, Hexa-core, 2380 MHz
  • Storage 512 GB
  • Battery 10891 mAh

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