iPad Pro is fast, powerful, but no laptop replacement

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The Apple Pencil makes drawing on an iPad Pro incredibly precise.
The iPad Pro is big, powerful, but not a replacement for your Mac.
Photo: Apple

The iPad Pro is out today and, like clockwork, the first batch of reviews have started to circulate.

The consensus? That the iPad Pro is gorgeous, powerful, and its (added extra) Apple Pencil stylus is great — but the add-on keyboard is disappointing, multitasking can be problematic, and it’s not quite ready to take over from the Mac in every situation as Tim Cook has suggested.

Out of that mixed bag of pros and cons, we’ve picked out a few of the most interesting comments for our big meta-review below.

The Verge

The display on the iPad Pro is stunning. With a resolution of 2732 x 2048 at 264 pixels per inch, it’s actually the highest-resolution display on any iOS device, but all that means nothing until you see it. Photos, videos, even text look big and crisp and real. The only knock you could make on the display is that it doesn’t include the new 3D Touch technology Apple introduced with the iPhone 6S, something that arguably could have been more useful on a tablet meant for multitasking than it is on a smaller-screened phone.

The tablet’s processing power is even more notable than the display. Apple has rigged the iPad Pro with its latest chip, the A9X, which it claims has twice the CPU and twice the graphics performance of the previous processor. (Apple points out it also “rivals most portable PCs” in terms of power.) And it has four strategically placed, self-adjusting speakers that wowed me with their sound when I watched videos on it.”

Wired

Nobody’s going to toss their iMacs and ThinkPads into the garbage tomorrow and instead lay a 12.9-inch tablet on everyone’s desk. If there’s a touchscreen revolution underway, it’s going to happen slowly, an app and an accessory at a time. That’s OK. The iPad Pro is a fantastic tablet, not to mention the first iPad in ages that has an obvious value next to our giant smartphones. It starts as a big, powerful, beautiful screen, and with the right accessories and apps can be almost any kind of device you want. So, yeah: size matters.”

Mashable

The responsiveness [of the Apple Pencil] is exquisite and the Pencil tip material offers just the right balance between friction and smoothness on the iPad Pro’s touch screen. Pressure sensitivity is about as close as you’re going to get to actually drawing on real paper. It even supports shading, letting me hold the Pencil at an extreme angle to access a the virtual long-edge of a graphite pencil or wide magic marker.

What’s more, there is almost no perceptible visual space between the Pencil tip and the digital line that appears on screen. All that combined with the iPad Pro’s impressively large canvas (I have room for a full drawing and reference material) make this a fantastic drawing experience.”

Telegraph

The iPad Pro’s true strength lies in its beautiful display and slick ease of use: slim and light enough to carry with you for all your web browsing and Netflix needs, but also capable of facilitating detailed sketching in a way that was impossible in the past.

In naming it the Pro, Apple has indicated a desire to slot it into the heavyweight MacBook and Mac Pro divisions, and that’s a plucky move. Limitations to multitasking and a lack of USB ports mean Surface die-hards will hate it, but I’m willing to bet that millions will disagree. After too many years in the shadows of the iPhone, the Pro is the iPad’s time to shine.”

Walt Mossberg

You can get a lot more done with iPad apps than with the paltry selection of tablet / touch-first apps available for the Surface. But, because Apple hasn’t made a great keyboard, the iPad Pro isn’t a complete replacement for a great laptop like the MacBook Air — even for a tablet guy like me.

The iPad Pro will no doubt make a lot of Apple users happy, especially if they use it for graphics. But I won’t be buying one, and I don’t recommend that average users do so either.”

Ars Technica

Even with a bigger screen and new accessories, the iPad still feels like a ‘sometimes computer.’ I can take it with me on vacation instead of a MacBook and do pretty much everything I want, and I can even get quite a bit of work done on one (the majority of this review was written on an iPad Pro, usually while also chatting in Slack or Messages or firing off e-mails). But what really does it in for me are the many small ways in which the iPad Pro is not quite a traditional computer and iOS is not quite OS X.”

In all, perhaps not the effusive reviews Apple was hoping for — but rather a collection which say that, if you enjoy what the iPad already does, you’ll appreciate the abilities of the iPad Pro. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something that’ll help ramp up productivity, make the iPad a serious business machine, or even mean that you can cross off that next MacBook as a necessary upgrade, you’re likely to be disappointed.

Have these reviews swayed your decision to an iPad Pro in one direction or the other? Leave your comments below.

  • DrMuggg

    Want one. But there are a lot of things my iMac does better…. until theres av even game between them; I keep the iMac…
    iMac i7, 2TB, 32GB RAM and a synology with 15TB disk space is NOT replaced by a tablet.

    But millions of peolpe are NOT like me, they use it for ordinary tasks. They would be better off with this one
    and chuck their old PC in the recycling.

  • WP

    Fortunately, I’m not buying it as a laptop replacement, I’m just buying as an older iPad replacement, lol. I don’t think I’ll be too disappointed in what it can’t do as I’m not expecting it to do a lot more just because the screen is larger and the processor is better – it’s still iOS…

  • funcritter

    I’ll keep using my Surface Pro 3, my 2015 15″ MBP and my iPad Mini 2. I don’t plan on buying another iPad in the near future, if ever.

  • freemdoom

    Looks nice, but without Photoshop it’s hard to call it a “pro”

  • I’ve love the processing power of this thrown into the normal size iPad, simply too big for my use.

  • neonspark

    4GB of ram in a device that can cost over 1K in its top configuration is ridiculous. Even if say, you could run the adobe creative suite which you cannot, this spec level is not really suited for professional apps like video editing and image creation. Working sets in RAM of photoshop layers of RAW images at maximum color and resolutions will eat that amount in minutes.