The 2020 iPad Pro – is it Worth It?

The iPad – and iPadOS – is changing. Apple’s new iPad Pro features a multi-lens system camera, and iPadOS adds support for trackpads, including Apple’s great new keyboard. But is it worth the asking price? We take a look.

It’s here at last, and it’s looking amazing. Released in March 2020, the latest addition to Apple’s iPad range is the most powerful yet; an awesome update to the iPad Pro. Some things are unchanged from the previous generation. Once again, it comes in two sizes, with 11-inch and 12.9-inch screens. It once more features an edge-to-edge screen with no Home button, and unlocks with Face ID. It also has a USB-C port instead of a Lightning port for charging and connectivity. But if some things remain the same, there’s also a a lot that’s different, taking the iPad Pro to a whole new level.

A Powerful Performance

The latest iPad Pro is the most powerful Apple tablet yet. Its eight-core A12Z Bionic Chip features an eight-core graphics processor, making it ideal for power-hungry tasks such as editing 4K video or designing 3D models, and its processing power is augmented by an enhanced thermal architecture and tuned performance controllers, so it won’t overheat and throttle performance while you’re carrying out particularly demanding jobs.

Machine learning is likely to be the next big thing in computing, and for this, there’s the Apple-designed Neural Engine. This powers next-generation apps which can perform all sorts of tasks that simply wouldn’t be possible without machine learning. According to Apple, the eight-core A12Z Bionic Chip and its Neural Engine make the new iPad Pro faster and more powerful than most Windows PC laptops.

Performance

Connectivity has improved too. Wi-Fi Internet connectivity is faster than before, and if you buy the version of the iPad Pro with a cellular connection as well as Wi-Fi, this is up to 60% faster too.

Thankfully, all this extra power doesn’t take a toll on the battery life. It lasts for up to ten hours on a single charge. You can use your iPad Pro all day without recharging.

The new iPad Pro introduces advanced technologies never before available in mobile computing. Combining the most advanced mobile display with powerful performance, pro cameras, pro audio, the breakthrough LiDAR Scanner and new Magic Keyboard with Trackpad, this is another huge leap forward for iPad.
– Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing

A Beautiful Screen

The fourth-generation iPad Pro’s screen is amazing. Both the 11-inch and 12.9-inch models feature an edge-to-edge Liquid Retina display. When reading or typing, even the smallest text sizes are clear and precise, with none of the jaggedness you might expect from lesser screens.

Featuring P3 wide colour support, which Apple describes as ‘industry-leading colour accuracy’, it shows your photos, videos, apps and games in vivid, true-to-life detail. ProMotion technology automatically adjusts the display refresh rate up to 120 Hz for ultra-smooth scrolling and responsiveness, and True Tone technology automatically corrects the colour spectrum on the screen according to ambient light conditions. An anti-reflective coating cuts down distracting reflections too.

Screens

But what does all this advanced technology do for the iPad Pro owner? In a nutshell, it means wherever you use your iPad Pro, it looks great. There’s no ghosting or lag in a video game or video playback, scrolling is quick and smooth and text is always easy to read. It’s the ultimate in mobile screens.

A Great Sound

The new iPad Pro also features amazing audio. Its four speakers are located in the corners of the device, and they automatically adjust their output according to how the iPad is held. So if, for example, you’re holding your iPad vertically, in portrait mode, and watching a video, the top- and bottom-left speakers give the left stereo channel, and the top- and bottom-right speakers play the right channel. If you then turn your iPad Pro into landscape mode, this playback shifts so the left and right channels still play through the speakers located on the new left and right sides of the iPad Pro.

The fourth-gen iPad Pro also features five studio-quality microphones for capturing amazingly clean audio. Even the quietest details are recorded. This is great if you’re planning to record a podcast, or even a vidcast using the iPad Pro’s new camera setup, which we’ll come to later.

A LiDAR Scanner

The 2020 iPad Pro features a LiDAR Scanner. ‘LiDAR’ is short for ‘Light Detection and Ranging’, and it uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure distances. Positioned on the back of the new iPad Pro, it allows tasks that have never been possible on a mobile device before.

The LiDAR Scanner measures the distance to surrounding objects up to five meters away, and works both indoors and outdoors. By gaining an accurate 3D impression of the world around it, the iPad Pro incorporates data from the LiDAR Scanner with information from the cameras and motion sensors, making possible all sorts of augmented reality experiences.

For gamers, you can take part in action scenes that seemingly take place in your own house. For example, Hot Lava’s AR mode, available later this year, transforms your living room into a lava-filled obstacle course. The the developers behind Complete Anatomy are to introduce a new mobility assessment tool for physical therapists and their patients.

The forthcoming Studio Mode for IKEA Place lets you explore different areas in your home to plan Room Sets, like you see in the IKEA Store, which complement your existing furniture, space and style. Shapr3D, a professional Computer Aided Design system, will use the LiDAR Scanner to automatically generate an accurate 2D floor plan and 3D model of a room which can then be used for design remodels or room additions like a bathroom or closet.

As well as new apps, every existing app that’s built on Apple’s ARKit technology automatically gets instant AR placement, improved motion capture and people recognition. The LiDAR Scanner also improves the Measure app, making it faster and easier to automatically calculate measurements.

A Great New Camera System

1: Ultra Wide Camera
2: Wide Camera
3: LED Flash
4: LiDAR Scanner
5: Microphone

For the first time on an iPad, the new iPad Pro features two rear-facing cameras. There’s a 12MP Wide camera for capturing stunning photos and 4K video, and a new 10MP Ultra Wide camera that zooms out two times to capture a much wider field of view. This adds all sorts of possibilities for your iPad photography, and will be welcomed by those of a creative bent.

For viewing things far away, there’s a 2x optical zoom, which brings your subject nearer without loss of quality, and a 5x digital zoom which works by expanding the area captured by the sensor at the centre of the screen, which means there’s a small downgrade. Both cameras have five-element lenses, and the True Tone flash keeps things bright when lighting conditions are poor. You can record video in 720p, 1080p and 4K at 30 fps (frames per second), and 1080p and 4K at 60 fps.

Around the front there’s a TrueDepth camera that can take 7MP photos, and is used for both Face ID and FaceTime video calls.

Conclusion

So is the new 2020 iPad Pro worth the money? While it’s obviously a significant investment, it’s also a significant step up from the previous generation of iPad Pro. If you don’t already have an iPad Pro it’s definitely worth the money, and given its new features, it might even be worth upgrading even if you have one.

Prices

• Wi-Fi Only Models
11-inch screen, 128GB: £769/$799/879 €
11-inch screen, 256GB: £869/$899/989 €
11-inch screen, 512GB: £1,069/$1,099/1.209 €
11-inch screen, 1TB: £1,269/$1,299/1.409 €

12.9-inch screen, 128GB: £969/$999/1.099 €
12.9-inch screen, 256GB: £1,069/$1,099/1.209 €
12.9-inch screen, 512GB: £1,269/$1,299/1.429 €
12.9-inch screen, 1TB: £1,469/$1,499/1.649 €

• Wi-Fi and Cellular Models
11-inch screen, 128GB: £919/$949/1.049 €
11-inch screen, 256GB: £1,019/$1,049/1.159 €
11-inch screen, 512GB: £1,219/$1,249/1.379 €
11-inch screen, 1TB: £1,419/$1,449/1.599 €

12.9-inch screen, 128GB: £1,119/$1,149/1.269 €
12.9-inch screen, 256GB: £1,219/$1,249/1.379 €
12.9-inch screen, 512GB: £1,419/$1,449/1.599 €
12.9-inch screen, 1TB: £1,619/$1,649/1.819 €

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Ian Osborne

Ian has worked on computer and video games magazines since the legendary Crash and Zzap! 64 in the early Nineties, so he’s seen many changes over the years (including an expanding waistline and receding hairline). A lifelong Mac user, he bought his first Mac in the year 2000. It’s a testament to the resilience of the Mac that his mother is still using that computer to this very day.

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