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iPad Pro 2020 review: Is this offering from Apple a MacBook substitute?

The 2020 iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil attached   | Photo Credit: Divya Kala Bhavani

For those who find buying a laptop too much of an investment and relying on a smartphone unacceptable, the happy medium in these work-from-home or live-at-work routines, comes in the form of a tablet. In this case, the iPad Pro 2020 breaks into the global market at an apt time.

Specifications (review unit)
  • Dimensions & weight: 247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9 mm ; 473 g
  • Display: Liquid Retina display, 11-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit Multi-Touch display with IPS technology, 2388x1668-pixel resolution at 264 pixels per inch (ppi), ProMotion technology, Wide colour display (P3), True Tone display, Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating, Fully laminated display, Anti-reflective coating, 1.8% reflectivity, 600 nits brightness
  • Sensors: Face ID, LiDAR Scanner, Three-axis gyro, Accelerometer, Barometer, Ambient light sensor
  • Chip: A12Z Bionic chip with 64-bit architecture, Neural Engine, Embedded M12 coprocessor
  • Power & battery: Built-in 28.65-watt-hour rechargeable lithium-polymer battery, Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi or watching video, Charging via power adapter or USB-C to computer system

I had the 11-inch iPad Pro in Space Grey, an easily handled size and weight at 473 grams (for the WiFi + Cellular model). I love the matte finish on the back, offering that slate-like feel and tactile grip, which many earlier iPads missed out on.

On the back, are three small magnetic connectors on the lower edge, where the iPad Pro locks against the Magic Keyboard (review coming soon!). There is another magnet along one edge where the 2nd Generation Apple Pencil (review coming soon!) snaps into place and charges through the iPad Pro, rather than the plug-in charging the older Pencils have through the Lightning connector of the tablet.

The Liquid Retina display for the iPad Pro is vivid with none of the dizzying contrast I have seen much of this year in a lot of devices.

The overwhelming screen time is already a lot to handle, so the iPad Pro’s 600-nit brightness with 1.8% reflectivity offers minimal strain for these long live-at-work hours. The adjusting refresh rate of up to 120Hz, thanks to the ProMotion technology, makes the system move smoother and more intuitively, depending on what you are doing.

Powered by A12Z Bionic

Right off the bat, I found myself relying on the iPad Pro for its PC-like experience. The device is able to handle high volumes of diverse work thanks to the improved battery and the new-to-device A12Z Bionic chip, the third in the A12 series of chips.

There is an eight-core graphics processing unit in the A12Z Bionic, with an enhanced thermal architecture and tuned performance controllers, which collectively uphold the system quite well for long hours.

How the iPad Pro fits on the Magic Keyboard

How the iPad Pro fits on the Magic Keyboard   | Photo Credit: Divya Kala Bhavani

It is important to note that the A12Z is not merely a processor but a system on its own, so much of iPad Pro’s USP leans on the powerhouse of the A12Z Bionic. That said, I got a solid 12 hours of strong battery life before I hit Low Power Mode; during this time I was averaging at four hours of video-editing, five hours of productivity and two hours of social media, and there was still plenty of battery life to spare. The Neural Engine in the chip enables redistribution of power, through Machine Learning, to whatever predominant activity is happening on the device.

Charging the iPad Pro from Low Battery Mode to 100% takes about an hour via USB-C; I was able to use this port to share heavy files directly through a drive rather than manoeuvring AirDrop or switching across cloud-based storage sites between devices.

There are some stark differences— such as the adaptation of mobile dimensions of apps to the iPad —, but they are minor enough in that adapting to them is not a stretch. Apps such as Swiggy, Dunzo and, most notably, Instagram had to be resized on the device but the UX was compromised by pixelation. I did find myself uninstalling those apps purely for this reason, but surely as more versions of the new iPad OS roll out, developers will simultaneously launch iPad-compatible versions.

Upping productivity

A lot of the heavy campaigning for the iPad Pro was geared towards video editors, graphic designers and photographers — people who are used to multiple screens or split screen ways of working. Though it is not the same as having many monitors, each with their custom display settings, the iPad Pro is a good option for on-the-go work. The split-screen option was great for me during video editing, to have raw footage up against edited footage, or fact-checking sites against a draft of my written work.

On an 11-inch screen, it is not a permanent solution but it does fill a gap in productivity that does more good than harm by having it integrated in iPadOS, especially when clubbed with the Magic Keyboard. If you are more of a visual worker, opt for the 12.9-inch version for more room to play around in.

The iPad Pro’s rear camera system with the LiDAR scanner

The iPad Pro’s rear camera system with the LiDAR scanner   | Photo Credit: Divya Kala Bhavani

The camera itself has an iPhone 11 feel — the wide 12 megapixel rear camera with ƒ/1.8 aperture, and the ultra-wide: 10 megapixel rear camera with a 125 degree field of view. The iPad Pro comes with a LiDAR scanner too, and this is not limited to developers or computer engineers. I had long been playing Hot Lava on Apple Arcade but on an iPhone. However, on the iPad Pro, the game will soon come with an Augmented Reality mode to enhance the danger factor of the game by bringing it to your surrounding space. When this comes out, I will surely be immersing myself.

This year marks 10 years since the first iPad, and the 2020 iPad Pro is a great upgrade and standalone piece of technology for the Apple ecosystem. Yes, the iPad Pro is expensive but I feel this is geared to the technically savvy, who will make the most of the more niche specs such as the ARKit, the LiDAR scanner and others. If you are keen on an iPad, look to the older models which are easier on the bank account and on the user experience.

The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at ₹71,900 for the Wi-Fi model and ₹85,900 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at ₹89,900 for the Wi-Fi model and ₹1,03,900 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 6:10:13 PM |

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