Every time there’s a discussion about Apple’s iPad, it almost always ends up with with someone asking whether it can replace a laptop. For a while, the answer was very obviously “no”. Then, it became “sometimes”. That then evolved into a “maybe” with iPadOS, the keyboard and the Apple Pencil. At that point, it was less a question of if but when the iPad would be able to replace the laptop. Today, with the company’s brand new iPad Pro, Apple makes a strong case that that “when” is right now.
From the looks of things, the new iPad Pro doesn’t seem all that different from its predecessor. It’s still really thin, really light and comes in 11-inch and 12.9-inch screen sizes. Those screens, are Liquid Retina displays with Pro Motion, support for the P3 colour gamut, 600 nits max brightness and “industry-leading colour accuracy”.
But, flip it around back and you’ll see that it has a new camera bump that’s very similar to that of the current-generation iPhone. It’s a triple camera setup, with a 12MP wide and a 10MP ultra-wide, but the third module is actually ya LiDAR scanner (Light Detection And Ranging) that uses direct time-of-flight to measure reflected light and in theory improve stuff like Augmented Reality (AR) performance. The iPad has always been big on AR, so it’s no surprise that Apple wants to take things a step further with this brand new iPad Pro.
Apple also claims that with the new A12Z Bionic processor at the heart of this new iPad Pro, it can outpace “most PC laptops available today”. Well, I mean, that’s a pretty bold claim, but I don’t think anyone would deny that iPad Pros are fast—even its predecessors were super fast. On top of that, it has an 8-core graphics processor for “even more performance and realism for the apps and games where it matters most”. Cool.
Perhaps the thing I’m most interested in, however, is the new “Magic Keyboard” that you can get with this new iPad Pro. As you can probably tell, it allows you to “float” iPad Pro into a more comfortable position thanks to an all-new hinge. By the way, you can also charge the iPad Pro through this hinge because it comes with a USB-C port.
Naturally, the keyboard attaches magnetically to the iPad, but while that and the float-y thing is cool and all, the most interesting part about this new keyboard is that it comes with a trackpad. Yessss.
It’s been rumoured before this, for sure, but it’s still really nice to see it in the flesh (in the plastic?). Apple claims that they’ve redesigned the trackpad to work for iPadOS, so it won’t be exactly the same as a Mac trackpad. It also features a cursor that “transforms into the tool you need depending on the content you’re pointing to”. From the product video, it looks like it would be really annoying to keep track of, but we’ll see how it actually works when we get our hands on it. Apparently, it will work with a mouse too, which is really exciting.
The keys on the new Magic Keyboard appears to be identical to the one on the new MacBooks, with a scissor switch and 1mm travel. It’s also finally backlit, so more huzzahs there. Oh, and if you’re on the previous iPad Pro, this new keyboard will work with that device too.
Besides these new features, pretty much everything that we liked about the old iPad Pro returns on this new device too. It supports the same magnetic Apple Pencil, it has Face ID, it has quad speakers, and it has up to 10 hours of battery life. Connectivity options include WiFi 6 and LTE connectivity, but no mention of 5G.
Honestly, I’m pretty impressed with this new iPad Pro. I already use an iPad Air for a lot of my on-the-go work, but its limitations make it hard for me to completely replace my laptop with it. Will this new iPad Pro change that? I don’t know yet. I like the keyboard, the trackpad, the new stand, and all those goodies, but my main issue with using the iPad Pro as my primary device has been the file system.
Yes, iPadOS has certainly helped, but it’s nowhere near as comprehensive as what I’m used to on Windows. In fact, to me, even macOS doesn’t compete with Windows—but that could be because I’m just more used to Microsoft’s implementation.
While Apple claims the iPad Pro can outpace “most PC laptops available today”, they forgot to mention that it is also more expensive than a lot of PC laptops available today. The base model 11″ WiFi iPad Pro is priced at RM3,499 while a 12″ iPad Pro with WiFi+Cellular can set you back a whopping RM7,299. Here’s the full pricing structure for the iPad Pro:
11″, 128GB — RM3,499
11″, 256GB — RM3,949
11″, 512GB — RM4,849
11″, 1TB — RM5,749
12.9″, 128GB — RM4,399
12.9″, 256GB — RM4,849
12.9″, 512GB — RM5,749
12.9″, 1TB — RM6,649
11″, 128GB — RM4,149
11″, 256GB — RM4,599
11″, 512GB — RM5,499
11″, 1TB — RM6,399
12.9″, 128GB — RM5,049
12.9″, 256GB — RM5,499
12.9″, 512GB — RM6,399
12.9″, 1TB — RM7,299
Apple’s new Magic Keyboard (coming in May), on the other hand is priced at RM1,349 for the 11-inch iPad Pro and RM1,549 for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Yikes, you could buy an entire iPad for that kind of money.
So, if you want the base 11″ WiFi iPad Pro experience with the new Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil, you’re looking at a cost of RM5,379. That’s more than a base model MacBook Air. But, if you want the full blown iPad Pro experience, with a 1TB 12.9″ iPad Pro WiFi+Cellular, an Apple Pencil and the new Magic Keyboard, that will set you back RM9,397. I could get an entire ASUS ROG Zephyrus S in Glacier Blue with change to spare. Or, a 13″ MacBook Pro with TouchBar.
But sure, you can get an iPad instead.
Learn more at Apple’s website.