Arguably the largest change to the new iPad is in its design choices, and Apple has made some bold choices here which deviate significantly from the previous models. Apple calls the latest iPad Pro a “Window onto your work” and the company has taken design inspiration from its iPhone lineup with the reduction in the screen bezels to achieve this window onto your work.

The smaller bezels preclude the use of the Home button, which had already been deprecated in the iPhone, so it isn’t a surprise to see it removed here as well. The removal of the Home button also introduces the use of the same gesture based navigation already seen in the iPhone, except in a larger form factor. It also introduces Face ID to the iPad for the first time.

Due to the fact that the bezels required for a tablet are proportionally larger than a phone, there’s no need for a notch, and the Face ID camera sits almost hidden in the upper bezel. Unlike on the iPhone though, there’s no guaranteed way that you’ll be holding the iPad, and if you are holding it in landscape it can be very easy to have your hand over the camera. If that’s the case, iOS will let you know the camera is covered and show an on-screen arrow pointing to where it is. And, of course, the same caveats that go with any facial recognition system come into play with the iPad Pro. You have to be sure the camera can see you, so if the tablet is sitting on a table as you are using it, you may have to contort yourself slightly or pick it up if Face ID is required. It’s not quite as simple as Touch ID was, but it’s very quick and reliable.

If there is one major annoyance with Face ID on the iPad Pro it is the login process, which is overly cumbersome. Turning on the iPad will initiate a Face ID login, but Apple requires a swipe-up gesture to finish the unlock process. This is compounded on the iPad by the fact that the swipe must originate from below the bottom of the screen as if you were going to Home. Since your hand is likely not to be there, it is a less than ideal gesture for something that must be done so many times. If Apple just allowed the swipe up anywhere on the screen, it would be a big improvement.

Still, the removal of the Home button does make for a much more modern looking device, with the smaller bezels we have gotten used to over the last couple of years, and Apple continues its attention to detail by having the display corners match the radius of the device corners.

The other big design change with the iPad Pro is that Apple has moved to an almost-squared off edge, compared to the more rounded, tapered edges on the older models. This design change was almost certainly to facilitate the new Apple Pencil storage location, which has it magnetically attach to one side of the device. There’s a small RF transparent window there to allow the Apple Pencil to wirelessly charge when attached to the iPad, and a new pencil will sync with the iPad just by attaching it, which makes it a very seamless experience to get it up and running.

The squared off edges don’t provide the great in-hand feel of tapered edges though, but the iPad is thin enough that it is not a huge issue. It’ll also likely spend most of its life in a case, which is unfortunate since it is a great looking piece of technology. Apple has also done a great job of incorporating the various antennae into the design with symmetrical lines on the top and bottom which separate the metal at the top and bottom with the rest of the device.

Finally, Apple has continued its use of a quad-speaker arrangement on the iPad Pro, although with most things on the new iPad, they’ve been refreshed as well. There is now two speakers at each corner, with both a tweeter and a woofer which Apple says offers better sound with less space allocated for the speakers.

Overall the design of the latest iPad is quite striking, and the reduction in bezels provides a much more modern looking tablet. It keeps all of the attention to detail that Apple designed devices are known for. The iPad continues to lead the segment in design, and 468 grams for the 11-inch model we have for review, it is very easy to hold in one hand and use. The lack of rounded sides is somewhat masked by the 5.9 mm thickness, and despite internet rumors, the iPad Pro won’t bend in half just by holding it. The squared edges make it feel quite sturdy, although if you tried to bend it you likely could. But since it will likely live its life in a case of some sort, the proper care to prevent this shouldn’t be extreme.

Introduction Accessories - Pencil & Folio
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  • tipoo - Tuesday, December 4, 2018 - link

    16nm did substantially cut its power use, and 16nm was less of a node leap than 7 (iirc it was closer to 22nm, but one of the finfett rebrandings?)

    Xbox One S 35-90
    Xbox One 70-120
  • PeachNCream - Tuesday, December 4, 2018 - link

    Yup, that is an impressively quick bit of hardware hiding inside the new iPad. It doesn't speak well for a lot of hardware that soaks up a bunch more power and needs a lot more cooling to accomplish similar task. I'm hoping the A12X will be something of a kick in the proverbial pants for the rest of the chip industry to get off their behinds and deliver better performance at much lower TDP, that is both CPU and GPU companies that are inflating real TDP to comparably absurd levels while chasing incremental and insignificant increases in performance.
  • sing_electric - Tuesday, December 4, 2018 - link

    To be fair, the A12 is one of the first 7nm chips to ship. AMD's Ryzen 2700U, in theory, is at least as powerful, but is built on a 12nm process so it consumes more power.

    A year from now, its very likely that AMD will have a mobile Ryzen built on the 7nm same process at the same foundry (TSMC) as Apple, which has the possibility of being more powerful at the same power consumption depending on workload (again, AMD and Apple optimize for different things in their chips, and an.... Apple to oranges comparison is hard to make).

    Within a couple years, we'll see how Intel's new GPU unit does - they've committed to releasing dGPUs but you'd have to think that a side effect would be increased performance of their iGPUs as well. IF they're finally able to start mass-manufacturing on their 10nm (and future) process, they should be competitive as well.
  • Spunjji - Wednesday, December 5, 2018 - link

    +1 to this. Very interested in what Intel can do at low TDPs given their experience there. UHD620 is an old architecture now, so you have to wonder what all the intervening development will grant their first real next-gen GPU.

    AMD have been struggling of late but it sounds like, if they coalesce their development around Navi, they should see some serious benefits at low TDPs too.
  • GruenSein - Tuesday, December 4, 2018 - link

    I actually considered buying the new iPad Pro but as long as iOS and its and 3rd party apps keep working the way they are working, all that performance is wasted IMHO. For the device to be really productive, a real file browser and full access to files is required. Let me organize my files the way, I want. The share button and weird iCloud browser doesn't cut it. Professional workflows require multiple apps to work on the same files, so, as antiquated as Apple wants to make it feel, an "open with" and "save as"-Dialog is crucial. Same goes for file access and network integration. Why can't I access SMB-shares? Most iOS users I know still send files per eMail because that is still the most convenient way to do it. The 3rd party file browsers can help but it is still hardly possible to use these files in any other apps. Some actually start a streaming server if you want to play media with VLC because you cannot tell the app to simply open the file.
    From my point of view, the hardware is great and way ahead of the competition. But the software is keeping it at a toy level for the time being.
  • melgross - Tuesday, December 4, 2018 - link

    Well, far from a toy level, which you would know if you used one. But you’re right that some things are just not available, or not up to snuff. Apple was expected to make major changes to iOS this year for the iPad Pro, but held off until next year due to the rwoerking of the OS for efficiency so that older devices would work better, as well as more modularizing the OS and getting rid of some higher level bugs.

    I hope these expected changes to the Desktop next year not only involve the look and function of the Desktop, but also full use of the USB port for mass storage and hierarchical folders.

    Apple seems to be moving in the right direction, but more slowly than I would like.
  • sing_electric - Tuesday, December 4, 2018 - link

    At this point, I'll believe it when I see it. Adobe had to get very creative with handling files on iOS to bring real Photoshop to the iPad, and they've got the "benefit" of their own cloud platform that they've foist on all their current customers.

    And lack of pointer support is getting harder to stomach - its annoying for pro-users with a keyboard, and it ALSO really limits the ability of people who use assistive communication devices to use iOS AT ALL since a lot of them work via mouse drivers. You'd think adding decent mouse support would be like, a weekend project for a team of engineers.
  • melgross - Tuesday, December 4, 2018 - link

    Adobe ran that file at the presentation while it was residing on the iPad. You can’t do that from the cloud. That’s storage, not live functioning in the app. It doesn’t matter how they did it on the iPad. The fact is that they did, and it was very impressive indeed.

    Pointer support isn’t a matter of a team of engineers. It’s a matter of philosophy. Apple, at this time, still doesn’t believe in it. I don’t happen to agree with their stance. With the original 9.7” iPads, sure, but not for the bigger Pro models. So I agree there.

    But even without it, things work dine in most cases. Would I want to write a novel 9n it? No, but I can get away with several pages of writing.

    iOS is praised for its ability with assisted communications. Not as good as the Mac, but better than Android by a long shot.

    I’m happy to see what happens in the developers conference next June. We should have a good idea where their going then. If nothing much happens, I’d be surprised. I don’t expect everything I want, but some of it.
  • MonkeyPaw - Tuesday, December 4, 2018 - link

    Yeah, mouse support is probably a toggle away in their development process. Anyway, Affinity Photo for iOS is impressive, with both cloud and local storage options. Local photos much be handled through iOS Photos, and traditional file management must be through the files app/cloud service of your choosing. Not as many options as a desktop, but there are at least some options.
  • KPOM - Tuesday, December 4, 2018 - link

    Mouse support is a double-edged sword. It would make some things easier but also make other things harder, particularly if apps “expect” a cursor.

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