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This is iPad Pro

I wrote this after spending time with the iPad Pro back in September. We're working on our full review now, but wanted to share this again for anyone considering buying immediately. Using it now, it's everything I remember it being and more.

It's something that's been obvious since the very beginning, and crystal clear since the iPad 2 keynote in 2011. For a large segment of people, using a traditional computer can be an awkward, frustrating, and intimidating experience. The iPad is for them. For others, the iPad hasn't been productive or creative enough simply by virtue of its size and input technologies. The iPad Pro is also for them. It is, simply, profoundly, a bigger, better window into apps and the internet than Apple has ever made before. And it comes a new keyboard and pencil that provide new ways to interact with both.

Internals

The screen itself is impressive. Equal parts immersive and imposing. It's 12.9 inches and 2732x2048 resolution. That's not 4K but it is 5.6 million pixels requiring an iMac-style custom timing controller, iPhone style photo-aligned pixels, and Oxide TFT for incredibly precise and clean colors.

Driving all that is an Apple A9X processor. It's the new iPhone processor on Hulk serum. It provides 2x the memory bandwidth, 2x the storage performance, 1.8x the processing speed, and 2x the graphics speed. Watching demonstrations of some of those pre-release games, it certainly looks impressive.

On the outside we get the same space black, silver, and gold options as the iPad Air 2. No rose gold. At least not yet.

Keyboard and Pencil

The Smart Keyboard, rather than being multitouch or even Force Touch, uses similar physical butterfly keyboard switches to the new MacBook. It interfaces via three new, circular connectors on the iPad and folds out from a cover to a stand. I only got to try it briefly: It wasn't long enough to see how typing speed and (frankly) typing joy would really work out, but I look forward to putting it through its paces once it's launched.

The Apple Pencil, however, I got to try for a while. I drew for hours a day, every day when I was growing up and I used Wacom tablets extensively when I worked as a designer. I've tried many of the third-party stylus pens that have come out for the iPad, and while a lot of them were great, none of them were incredible.

iPad Pro

iPad Pro

The Apple Pencil felt like a pencil: The weight and size is just right, and it doesn't glide too fast over glass like current plastic-tipped third party styluses. It had a little drag, just like you experience with paper. No texture, obviously, but something smooth without being unnatural.

Apple has drastically increased the sensitivity of the iPad display to make this interactivity work, but they didn't add Force Touch to the display itself: Instead, the company added pressure awareness to the tip of the Apple Pencil. Apple also added a ton of smarts so the stylus, together with the iPad Pro, can measure position, force, and tilt.

I'm going to spending a lot of time sketching, drawing, and painting with the iPad Pro. A lot.

Software and pricing

There was a lot of impressive software as well. iOS apps can present interfaces uniquely for the iPad Pro to really make use of that big screen. (And thanks to app thinning, your other devices never have to download those assets!)

Microsoft and Adobe, poetically, were up on stage showing off new versions of Office and creative apps. Oh, if the old, struggling Apple of yore could have seen Apple now. GarageBand and iMovie were shown off as well, as were drafting and design apps with 60 fps 3D rendering that really took advantage of the A9X.

Price is decidely "Pro" as well. It starts at $799 for 32 GB and Wi-Fi, $949 for 128 GB and Wi-Fi, and $1079 for 128 GB with Wi-Fi and LTE. Add in $99 for the Apple Pencil and $149 the Smart Keyboard, and you're reaching MacBook levels for your iPad. The question then becomes, do you want the closest MacBook to an iPad, or the closest iPad to a Mac?

Bottom line

That Apple was making a big iPad has been a poorly kept secret for years. How Apple was going to position it, a much more interesting question for almost as long. Now we have the beginnings of an answer. Productivity, creativity, and accessibility—so more people can do more with an iPad than ever before, and maybe with a computing device than ever before.

As long as the value to them is greater than the price.

Rene Ritchie
Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

95 Comments
  • It's interesting to see the pricing of this when compared to the various MacBooks. It will also be interesting to see how well it sells at these prices over time. I think it'll definitely make some people shy away from a buying decision.
  • I almost like the higher price, because at least I'll be able to get one on day one...
  • Don't see anywhere in the specs that the iPad Pro will take Apple Pay. isn't this strange for an enterprise intended type device? Additionally, wondering why the only model that supports cellular is the 128gB flavor...cellular that top-heavy?
  • Ummm, there is nothing in it that speaks Enterprise Indented :)
  • I believe Pro will support Apple Pay web, but not Apple Pay NFC—like the other iPads.
  • I fail to imagine why that you would rather take out the oversize tabled to make payment rather then a plastic card... I understand the technology is there and it's cool, but is it practical?
  • I think they're asking if it can accept Apple Pay payments as part of a POS system.
  • i guess this is one device u would not want to take photos... Unless u'r that guy in the back row who can't see, in which case tell your partner in front to zoom in.
  • Okay, @Renee! I've been waiting for your first thoughts. I'm buying this regardless, as it already sounds like the Holy Grail I've been waiting on almost 15 years, but I'm a comic book illustrator, which I know is near and dear to your heart. Is this the answer?! :P
  • http://blogs.microsoft.com/firehose/2015/09/04/bam-pow-surface-pro-3-is-...
  • Now that there is a much more refined larger iOS device with a much more refined pressure sensitive Pencil, these people can safely dispose the surface at a nearby electronic garbage disposal. Poor artists had to use a surface. Apple may work for years to do a product, but at least they got it right.
  • LOL you are kidding right? The Surface line runs desktop class Intel I Series CPUs, a full desktop OS, and ports to add peripherals or storage! This is a blown up iPad with a stylus and essentially a Logitech keyboard case Apple made themselves. This is a pale imitation of a Surface. Put OSX on it and then we will talk. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • The CPU in the iPad Pro OUTPERFORMS some Intel i-series chips already. It's faster than a Macbook Air for example. The ones it doesn't outperform, wouldn't actually fit in the enclosure. The GPU also outperforms many MacBook Pros which like the Surface use intel graphics. The Surface might not be dead this year, but it was never that popular in the first place, and it's future is definitely limited. Microsoft doesn't have their own chips. They have to use intel chips which will be far behind in performance in one or two years, tops. Those are the facts jack.
  • Just because it outperforms doesn't mean its a replacement for anything.. There is still iOS under the hood which is not full open,, its getting there, but u still have limitations and sharing of info between app and apps availability..
  • This is seriously the holy grail you've been waiting for 15 years.? Pffft. People been doing this for years now on a Surface. No seriously. Which hole you been hiding inside.? On a side note. Impressive hardware. Software kills. Would i buy it.? No. Need full Adobe suite to do my stuff being an Architect. This just doesn't sell.
  • Not to bash the iPad pro but i have friends who are comic book artists and they have both been using the windows surface pro for years as it while it don't think it has the same pressure sensitive smartness it was still good enough for them to use
  • Was impressed when they showed it but i already have a fully loaded MacBook i just dont see myself needing this as well, I ordered the new mini and i think that will be enough for now.
  • It's cool. But not quite the surface pro killer I expected. Who knows? Maybe it doesn't have to be.
  • At it's price point it kind of does have to be
  • The iPad Pro was all that I was hoping for except the high price tag. I would have liked to see $799 for 128g and $949 for a 256g. Then I would totally consider replacing my MBP with an iPad Pro. I seriously haven't used my iPad 4 since getting a iPhone 6+. That's a lot of money to upgrade a devise that hasn't been used in 11 months.
  • Surface Pro > this
  • Yes, maybe Surface Pro 3 perfected? Looks like Apple stole one from the MS design lab and intends the iPad Pro to be a place-holder in their tentative re-bid for Enterprise markets. Maybe the IBM guys will love it. Definitely prefer the iPad Pro for its iOS and compelling power.
  • Surface pro 4 comes out in a month supposedly. That will be the true competition. The Surface Pro 3 will probably drop in price then too. Luckily Microsoft sucks at marketing or this iPad would be doa Sent from the iMore App
  • Surface is done, MS just hasn't said it yet. They've begun allowing such cringe-worth OEMs as Dell and HP to resell them due to lack of interest in marketing the device. They're narrowing the focus to OEM channels and B2B sales, SP4 will be the last Surface made by MS. Apple will sell more iPad Pros in the first year than Surfaces have been sold in three years.
  • Yes! I've bean waiting for this for soooo long! Posted via iMore for Android...Because Apple vs. Android is just plain dumb. -iPhone 5, iOS 8.5
    -Pebble Smartwatch
  • Right on wjs700! I too like and use both mobile platforms. I would love to see how the use of Apple pencil will stack up with Samsung's impressive S-Pen functionality.
  • Does the screen respond if you rest your hand on the iPad while using the pencil?
  • If its like the Surface Pro 3, then no, the screen will not respond when laying your hand on it while writing or drawing.
  • In the Apple demo, they used two fingers on the screen to control a virtual straight-edge while drawing with the stylus. So, the answer would seem to be yes.
  • Don't really want the kb. Maybe the pencil though. Looks like this will be why I passed on the Air 2 last year. LTE 128gb will be mine. For all the arguments on whether a Surface Pro is better or whether this would replace a laptop. I don't care. I have a great laptop. The ipad is a purely entertainment/fun device for me. It's made for multitouch and has been enchanced for it.. Has exclusive games I like. Will be great with comics. 4 speakers. A zillion pixels. I don't see me passing on this.
  • So... Almost three more inches on the screen and we can't get more icons on the Springboard? That's actually a little bit lame :(
  • How do you know we can't?
  • Soooo, iPad Plus =/= iPad Pro.
    I still don't see what makes this "Pro".
    I've watched the demos in the keynote, I really don't see why this can't be done on a "regular" sized iPad, or even a mini. Just because it's bigger doesn't mean it's "Pro"fessional or "Pro"ductivity.
    Okay, maybe slightly, I do appreciate screen real estate for professional productivity. And it is more powerful, but my iPad Air 1 is already more powerful than my Lenovo Yoga.
    Idk, niche market, IMO. Sent from the iMore App
  • Better sound, and the pencil. That's pretty much the only differences. The rest is advertising. The thing that pisses me off about this thing is that there really isn't a reason why better sound and the pencil shouldn't be on the other iPads as well. the thing to do here would be to release all new iPads next year, all of which have this support, but even though t's totally possible from an engineering standpoint, you know they won't. iPad mini probably won't get pencil support until 2018 if things run true to the way they have so far.
  • Hmm... I think I'm going to Surface Pro. No need for upgrading my iPad Mini 2. Sent from the iMore App
  • Surface Pro is the winner.....
  • u do know both have their own limitations. but at least it has external ports. While Apple expects u to use iCloud drive..
  • Small correction: It's space gray, not space black.
  • I don't understand the 32G. 64G sounds reasonable, but for this thing 32 is the new 16. I want one, not sure if I need one. My Retina iPad mini is just the right size and I have a cheap stylus I got at the grocery store that works well enough with it if I ever really want to use one. But like the 27" Retina iMac, it sure would be nice for graphics and video. A Surface is simply a different animal altogether.
  • I too don't understand why Apple does that. Same with the 16GB iPhone option. How much graphics work can you do with 32GB and no expandability. On the flip side I think the Surface Pro comparison is viable. They have introduction a convertible in the same price range as the Surface Pro with near identical and in some cases identical features. I really want want but I have a hard time swallowing that price particularly when the SP3 is discounted with the 4 out soon and with iPad Pro pushing more pixels with a slower GPU than the SP3 makes it hard for me to justify. I say slower because going based on old benchmarks of the A8 versus the Intel core series and then doing the math of the A8 versus A9. Comparing a SP3 GPU versus an A8 showed a huge difference. I have had two Surfaces Pros and both have been rock solid stable and both still work great, with one being nearly 3 years old. That price is just making it hard to justify. What's your perspective. Why do you not see them as comparable. For someone fully Apple camp only I get it but I have had great results with both. My 2011 Macbook Pro has been nothing but problems and my iPad 3 became useless after a yesr. A good quality Windows computer is just as stable and reliable as my Apple products so I can't use that justification. Basically I'm looking for logical excuse to get another gadget when I still have a Surface Pro 3. :-) Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Still 5x4 grid? That's even more ridiculous than the "regular" iPad Air. They need to learn how to utilise a bigger screen estate, don't they?
  • I thought it was 4x3. Things will scale better for existing iPad apps. I don't want the 16x9, too long and narrow, only ideal for HD video and nothing else. I need something for PDF sheet music and this will be perfect. The regular iPad size scales a music page perfectly but was a little too small. Depends on your use case.
  • Taking about springboard maybe?
  • No backlit Keyboard ???
    Come on Apple MS Surface keyboard is!
  • I really can't work out who is meant to buy the macbook and who is meant to buy the iPad pro? i guess it is basically a matter of form factor now as to which you would prefer
  • I generally find that some apps are best suited for a computer and other apps are best suited for a tablet.
  • This was soooo disappointing. The iPad Air and Mini are now on last years hardware. The iPad Pro is a $300 price increase to get current hardware in a form factor that has lost its portability advantage. I am going to keep my 2 year old iPad Air until it dies. Then if Apple is still treating iPads like it does the iPod I'll switch to the Surface.
  • HERE, HERE!!
  • Sweet, an Apple-made Samsung Note Pro 12 from 1 1/2 years ago :)
    Seriously though, as an Apple and Samsung owner, the addition of a styl, er, pencil is pretty cool...
  • If there are still Surfaces to switch to in a few years.
  • I have one big question: Will the Apple Pencil work with legacy software in the same way I can use my finger now? I have to know this. I use a scoring app called Notion, and when I place musical symbols my finger blocks my view making precise placement difficult. If the Apple Pencil will work with this software even if it is not modified to take specific advantage of the Apple Pencil then I'm golden; otherwise, I'll have to wait until certain critical-apps-for-me are updated.
  • I found it interesting, but for the price and size I'll wait. I know it is met for a specific user, it probably not me. I curious what some creative professionals will think of it. I haveTo get the most out of it you need the  Pencil, and maybe the keyboard. If I add them both, it will push price near MacBook cost. But I hope the Air 3 will get some of specifications from the iPad Pro "iPro", and  Pencil use and its own version of the keyboard. Sent from the iMore App
  • iPad Pro drinking game: Every time somebody comments with "should buy the Surface Pro instead" take a drink.
  • that's suicide!
  • u shay sumtin?
  • I'm up for it.... i'm half way there anyway :)
  • I took the plunge and ordered the iPad Pro as soon as Apple started selling it. I opted for 32GB Wifi, since I have never come close to reaching 128 GB on my older iPad. I ordered the Pencil as well, but not the smart keyboard. I opted for Logitech's backlit keyboard that also makes use of Apple's new smart connector.
  • I bought one also, looking for a basic back cover and will use one of my third party laptop sleeves until I get a better look at all of the eventual third party offerings.
  • I prefer the case of the iPad Air 2... I dunno why Apple did the back and front in separate parts .. Maybe so u could just have one attached and not the other would be my only reason.
  • Apple is really testing how much consumers are willing to empty their wallets for their products. I'm really having trouble seeing the benefits of the iPad Pro with its ultra premium pricing. It needs to deliver more if it's starting at $799 for a measly 32 GB wifi model.
  • It's part of their traditional bait and switch marketing. Next year's iPad Pro will be ever so slightly cheaper, but the iPad and iPad mini will also go up in price while the feature set will be rationalised across the board. That way the products will all look the same again, and even though the price really hasn't changed much at all, people will say that it's "just a little bit more" for the Pro, and it will seem like a deal, even though it isn't and never was. The prices will all be higher again and Apple will continue to rake in the money again and Tim Cook will continue to go swimming in the gold coins that fill his money bin. Sometimes he will throw them in the air and let them hit him on his head. Apple does this over and over again. It's cyclical and predictable, as is the fact that the prices always go up and up and up ...
  • After having used paper 53 on the iPhone 6s. I can't fathom buying an iPad without 3d touch. I was getting very natural pressure sensitivity with just my finger. It is really disappointing that this 3d touch stuff came out on the iPhone first, when it really should be an iPad technology. I think pencil is a cool idea. But loathe to bring around another device to be able to suddenly use the iPad to start drawing. I'm holding out for an iPad with 3d touch.
  • One of the things that is the biggest disappointment is the onscreen keyboard. Clearly most of the 3rd party apps haven't updated something in their programs to display the keyboard that shows a row of numbers - all the time. So depending on the app, you kept the old "iPhone" style keyboard or the newly designed one. Also, when your in split view, having a keyboard that spans the entire screen is crazy big. Probably bigger than the Apple keyboard. It would be cooler to have the keyboard scale down to the width of half the screen. And show below the side your using the keyboard for. Finally, with all this screen, when the keyboard is selected, it takes up 45% of the screen. It would be nice to have a smaller keyboard somehow that allows for more screen real estate to be show. Honestly, on this device Apple has thought about external keyboards more than the on screen implementation. It would be awesome to have a selectable keyboard size. I thought the keyboard on the ipad would go away when you are using and external keyboard
  • The keyboard on the iPad does go away if you are using an external keyboard
  • Can someone measure the outside height and width. Not the screen but the total unit. I can't find these measurements anywhere. Sent from the iMore App
  • 30.6 cm x 21.8 cm
  • I think Apple could have done a better job at communicating why anyone should buy this huge slab of glass. At the moment the correct answer to "should you own one ?" is a simple no (it was the same answer with the 1st gen iPad but that was a new kind of device altogether).
  • Just a bigger and uglier version of iPad, put OSX on it with Intel processor, then I would buy one in a heartbeat.. Sent from the iMore App
  • Both the processor and the GPU on the iPad Pro are actually *faster* than any comparable intel chip that would fit in the enclosure. So you're actually saying that you would buy it if it had a slower processor or was a lot thicker and had a fan or something.
  • OSX isn't built for touch screens. That's why Macs have OSX and iPads have iOS
  • You know what's interesting to me is that I got a 6s when it came out but took it back and got the 6s+. I considered what things I was doing exclusively on iPad and only came up with one thing: journaling in OneDay. So now I take one device with me and the iPad sits on my kitchen table, effectively being an at home laptop. Along comes iPad Pro. Laptop replacement huh? Essentially having two side-by-side iPads on the Pro? Interesting... Mildly. Perhaps with version 2.
  • Surface is way better than this Crappy Giant iPad
  • Hi, iMore. My favorite new feature of the iPad Pro is the 12.9 inches and 2732x2048 resolution screen. Stunning again Apple!!! Great work!!!!!!!!!!
  • My favorite new feature is the larger screen. For all that I do, I would LOVE to have the real estate!
  • I will use as my laptop replacement. Aside from its size i Like the keyboard and pen features.
  • I think the most interesting feature has to be the pencil. It's amazing how a company like Apple can come out of the gate with a device that works better than industry leaders (Wacom) with their first attempt. I am looking forward to using it first hand soon.
  • The most amazing feature for me is the Apple Pencil. If they got it right then and it feels like drawing I think Apple will have a winner.
  • I cannot wait for this release. I have iPad air. My hubby has old iPad and could really use the writing feature. He uses fir his business as a Personal Trainer. Love love love
  • Love the IPad Air. Want the iPad Air pro. Sounds awesome
  • I could see me switching to an iPad Pro in the future if it could replace my iMac, but if one doesn't use a laptop, I don't think this is the device to use, since it's essentially an alternative to a laptop. It's definitely not a replacement for an iPad you already have, at least not for most people. Current owners of iPad Air's and iPad minis would be foolish to buy this either as an extra device, or a replacement for current equipment.
  • Thanks for making up my mind :)
  • The ipad pro can have all kinds of bells and whistles under the hood but where are the "pro" apps to go with it?
  • I'm really looking forward to seeing what can be done with the pencil and some of the more productive apps on the new iPad
  • Love the pencil and the large screen
  • Love it, Want it, but alas just can't justify it, at Aussie Prices it's unfortunately. out of reach for me at least.
  • Screen size is a gigantic plus, better sound and a stylus.... Simply awesome.
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  • Go tell it to someone who cares.
  • WOW!! LOOk at the price.... I would definitely go for Mac rather than iPad
  • Why would any one get a bigger iPhone? It has no real power compared tao a real tablet like a MS Surface pro 4.
  • Well I would love one and honestly it the price is something I could live with. Plus my granddaughter could watch videos n play games on it.
  • I love the price and the pencil looks like it would make it easier to use. My granddaughter could use this with ease
  • It's so cool.
  • I think an iPad Pro will be my new laptop. As soon of possible I start sell my old laptop
  • I think that the Apple pencil is pretty cool if you are an artist.