In the marketing campaign for the new 2020 iPad Pro, Apple aggressively uses the slogan "Your next computer is not a computer." With it, the company is trying to cope with the dumb voltage that hung in the air: iPad Pro can not replace a laptop, but it costs more than most laptops.
In the USA, for an 11-inch iPad Pro they ask from $ 799 (from 69,990 rubles in Russia), and a 12.9-inch model in this country will cost an Apple fan at least $ 999 (from 86,990 rubles in Russia). Nevertheless, in the first and second cases, a more realistic cost for a couple of hundred bucks is more expensive: not all of the basic memory capacity of 128 GB will be enough for one of the proprietary keyboards, as well as the Apple Pencil stylus. In general, the iPad Pro with all the additional tricks will cost more than a good MacBook Air or even a MacBook Pro. Actually, that’s where the tension in question comes from.
The Internet has been arguing for years, whether the iPad can, in principle, replace a laptop. There can be no single answer to this question. Yes, in recent years, Apple has closed most of the software gaps that prevented full use of the tablet. However, some of them still remain. Despite this, I myself believe that the iPad Pro is a computer. However, it does not work the way most of us are used to. Moreover, far from all tasks are within his power.
I would like to say that the new iPad Pro put an end to any such voltage, but this is not so. I think the more interesting question is what exactly does the Pro console mean in the context of the iPad. Most likely, she does not say that this is a replacement for the MacBook, but that it is a pumped iPad.
The new 2018-2019 iPad Pro line, in fact, represents only the evolutionary development of the 2018 Apple Professional Tablet lineup. In fresh tablets, there are only three things that can really be considered an update: a processor, a module of the main cameras, and a set of microphones.
Yes, it seems like it also has trackpad support, which everyone is talking about. However, it is available for any iPad that supports the current version of iPadOS (work with the trackpad is available with iPadOS 13.4). A new keyboard for the iPad Pro with a trackpad named Magic Keyboard today will not even work out. Apple plans to start selling it no earlier than May 2020.
- The new iPad Pro has everything you expect to see from the new iPad Pro.
Every year, the iPad Pro has a very interesting feature: during its purchase, you do not need to worry about technical specifications and other nuances. He, as before, has a top-end screen with maximum clarity and realistic color reproduction. The battery also lasts for 8–10 hours of continuous use. The rest of the technical characteristics will not raise any questions either - this is the top-end hardware, which has no equal.
However, the iPad Pro still has one USB-C port, which is not located in the most convenient place. It's good that after the release of iPadOS it can really be considered fully functional. Moreover, the professional line of Apple tablets no longer has a traditional 3.5 mm audio output, and it is even more lacking on tablets than on smartphones.
Let's walk through the innovations of the new iPad Pro 2020. It’s worth starting with the processor. Oddly enough, the novelty did not receive a chip of the same generation that is used in the iPhone 11 Pro (we are talking about the Apple A13). Instead, it uses the Apple A12z Bionic - the upgraded A12x Bionic from the 2018 iPad Pro. It has 8 cores in the GPU, which should help in rendering video in 4K and interacting with augmented reality. But hardly anyone will notice the difference in real use between this pair of chips.
To make the picture more complete, it is worth noting that in the GPU benchmark test in Geekbench 5 Pro, the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro scored 9 981, and last year - 9 138 points. 800 points is a big difference, but it does not affect anything. In other words, if you are using the iPad Pro 2018, updating it to a new one just because of the processor is definitely not worth it.
Much more interesting is the new camera system, which it’s not possible to miss. Now the main module is a square platform with two traditional cameras. The first is wide-angle at 12 megapixels with an f / 1.8 aperture and without night mode (the processor is not Apple A13), the second is super-wide (125 degrees) at 10 megapixels with an f / 1.8 aperture. There is a new sensor called LiDAR, but more about it later.
Many people think that taking photos on an iPad is weird. This is mistake. Yes, to use a tablet for a photo at a concert is not a good idea. But in the studio, shooting on the iPad Pro takes on a different meaning. Moreover, in the new generation of professional tablets Apple just uses a new system of three microphones, which claims to record studio-quality sound. Yes, it won’t pull out the podcast, but it’s more than suitable for recording sound during shooting. Consider that you have a gadget in your hands that makes it possible to record a video and mount it - all this can be done in absolutely any place.
- The new iPad Pro has an excellent set of cameras, but the front-facing for video communications is extremely inconvenient.
The new iPad Pro has a 7 megapixel front camera that can record video in 1080p. It is much better in quality than the modules installed in any of the MacBooks. But the location, if the tablet is used together with the keyboard, is extremely inconvenient - on the side. Because of this, during video conferencing it always seems that you are looking sideways, and the interlocutor is perplexed. Most likely, Apple retains such a camera arrangement as a tribute to the very first tablets, but we are not talking about convenience here.
By the way, when communicating via video, there is another problem. Third-party applications cannot use the camera in the background - this is a limitation of the iPadOS. If you collapse the conditional Zoom, the camera turns off, and then turns on again. Since during video calls you often need to use additional software, it turns into hell knows what.
There is one interesting feature of the hardware on the iPad Pro 2020: the LiDAR sensor, which is located on the site of the main cameras. It uses lasers to almost instantly determine depth and create a spatial map of the room. Every time when lasers are used in any gadget, the manufacturer does not even have to promote it, because this technology seems to be as futuristic as possible and immediately attracts attention. Apple also claims that nanoseconds are needed to trigger LiDAR. This is not surprising, because we are talking about the speed of light.
LiDAR is needed for radically faster and more accurate augmented reality work. However, this is only the foundation for the new generation AR, and not a guarantee of its occurrence. Yes, some current applications with LiDAR work much more confidently. But so far there is not a single program that reveals the capabilities of the new sensor 100%.
LiDAR instantly detects all surfaces in the room, so there is no need for a long and tedious viewfinder to move around the room so that neural networks do this. LiDAR works with the plane directly. By the way, the sensor seems not only faster, but also more accurate - tests with the Roulette application prove it.
Another plus of LiDAR is the stability and correctness of the operation of augmented reality. This is especially noticeable when the real thing suddenly appears between the iPad Pro and the virtual object in the background. Previously, AR could fail, but now this is not happening.
Here you can clearly see how the 2020 iPad Pro with LiDAR copes with virtual objects in AR in the background.
Here you can clearly see how the iPad Pro 2018 without LiDAR on average cope with virtual objects in AR in the background
Developers can take full advantage of LiDAR today. Updates to the corresponding API have long been available, and they provide access to all the features of the new sensor. Nevertheless, a lot of time will pass before the applications reach its full potential by 100%. The 2020 iPad Pro is not the most common device on the market, and the question of the appearance of LiDAR in other Apple gadgets remains open.
Nevertheless, in the future without LiDAR, working with AR will definitely not be so comfortable. The sensor will allow you to quickly interact with objects in space. It will instantly recognize chairs, windows, tables and other objects, regardless of the plane in which they are located.
In general, LiDAR on the iPad Pro 2020 looks like the most advanced tool, but it was created for software from the future, and not for one that is already available today. Moreover, it is still not clear how much Apple's Augmented Reality technologies are in demand in the market. Virtual face masks are the most popular in the context of AR today, but LiDAR will not make them better.
Apple introduced us to the iPadOS back in October last year, and the new version of the system specifically for tablets hasn't changed much since then. Apple's desire to add as many new features as possible for experienced users has given rise to many problems. Many of them turned out to be as unintuitive as possible, and this is not good.
Getting started with the iPad is far easier than any other computer on the market. However, when you try to work with your Apple tablet like a laptop, it feels like you're being forced to play hockey with a crooked club. Adding support for trackpads does not greatly change the picture, but greatly simplifies the work with text. Now it’s clear why Apple has changed the text selection algorithm in iPadOS - it is imprisoned for interacting with the cursor.
- At the start of sales, a keyboard with a trackpad for the iPad Pro named Magic Keyboard will not be available.
You can talk a lot about support for the iPad trackpad, but I won’t start to wonder. It seems to me that Apple has implemented it as correctly as possible. Scrolling seems very natural, and the cursor changes appearance, depending on which object is directed. By the way, at first it seems strange, but then there is an understanding that all this is completely organic. However, there is some intuitive oddity in moving the cursor to the top of the screen to trigger the Dock.
It is important to add once again that absolutely all Apple tablets that will be updated to iPadOS 13.4 will receive support for trackpads. Yes, Magic Keyboard can only be worn on the iPad Pro 2018 and 2020, but a separate Magic Trackpad will work even with the iPad mini.
While using the iPad Pro, I increasingly returned to thinking about LiDAR. On the one hand, this is a very cool sensor, which definitely boosts augmented reality according to Apple. On the other hand, it is difficult to say that most users really need it. LiDAR best explains the essence of the iPad Pro - it is a tablet with a lot of cool features that everyone is trying to use, but not everyone understands why they really need them.
This material began with a conversation about nervous tension that hung in the air. Its essence is that the capabilities of the iPad Pro will be redundant for most. If you personally are not sure that you need a new LiDAR or a set of cameras, you don’t know how to load the next top processor and everything else, you hardly need an iPad Pro. Most likely, you will be completely satisfied with the iPad Air or the basic iPad - they lose to the professional model in terms of hardware, but they cost much less.Strengths:
- Great display.
- Quick work.
- Trackpad support.
Note: this is a partial translation of The Verge review.
- No apps for LiDAR.
- Unpleasant iPadOS limitations.
- Lack of headphone jack.
Final rating: 8 out of 10.