As it’s not yet entirely clear what will ultimately become of the tablet category, Apple’s iPad business continues to rake in a small fortune each quarter. The iPad has long changed, though. It's no longer that $500 device that some people called a supersized iPod Touch. It has since evolved into a more complex line-up that has tried to achieve bigger things, such as becoming an always-with-you digital notepad with support for the Apple Pencil, or encroaching into laptop territory with performance that's not typically expected out of such a portable form-factor.

Nowadays, things are way more complicated for the iPad line. There is an affordable 9.7” iPad starting at $329, a 10.5” iPad Pro from $649 (from last year), and then there are the brand new iPad Pro 11” and 12.9” which just hit the market, and start from $799 for a base, 64GB iPad Pro 11”, and go all the way up to the exorbitant $1899 for a fully stacked iPad Pro 12.9” with 1 TB of storage and cellular connectivity.

In this peculiar landscape, it seems the iPad no longer wants to be just a jolly multimedia device. It's trying to be a lot of different things to different people, and to seriously threaten those consumer notebooks out there. But does this advanced iOS machine have what it takes to replace your PC?

Design

Minimalistic and functional, the iPad Pro 2018's new design is not exactly elegant


The new iPad Pro 11" and 12.9" (we're testing the 11" one) has a new design, where the body has flat, instead of rounded, sides, and those shiny chamfered edges from the front are gone, which is a win for ergonomics, as the new edges aren't as sharp. The overall aesthetic is somewhat reminiscent of the original iPad, but of course, the new device is dramatically thinner and lighter. It feels great! It's quite big, even the 11" one, but the incredibly thin profile means it doesn't feel overwhelming.

Appearance-wise, it's quite interesting. This new model is less elegant than its predecessors, and with those unapologetic antenna lines, it's actually quite spartan-looking. It's hard to call this new iPad Pro (2018) beautiful, but it sure is impressive in terms of physical properties.

A notable new feature is that there's no longer a Lightning port here, replaced by standard USB Type-C. This is an important change, because it means you can now connect various devices to the iPad, such as cameras, for example. However, these devices still need to be optimized for iOS use, and that extends to external storage devices, so you can't really treat this new iPad Pro as a normal computer in that regard, at least not yet. There are very real limitations in terms of what you can connect and what is going to work.

There is also no 3.5mm headphone jack on the iPad Pro 11" and 12.9", and there are no EarPods in the box. Considering the available port is now USB Type C, you'll be better off reaching for a pair of Bluetooth earphones, such as Apple's AirPods. The good news is that at least the speakers are pretty great, so it won't be like you absolutely need to connect headphones in order to enjoy good audio with the iPad Pro. Compared to the latest stereo speakers on an iPhone XS, XS Max or XR, the iPad Pro 11" and 12.9" speakers are definitely much better.

The other big change with this year's design is that there's no more Touch ID! Love it or hate it. The expansion of the screen and the thinning of the frame around it has led to the removal of the fingerprint sensor, now replaced by Face ID. And because this is an iPad, Apple knows many people use the tablet in landscape orientation, so it has made the necessary upgrades to Face ID so it can work in all kinds of orientations (on iPhone it doesn't work if you hold the device in landscape).

One interesting thing that we noticed is that the iPad Pro seems to bend quite easily. If you look at it from close up along the top edge, for example, it actually doesn't seem to be perfectly flat. And trying to bend it even without applying much strength gets the body to bend slightly. We don't know if that means the construction is flimsy – we haven't tried checking how much it'll take, but it's something to keep in mind as you're handling your tablet.

Display

The ProMotion display is incredible and Apple should put it on phones right now

Two display sizes are available: 11" and 12.9". The 11" iPad Pro has the same dimensions as last year's 10.5" iPad, but the display has been enlarged to 11 inches to fill more of the front. The situation is different with the 12.9" iPad Pro, where the bezels have been reduced to end up with a slightly smaller device that still has a 12.9" display diagonal.


The screens are LCD IPS and they are awesome. The resolution is just enough, and colors are, as with any modern Apple device, spot on. The star of the show here is the ProMotion technology, which means Apple has 120 Hz displays in these iPad Pros. And these 120 Hz displays make a world of difference when scrolling around or generally interacting with the iPad. Things move way more smoothly and fluidly compared on our good-old 60 Hz displays. This is the same technology that Apple has in last year's 10.5" iPad Pro, and honestly, we're surprised that the company hasn't implemented this in its iPhone line yet.

Moving on, there's also the True Tone feature, which adjusts screen color temperature in real-time so that it matches your ambient light. That way the tablet can display realistic-looking colors that blend with your surroundings in a more natural way. This feature works great on the new iPad Pro 2018.

Interface and Functionality

iOS 12 is a great platform for consumers, but it's not open or functional enough to accommodate all professionals.

iOS 12 on the iPad diverges a little from iOS 12 on the iPhone, but just a little. There most significant 'upgrades' in the iPad experience are that you can utilize drag-and-drop in a variety of places in the system, and you can also use split screen multitasking.

The latter works by dragging an app from the dock to the right or left of an already opened app – you can either engage true side-by-side multitasking, or having the second app appear over the already running app, for those occasions where you want to do or check something quickly and then discard the app.

Aside from that, there don't seem to be any groundbreaking changes in the iOS 12 experience. The much bigger story with these new iPad Pros is the performance of the new A12X Bionic chipset.

This is a more powerful version of the A12 that's in the iPhone XS, XS Max and XR, and Apple really wants to convince you that this is not some kind of a watered down, mobile-first chip. It wants you to know that it's a screamer that can handle notebook-level tasks, like running full-blown Photoshop, for example. And while it still can't do that, it will starting next year, when Adobe will release real Photoshop for the iPad. With powerful programs like this, the usefulness of the iPad is bound to skyrocket. The number of desktop class, full-featured games is also increasing, thanks to titles like Civilization VI, which is already available.

However, can the confines of iOS allow for a truly productive platform with all the freedom that creators need? We wouldn't be so sure yet. iOS is still a relatively closed environment, where everyone, both consumers and developers, are at the mercy of Apple. At least at this time, there's not enough freedom in interaction between apps and between devices, for the iPad Pro to become a truly professional-grade tool. For now, it's stick in this strange middle ground between a consumer media device and something that can do work for you, but while it's already a great media device, it's potential as professional equipment is yet to be fully realized.

Processor and Memory



Back to performance, this thing really screams! Apple claims the A12X Bionic is faster than what you get out of most notebooks sold between June 2017 and June 2018, and while we're not sure exactly how this conclusion was reached, we can attest to the iPad Pro 2018's stellar performance.

Together with the amazing 120 Hz ProMotion display, it's amazing how nicely and smoothly everything moves. Our only hope is that developers will be faster at optimizing their apps and games to take advantage of the new chipset and ProMotion display.

In addition to a cutting-edge processor, Apple can also load the iPad Pro 11" and 12.9" with up to 1TB (1000 GB) of storage. That's some pretty extreme stuff, but the prices are similarly extreme. For the more level-headed among us, Apple is also selling 64 GB, 256 GB, and 512 GB versions.

AnTuTu Higher is better
Apple iPad Pro 11-inch 566363
Apple iPad Pro 10.5-inch 220321
Apple iPad 9.7-inch (2018) 173688
Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 202401.33
JetStream Higher is better
Apple iPad Pro 11-inch 268
Apple iPad Pro 10.5-inch 203.63
Apple iPad 9.7-inch (2018) 163.94
Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 59.06
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 on-screen Higher is better
Apple iPad Pro 11-inch 60
Apple iPad Pro 10.5-inch 50
Apple iPad 9.7-inch (2018) 40
Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 22
Geekbench 4 single-core Higher is better
Apple iPad Pro 11-inch 5024
Apple iPad Pro 10.5-inch 3923
Apple iPad 9.7-inch (2018) 3405
Geekbench 4 multi-core Higher is better
Apple iPad Pro 11-inch 18116
Apple iPad Pro 10.5-inch 9258
Apple iPad 9.7-inch (2018) 5737

Connectivity


As usual, you can choose between Wi-Fi-only and Wi-Fi + Cellular models. The difference is you can insert a SIM card into the latter and use cellular data.

The iPad also comes with a new, three-dot connector on its back, which is used to connect to certain accessories like the new Smart Folio Keyboard. The keyboard's design is considerably more intuitive than that of the previous model. It's also more protective, as it covers the back of the tablet as well, but it's just not a very good keyboard, which kind of defeats the purpose of buying it. The trouble with it is that most keys work very well, but the space bar is a bit stiffer, requiring more force to press down compared to the rest of the keys. This turns out to be quite the inconvenience as far as the typing experience goes.


An ingenious new feature is the new Apple Pencil, which has a more ergonomic design and can attached to the iPad Pro 11" or 12.9" through magnets. This action also engages wireless charing for the Pencil, which is a way more convenient solution that the previous generation, where you had to weirdly stick the old Pencil into the Lightning port of the tablet.

Camera


It’ll never stop to be an occasion when someone pulls out their large iPad to take a photo, but that doesn’t prevent us from doing it nonetheless. And because of that, Apple has made sure to upgrade the cameras in the new iPad Pro 11” and 12.9”. The rear camera is a 12 MP one that has a bunch of cool features like Smart HDR – also present in the iPhone XS, XS Max and XR. However, it strangely lacks Portrait Mode.


At least you get Portrait Mode with the front camera, which is TrueDepth with Face ID. It’s not the most convenient experience to take self portraits with the iPad Pro, but if you need the feature – it’s there, along with Depth Control, allowing you to change the amount of background blur before or after taking the shot.

Quality-wise, images from both the rear and front cameras are pretty decent. They don’t exactly wow with superb composure or punchy colors, but are high-quality enough to get the job done. Plus, Apple says the rear camera has been optimized for Augmented Reality experiences, and it worked very well in our testing, with 3D objects appearing quite stable.


Video recording also works nice on the new iPad Pro 2018, albeit a bit disorienting in more dynamic scenarios, due to the large slate you have to hold in front of you. You can shoot video in up to 4K resolution and 60 fps, and it looks pretty great. Unfortunately, you can’t switch between the front and rear cameras while shooting video.


We’ve also encountered some other inconveniences while using the iPad camera app. For an unknown reason, it in no way takes advantage of the large display, and it makes you scroll between the 5 or 6 camera modes that are available. It’d have been much better if they were all just immediately available to tap on – there is plenty of space! Moreover, should you switch to Portrait mode, the app automatically switches to the front camera, and there is no longer a button to rotate to the rear camera… If you want to get back to the rear camera, you need to switch to regular Photo mode, and then switch the cameras, which is quite unintuitive.

Taking a pic Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec) Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Apple iPad Pro 11-inch No data
No data
No data
No data
Apple iPad Pro 10.5-inch 1.21
1.56
No data
No data
Apple iPad 9.7-inch (2018) 2.2
2.4
No data
No data
Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 1.9
2.6
No data
No data

Multimedia


The iPad Pro 11" and 12.9" 2018 are perfectly suited for media entertainment. The screens are very big, which is great for both movies and games. Of course, not only are they big, but their properties like the resolution and the color reproduction are top-notch.


The quad-speaker setup is a perfect accompaniment to the gorgeous screen. As we noted already, the speakers output superb audio. It's definitely not hi-fi, but considering the super thin and compact nature of the tablet, it's impressive what kind of depth these speakers can deliver.

For the gamers out there, the special treat in the iPad Pro 2018 is in the form of the new, 7-core GPU. Seriously, we're yet to find a game that can even put a dent in the performance – it's unwavering! However, we also noticed that quite a few games, including high-profile ones like Hearthstone or Civilization VI don't use the hardware to its maximum, with Civilization in particular running in a very low resolution, definitely not Retina-quality.

Battery life



Apple continues to promise up to 10-hours battery life for a variety of activities, such as web browsing, video or music playback. In our custom battery test, it managed to score the impressive 11h 40 min. That’s markedly better than the result of the iPad Pro 10.5”, which was 10h 38 min. It’s also way better than the result of its closest competitor, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4, which scored 7h 47 min.

You can compare the battery life of the iPad Pro 11” to many other competitors in our Benchmarks tool.

The bundled charger is nicely powerful, but it still takes three hours to fully charge the iPad Pro 11”. This may sound like a lot, but compared to previous iPads, it’s actually an improvement, by more than 20 minutes at that! It’s also slightly faster compared to the Galaxy Tab S4.

Battery life (hours) Higher is better
Apple iPad Pro 11-inch 11h 40 min (Excellent)
Apple iPad Pro 10.5-inch 10h 38 min (Excellent)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 7h 47 min (Good)
Charging time (minutes) Lower is better
Apple iPad Pro 11-inch 180
Apple iPad Pro 10.5-inch 204
Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 192
Apple iPad 9.7-inch (2018) 397

Conclusion

What's a tablet?

Late last year, Apple ran an ad where a kid using an iPad Pro replied with "What's a computer?" to a question from her neighbor asking "What are you doing on your computer?". The ad seemed to stir the anger bucket somewhat at the time, as Apple dared to suggest that we're already living in that post-PC era it's been talking about since introducing the first iPad, but of course, we all know that isn't true.


The more pressing question these days seems to be "What's a tablet?" Now more than ever, the iPad is trying to compete with notebooks by introducing productivity features like the Apple Pencil, keyboard accessories, making sure it can connect with ecosystem devices, and delivering exceptional system performance. At the same time, the iOS 12 system, as powerful as it is, doesn't fully let the iPad Pro 11" and 12.9" become truly versatile computers. By keeping you stuck to the confines of apps and by being more closed and inflexible compared to a desktop-class operating system like macOS or Windows, the new iPad Pro still keeps its roots firmly into consumer territory, despite the Pro in the name.

So, not merely an entertainment device and not really a workstation. It's this undecided space that the iPad Pro 2018 has to inhabit, until Apple finally decides if it's to send it one way or the other. Should it, though? The iPad Pro may be just fine as it is right now, as long as customers know what they are getting into. Unless all you do on your computer is to watch movies and browse Facebook, then sure, the iPad Pro can totally replace your PC. But any serious type of work you want to do on a computing device, you'll almost certainly be better off opening your notebook than picking up your iPad Pro.

All that said, the iPad continues to be a great media & entertainment device of impressive capabilities and portability. If you know exactly how it's going to fit into your lifestyle, then this latest edition will surely not disappoint. Should you reach for the 1 TB version, though? We're not so sure. The 256 GB model will get you a long way and will not break the bank, so that may be this year's most value-packed option.

iPad Pro 11" and 12.9" price breakdown


Pros

  • Thin and light
  • Gorgeous screen
  • 120 Hz ProMotion display tech is awesome
  • Outstanding performance
  • Superb speakers

Cons

  • Design is not a work of art
  • Can be quite expensive
  • iOS 12 is not very conducive for productivity
  • Smart Folio Keyboard accessory is not good

PhoneArena Rating:

8.0

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23 Comments

1. STRANG3R

Posts: 234; Member since: Sep 24, 2015

It bands rapidly. Very soft material used. So be careful for using.

2. Peaceboy

Posts: 640; Member since: Oct 11, 2018

Loving my ipad pro 11”. I do multitasking here often because of its bigger screen. Though I would like these feats to encorporate to Xs Max.

3. CreeDiddy

Posts: 2274; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

I have to agree with the 8 out 10. It's basically using a stretched out XS Max with Apple Pencil 2 capability and PIP. Regardless of all of this power....Apple please make PadOS or MacOS iPad. It makes sense for Apple to go this route rather than iOS. I may still trade my iPad Pro 10.5 for this, but wait until Black Friday for better deals.

23. eli577

Posts: 142; Member since: Jun 29, 2010

But I don't really get the point here with this Pro version. They have the Ipad, the Macbooks, and now this. Obviously it won't compete with Windows based laptops, yet they are still making this. What are they trying to achieve? Kill the Ipad, or make competition to their own other devices, like Macbooks? Not so logical, these Products Will cannibalize each other's sales, not that I care too much, I just can't see the sense in it.

4. Elvis358

Posts: 260; Member since: Mar 25, 2018

Huh 8 ??? Underrated! It basically is the best tablet out there and there isn't any competition!

8. bucknassty

Posts: 1372; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

i'm surprised by this rating... the price is the biggest con... ipad has tablets on lock

12. maherk

Posts: 7010; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Yup, it's like they're trying too hard to convince us that they're not biased towards Apple. How can the best tablet on the market and by a distance, get only 8 out 10? Apart from the price, there is nothing we can complain about on this device, and we have to view it as a tab while reviewing it, which most of the reviewers aren't. This isn't a laptop replacement, but it's there to do some of the tasks when you don't have your laptop next to you.

13. blkkobra

Posts: 44; Member since: Jan 22, 2014

The reason the reviewers are reviewing it the way they are is because of how Apple is advertising it. They introduced it as the laptop replacement. When the company says that's what it is, that's how you have to look at it. Given how Apple is pushing it, the 8 out of 10 makes sense. If they hadn't been pushing the issue of the laptop replacement, I'm sure this would've gotten a higher score.

14. AmashAziz

Posts: 2934; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

I don't think so. If a companysays there phones provide console quality graphics or dslr-level cameras, that doesn't mean we have to review phones as them. We should review phones as phones still.

22. perry1234

Posts: 654; Member since: Aug 14, 2012

Agreed !

5. Yousefjaber206

Posts: 118; Member since: Jan 09, 2018

Surprisingly low rating knowing PhoneArena

10. worldpeace

Posts: 3135; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Maybe it's really bad that it didn't get Apple's base score (9/10)

6. JMartin22

Posts: 2387; Member since: Apr 30, 2013

Your amazing hardware is only as good as your software. Get my drift? Hopefully iOS 13 will bring some true tablet functionality

15. AmashAziz

Posts: 2934; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

That, I agree though.

7. NateDiaz

Posts: 1092; Member since: Mar 03, 2018

566k antutu that's some crazy numbers

19. almostdone

Posts: 449; Member since: Sep 25, 2012

I wonder if anyone will really notice any difference from the latest iPhones as no iOS app can really utilize that power.

20. midan

Posts: 3112; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

New upcoming photoshop will going to use all that power. Affinity (photoshop style photo editing app) already benefits from that.

21. midan

Posts: 3112; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

......

9. ZerosAndOnes

Posts: 84; Member since: Oct 12, 2018

This beast of a hardware would be the ultimate thing for any pro if it actually had a useful OS. What a shame its limited by iOS.

11. iphart

Posts: 27; Member since: Oct 17, 2018

Nice but those prices!! No thanks.

16. pablumatic

Posts: 20; Member since: Nov 22, 2012

Are you losing screen size on the 12.9" with those rounded corners cutting off some pixels? I think so. The 11" one has a bigger screen than before so you are gaining screen with that model. I think I'll get last year's 12.9".

17. errnope

Posts: 43; Member since: May 23, 2018

When iOS 11 and then 12 came out this site was telling me how these transform the iPad experiences and does wonders for tablet productivity. Now it isn't good enough and is a con?

18. darkkjedii

Posts: 31594; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

The iPhones need the multitasking and Pencil features...badly. And the best tablet of 2018, is still the Note 9. The Note 9 multitasking destroys the iPads, and that's simply saying that iOS on the iPad is way under developed.
iPad Pro 11-inch
  • Display 11.0" 1668 x 2388 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 7 MP front
  • Processor Apple A12X Bionic, Octa-core, 2490 MHz
  • Storage 1000 GB
  • Battery 7812 mAh

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