2021 iPad Pro with Logitech Combo Touch

Living with Apple’s 2021 iPad Pro: Getting Acquainted

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2021 iPad Pro with Logitech Combo Touch

After a day of getting apps up to date and doing some basic testing, I am starting to get a feel for the new iPad Pro. There is still plenty to learn, especially when it comes finding something that will cause this hardware to even break a sweat. I haven’t gotten there yet, but it’s coming.

Battery life is just ok so far

I had no trouble killing my iPad Pro’s battery yesterday. I watched Stat Wars: Rogue One on Disney+ and then looked around at a couple of shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime. All told, I watched for around four hours. That four hours took out over 60% of the battery according to the meter in Settings, which feels a bit on the high side. Note that the brightness was around the middle of the scale most of that time.

I definitely didn’t make it the rated 10 hours on my first full charge before getting down under 5%. However, it’s always important to note that battery life will often be a little less than expected the first couple of days you spend with a new device. Between the restore process, the OS indexing, and updating Apps in the background, as well as the fact that you tend to use a brand new device extensively the first few days and keep the screen on for long stretches, it all takes an additional toll.

Because of this, I’m not complaining about battery life right now. I’m going to wait until later this week or early next before I start really tracking it and seeing how it stacks up with my last iPad Pro.

Center Stage is really interesting

While it isn’t quite a perfect fix for the odd location of the iPad Pro’s front-facing camera, Apple’s new Center Stage camera tracking feature does make a positive difference when using it for video chat and conferencing. I played with it using FaceTime today, and it really does automatically pan and zoom to find and center you within the frame. It will also follow you around if you are standing and moving while on a call. It’s quite responsive and another one of those smart uses of AI and machine learning within the OS.

While the tracking and centering is cool, Center Stage doesn’t completely address the issue of having a camera located for Portrait orientation while using the iPad Pro primarily in Landscape. The eye correction feature that was demoed last year disappeared and unfortunately hasn’t returned as part of Center Stage like I was hoping. I guess that either creeped people out, or it just didn’t work as well as Apple hoped.

Whatever the reason, it hasn’t returned, so you still look like you are staring off into space during calls because of the strange perspective. Hopefully this can be added to Center Stage next year to make the Pro’s camera location a non-issue.

Back to cellular

I haven’t had cellular on an iPad since my 2015 Pro, so it’s been four years and two devices since the last time I set this up. I really don’t need dedicated cellular on my tablets that often, but it is good to have in a pinch when I do.

Personal Hotspot is all but universal on cell plans today, so it’s easy to just piggyback using my phone. That’s what I’ve been doing when WiFI isn’t available for my Pro the last four years. However, one advantage of having cellular built-in is the choice to go with a different carrier on the iPad Pro. Unfortunately, unlike the early days of the iPad, when you could get full service plans from any of the major carriers (at least here in the US), you can only get post-paid service with your existing phone provider now. However, your can get pre-paid service from anyone you choose.

I use AT&T on my phone and actually have very good service in our area, but I decided to go with T-Mobile on the iPad. While their data speeds aren’t as fast at my house, they are good enough in my local area. For example, I am averaging between 20 and 26 Mbps down and between 3 and 5 Mbps up at home. That’s not amazing, but I live on the outer edge of suburbs in my area, so I’m interested to run some speed tests in the city tomorrow for comparison. In comparison, AT&T’s 5G service at my house got 60 Mbps down and 17 Mbps up, so there’s a wide gap there.

The main reason I chose T-Mobile is how good a value their pre-paid plans are. I just don’t have a good reason to pay AT&T $5/month (with promotional discount) for their service, even though it will often be faster, when I can pay T-Mobile $10 for 5 GB spread out over as many as 5 months. For someone who only needs cellular data on the iPad occasionally, that is a great deal that beats any of the other carrier options I’ve seen. It’s the perfect plan for someone like me who just needs it on occasion to quickly fire off an email or check something without setting up a connection with Personal Hotspot first.

Coming up

Over the next week, I’ll be trying out several other features of the new iPad Pro to see how they stack up. I will also be testing out new accessories like the Logitech Combo Touch keyboard case (which I am writing this review using), and the Harber London iPad Messenger Bag. I also hope to have several other new cases and accessories lined up for review in the coming weeks.

I am interested to see how this new iPad Pro rates as a gaming machine. It should be a monster thanks to the M1 chip, but how will battery life fare? My older MFi game controller is a little worse for wear, so I need to look at picking up a new one so I can get a good look at some games that demand external controls. Thanks to the extra size and weight, this iPad Pro seems like a no-go for using on-screen controls for games with any speed to them, but we’ll see.

I will also be trying out the iPad Pro’s new camera array. I have to be honest- I’ve never been very interested in using any iPad as a camera. However, it does have its uses. I tend to take iPhone accessory review pictures with my iPad to smooth the process of editing and uploading, so I was happy about this year’s upgrade. I also haven’t ever messed with the iPad Pro’s AR capabilities, but maybe this year is a good time to try that out. I will also be back at work with the iPad Pro starting tomorrow, so I’m sure there will be observations that come out of that.

Until then, let me know if you have any suggestions you would like me to test out with the new iPad Pro. Feel free to leave them in the Comments section below or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog.


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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