After the testing I’ve done with both of the new iPad Pros this week, I am unchanged in my personal opinion- the 12.9 is still the one for me. I absolutely love the big screen and it’s the main reason that I came back to the iPad after moving on for a while after the release of the iPhone 6 Plus. There is more room for multitasking and the Split Views are full iPad portrait views, rather than iPhone versions of the apps. It’s also a perfect match for my 13″ Lenovo Yoga when I’m out in the field and use Duet to make my iPad a secondary monitor. It still checks all of the boxes for me, and will hit even more when iOS 11 arrives.
That said, I think it’s time to check back in with all of you out there on where the original iPad Pro form factor stands today. I wrote a similar article to this one back in early March, when the rumors of new iPads were really starting to pick up. My concern at the time was whether Apple might leave my favorite device out in the cold in favor of smaller, less expensive versions. From the time of its release up until WWDC, the 9.7 had been the star of the show in Apple’s marketing, and it seemed like the 12.9 had faded far into the background. Most of the early iPad Pro rumors also centered around a new 10.5″ device, making me wonder if Apple was ready to move on from the original iPad Pro.
Since Apple wasn’t pushing the 12.9″ hard anymore, I was wondering where other users stood on the device. Well, our readers didn’t disappoint. I got over 70 responses between the article’s comments and its counterpart post on Flipboard. I really enjoyed reading through them and responding as others who were also fans of the 12.9 gave their use cases and explained why they also preferred the largest iPad. I know this was just a small, anecdotal sample size, but it gave me hope that the 12.9 was here to stay, and that we would see a refreshed version when Apple finally updated the iPad Pro lineup.
Apple Changes the Game
It’s easy to be lulled to sleep by Apple’s fairly regular release patterns. So many of the updates and upgrades are iterative and modest, and they tend to happen at very regular intervals. However, this year’s iPad refresh was another example of how the company will occasionally come out of nowhere and shake things up more than usual. First off, they released the low-end iPad alone and with very little fanfare back in the Spring, leaving many of us to wonder what was going to happen with the iPad Pros. The rumors died down, and everything was quiet for a solid month after that. Apple was departing from the usual way it does things, and it was a bit confusing.
Apple has almost exclusively focused on software at WWDC over the last few years, but zagged again, showing off multiple new pieces of hardware to their developers and the general public during the keynote. Not only did we get the iPad Pro announcements that we had been waiting for, but we got a really good reason why they waited- iOS 11. Between the MANY new features that are coming and solid hardware improvements such as ProMotion, it was easy to see that Apple is still VERY serious about the iPad Pro, despite the recent declining sales figures. I don’t think anyone saw all of what we got coming, and it showed that Apple still has it in them to shake things up.
One of the biggest changes that Apple made in their announcement was to jettison what has been the default iPad screen size since 2010. We had ALL heard the rumors of a new 10.5″ iPad Pro, but I honestly didn’t expect Apple to kick the 9.7″ model to the curb after only a year in production. When it was released, it got many rave reviews for bringing the Pro features, especially Apple Pencil support, to the traditional iPad size. I had assumed that Apple might just cut the price and keep last year’s version around as a less-expensive Pro option.
However, looking at it now, Apple made a smart and shrewd decision to replace it with the 10.5. Since the Spring, they have completely reset the entire iPad line and have cleared up any confusion there might have been in terms of marketing or message. There is an inexpensive consumer-focused iPad, and there are two Pro models that have exactly the same features now. The Mini is still hanging on for a time, but I think we all know it is within a year of making an exit stage-left. This simplification means the decision-making process will be a lot easier for buyers.
A New Default
When I tested out the new iPad for a brief review a few months ago, it reminded me that the 9.7″ size just didn’t have much appeal for me anymore. As thin and light and attractive as the 9.7″ iPad Pro was, the screen was just too small for how I prefer to use the device now. However, all of that is a little different now. I’ve already said that I’m sticking with the 12.9, but the choice wasn’t as cut-and-dried this time around. That 0.8″ of screen size actually makes a noticeable difference in several ways. Combine that with the lighter weight and a less expensive price tag, and this 10.5″ Pro is a MUCH more compelling competitor.
I still do prefer the larger screen of the 12.9″ iPad Pro, but weighing all factors, having the iPad versions of apps available to me in Multitasking is really the make or break feature for me. If Apple could have pulled that off on the 10.5″ device, I would legitimately be torn on whether to go that route. I carry my Pro with me everywhere in the same backpack as my laptop, so shedding a half pound wouldn’t be as trivial as it may sound. Not with as much as I tend to carry in my bag.
If someone who’s as much a fan of the 12.9″ Pro as I have been is this intrigued by the new 10.5, then I imagine there are going to be others who end up making the switch, and that’s what I would like to know. Are there any of you who have been 12.9″ Pro users who either have, or are thinking of moving down a size? Apple has made the new default iPad Pro size more compelling and a better overall value than the 9.7″ model was, in my opinion. As such, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the 10.5 take off, and the 12.9 Pro become even more of a niche device. I have absolutely no problem with that, because if the larger form factor made this year’s cut, I think it’s here to stay. It might get bigger or change a little at some point, but I don’t think it will disappear from the Pro lineup. Apple has given us Pro users a more interesting choice this time around, and a lot more to think about.
I got a good feel for what people were thinking back in March. So where do you stand today? Are you sticking with the 12.9, or moving to the 10.5? Let me know in the Comments section below, on Flipboard, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog.