For whatever reason I can’t catch a break when it comes to my job and Apple events and device releases lining up. I got both the 12.9″ and 11″ iPad Pros and the new Apple Pencil yesterday, but all I had time to do was record an unboxing video. I set both devices up, restored them from backups and tested them for just a few minutes, but unfortunately, that’s all I had time for. I ended up working until the wee hours, so I didn’t have a chance to share any first impressions of Apple’s latest and greatest
Today has also been a blur, as evidenced by the fact that I am sitting down to write this after 10 PM on day two of owning these new iPad Pros. However, I wanted to go ahead and post my first impressions while they are still relatively fresh.
By the way, if you want to check out my unboxing video from yesterday, you can find it right here:
As good as advertised
Leading off, I can say that the new iPad Pros are a significant upgrade over any previous hardware, which is high praise. It’s hard to see the extra speed unless you are using some powerhouse games or pro titles, but both of the new Pros certainly feel snappy. However, so does my 2015 Pro. Lack of speed has never been the issue with the iPad Pro.
Speed and the lightning-fast A12X aside, the thin profile and light weight are the standout features. If you have owned an iPad Pro before, you will probably smile when you pick these devices up the first time. I know I did. The Space Gray versions feel close enough to edge to edge screen to make me look at them a little different. They feel like blank screen slates, and that is a good thing. The device recedes and what you are doing at that moment is the focus.
I think the 12.9″ version benefits the most, as the original’s biggest drawback was its overall size and weight. The bezel diet has done wonders for its versatility. I think there will be plenty of users who passed on the original 12.9 because of its size and weight, but decide that this version is thin and light enough to make the move.
Face ID is a great fit
I knew the rumors of Face ID being locked to portrait orientation on the new Pros were off base when I first heard them. There was no way that Apple would release a device that was handicapped to that degree. However, I still wasn’t sure how well Face ID would work in landscape. Well, no need to fear. It is as smooth as silk. Face ID recognizes quickly and the there is no difference in performance between portrait or landscape orientations. The only issue I had was occasionally blocking the camera with my hand. If you do, the iPad even lets you know, which sets it’s apart from the iPhone.
The 11″ iPad Pro is very tempting
I have been a fan of the 12.9″ iPad Pro since I got one a few months after its release. I love the big screen and all I can get done with it, either by itself or paired up with my laptop. I was never interested in the 9.7″ Pro, and while last year’s 10.5″ model was interesting, it still couldn’t quite supplant my 12.9.
This year’s battle is a little bit different. The 11″ screen is big enough for me to feel like I’m not giving too much up, which is an improvement. However, it is the slim build and light weight that really impressed me when I got in out of the box yesterday. It feels exactly like a digital notepad, which is a device I’ve wanted since I was a kid. Bottom line- this one will be a fight to the end and the 11 could win. Another possible outcome is that Apple wins all around, and I send my Surface Go packing. That is a very real possibility at the moment.
The new Apple Pencil is a near-perfect evolution of the original
The new Apple Pencil is a really strong second gen redesign of an already solid device. The new version cleans up a lot of the strange design choices made with the original. It is a little shorter, which is fine since the original was remarkably long. Many have said that it is a little too long. However, Apple did this without going too small and short, which is a mistake that a lot of companies make with their styli. The new Pencil hits the Goldilocks zone for me.
The Pencil’s new magnetic connection to the new Pros is certainly a welcomed improvement. That design choice is nothing new, as Microsoft has been doing this with the Surface for a while. However, Apple did upstage them with wireless charging, and simultaneously got rid of the weirdest aspect of the original Pencil- the Lightning Port charging method.
The feel of the Pencil has also changed for the better. I took some notes on it yesterday (in Notes, ironically) while I was testing it out.
I did say near-perfect up top, so there are a couple of issues. First off, there are no charging options beyond the iPad. No back up plan here. Also, the new Pencil is not compatible with older iPads and vice versa, which has garnered some complaints about Apple nickel and dimeing its loyal customers. It does feel like a somewhat arbitrary decision. I can actually understand the new version not working with the old, but I am surprised the older Pencil isn’t compatible because its functionality hasn’t changed. You could always charge with a brick and cable with the included adapter, so you don’t have to use the iPad to do it.
This is the first of a few of these impression articles I will be writing over the next few days. If you have any questions about the new hardware, let me know and I will do my best to get you an answer. Let me know what you think in the Comments section below, on Flipboard, our Facebook page, on Twitter, or on our new Instagram account.