I think it’s safe to say that in 2018, the tablet market has not shaped up like anyone had expected, not even Apple. Tablets weren’t the next smartphone – and indeed the sales of dedicated tablets are downright soft – and yet at the same time tablets have successfully carved out a meaningful niche for themselves. But more importantly still, the tablet concept is everywhere even if “pure” tablets themselves aren’t. One needs only look at all the various PC 2-in-1s and convertibles to see the influence tablets have made on the traditional laptop market, forcing these many clamshells into becoming something more.

As a consequence of the introduction of modern tablets and their subsequent efforts to secure their own place in the market, we’ve essentially seen the tablet and tablet-alike market bifurcate into two real clusters of tablet designs. On the one hand are the cheap content consumption devices – the iPads, Fire TVs, and myriad of cheap Android tablets. On the other hand is the far more exclusive market for high-end, productivity-oriented tablets; devices that don’t just consume content, but create it as well. This market has been slower to develop, but it’s also important for its own reasons, as it’s the real crossover point between tablets as envisioned by the iPad, and the traditional PC laptop market.

Apple for their part has opted to go after both of these markets, and has done so successfully. The traditional 9.7-inch iPad needs no introduction, and while the iPad Pro is a little less known, the difference isn’t by much. Built upon the shoulders of the original iPad, the iPad Pro family takes things one step further, building towards not just a bigger and better iPad, but by giving the tablet the features that are needed for productivity and content creation, at both a hardware and a software level. The iPad Pro doesn’t try to be a traditional laptop, but it certainly tries to capture a lot of their usefulness, and this is especially the case for the 2018 iPad Pro.

With the introduction of the latest iPad Pro models, Apple’s iPad lineup for 2018 offers arguably the largest design change since the original iPad launched. The new design offers a much higher screen-to-body ratio than ever offered before, mimicking what they’ve done with the iPhone lineup. As a result, Apple has more or less reinvented the iPad Pro design, and offers plenty of new features inside and out.

Apple’s ambitions with the iPad Pro start with their chip design team, which has created the Apple A12X System on a Chip to power the latest iPad Pro. As outlined in our iPhone XS review, the A12 series of SoCs are already well ahead of the ARM competition, and Apple clearly has its sights on the performance levels of x86 CPUs from Intel. A12X features four Apple Vortex CPU cores, double that of the regular A12 in the iPhone, and seven A12 GPU cores which Apple says provides the power of an Xbox One S in a device with a far smaller power budget.

For better or worse, the iPad Pro is attached at the hip with Apple’s mobile operating system iOS, and unsurprisingly the iPad Pro ships with the latest version, iOS 12.1.

Apple’s iPad Pro lineup has also been their test bed for their newest display technology, and the iPad Pro keeps the 120 Hz ProMotion display, which offers variable refresh rate down to 24 Hz, along with P3 display gamut coverage tied in with their color managed software. Apple also keeps their True Tone option to dynamically adjust the white balance of the display to match the lighting conditions of the room it’s in.

Apple iPad Pro Comparison

  iPad Pro 11-Inch
(2018)
iPad Pro 12.9-Inch
(2018)
SoC Apple A12X
4x Apple Vortex
4x Apple Tempest

7 core A12 GPU
Display 11-inch
2388x1668
IPS LCD
P3 D65, 120Hz
12.9-inch
2732x2048
IPS LCD
 P3 D65, 120Hz
Dimensions 247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9 mm
468 / 468 grams (WiFi / LTE)
280 x 214.9 x 5.9 mm
631 / 633 grams (WiFi / LTE)
RAM 4 GB (up to 512 GB Storage)
6 GB (1 TB model)
NAND 64GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB
Battery 29.37 Wh 36.71 Wh
Front Camera 7MP, f/2.2, Smart HDR, Wide Color Gamut, Retina Flash
Rear Camera 12MP,  f/1.8, PDAF,
Smart HDR, Wide Color Gamut, True Tone Quad-LED flash
Cellular 2G / 3G / 4G LTE (Category 16)
Intel XMM 7560 Modem
SIM Size NanoSIM
Wireless 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2x2 MIMO, BT 5.0, GPS/GLONASS
Connectivity USB-C
Apple Smart Connector
Launch OS iOS 12.1
Launch Price Wi-Fi:
$799 (64GB)
$949 (256GB)
$1149 (512GB)
$1549 (1TB)

Wi-Fi + LTE:
$949 (64GB)
$1099 (256GB)
$1299 (512GB)
$1699 (1TB)
Wi-Fi:
$999 (64GB)
$1149 (256GB)
$1349 (512GB)
$1749 (1TB)

Wi-Fi + LTE:
$1149 (64GB)
$1299 (256GB)
$1499 (512GB)
$1899 (1TB)

Apple has also taken the opportunity to switch the iPad Pro lineup over from their proprietary Lighting connector to the more ubiquitous USB-C port, making this the first iOS device to offer USB connectivity. Where they give, they also take away though, and the 3.5 mm headset jack has gone the way of the Dodo, and for more or less the same reasons.

For those that want to work on the go, Apple continues its excellent tradition of offering cellular connectivity with the iPad Pro, and those that need a lot of storage will be happy to see models up to 1 TB, which is more important because the iPad offers no way to access external storage to increase this.

What first set the iPad Pro apart from the rest of the iPad lineup was the ability to use the Apple Pencil as well as a first-party keyboard solution. For the 2018 iPad Pro, both of these accessories have gotten refreshes as well.

The iPad Pro for 2018 is a major change from the outgoing models. Let’s dig in and see how it fares.

Design
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  • WasHopingForAnHonestReview - Thursday, December 6, 2018 - link

    The foundation of your entire at point is questionable at BEST. A tablet is bought for a few major reasons, without which, there would be no tablet.
    1) a portable device that requires no extra components to do its primary function which is..
    2) browse net, absorb entertainment and read on while being ultra portable and low effort to accomplish.
    3) Ease of use. Simplicity above all else. "So easy a child can use it".

    The iPad can do all of these, but where it begins to fail is in the uses youve laid out. If you render a video for your youtube channel you better have your charger nearby. (Hurts #1 above).
    If you plan on doing ANY EDITING, you better have a mouse and keyboard nearby. (Hurts all 3 above.)
    If you plan on playing graphic intensive games on it, you better have a controller laying around or in your bag.( kill all 3)

    The point is what Apple is trying to do with this device defeats the PRIMARY PURPOSES of a tablet. Therefor I would suggest you simply go buy a laptop to accomplish all the feats you just mentioned.

    I find the roundation of our point to be ludicrious. So ludicrious I cannot believe youre that silly to get a tablet to show your buddies how fast Apples new cpu is (which it is) then post here how you love it. Your comment reads like a paid shill post which I see here all the time. Or you have Apple stock.

    Either way, this tablet from apple has an impressive cpu/gpu that is completely squandered for 99% of the people who would buy it. Its a development misstep by Apple. Writing this I wonder if they will do some data recon to see whos actually using their cpu/gpu to decide on the future path of the line.

    My bets for the future would be low power cpu/gpu thag give you days of 1,2,3 before having to charge again. Thats the proper path.
    Reply
  • thunng8 - Thursday, December 6, 2018 - link

    Your reasons are for refuting are dubious.
    1. Do not need to bring charger as iPad hardly uses any power when rendering videos.
    2. Can edit fine with the Apple pencil for precise adjustments
    3. Not all games need a controller. Some like civ vi, are even better with touch.
    Reply
  • thunng8 - Thursday, December 6, 2018 - link

    Although I do not edit a lot of videos, I do edit lots of photos using Lightroom CC. Compared to a traditional laptop.
    1. Battery life is tremendous. Can get around 8 hours of usage compared to 4 in the 2017 13” MacBook Pro. Also in complete silence compared to fans blaring half the time on the Mac.
    2. Using the pencil has been great when needing to be more precise. In some cases even better tan mouse when selecting areas of an image.
    Reply
  • Socius - Friday, December 7, 2018 - link

    1) You should try working with 4K video in LumaFusion before you talk. It doesn’t skip a beat. And the device doesn’t get hot. Nor does it drain a lot of battery.

    2) That’s your usage for the tablet. Not mine. If that’s all I wanted to do, my iPad Air 2 is more than sufficient for the task.

    Also why do you need a keyboard for editing video or photos? Have you seen how amazing it is using your hand and the pencil together? It works like a Wacom device. Touch input is used for image size/position manipulation, as well as tool selection/adjustment. It doesn’t interfere with the work the pencil does. And yes. I do have 2 Wacom devices as well.

    Regarding gaming, it depends what you’re playing. I love playing racing games like Grid Autosport, rpg games like final fantasy, or simulation games like civilization. If I want to play hardcore games, I do it at 4K 144Hz with HDR on my desktop.

    You talk about needing a mouse and keyboard to be productive. But here’s the thing. I have an i7 surface pro with keyboard and pen. And I honestly find it harder to use. While there is more flexibility in apps and what you can do, it can’t do it as easily as iOS can. The surface pro is a portable desktop. iPad Pro is a different type of device. If you can find the right apps to cover your usage needs, it’ll be far easier to use than the surface pro. I even do my server management on the iPad Pro.

    But I appreciate your personal attacks and insults towards me. They say far more about you as a person than they do about me. Also, it’s ludicrous. Not ludicrious, as you misspelled twice. Maybe if you had an iPad Pro, you could take advantage of auto-correct.
    Reply
  • Calista - Thursday, December 6, 2018 - link

    In many ways an amazing product, packing so many outstanding features in such a small package. At the same time I can't shake the feeling it's a product looking for a real use-case for all its power. What can be properly done on the Pro which can't be done with far less power? Read pdf files? Play the light games the app store offer, watch some media etc. I could easily be doing all of it with a 100 dollar tablet with a Snapdragon 400. And when talking "real work" Windows or OS X is far more versatile compared to iOS. Reply
  • Sailor23M - Friday, December 7, 2018 - link

    Agree with Calista and others earlier. I have an ipad 4, a ipad mini, an ipad Air2 and the new education ipad+pencil in my family. I frequently use the iPad Air 2 to take notes and send emails but do not use it for core productivity like ppt/excel - primary reason is lack of a defined local file storage structure and inability to connect to a usb drive - cloud storage is clunky at best for people on the move in trains/public transport. Reply
  • Socius - Friday, December 7, 2018 - link

    Why don’t you use a locally synced cloud service like iCloud, google drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, etc? The “files” application on the iPad Pro is really lacking on some very fundamental features such as file compression and decompression. But...it does give full access to browse all apps folders. Even across apps. So you can use apps like iZip or Documents by readlle, to extract, compress, move around, manipulate, edit text, look at pictures/videos etc. etc. you can access all those files in your other apps. It’s definitely flawed and limited, but usable. You also can use usb drives. But not directly in the files app. Has to be imported from a 3rd party app. Reply
  • heywally12 - Friday, December 7, 2018 - link

    Back in the day, used to be a tech guy (well, sysmanager/dba anyway) and a lot of the stuff on this site is over my head now. But at the risk of wasting space, let me thank you for a thorough and excellent review that is understandable to me. Reply
  • DaQi - Friday, December 7, 2018 - link

    Been a user of the original iPad Pro since it came out. I use it for taking notes and have completely eliminated paper note taking in my life. Was very interested in this new version but two things make it a non-starter and they are very subtle. The physical width of it is slightly wider and thus I can't comfortably hold it in my hand while writing on it. The second thing is that the keyboard when folded has the keys sticking out instead of tucked in like the original. Don't get me wrong the original has a lot of problems. It is a bit of a love hate relationship I have with it but I do use it all the time every day with the pencil and I was looking forward to a new version but this very small and simple change makes it totally a no go - so sad! Reply
  • peevee - Monday, December 10, 2018 - link

    "Due to the fact that the bezels required for a tablet"

    Required by whom?
    Reply

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