2018 iPad Pro reviews: scary-fast, puts other tablets to shame but not a true PC replacement

Apple’s latest iPads, the eleven inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, are arriving on Wednesday along with an overhauled Mac mini and a new MacBook Air. First reviews of the premium Apple tablet are now out and confirm what we’ve known all along.

The new iPad Pro is a speed demon and the ultimate tablet.

Apple nailed it, but…

Generally, the vast majority of reviewers agree that Apple has nailed this new iPad.

Even though the previous model was in a league of its now, the gap between Apple and its rivals in the tablet space just widened because the new tablet is very thin, offers the full screen display design, brings Face ID to the experience and runs Apple’s in-house designed A12X Bionic chip that, according to early benchmarks, leaves other tablets in the dust.

In terms of iPad Pro’s weaknesses and drawbacks, there aren’t many aside from the most frequent of complaints: the new iPad Pro is an expensive tablet and iOS is too limited to serve as a true PC replacement. Here are some choice quotes from the major publications that have spent quality hands-on time with the new iPad Pro.

2018 iPad Pro: review roundup


2018 iPad Pro sports a gorgeous new all-screen design, Face ID and scary-fast performance. The new Pencil is a huge step forward in terms of design and charging. Keyboard Folio Case and Pencil are necessary accessories that jack up the already-high total price. None of your old iPad accessories will work, including the Pencil. Headphone jack is gone, and single USB-C port won’t pay dividends until more compatible accessories arrive.

The new iPad Pro is in many ways the pinnacle of tablet hardware design, but its nosebleed price and software limitations narrow its appeal to creatives willing to bend to its current compromises.


After using a new iPad Pro 12.9 for a few days, I can say that it’s most definitely a refreshing, positive step forward for the iPad. […] By every measure I can think of, these are the best, most powerful, most capable iPads I’ve ever used. They put other tablets to shame.


But Apple has begged the question: Can an 11-inch ($799) or 13-inch ($999) iPad Pro replace your need for a MacBook or Windows PC at work? It’s possible, but you’ll need the right kind of occupation, and a lot of patience and determination.


It doesn’t feel like the world is ready to treat my iPad as an equal to a PC yet—even if that iPad is a lot more powerful and user friendly. Now that Apple has declared the iPad is a PC, it should take more of the guardrails off of iOS.


In my opinion, if you want an iPad to do light work as a pure touch device, get yourself a regular iPad. The iPad Pro is an excellent tablet, but really shines when it’s paired with a Pencil and/or keyboard. Having the ability to bash out a long passage of text or scribble on the screen is a really nice addition to the iPad’s capabilities.


I still don’t think Apple is doing enough in software to support the speed and versatility that is provided by the hardware in the iPad Pro. While split screening apps and creating ‘spaces’ that remain in place to bounce between has been a nice evolution of the iPad OS, it’s really only a fraction of what is possible.


Apple needs to unleash itself from the shackles of a unified iOS. They don’t have to feel exactly the same now, because the user base is not an infantile one. They’ve been weaned on it — now give them solid food.


If you want to spend a bit more and get the very best tablet that Apple has made, then the iPad Pro 12.9, launched alongside the 11-inch version, is a sublime choice. The bigger display, while less portable, gives an even more immersive feeling, and is definitely worth checking out.

The Verge

If you’re thinking about spending $799 on the cheapest 64GB 11-inch iPad Pro to replace your laptop, you should really ask yourself what you need a computer to do. There isn’t a single other tablet on the market that can compete with the raw hardware of the iPad Pro, and there aren’t many laptops that can either. But Apple’s approach to iOS is holding that hardware back in serious and meaningful ways, and while USB-C makes life with this new iPad Pro slightly easier, it still has the same basic capabilities and limitations of last year’s iPad Pro.

Is the new iPad Pro a stunning engineering achievement? Without question. Has Apple once again produced mobile hardware that puts the rest of the industry to shame when it comes to performance, battery life, and design? Yep. Is the iPad Pro the best, most capable iPad ever made? It certainly is.

But you know what? It’s still an iPad.


There’s no question the new iPad Pros, with their spankin’ boxier design and slimmer bezels, are beautiful slabs of glass; Face ID is awesome, they’re even more powerful than any iOS device or competing tablets, and they can do some seriously incredible things with the right apps.


Apple’s not trying to make the iPad Pro a laptop replacement because the device isn’t one. It’s trying to do something bigger: invent a new way of creating for a new generation that is not bound to the old computing laws of clicking a mouse.


But the tablets are hampered by the same limitations of previous iPads (Pro or not): iOS on an iPad still isn’t as robust for general work as a MacBook running macOS. That doesn’t, however, mean the iPad Pro’s strengths aren’t better than its weaknesses, though.


All the horsepower tucked away inside (and there’s a lot of it) is more accessible because of this streamlined design, and I don’t think I could go back to an iPad that wasn’t this trim. Even with the $200 Smart Keyboard folio attached, the Pro still feels more manageable than the 13-inch MacBook Pro I use at home. […] This new generation of the iPad Pro feels more capable than any other I’ve tested, and it seems to advance the idea that an iPad could, under certain circumstances, be a person’s primary computing machine.

The Washington Post

Apple isn’t wrong to call the iPad the future. Ask any two-year-old who already knows how to use one. It just has to figure out finger-first experience for a generation raised on doing work with a mouse and trackpad.


Most of the best examples of professional finger and stylus-first are apps for artists who benefit the most from working on top of a screen. Too many other iPad apps are still compromises designed for very light work. There are a million little things missing: For example, the iPad app I used to make the GIF in this article — the best of a half dozen I tried — didn’t give me control over the size of the final product, a critical factor for publishing that my MacOS GIF maker offers.


When Apple first popularized the mouse in the 80s, people complained it required so much wrist motion. When the iPhone first arrived, people complained it lacked a physical keyboard. I’m sure we’ll look back on the iPad Pro in the same way, but it still has some evolving to do. Until then, bring back my mouse.


Apple’s doing all the color management and individual color calibration you expect here, so iPad Pro looks dead accurate — so much so that, like iPhone XR, it can be hard to tell Apple LCD from Apple OLED in anything but the deep blacks and the off-axis. And yeah, that’s still impressive.


Included in the box is a 18W USB-C charger that means you can charge much faster and if you’re a heavy user you’ll need it. Using USB-C means you can charge it with your MacBook charger and it also supports reverse charging – so you could use it to charge your iPhone if your battery is low.

Will iPad ever be a true PC replacement?

If you ask me, we’re past the point where hardware was a limiting factor. The new A12X Bionic chip in 2018’s iPad Pro is fast enough to power notebooks and we know professional desktop apps like Adobe’s Photoshop and Autodesk’s Autocad are being ported over to iPad.

Still, iPad Pro doesn’t ship with a keyboard and iOS lacks precision of the mouse which allows you to target a single pixel, something that’s not possible with your finger. iOS is optimized for touch and macOS is optimized for the keyboard and mouse—it shouldn’t be surprising that porting iPad apps to macOS often yields unsatisfactory results.

Perhaps signaling some sort of a dual iOS/macOS mode or even a hybrid device in the future, Apple’s Project Marzipan strives to give developers access to new APIs some time in 2019 in order to help with porting iPad apps to the Mac platform.

We’d like to hear your thoughts so feel free to tell us whether you agree that the time is right for the iPad to become a true replacement for the traditional PC. Leave your comment below.