Review: Apple 12.9-inch iPad Pro (Second Generation), 10.5-inch iPad Pro | iLounge

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Review: Apple 12.9-inch iPad Pro (Second Generation), 10.5-inch iPad Pro

A-
Highly Recommended

Company: Apple

Model: iPad Pro

Price: $649 – $1,229

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Jesse Hollington

Pros: Apple’s latest pair of iPad Pro models are now on par with one another, with the new larger iPad Pro gaining the True Tone display, significant camera improvements with flash, and “Hey Siri” support, while the smaller iPad Pro gets a 10.5” screen upgrade, along with 4GB of RAM, USB 3.0 support, faster USB-C charging, and now includes a 12W power supply. New “ProMotion” display technology in both models doubles the refresh rate to 120Hz, improving scrolling and Apple Pencil performance. Both models catch up with Apple’s latest technology, sporting both front and rear cameras equivalent to the iPhone 7 and an A10X processor that provides a significant performance boost over both prior models. Battery life remains exceptional, and a new 512GB model provides for the highest storage capacity of any iOS device to date. Both models continue to be compatible with the current Apple Pencil and existing Smart Connector accessories.

Cons: The 12.9” model is still a behemoth by iPad standards, making it more suitable as a tabletop or laptop device. Despite the reduced bezels, the 10.5” model is still slightly larger than the 9.7” model, limiting case options. 3D Touch support still remains absent on both models.

The new iPad Pro models offer no real surprises in the area of battery life, providing around the same run times as the prior models, despite the upgraded processor and screen. Of course, mobile processors like the A10X Fusion are all about running more efficiently, so even though the processor is faster, the lower-power cores offset that in much the same way as they do in the iPhone 7’s A10 Fusion chip. Similarly, the ability of the newer display to select lower refresh rates — even lower than on prior iPad models — is going to account for some increase in power efficiency as well, especially when performing more straightforward tasks like playing videos or simply surfing the web.

The 10.5” iPad Pro includes a 30.4 Wh (8064 mAh) battery, while the one in the 12.9” version is 41 Wh (10875 mAh). These both represent a relatively small bump over the 27.91 Wh and 38.8 Wh batteries found in the prior iPad Pro models, and with actual run times coming in around the same, it’s fair to say that power consumption has increased slightly.

Basically, when running our standard Wi-Fi browsing test, the 10.5” iPad Pro ran for just over 12.5 hours, while the 12.9” model got around 13.5 hours. Video testing results showed similar run times of between 14 and 16 hours. These numbers represent a modest increase of about 30 minutes over the prior iPad Pro models in each scenario.

What’s particularly interesting is that despite the larger batteries, recharging times actually dropped a bit, suggesting that Apple may have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of the charging circuitry. Using the included 12W adapter (which is also now packed in with the smaller iPad Pro as well — the 9.7” model only included a 10W adapter), the 12.9” iPad Pro went from a dead battery to a full recharge in 4.5 hours, while the 10.5” model got to the same capacity in 3.5 hours. Both models now also support faster USB-C charging, so if you’re willing to spring for Apple’s USB-C to Lightning cable and 29W USB-C power adapter, you can fully juice up the 12.9” iPad Pro from a dead battery in 2.5 hours, and the 10.5” model in just under 2 hours. While we tested the recharge times with Apple’s own power adapters, any proper USB-C power source should provide similar results — for example, the NIFTY Mobile Charger we reviewed last week was able to bring a 10.5” iPad Pro from a dead battery to 48% in just under an hour before its own battery was depleted.

In addition to USB-C charging, the smaller iPad also gains USB 3.0 support via the Lightning port — something else that was previously the exclusive domain of the 12.9” iPad Pro. This means that, provided you’re using Apple’s newest Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader, you’ll be able to pull in your photos from your SD cards at faster speeds, adding to the appeal of both iPad Pro models for serious photographers.

In terms of Wi-Fi performance, the new iPad Pro models both include the same alphabet soup of Wi-Fi standards as both of the prior models, getting full 802.11ac speeds, and we saw no significant performance increases in that regard. We didn’t conduct LTE tests as there’s really little point in doing so anymore, but it is worth noting while the 9.7” Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad Pro was already ahead of the first-generation 12.9” model with its support for LTE Advanced bands 12, 27, and 30, both models take this a step further with support for LTE bands 11 and 21, used primarily in Japan. While it’s a minor bump for users of the smaller iPad Pro, it can make a tangible difference for users the 12.9” iPad Pro for LTE use on carriers such as Bell Canada (band 12) and AT&T (band 30), likely resulting in faster and more reliable coverage in certain areas.

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Editors' Note: iLounge only reviews products in "final" form, but many companies now change their offerings - sometimes several times - after our reviews have been published. This iLounge article provides more information on this practice, known as revving.

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