In school, I always had several fully written notepads, which were by no means organized. I always ended up losing some of my papers and had a chaotic mess by the time the exams were around the corner. I knew that well-organized notes were even more important in university and I had to find a new way of keeping track of the lecture’s content.
There were many alternatives I tried, such as writing everything down on my laptop. ‘How the fuck do you type that’ was something that I’ve had to ask myself many times in the first math lecture. After failing miserably and walking home without any useable notes, it became apparent what I had to do. I had to get myself a tablet that had some kind of pen support. That was the only option I saw, in which I could write by hand and therefore am not restricted by any keyboard’s limitations, and don’t have to fear losing all of it afterward.
I started studying in October 2016, so the first generation of the iPad Pro was already released. My father owned both an old iPad with a cheap rubber tip stylus and a 9,7″ iPad Pro. Luckily he lent me both for a day so I could determine whether it’s actually worth the immense price tag. Be aware that I just started studying and didn’t have much money. I barely scraped enough for the iPad Pro. After a few tests, it was certain. ‘Fuck… I need an iPad Pro now’ is what I thought at that moment. After the purchase, I was experiencing both excitement for my new device and dread of being broke again.
The 9,7″ iPad Pro was too small
I ended up buying the 12,9″ version instead of the 9,7″ version that I tested in the lecture. The latter one just felt too small for some larger notes.
I have used that version of the iPad Pro until the release of the newest third-generation one. The first generation was by no means a perfect device. It had many flaws, which weren’t dealbreakers by any means, yet could have been avoided rather easily.
When the third generation of iPad Pro’s was announced and they fixed literally every single complaint and issue that I had, it was an easy decision. I purchased the 11″ pro and soon after sold my old iPad.
The third-gen iPad Pro might be my favorite device of all times
Over the past few years, I’ve made many purchases, all within the realm of technology and hardware. I have used most Apple devices, several gaming laptops and PCs and much more. Still, the third-generation iPad Pro might be my favorite device of all time. And with that, I don’t regret upgrading one bit.
It’s an expensive device, which offers so much to so many people, yet it is not for everybody. Some people might not find any use in it at all, while there are cheaper alternatives for others. I’ll go over who those groups of people might be at the end of the review.
There have been many issues with the old generations and Apple fixed them all
Probably the most annoying thing was the insanely long charging time of the older iPads. The battery was big and lasted for the majority of the day, yet I was always dreading the lower percentages. That’s because I knew, that a short time of charging wouldn’t be enough to get it back to full power. Even worse, the device would barely charge at all when it was under heavy use. Therefore watching TV shows while I wait for it to recharge didn’t work all too well.
The battery in the new iPad Pro is as good as it was before, maybe even better. In contrast to the old generation however, we are now blessed with USB-C and quick charging. Within a short time, the device will be ready to go once again. Even watching movies or playing games won’t prevent the newest iPad Pro from recharging significantly faster than the old ones.
While USB-C is a blessing, it has a disappointing limitation…
Apple has been trying hard to push the USB-C, or rather the thunderbolt 3 lifestyle onto its customers. While Apple has gotten a lot of hate for doing that, or rather for the way they tried doing it – by removing any other ports from their Macbook lineup, they did so for a good reason. Thunderbolt 3 provides us with countless possibilities and is insanely versatile.
That’s only the case once you’ve invested in USB-C accessories though. While Apple obviously tried to maximize their profit with the change, I don’t blame them for doing so. They’ve given us a feature that’s truly amazing and I wouldn’t want to miss anymore. Having only one cable for charging, accessories and connecting an external monitor? That’s now possible and it’s freaking great.
At least it’s possible for the new macOS based devices, such as the Macbook and the iMac. For some reason, Apple has decided to not give the iPad Pro access to these capabilities, even though it’s more powerful than the entry-level Macbooks. While we still have the benefits of being able to utilize the same cable for our iPad and our laptop, we can’t hook our iPad Pro up to our Thunderbolt 3 docking stations or our Thunderbolt 3 monitors.
For me personally, that’s by far the biggest drawback of the newest iPad Pro. It doesn’t retract any of the devices value, nor of the capabilities as a tablet, but it could have been even more than that.
The new pen is amazing
When it comes to actually writing with the pen, then there’s not much of a difference. The big change occurred with the way you store and charge it. No more is the awkward charging position and the pen rolling off the desk.
The newest pen finally attaches to the right side of the iPad magnetically. With that you’ll always have it right where you need it, ready to go. The position is surprisingly sturdy too, as I’ve never had the issue of the pen just falling or being knocked off. When it did come off, then it was on purpose.
The charging has been done the same way. Magnetically. It charges just by sticking on the side of the device and it’s magnificent. Yeah, it should have been done that way from the start, but it’s honestly the most elegant way that I’ve seen any company do it so far. There have been great ideas by Microsoft, but this one takes the crown for me.
There are some accessories for the iPad Pro that are a must-have
The iPad Pro is an amazing device, though it can be pretty lackluster by itself. There are several accessories that are necessary to bring it to its full potential. First of all, the Apple pencil is not included when you buy yourself a new iPad Pro. Unfortunately, it has to be purchased separately and it isn’t cheap either. When you’ve already committed to the high price of the iPad itself, not buying the pen would be saving in the wrong places though.
The same goes for a cover. Having the option to place the iPad in several different angles is absolutely necessary, especially for media consumption. Additionally, the iPad won’t lie flat on the ground without a cover due to the camera sticking out. That can make drawing and writing on it difficult. Besides, a device such expensive needs some protection anyway doesn’t it?
There’s one more item on my list, which I was skeptical about in the beginning. It’s a screen protector by a company called ‘paperlike’. Not only does it protect your screen from scratches and most fingerprints, but it also does exactly what the name implies. It gives you the illusion of writing on paper. Sort of. What it definitely does is adding some friction between the iPad and the tip of the pen, allowing for better precision and an overall improved writing and drawing experience. Luckily it doesn’t degrade the image quality of the iPad itself, which is what I’ve been afraid of in the beginning.
The new iPad Pro is more portable than ever
While the iPad Pro is already a fantastic tablet, it is also complementing any Macbook perfectly thanks to sidecar and the iCloud. (Though the Macbook has to be built in 2016 or later to work with sidecar)
With the old 12,9″ version of the iPad Pro though, it could occasionally be difficult to place it in front of a laptop. In my university, the desks were oftentimes too narrow for both devices.
Using the device with one hand, while watching a movie, for example, wasn’t an easy task either. And believe it or not, that’s something I do every single day. Luckily, Apple has redesigned the exterior of the device in its entirety, shrinking the bezels by a lot and removing the home button. That allows for smaller packaging with the same screen size.
Smaller was big enough
The new 11″ option seemed way more fitting for me. Thanks to the smaller bezels it’s similar in size to a 10,5″ iPad Pro. While being extremely portable, it still offers enough screen real-estate in most scenarios. Having owned a 12,9″ iPad Pro, I can say that I am happy with the decision to purchase the smaller version this time around. I use the device in every single lecture, while learning, in bed while watching tv, while eating, on the train and so on. There are so many cases in which the smaller footprint allows me to use it more freely.
That being said, the 12,9″ version is still a great option and is definitely viable in some cases. One of them being the new feature sidecar, which allows you to use your iPad Pro as a second display for your Macbook or iMac. Be aware though, that that’s only possible for devices that have been released in 2016 or afterward. The extra screen size will definitely help out there. As long as you are not required to use the iPad in extremely narrow spaces or your luggage space is extremely limited, then I’d recommend the larger display.
The iPad Pro is NOT a laptop replacement
There have been many videos on Youtube asking the big question ‘can the new iPad Pro be a laptop replacement?’. It has also been advertised by Apple. But while the iPad Pro is amazing at being a tablet, it is not a laptop and definitely not a laptop replacement.
I am not trying to say, that there aren’t any people who could replace their laptop by an iPad Pro. But let’s be honest, those people just didn’t need the capabilities of a laptop. There are many overlapping use cases after all. Both a laptop and an iPad can be used for browsing the web, typing (given you have an external keyboard or a keyboard cover), consuming media, checking emails and so much more. Even most big MacOS applications have a smaller application on iOS, or now iPadOS which does the same. You can edit videos on an iPad Pro and you can even create vector graphics.
Is that actually an option though?
All of these applications are limited though. You don’t have a file system as simple and extensive as on a laptop. You have no trackpad and are reliant on touch, which can be great in some situations and a burden in others. Some things simply can not be done on a laptop, such as coding. So how can we even talk about the iPad Pro being a ‘laptop replacement’?
Rather ask yourself what it is that you actually need for your work. Do you need laptop capabilities or is a good tablet enough for your needs? In the latter case, the iPad Pro is an amazing choice. Those who need laptop features won’t be able to find them on an iPad though.
They might find a workaround for some but in my opinion, it’s not a good tradeoff unless you simply love the idea of working on a tablet. If that’s the case, go for it. Otherwise, the iPad Pro’s place is next to a Macbook, improving the laptop experience instead of replacing it.
While many say that bending is an issue, it hasn’t happened to me yet
One of the only reasons I was skeptical about buying the new iPad Pro in the first two weeks upon its release was the whole bending discussion. There were many reports saying, that the device is way too thin and will bend easily. People said, that their iPad was bent just by being in their backpack next to some books.
The only thing that I can say about this topic is, that it has not happened to me yet. And I’ve been using my iPad Pro every single day for over a year now. I have been careful for sure, but I haven’t been overly cautious. I simply put it into my backpack, right next to my Macbook Pro in the laptop department. Literally nothing has happened to my iPad yet. There’s no bent, there’s no scratch or anything else of the sort. But as it is with those things, people’s experiences may vary.
The iPad Pro’s screen is absolutely gorgeous
Just like the second generation of the iPad Pro, it is equipped with a 120Hz display, which is absolutely breathtaking when switching from the first generation with its 60Hz screen. Writing, drawing and generally scrolling feel so damn smooth.
Admittedly, after a while, the surprise effect wears off and you become used to it. But even then, all basic actions just feel natural. On the old one, I’ve often been taken aback slightly by its slower response time.
The image quality, in general, is absolutely superior to most devices as well. That can be expected considering the high price tag though. Watching tv shows or movies feels great and in most cases, I’m not even bothered by the small screen size. Apple has always had great displays and they haven’t dropped the ball on this one.
Verdict – who is the new iPad Pro for?
While the iPad Pro is my favorite piece of tech at the moment, with accessories it still boasts a price tag of over 1000€ for the base version. Recommending it to anyone regardless is therefore rather difficult.
If you love technology, own a Macbook already and money isn’t an issue for you, then definitely buy the new iPad Pro! It’s an amazing piece of tech, which has the capabilities to enrich your daily life.
I would also give a full recommendation to any student. If you are low on money, then the normal iPad with pen support is also an option. Due to its benefits, I would definitely get the iPad Pro if that is an option.
Thanks to the new Sidecar feature, as long as you own a Macbook Pro or Air, which has been released in 2016 or later with MacOS Catalina installed, you can use the iPad Pro as a secondary display wirelessly or wired. It also enables you to use the device as a drawing tablet for the fully-fledged applications, that are only available on macOS enabled devices. The iPad Pro is literally the only device out there right now, which can do that without needing a power outlet (such as the Wacom Cintiq 16″ graphic tablet).
If you own a Windows laptop or desktop, then the iPad Pro’s full potential can not be used. In that case, I would only recommend buying it if you want a tablet solely as a tablet and not as an addition to your desktop workflow.