Apple unveils new iPad Pro lineup with Face ID, USB-C connectivity

At its special event in New York this morning, Apple unveiled its new iPad Pro lineup, revealing the first significant redesign of the tablet’s form factor since its introduction in 2010. Like the iPhone X before it, the new iPad Pro models have removed the home button, significantly narrowing the bezels and incorporating Face ID for authentication. The displays remain LCD, although Apple has used the techniques developed for the iPhone XR Liquid Retina display to introduced rounded corners on the new iPad Pro screens, allowing them to push even closer to the edges of the device. Apple has also moved away from the more tapered edge design that all previous iPads have used, opting for squared-off edges instead that make the new iPad Pro have a uniform thickness throughout, while also providing a flat edge where a new version of the Apple Pencil can attach magnetically for inductive charging directly from the iPad Pro. The smaller iPad Pro retains the same physical size as the previous 10.5-inch version, but now sports an 11-inch screen due to the smaller bezels. For the 12.9-inch model, Apple has instead kept the screen size the same and reduced the dimensions, making it about the same size as a standard piece of letter-sized paper.

Perhaps even more significantly, Apple has eliminated the Lightning port from the new iPad Pro in favour of the more standard USB-C — a move intended to provide more streamlined compatibility with the accessories that professionals are likely to use, from cameras to external displays, and Apple noted that the iPad Pro can now also be used with a USB-C to Lightning cable to charge an iPhone. Whether this move signals an eventual move away from Lightning on all of Apple’s devices remains debatable, but it’s going to be a welcome change for many users who are the target audience for the iPad Pro, which require a higher degree of interconnectivity with external accessories.

As with prior models, the new iPad Pro features Apple’s A12X processor, a beefed-up version of the A12 Bionic used in the 2018 iPhone lineup that features 10 billion transistors, alongside an eight-core CPU and seven-core GPU that promises to deliver a performance boost of 35 percent over the prior iPad Pro models — performance that Apple boasts is faster than 92 percent of “all portable PCs” — as well as double the graphics performance. The A12X also incorporates the same new Neural Engine technology as the iPhone XS and iPhone XR, allowing the new iPad Pro models to take advantage of full augmented reality and other machine learning capabilities.

Both iPad Pro models are available for pre-order today in 64 GB, 256 GB, 512 GB, and a new 1 TB configuration, as either Wi-Fi only or LTE-equipped versions. The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $799 for the 64 GB Wi-Fi model, topping out at $1,699 for the 1 TB Wi-Fi + Cellular version; the 12.9-inch iPad Pro ranges from $999 to $1,899. Both models are expected to be available in stores on Nov. 7.