iPad Pro first impressions

By , Nov 11, 2015

iPad Pro first impressions

After waking up in the wee hours of the morning to find the iPad Pro on sale and available for in-store pickup, I decided to place an order for a 128GB Space Grey Wi-Fi-only model. Unfortunately, I had to wait until tonight before I was finally able to get my new iPad home and unboxed. Tomorrow, I’ll be posting some deeper impressions and a few videos that showcase the new iPad Pro, but I wanted to leave you with some of my brief first impressions before I hit the hay.

The iPad Pro is really big

It’s something that photos or even videos fail to capture—the immense size of the iPad Pro. Hearing 12.9″ and seeing the tablet on videos and in photos doesn’t do it justice. You really have to go hands-on with this beast to really appreciate how large and in charge it is. It makes an iPad Air 2 feel downright miniscule.

It probably won’t replace your laptop

I’ll go along with the chorus of reviews and admit that the iPad Pro probably isn’t the device that will make you abandon your laptop or desktop computer. There’s still so many things about iOS that just aren’t there yet when it comes to productivity. For me, editing videos, while technically feasible on the iPad Pro, is still limited by all of the things that limited the iPad Air 2, and the iPad Air before that. iOS needs to continue to mature and evolve before this machine can do things that I use my laptop for.

That said, if you’re primarily a typer, or if you’re a graphic artist, this thing is probably going to amaze you. The Pencil, which I unfortunately wasn’t able to get my hands on yet, is particularly impressive. The Smart Keyboard, while a little odd with all of its folded fabric, feels good to type on. Sadly, neither of the flagship accessories were available to take home on day one.

Games benefit in a large way

The “Pro” in iPad Pro may stand for professional, or perhaps even productivity, but make no mistake about it, this is an awesome gaming machine as well. Having such a big screen makes games more immersive than ever before. In fact, I’d go on to argue that games on the iPad Pro have more potential than games on any other device that Apple makes. The action is so in-your-face, and the sound is so intense thanks to the new 4-speaker setup, that you can’t help but smile a bit when playing action games.

Multitasking was made for the iPad Pro

Sure, the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 4 benefit from iOS 9’s new multitasking features, but there’s so much more real estate to work with on the iPad Pro. For example, Split View no longer feels cramped and tight on space, and Picture in Picture can exist without covering up content that I need to see. Multitasking is good on the iPad Air 2 and the iPad mini 4, but it’s great on the iPad Pro.

Lots of apps still need to be updated

Something tells me that the usual lull that occurs when an iOS device ships with a new screen resolution will be even longer this time around. There are still many iPad apps that haven’t been optimized for the iPad Pro’s large screen, and while they don’t look horrible, it’s definitely noticeable and a little bit irritating. It’s probably going to take a few months before all of your most used apps are optimized for iPad Pro.

As I stated, I’ll be back later with more in-depth impressions. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.

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  • M2

    Hey Jeff. Big fan. Curious…does idownload blog pay for your devices or do they pay for portion? Just curious because I’m sure it gets expensive having to buy every new device that comes out. Between watch, phones and iPads I’m sure it can be in the thousands. Anyway, keep up the good work.

    • Eli Montoya

      Your curiosity is what pays him. All ad revenue. Ad pop-ups and cheap freemium app downloads.

      • M2

        I hear ya. I’m curious as to what Jeff has to say. If you have ever worked in the journalism area you would know most companies are notoriously cheap. My guess is he pays for them himself but I’m not seeing him making 75k plus to afford every new device that comes out. Just saying. Curious on how it actually works without speculation.

      • Never ask another man about his wallet. It’s just common courtesy.

      • M2

        I think its a fair question. I don’t want an excel sheet of his income/expenses just a response if he pays for them.

      • And you will never get it.

      • Taurean

        I’ve seen other posts/comment threads in which he discusses using ebay/craigslist to sell things after reviewing them.

      • M2

        Makes sense. Prob get most of his money back.

      • Eli Montoya

        In a good way dude. You look like you might have the right mindset. I say you start your own blog or reviews on YouTube. It’s a great way to make money for spreading your words. I honestly think you have some good things to say so start a page dude!!!!! I’d support it. Not by revenue from me because I have Adblock, but I’d spread your word:)

      • M2

        I don’t get the sarcasm.

    • George

      They get paid for reporting what apple websites already report. With your eyes skimming through ads.

      • Lucus Bendzsa

        Not me I use Ad-Blocker

      • Hahaha! Hi5 ✋

  • Ashy Larry

    It’s no longer underpowered. Apple now needs to open up iOS to take full advantage of its capabilities. I’ve always thought iOS was the iPad’s weakest link.

    • Rahul312

      Very good point, but with all the massive size and the power I am sure they can open up iOS so that things we do on laptop can get much easier with iPad Pro model, it will be super easy to use a iPad Pro in that way, Just a thought.

      • Ashy Larry

        Agreed!!! They need to open iOS up. Pull out all the stops. Why add that much power to only cripple it with the operating system?

        Or, make a slate that runs OS X… That’s what people really want. They want OS X with touch capabilities on a tablet form.

      • Rahul312

        OS X isn’t coming to iPad, that will be a bad business for apple it will straight away kill macs, However opening up iOS for iPad can get the iPad version back in business as the sales of iPad in previous year has gone down.

      • Ashy Larry

        It will be interesting to see what becomes of the tablet space in the coming years. There’s sooooo much potential there.

      • Jeffrey

        It might kill a part of the sale of macs but it will open up a huge new market for Apple, making it a REAL competitor of the Microsoft Surface line

      • raulortiz318

        After using the iPad Pro for the past two days, the last thing I want is OSX on this or any other tablet device.

        Using iOS at this size is a revelation. The design of the apps combined with larger touch targets and great on screen keyboard make this a really great device. I feel connected to and immersed in what I’m doing in a different way than on a Mac, and will be using this as my main device, except when I need to run Pro Tools or Logic as that is connected to my home studio equipment and Mac Pro. Because of the size of this device, I feel focused on what I’m doing at that time and not distracted by multiple windows calling for attention.

        For the first time I see a real future for iPad and iOS as a viable replacement for the average user. To me it’s about the thinness of device, and the growing ecosystem of apps. This is where the market growth is. This is an OS built for the future. Kids are growing up with touch devices, so let’s give them an all new powerful OS and apps built around touch, not shoehorned in to an existing OS like Windows or OSX. The “usual suspect” Desktop class apps are entrenched right now, but what excites me most about iOS is you don’t need big $ to get great writing, drawing, and composing tools. We’re talking (aside from device) $5 to $10 (and many free) for apps that on OSX or Windows would cost $40 or $50 or more. Think about that.

        There can and should be some usability improvements to iOS, and these will come. And an iPad Pro might not fit for everyone, but I would feel confident in recommending to people if they were looking for a new mobile computer in this price range.

        Can’t wait to see what the next couple of years brings.

    • Technocrz!

      The iOS should have taken to the next level may be only for ipad pro, not iOS not OSX in between both, they must have changed something so people like me who already owns ipad and Mac see the reason to buy this device, i work on 3-4 excel sheets on my Mac, excel came to ios but it very very limited if I close one workbook then i open another one, if these type of basic productivity will not increase I dont see any purpose of iPad pro, except artists

    • “It’s not supposed to replace your laptop”

      Uhm, apple claims, right here on their website (http://apple. co/1LHJY3a), that it’s capable of doing everything a Desktop or Gaming Console is capable of. It reads:

      “Everything you can do on a desktop computer or gaming console is not only possible on iPad Pro, it’s possibly better. While the size and resolution of the display make every activity more immersive, the finely tuned Multi-Touch subsystem and A9X chip mean even the apps you use most will feel like nothing before.”

      tim cook took that claim to the news, making similar bold and false statements (https://goo. gl/SrXUdN)…

      • Ashy Larry

        It can’t do a quarter of what can be done on a PC. Why? Cause it’s not designed to. You can read emails, surf the web, and play with photo booth… lol, but that’s about it. Jobs was right, it fits somewhere between a phone and laptop. And to be honest, if you already have those two devices, you really don’t need an iPad. Of course, that’s my opinion.

      • “It can’t do a quarter of what can be done on a PC. Why? Cause it’s not designed to. You can read emails, surf the web, and play with photo booth… lol, but that’s about it. “

        Agreed, but it’s apple that’s claiming it to be a desktop PC replacement 😛

        “Jobs was right, it fits somewhere between a phone and laptop. And to be honest, if you already have those two devices, you really don’t need an iPad. Of course, that’s my opinion.”

        I agree, I never could justify purchasing any ARM tablet. If it wasn’t for the Surface Pro replacing my Laptop, merging the benefits of a Wacom Board into my work flow, and adding those enhancements in consumption tasks offered by ARM tablets, I’ll still be using my 2008 HP Pavilion Laptop with Windows 10 today without any tablet…

      • Ashy Larry

        In a year or so(when the surface really starts to take off), Apple will release a hybrid and the world will claim it the best invention ever.

        Kinda like with the iPad mini and now the much larger iPhones.

      • Very true…they’re just playing it safe for now, trying to avoid 1 device cannibalizing their multiple hardware sales…they’ll eventually eat their “refrigerator toaster” words and follow the competition.

      • Rowan09

        Follow what competition? Microsoft is the only company making a hybrid, all those other computers are all running Windows as well, so they are competing with themselves. If by competition you mean all those other touchscreen laptops which I wouldn’t consider a hybrid, I don’t agree. The Surface is a hybrid as you know because of the screen sensitivity, etc. I’ve used a touch screen laptop and while its touch screen it’s definitely not a tablet.

      • Rowan09

        It’s been 4 iterations of the Surface Pro, it won’t take off any more than it is. Old products don’t all of a sudden become a hit. I still don’t see and most people seem to agree from sales, the need for a hybrid and that’s the real issue here. Apple doesn’t need to make the iPad Pro a touch screen OSX but instead take some features from OSX like terminal, finder, etc and put it on the iPad Pro.

      • TechnoBuff

        FYI, Surface took off after Surface Pro 2 and went supersonic after Pro 3.
        Apple will eventually release an hybrid and its just a matter of when. As seen IPad Pro copied Surface in a major way, from the keyboard connection to the addition of a stylus/pencil and frankly they did not do that any better than Surface.
        Ipad Pro in its present state will not save Ipad sales decline, it might stem it for awhile but not for long.

      • Well, that’s technically true. It is *possible* to do almost everything I do on my MacBook with my iPad Pro, but that doesn’t mean it’s more efficient or even better. Key word: possible.

      • So it’s “possible” to connect a wide range USB peripherals, power them and manage their content or utilize them? It’s possible to run all the millions of feature-rich desktop applications without any limitations on the ipad pro?

        Possible, by conventional definition (http://bit. ly/1WVvOki), implies it can be done. Definitely not gonna happen with the current version of the ipad pro and definitely not with ios with it’s extensive restrictions/limitations, which makes that statement false/misleading…

  • Shankar Dasika

    so basically its just an overgrown ipad on steroids?

    • Rahul312

      Hahahaha…

    • Technocrz!

      Technically yes

    • John

      Oh look. It’s the Mumbai troll.

      Hey buddy. Haven’t seen you around in a while, I guess there hasn’t been much on here to troll about which is a real shame, I’ve missed seeing your replies……it reminds me so very much of all those times I have to call Vodafone and the positive experiences I have dealing with them.

      Which is, to say, none.

      • therealjjohnson

        Troll or not, isn’t he correct?

      • Lucus Bendzsa

        I agree! Over at RedmondPie Sachin has taken over as became their troll. Looks like the iDB troll is back.

      • Shankar Dasika

        I know it burns when someone states a truth

      • Shankar Dasika

        hey buddy missed you too how can I ever dream of replacing the resident idb troll dont worry I will never ever dream of taking your place

        oh and btw you are welcome 😉

    • TechnoBuff

      Yes, technically
      Apple did not even make use of the screen size in icon placement, it is still running the same 4 icons per row configuration on all IOS devices

  • Jamessmooth

    I just picked mine up too. Been playing with it for half an hour and every point you’ve mentioned is spot on Jeff. Especially you’re point about the size… I’ve heard it so many times but it’s so true: this thing is BIG. Like really, really big. And I love it. I swore when I picked up my iPad Air a min ago it was a Mini. The size of this thing is fantastic.
    Biggest problem so far: I can’t figure out how to split the keyboard! Jeff, please help! This makes typing soooooooooo tough.

    • ain’t no split keyboard

      • Jamessmooth

        Ugh!!! I will die.

      • Ashy Larry

        Can’t you do it the same way you do it on your ‘Air’?

      • Jamessmooth

        When you try to “split” it, it activates the cursor

      • George

        Omg that’s hilarious, first no update for apple remote app, now no split keyboard for a 13 inch iPad.

      • Tyler Smith

        i think thats because its the size of a full size keyboard and/or you can get one

      • George

        It does not come with a keyboard though so what about people that just want a big iPad?

      • Tyler Smith

        it has a full sized touch keyboard

      • Jamessmooth

        Seriously dumbest thing ever. How are you supposed to hold it and type? It’s a tablet!

  • No USB ports, limited to App Store only, can’t access file system, iOS version of apps are dumbed down (so much for productivity), so powerful yet can only have two apps open at once, no multiple windows, and no utilization of more space (just everything is bigger and more spaced out). This is a disappointment imo and I’m a huge apple fan.

    • John

      You’re also an uneducated “huge Apple fan”

      A real fan would know, and probably accept that not all Apps will be compatible on day one when Apple launches a new screen sizes product (as Jeff said)

      A real fan would also know that multitasking IS possible on iOS. Just like how everything is moving to the cloud, so why would they have USB Drive access?

      Any dickhead who reads (this website included) knows that with iOS 9 you can side load app taking the “just App Store” bullshit and proving something else you wrote wrong.

      This is a disappointment imo and I’m a huge trolling fan.

      • therealjjohnson

        Seems like you’re the troll (as you called someone earlier). Commenting on everyone’s post that doesn’t sing its praises is pretty trollish. Everyone doesn’t have to agree with you. Sheesh.

      • John

        I don’t expect everyone to agree with me mate, everyone is allowed their own option but there’s a difference between having an option and being uneducated…so you really need to look at the definition of troll but I appreciate what you’re saying and thank you for taking the time to reply to my comment.

      • Jayy

        It just seems like you wrote that in a hostile manner!

      • Is your definition of ‘education’ being treated by Apple as a customer who has no rights? Why would Apple release a giant tablet on its own without the stylus or keyboard attachment available at launch? Do they expect iSheep to keep waiting, log on every day and hope and pray both accessories are available, to make full use of the device?
        Dude, as much as you are a gullible iFan – never be taken for granted by Apple – they seem to be doing more of this lately. Whether it be doggedly keeping 16GB iPhones in their current stable when the world has moved onto 32GB (simply to skim $20 off each idevice) or being downright churlish by releasing overpriced accessories (lightning cable), Apple is taking themselves way too much for granted, and it’s all thanks to guys like you, who don’t even know that you are being robbed even when you’ve been a faithful, loyal customer for years.
        Why are you talking of cloud access and no USB drives? Oh right, you’re a first world dude. You got 50Mb u/d speed, so it wouldn’t matter, right?

        This iPad is without doubt a device aimed at content creators. What makes it even worse is that Apple doesn’t market it so and ships it handicapped without the ‘pencil’. Although I would admit that it is hands down, the best content creating mobile device at present.

      • John

        Twice now you’ve mentioned no pencil, can you explain this to me because I walked into my local Apple Store and picked up the iPad Pro today WITH an Apple Pencil so I’m a little confused as to why you’ve mentioned no pencil.

      • http://www.apple.com/shop/product/MK0C2/apple-pencil-for-ipad-pro

        5 weeks, bud.

        Of course stores will have demo pieces and limited stock. How else would people ‘backorder’ a freaking pencil?

      • John

        Cool. Nice. Great story…. Certainly not the first time you’ve seen accessories not ship on launch day but hey, I must be living in a world that’s five weeks ahead of you, right?

      • Did I dispute the fact that you have got your limited stock of pencil LOL

        Are you that daft that you think the Apple link delivery schedules are wrong?

      • Jamessmooth

        Maybe I didn’t see it, but can you comment on the Pencil? Is it worth it? Do you like it? What are you using it for? Etc…

      • the hood

        Parallels can be drawn (pardon the pun) with the Microsoft Surface. You can still use either device without the accessories, after all they are an accessory and not a requirement. This keeps the initial purchase cost lower and for those happy without the accessories have spent less. Alternatively you may not ‘want’ both. Apple knows their marketing will sway a fair percentage to purchase one or both giving them a greater profit margin, it’s a classic ‘win win’ situation. We all love a good win win.

      • #FACEPALM Who is uneducated??? Nuff Said brings up some serious issues for many people who may be considering an iPad Pro. Cloud is only good if you have internet coverage and plenty of data to spare on your plan. I can see a Star Wars meme coming out soon that says “These are not the PC replacement you are looking for”

      • John

        Not just do you need plenty of spare data but you also need the data speed, and I know here in Australia, we are nowhere near world standards.

      • Lucus Bendzsa

        No body should agree with you! You are wrong!

      • Shankar Dasika

        it burns right dont worry apply some cold water lol

      • You constantly call me uneducated yet you don’t even know how to spell the word “opinion.”

      • George

        Maybe apple should work with its developers instead of keeping them in the dark. This stupid device was announced months ago, no excuse.

      • John

        One of the rare times you make sense :p

        I don’t know if you have ever developers or designed stuff before but with the limited experience of developing that I have (and I do have some), no matter how much you try and plan for something it may not always turn out the best on paper. I’ve seen it at least a dozen times already this year.

        Apple released an updated Xcode with the new specifications but it was only today/yesterday/tomorrow when devs will be able to get the device in their hands and really understand how everything works.

      • George

        Which is insane, this whole secretcy thing is only holding back technology. The apple TV was so rushed that all we got were fireplace apps and all this junk. Like who cares if the world knows that apple is working on an apple TV, they obviously had the unit ready months ago.

      • Tyler Smith

        idk what their excuse for the apple tv was (because they sent out trial units to devs free of charge?(i might be wrong with that)) but with the iPad Pro I think it is just the fact that they (devs) didn’t have access to the device because everything is different on the device from the simulator

      • George

        I believe the apple TV was only given out like a month before, I don’t see how a month is enough time to make a perfect app on a new platform. For a $150 product there should have been no secretcy about it because it would of made no difference to sales if we knew about it 8 months ago or a month before announcement.

      • Tyler Smith

        well you saw at the keynote though that a bunch of devs already had apps that were apple tv ready. and i would imagine that with one of the versions of Xcode it gave tvOS as an option. so they could develop the apps and then test/fix them in that one month. i know its not like a ton of time but honestly that is a decent amount for bug smashing and fixing UI issues

      • Rowan09

        Why technology is it holding back? Apple does not make inferior products performance or hardware wise. TVOS is new just like when the iPad was released they had a limited amount of apps. Devs will update to TVOS in time, but they might be waiting to see how the Apple TV sells first to even waste the time.

      • You say uneducated yet I’m aware of all those things you mentioned. Side loading is meant for devs for app creation. iPad was created with the full intention that the user is not going to sidelined so that point is moot. What does cloud storage have to do with you having something stored locally on a flash drive? Or if it’s supposed to kill off the pc, you can’t even sync and charge an apple device on it. Can’t connect a mouse, or any other device. I don’t even know why you brought up “multi-tasking” when I was very specific that all it can do is side by side split screen which is very limited itself. For a device that’s as powerful as most mid-tier pc’s, it is still extremely crippled in its “multi-tasking” for a “productivity device.” I never mentioned apps aren’t compatible. Just by nature of being limited to the App Store, iOS version of apps are dumbed down. We will never get to fully utiliE excel or keynote even though it’s a productivity device that’s supposed to question your use of a pc. These are all legitimate concerns that I’ve seen mentioned numerous times across the web. I don’t know why you took it personal as if you created the device yourself and are offended/hurt. I hope all is well at home.

      • George

        I would get so frustrated with not having a trackpad I would throw it against a wall 😀

      • TechnoBuff

        Funny calling someone uneducated when his points are factual and valid for everyday users while your opinions arent quite factual. from your sideloading apps which isnt doable for majority of people out there to true multitasking when compared to Mac or Windows.
        The point is that your productivity is hobbled by today’s standard and he is right.

  • Martynet

    I’ll buy one when it automatically switches to OSX after connecting keyboard and mouse.

  • Benedict

    Hey Jeff, can you include some screenshots of non-optimised apps in your upcoming review? Thanks.

  • Jordan Lewis

    If only they had a tablet that could boot both OS X and iOS… That would be a laptop killer

    • Rowan09

      True and cost the same price as the Surface Pro with i5 as base price.

    • iPhoneWINS

      Thats exactly what they should have one with tis but they will duo that in ipAd pro ultra in 5 years lol

  • Joe

    I am completely disappointed with this ridiculous so-called iPad. The
    entire reason for the iPad in the first place was for portability and
    being light in weight to be easily toted along by the end user. This is
    not the case with the iPad Pro. It is huge, clunky, and simply a pain to
    hold for any extended period of time. Shrinking the bezel down so that
    your thumbs and fingers get in the way of holding the unit is a really
    poor design choice. The iPad Air 2 was bad enough to hold without
    accidentally having a thumb or finger set off a chain reaction of
    unwanted OS events, so why in the world would Apple continue with the
    poorly-designed trend with the Pro? Since I’ve been using the Pro, I’ve
    had problem after problem with finger taps and swipes. There seems to be
    a serious lag issue between the time you tap, or swipe, and the time
    the system actually registers the gestures. I have been a loyal Apple
    follower/user for years, and I’ve only had complaints with the iPad Air 2
    in the past, but I can now add the Pro to my bad-design list for Apple
    products. Simply put, there is nothing really notable about this iPad
    beyond the ridiculous size. The bottom line is that if you are in the
    market for the iPad Pro, do not waste your hard-earned money on this
    unit. It is not worth it in any respect. You would be better off
    spending half the cost on a really good laptop and getting more bang for
    your buck. Apple’s keynote on the iPad Pro was a nice video and event
    (as always), but the actual device simply does not live up to the hype. I
    had to return the iPad Pro twice to get one that actually registered
    gestures in a reasonable amount of time, and from what I was told by the
    technician who checked both of the others, the iPad Pro has already
    caused a pile of support tickets higher than normal. He told me that I
    would be better off returning it for a refund as I have already
    highlighted. And, no, I’m not a Microsoft Surface advocate in any manner
    whatsoever. I’ve not owned a Microsoft product in decades to be sure.
    I’ve always been an Apple loyalist, per se, but it seems that I might
    just be migrating elsewhere if Apple keeps producing devices that are
    highly overpriced with technology that really does not live up to the
    hype. The only positive aspect of the iPad Pro that I can offer to
    readers is that if you’re a senior citizen (or disabled person) with
    poor eyesight, then yes it’s a great device for reading online print. It
    would be akin to a large print book if we were comparing books. On a
    scale of 1 to 10, I would only rate this device a 5 and highly, highly
    suggest that if you already have the iPad Air 2, do NOT sell it for next
    to nothing to jump on the iPad Pro bandwagon. Not only will you be
    giving away your iPad Air 2, you will not be very impressed with the
    iPad Pro at all. Sorry, Apple, the iPad Pro does not stand up to the
    hype at all, which is depressing and unfortunate.