Apple iPad Pro 12.9 Review: Soon Enough, You Will Not Be Buying Computers Anymore

Whether an iPad Pro is the right computing device for you totally depends on your workflow, the apps you use and whether iPadOS is the right platform for legacy apps you may still rely on. For those who don’t have to deal with the complexities of old software and IT incompetence, is your laptop even relevant now? The Apple iPad Pro has threatened to relegate your good-old but yet very conventional laptop into obscurity, for a while now. That is, at least as far as the power and versatility are concerned. The thing is, the latest generation iPad Pro furthers the performance goalposts with the new processor and is faster than pretty much every laptop out there. Barring some of the very high-end premium laptops, including its own sibling the MacBook Pro 16, for instance.

“Your next computer is not a computer”, is how Apple introduces the 2020 line-up of the iPad Pro. It’ll surely not please Microsoft which has the Mac vs PC adverts to show how Windows 10 PCs and laptops are better than Apple’s Mac computing devices. But the idea is to address a question that a lot of iPad Pro buyers and indeed some who eventually buy a MacBook have—can an iPad effectively replace the laptop? The answer is more definite now than it has ever been, with iPadOS now ever closer to the macOS in terms of usability and experience. And mind you, it will get closer still with the macOS Big Sur later this year, particularly on the custom Apple Silicon powered Macs—the same apps for iPadOS and iOS will also run on macOS. So in effect, the macOS becomes the touchscreen Macs that never came. That being said, if your workflow includes specific apps or software or tasks, you would be best served checking if the same can be used on an iPad Pro.

More of The Same is Not a Bad Thing

It has been two years since Apple gave the iPad Pro a new design language. Here and now, it still looks as stunning as it did back then. My allegiances lie with space grey more than silver, but whichever colour you pick, you are in for a treat. But the dimensions and the size remain the same, which means if you bought any case accessories for the previous generation iPad Pro 12.9 and now want to upgrade to this, it’ll work like a charm. Except that you will have to factor in the larger camera module at the back.

As always, you can buy this in two avatars—the one with just Wi-Fi and the one which has Wi-Fi + Cellular. We would really urge you to get the latter, because having a SIM card installed as a backup data line will come in very handy whether it be the home broadband acting up, the office internet being its usual unreliable self and while traveling, of course. Speaking of which, the iPad Pro 12.9 weighs 641 grams for the Wi-Fi only variant and 643 grams for the one that adds cellular.

It is good that not much has changed on the design front, because the iPad Pro 12.9 in its current personality has a presence that no other convertible or tablet has. It stands out, in the most positive sense, from a mile away.

Most laptops don’t stand a chance

It is a bit surprising that Apple isn’t using the same generation chip as the ones powering the iPhone 11 Pro series, for instance. But that really shouldn’t matter because what you still get is fantastic performance. We have known for a while that the iPad Pro is much faster than most laptops, but that difference just widened further, in the favor of the iPad Pro. Unless you are looking at some of the really high-end Windows 10 laptops running either the Intel Core i7 or Intel Core i9 processors or the higher spec variants of the Apple MacBook Pro 13 or the MacBook Pro 16, there is no convertible computing device that comes close to this. And neither do most laptops.

The A12X chip from the previous generation gets more performance, better thermal handling, better battery life and more powerful graphics, and it is here are the A12Z Bionic chip. What you get as a result of all the under-the-hood updates is a richer AR apps experience, if that catches your fancy, multiple streams of 4K video editing and games that can take full advantage of the 120Hz display. The thing is, the previous edition of the iPad Pro 12.9 feels mighty fast anyway, so anyone upgrading may take time to notice the fine differences. But for first time iPad Pro users, the performance will be like a melodic breeze of the Scottish Highlands.

It is so fast, there really is no point trying to even understand where the virtual performance ceilings are, for multi-tasking. Just no point.

The addition of the LiDAR sensor at the back means there will be richer and quicker AR apps experience, if that interests you. It uses lasers to map the room—it is much faster than anything before it to make a spatial map of the room. The thing is, the foundations for great AR experiences are here. And that also means any AR apps that you use right now get a boost in terms of performance. But a lot still depends on app developers to really take advantage of the cool lasers. And there is no guarantee they will.

It is great that the display hasn’t been changed, because this Liquid Retina just does a fantastic job no matter what you are using it for. Be it reading, browsing, catching on the Netflix watchlist, editing photos or more, this canvas is just brilliant either way. True Tone may not be the fanciest feature to show off, but the way it alters what it on the screen in terms of brightness and colour tone, just makes everything more comfortable.

Keyboard is The Secret Ingredient

As someone who has to write for a living, I really am very finicky about the keyboards that I use. Just cannot be expected to start using any keyboard willy-nilly and surely don’t get the same sort of precise response that I want. The Apple MacBook keyboards are the ticket, be it the MacBook Pro 13 or the MacBook Pro 16, and in the Windows ecosystem, HP and Xiaomi have come close. When I say that most convertibles have arrived with compromise keyboards all this while, that comes from the knowledge of how difficult it was to really get used to the compressed layout. And the lack of proper key travel just added to the irritation when you wanted to get something done quickly. And that typing experience is tiring too, with the fingers feeling the stress after a while.

That changes, and how, with the new Magic keyboard. The layout is very similar to a MacBook Pro 13, in the sense that these are now properly defined keys, with good spacing between each and 1mm of travel as well. it just gets that much closer to a proper laptop experience. This is backlit too, which means when the lights in the aircraft cabin are dimmed, you can continue working towards the deadlines. The trackpad isn’t the largest, but it is perfect for the iPadOS multi-finger swipe gestures to work. The way the hinge works is just fantastic—the iPad, once docked on, can be positioned in any angle you want. Perfect if you want to get rid of a reflection or not have the ceiling fan be a regular fixture in your Zoom video calls. The keyboard case also has a USB-C port which means you can plug in the iPad Pro 12.9 on charging the way you would a laptop, and not have a cable spoiling the view to attach to the USB-C port on the iPad Pro itself.

Oh, and the iPad feels like it is floating in the air when docked to the Magic Keyboard.

The Small Matter Of The Price And The Future

The thing is, it really isn’t that simple with the iPad Pro. The price does play a major role, if you are to set this up as a full-fledged laptop replacement. But the fact that you are considering an iPad Pro’s versatility is because you don’t want a proper laptop. Here is how much a new iPad Pro costs you—the Wi-Fi only variants are priced at Rs 89,900 (128GB), Rs 98,900 (256GB), Rs 1,16,900 (512GB) and Rs 1,29,900 (1TB). If you go for the Cellular add-on as well, as you should, it’ll cost you Rs 1,03,900 (128GB), Rs 1,12,900 (256GB), Rs 1,30,900 (512GB) and Rs 1,40,900 (1TB).

That is a lot of money, and that’s before you factor in the Magic Keyboard that is priced at Rs 31,900 for the iPad Pro 12.9 to become a laptop replacement.

The thing is, the price tags may be shocking for anyone except those who may already be considering a premium laptop for their work. Maybe an Apple MacBook Pro, or a Dell XPS 13 or an HP Spectre series machine. Which means they have saved up for these pretty price tags. The question now is, do you want the regular experience that a laptop would offer, or are you ready to try iPadOS which clearly is the OS for the future. Plus, you get the flexibility of two devices in one, depending on what time of the day it is. The iPad Pro 12.9 armed with the iPadOS and the direction in which it is headed, is primed to be a work machine. It just depends on how soon you will be ready to reciprocate.