Initial Thoughts on the New 10.5″ iPad Pro

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Life has been mostly lemons around my house the last two days, but I’m going to make a little lemonade right here and FINALLY turn my attention to the new iPad Pros. I got the 10.5″ model yesterday, and I just got my hands on the new 12.9″, which arrived late this afternoon and is currently restoring with my apps and data. I’ll defer my remarks on the 12.9″ until I’ve actually had some time with it tomorrow, but I’ve had enough with the 10.5 to at least form some early opinions:

ProMotion is REAL, but you have to see it in person to appreciate it

For anyone who has questions about whether this feature is a meaningful feature, go to your nearest Apple Store or Best Buy and start scrolling because seeing this feature in video really won’t tell you anything. If you’ve used an iPad extensively, you’ll notice a difference even just moving between Home screens. Pick up an Pencil and open Notes and you’ll notice it even more.

ProMotion is SUCH an Apple kind of feature. It’s wrapped up in eye candy, but at its core, it adds a practical benefit to the most essential and immediate aspect of the tablet interface- touch. ProMotion may not be as radical a step as the first Retina screens were for Apple, but it is reminiscent of it in that it effects the entire user experience of the device.

A half pound of weight makes a BIG difference

For someone who has used a 12.9″ Pro for a chunk of the last two years and carried it in a case for 99.9% of that time, the weight of the 10.5″ model doesn’t go unnoticed. In fact, today I actually double-checked the bag I carried the 10.5 in to be sure the iPad was really in there. That got my attention. Combined with the smaller size, this is a big positive that also plays into the next point…

0.8″ of screen real estate feels bigger than you might think

After using the 12.9″ iPad Pro for a while, all 9.7″ models felt too small to me. I was keenly aware of this when I tested the new low-end iPad earlier this year. It just felt like I could never be comfortable going back to that size again after using the multitasking interface on a larger screen.

However, the 10.5″ Pro really feels different to me. That extra bit of width in landscape orientation does make an impact. The interface feels less constrained, and the on-screen keyboard is easier to use. If you are currently a 12.9″ Pro user who doesn’t require the full iPad interface in Split View or the additional screen real estate, then you may find the 10.5 hits more of a sweet spot than the 9.7 did.

Hands-On time makes a big difference

As with ProMotion and TrueColor, pictures and video don’t do this form factor justice. It has an impact that you can only appreciate when you put your hands on it and use it. If you have any interest in this device, or find yourself torn in any way, do yourself a favor and go to an Apple Store or Best Buy and try one out side-by-side with other devices. Using one will tell you all you need to know.

Apple’s iPad lineup FINALLY has clarity

There was so much unnecessary confusion in the iPad lineup before this Spring. You had the Air 2, which was too close to the 9.7″ Pro in terms of specs and price, and then two Pro devices with differing feature sets. Now, Apple has a perfect delineation between consumer and Pro in every respect- price, size, and specs. They also have feature parity in both Pro models now. This presents a much clearer sales and marketing message to potential buyers. The only remaining outlier is the iPad Mini 4, but it doesn’t seem long for this world.

I already know that I’ll be sticking with the 12.9″ Pro long-term. That has more to do with how I use it and being able to get the full iPad interface for apps in Split View, rather than any shortcoming of the 10.5″ model. Where I was often dismissive of the usefulness of the previous 9.7″ model when talking to others about the iPad Pro, I won’t take that approach in regards to the 10.5. It really is a better “sweet spot” device at the Pro level than the original form factor was. I applaud Apple for being able to think outside the box and move beyond several years of intertia to make this change for the better. The difference in size may be subtle, but it isn’t trivial in any way.

James Rogers

I am a Christian husband and father of 3 living in the Southeastern US. I have worked as a programmer and project manager in the Commercial and Industrial Automation industry for over 19 years, so I am hands on with technology almost every day. However, my passion in technology is for mobile devices, specifically Apple's iOS and iPadOS hardware and software. My favorite is still the iPad.

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