A Mini-Review of the new 10.5” iPad Pro

I picked up a new 10.5” iPad Pro last weekend and I figured it might be fun to put some thoughts on virtual paper now that I’ve spent almost a week with the device.

The tl;dr is that this is the best Apple device out there. Period. It’s really quite amazing and (for me) pretty much replaces a laptop for everything I want to do outside of work, and also some of the stuff I do at work too.

The Hardware

The 10.5” model is a new screen size for the iPad, sitting between the 9.7” regular iPad and the 12.9” iPad Pro. Truthfully, I considered the larger iPad Pro and really thought it would be the one I would choose. But some time with both at the Apple Store left me thinking the big one was just too big for what I was after.

If I didn’t have a work laptop, I would probably opt for the bigger one, but since they provide me with a 13” MacBook Pro, I have that power and screen size when I need it. Holding the larger iPad feels just a bit too big for things like couch surfing or writing a blog post in bed.

The Apple Pencil is an amazing device, especially paired with the new 120Hz ProMotion screen on the iPad Pro. It’s really uncanny how much it feels like you are literally writing with a marker on the screen. I don’t think I’ll use the Pencil a ton, but I’ve been grabbing it to make some quick notes in meetings, and for annotating pictures and screenshots. It’s excellent.

The Smart Keyboard is my favourite accessory. It takes a consumption device and turns it into a creation device. The keyboard is a bit small, compared to the MacBook Pro, but it’s big enough and I am able to type quickly and accurately on it. In fact, I’m writing this post using the iPad Pro, the Smart Keyboard and the WordPress app for iPad.

iOS 11

I upgraded both my iPad and my iPhone 6S to Developer Beta 2 on Friday and the new multi-tasking features and dock really extend the iPad’s capabilities as a laptop replacement. Being able to flick up from the bottom of the screen to show the Dock, and then touch and hold to drag a Safari window into split screen is pretty slick.

I haven’t done much with the new Files app yet, but taking screenshots (like the ones in this post) and dragging them in is intuitive. The old way of adding photos from the camera roll was okay, but this is much more like macOS.

It’s a Laptop

Using the iPad Pro like a laptop makes you realize it’s a laptop. Keyboard shortcuts like Command-Tab do what you expect. Command-Space brings up Spotlight which works like Alfred or Spotlight on the Mac does (a quick launcher). In fact, most of your favourite keyboard shortcuts like cut/copy/paste just work. You can even go back to the home screen with Command-H.

The Upsides

Battery life is amazing. It goes for hours and hours and hours. It’s super light and portable, especially with the keyboard cover removed. Even with the cover on, it’s quite light and slides into my bag and feels “barely there”. The Smart Keyboard is more than usable on my lap or on a desk, table or counter.

The screen is…amazing. Bright, crisp and clear. It’s an incredible display that’s readable in sunshine, or indoors at night.

The Downsides

Coming from a 13” MacBook Pro (late 2016) to the iPad, I did run into a few things that get in the way of being able to say it’s a full laptop replacement.

Safari sometimes gives you the mobile version of a website, and things like pop up seat checkers on the Blue Jays website sometimes don’t load properly. Occasionally I find the 10.5” screen a little small and wish I hade just a bit more size to work with. Split screen apps give you a pair of iPhone-sized interfaces vs. getting two iPad mini versions of the app.

Final Thoughts

The iPad used to be the computer for people who didn’t need a computer. It was perfect for email, light web surfing, and games. My parent’s love theirs and Ginny gets by with her 9.7” iPad fairly well. But the new 10.5” iPad Pro, with the Smart Keyboard and iOS 11 takes the iPad and brings it much closer to being a “real” computer.

Most people will find the iPad Pro to be a very capable small laptop. While there are a few things that might have you wishing you had a full laptop, the portability and flexibility of the iPad easily makes up for that the rest of the time.

I’m super happy with mine and expect to get a ton of use out of it.