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Apple iPad Pro 2020 review: it changes little, it always costs a lot but has 128GB

Apple iPad Pro 2020 review: it changes little, it always costs a lot but has 128GB

Every time I approach a new tablet I ask myself the same question: "will I be able to work with it as I do with my laptop or will it just remain a fantastic sofa device?". All manufacturers are indeed trying to convince us that working with the tablet is possible and develop new interfaces and operating systems in an attempt to increase productivity features. With the same thought in my head I therefore removed from the box this new iPad Pro – specifically the model with 11 "screen – but I tell you right away that this is not the place where we will answer the fateful question.

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Yeah, I decided to postpone evaluations on the most driven productivity when we can also try the new Magic Keyboard with integrated trackpad and the promising new stand. For now, we will limit ourselves to determining if the few changes introduced by Apple compared to the 2018 model (reviewed at the time by Antonio) justify the expense and the possible transition from a previous model.

OUTSIDE IS ALMOST IDENTICAL

Finding differences from the 2018 model is almost impossible. Except for the camera module, now larger and similar in design to that of the iPhone 11 Pro, nothing changes substantially. The dimensions are identical, the thickness is the same and also the weight only grows by 3 grams – 471 against the previous 468 – attributable to the new cameras and Lidar because otherwise the two products are exactly superimposable.

On the one hand it is certainly good because all the accessories that do not take into account the cameras will probably be compatible with the new model. On the other, of course, even the defects remain unchanged: the first "bend tests" showed the same unpleasant tendency to bend if not treated with due attention.

Having said that, it is impossible not to appreciate the almost obsessive attention to detail that Apple places in the realization of its products and which has always been its trademark. However, it remains one of the solutions with the highest screen-to-body ratio and the dimensions remain, for this reason, all in all compact. In short, it is truly a pleasure to hold and carrying it is not a problem.

Like all iPads, the format and arrangement of some elements – e.g. the power button located at the top – would lead to use it vertically, but in reality you will be better off navigating the interface in landscape mode. Precisely for this reason the front camera is designed to be able to use it unlock with FaceID in any position. The recognition is always immediate and we can also use it to access passwords or make purchases with Apple Pay.

Finally, on one of the two short sides we have the door Type-C which was also present in the previous generation of iPad Pro. It is a connector with standard 3.1, thanks to which we can connect a monitor up to 5K resolution, adapters for ethernet cables, keyboards, microphones and whoever has more. Of course, always check that these accessories are compatible with iPad and iPad OS.

FANTASTIC DISPLAY AND TOP AUDIO, AS ALWAYS

Needless to deny it, much of the experience of using a tablet is in the quality of the display. In fact, as in the smartphone, it has always been the element with which we interact the most and also what we always really "keep an eye on". That of iPad Pro was and still is one of the best panels in the category, if not the best ever. The bezels measure 4mm on all sides and let's talk about a screen 11-inch IPS with 2732×2048 pixel resolution and 264ppi density,

There is obviously TrueTone – which I turned off for measurement with the colorimeter – and we have a variable refresh rate up to 120Hz. It starts from 24Hz for static content to arrive at 120 Hz when necessary. The sensation of high fluidity is evident in all situations and the extreme reactivity also allows greater precision when we write or draw using the Pencil.

The colorimeter analysis confirms theexcellent quality of this panel offering one sRGB coverage very close to 100% and gods delta E around 2 both for grayscale and for colors. If we consider that 3 is the value below which the human eye does not recognize differences with the reference color, we can see how excellent these values ​​are. The maximum brightness is also not bad. The peak is over 600 cd / m2 while normally at maximum brightness it stands at about 450. Despite being an IPS display we have decidedly deep blacks and an excellent contrast ratio that improves visibility in direct sunlight.

Is there anything to improve? In my opinion yes, the oleophobic treatment. Leaving fingerprints on this display is all too simple and removing them continuously is boring, also because a quick passage on the sweatshirt is often not enough.

However, as mentioned, it remains one of the best displays in circulation and when we observe video content, the performance is fantastic and is further enhanced by the presence of four speakers that sound very good, as always when we talk about Apple solutions. The reproduced audio is well balanced, the volume is high and one does not give up on a higher quality than most of the competition. But this year Apple has not stopped at the speakers and has redesigned the layout and the number of microphones, improving the performance of audio recordings and bringing it to a level close to that of the new 16-inch MacBook Pro, reviewed some time ago.

PERFORMANCE REMAINS EXCELLENT

And let's get to the hardware. Inside this iPad Pro we find a platform Apple A12Z Bionic, basically an updated version of the A12X Bionic that we found and still find in the 2018 model CPU does not change, remain the same 8 cores with confirmed frequencies, while the GPU now offers an extra core, activating what until now had been "silent".

What does this core translate into more than the GPU? Nothing, in daily use you won't notice this difference in the least. The performances were excellent and such remain, neither more nor less. Even comparing the benchmark scores, there are improvements but to such an extent that they are practically irrelevant in the final judgment. We would have liked to do a few more graphical benchmarks, but apps like 3D Mark and GFX Bench have not yet been optimized for iPad OS and inexorably crash.

ANTUTU Benchmark

View in Full Screen

GeekBench 5

View in Full Screen

However, the user experience remains excellent, perhaps the absolute best among those we can have with a tablet. The system is always fluid, reactive, one almost has the feeling that the available computing power is much more than necessary. Not that it's bad, mind you, but I have often thought of having a Ferrari in my hands and of not being able to make the most of its engine, having paid for it like a racing engine anyway.

The limits they are however mostly related to software, as we will see shortly. Even in terms of sensors and connectivity, in fact, this iPad Pro certainly does not send them to say. There is everything you need, from Bluetooth 5.0 to WiFi ax the latest generation and finally, in the versions that support it, the 4G LTE and the GPS module. Here, if we really want to be picky there is no 5G, but at present it is not missed.

TRACKPAD AND MOUSE BUT THERE IS TO WORK

From hardware to software which, as mentioned above, is the cross and delight of this iPad Pro. iPad OS is definitely the best tablet interface on the market to perform at least 80/85% of the operations. I have already praised Apple's work in this sense in the review of the cheapest iPad 2019, and I do not stop believing that creating an ad hoc operating system for your tablet was an absolutely winning move.

Since the launch of iPad OS we have in fact an operating system that has been designed and built with a series of specific devices for this diagonal of display. Eg browsers that always open web pages in desktop version, or the possibility of better exploiting the double window view, or even applications developed to best fit the size of the portion of the screen that is dedicated to it.

Let's say that in some situations it comes very close to a use completely similar to that of the notebook, and that's exactly where Apple wants to go. The recent introduction of mouse support, which has expanded with iPad OS 13.4 also to the trackpad they are a clear sign of how the Cupertino company wants to push us to think of this iPad Pro exactly as a productivity tool comparable to our laptop.

Unfortunately, as I said at the beginning, the new Magic Keyboard is not yet available and therefore I cannot yet give you my final judgment in this regard. I have however tried the mouse, with which, gesture excluded, you can already taste all the new features introduced in this software release. The most important is certainly the dynamic pointer, which changes shape and function depending on the moment. Normally it is a gray dot, but passing it on the icons disappears and the icon becomes larger, to make us understand that we are selecting it. In other scenarios, such as when we open a web page or a document, the dot is replaced by the classic "I" which is used to position the cursor and select portions of text.

Does using the mouse bring us closer to a notebook experience? I would say yes, for those used to using the mouse, finding some familiar situations is undoubtedly comfortable. It is still not exactly like using a notebook, the windows cannot be moved or resized at will and not all applications can be placed side by side. In addition to the fact that, to date, it is not possible to open more than two on the same screen at the same time, if not with the third floating application that overlaps one of the two side by side. In short, we are slowly improving but we are not there yet.

Then there are some situations in which, with the original Apple keyboard attached, the answer is not what I would expect. Let me explain: if I start typing on the Home screen, I would like the Spotlight search to open automatically as on MacBooks; or that, by starting the Notepad and typing, you would immediately go to the composition of the new note without having to touch the screen to position the cursor inside it; or even that in all applications with a search box, typing, the latter will fill in without having to select it with your finger. We will then see if the Magic Keyboard will make that further leap in quality, as I would expect from a cover with a keyboard for over 300 euros.

Despite these limitations that do not allow to exploit this Ferrari of 100% tablets, iPad OS remains one of the added values of the whole family of Apple tablets. Compared to the old iOS "zoomed in", the leap in quality is evident and we are probably faced with the best interface for tablets currently available, not that the competition is ruthless but anyway.

LIDAR, CAMERAS AND AUTONOMY

Aside from the small changes we highlighted above, the element that really differentiates this iPad Pro from the 2018 model is definitely the photographic sector and in particular the presence of the Lidar. But what is it about? We are talking about a sensor that allows you to calculate the distances from objects that are in the environment that surrounds us through the laser projection of an invisible lattice of points. It works up to 5 meters away and is useful in a few situations right now.

You can measure your pieces of furniture, or indulge yourself with some new augmented reality app. If you want the story of my experience, however, I can tell you that, if I had not forced myself to try it, in 10 days I would never have used it. The result we get is still satisfactory and certainly better than systems that do not use this type of technology. The positioning of objects in space, for example, it is very precise and interacts with the people present by superimposing them on the object projected correctly.

Currently the apps that exploit it are very few, and as precise as this sensor is, I see it mainly as an opportunity given to developers to work on compatible software before the launch of the new iPhone which should in turn integrate it.

In addition to the sensor for the Lidar, this new iPad Pro introduces for the first time on board an Apple tablet a dual camera. The main one has a sensor from 12 megapixels and standard lens, while the second module is characterized by a sensor from 10 megapixels with ultra wide lens. Nothing particularly advanced from a technical point of view, but it is still appreciable the fact that Apple also offers a slightly more versatile sector on its flagship tablet.

The photos taken with these two lenses are discreet, certainly we are not at the level of an iPhone 11 or 11 Pro but in this type of products the camera is definitely a secondary function. In fact, we must consider that in most cases it will be used to take photos of documents or at most of some indoor scenes. For these purposes, however, this is a more than sufficient sector and perhaps a step above the tablets seen to date. All this obviously taking into account the inconvenience of taking a bulky object to take pictures.

And we close our analysis with two words on autonomy which, like most of the parameters on which this review is based, remains practically identical to that of the 2018 model. Maybe it takes a few minutes, but if we consider the entire duration it is a paltry increase. This does not mean that the autonomy is not good, far from it, with a standard use made mostly of navigation, mail management and video playback on Netflix or YouTube you get to cover 10 hours of use. So if you use it as your main device for everyday work, you should have no problem arriving in the evening.

CONSIDERATIONS

So back to our initial question, should Right now to buy this iPad Pro 2020? There are basically two cases to be analyzed. If you already have an iPad Pro 2018 you will have understood that the differences are really minimal and therefore absolutely not, not worth it switch to the new model. My advice is to wait for a real evolution. The only reason that could push you to change anyway is the need to have more memory, but be sure to sell your current iPad at a good price in order to bring home the new one with a low outlay.

If, on the other hand, your tablet is older or you don't have it this is probably the best iPad you can buy but the amount to be paid is still demanding. The 11-inch starts at 899 euros, finally for the 128 GB model, to which we must add 339 euros of Magic Keyboard (when it is available) and 135 euros of Apple Pencil, for a total of 1370 euros and small change. In short, certainly not bruscolini as they would say in Rome. If we then think that almost certainly next year a model will come out completely new, with new generation chipset and Mini LED display, I would say that if you are not in a hurry it is absolutely worth waiting.

High priceLittle oleophobic displayIt changes little compared to the previous one

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