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The 11-inch iPad Pro is the smaller of the two premium iPads and sold as an ultraportable professional tool meant to augment or replace your Mac. Instead of offering a Mac with a touchscreen and changing MacOS to be suitable for touch, Apple did a major overhaul of their tablet line with new hardware and software. Apple hopes to capture the laptop and tablet market with a single device. The iPad Pro starts at $799.

AppleInsider reviewed the 2020 11-inch iPad Pro and gave it a 4 out of 5.

What has changed about the 11-inch iPad Pro design?

The smallest iPad Pro has gone through multiple changes since its inception. This model received a small update from 9.7 inches to 10.5 inches in 2017, to make the bezels shrink a bit. Then, in 2018, the home button was removed to increase the screen size to 11 inches. The new uniform bezel accompanied by the speakers at each corner means that this device is completely orientation agnostic.

The 11-inch iPad Pro with a Magic Keyboard makes for a good looking laptop The 11-inch iPad Pro with a Magic Keyboard makes for a good looking laptop

The 11-inch iPad Pro also has flat sides, making it easier to grip on the edge, and allows for the inductive charger for the Apple Pencil to sit on one side of the device. The back of the iPad Pro is perfectly flat too, housing a new smart connector and a protruding camera, as well as 90 magnets for case attachment. The new smart connector location requires that keyboard accessories fit as a case all the way around the device.

Perhaps one of the most important features is the USB-C port, which allows for easy connection to a myriad of devices without needing a proprietary cable. Connect a USB-C hard drive, an external monitor like the LG Display, or even charge your iPhone with this port. The addition of USB-C makes the iPad Pro truly a contender for being a Mac alternative.

In March 2020 Apple released another update to the iPad Pro line, giving it an all new camera system, improved chipset, and introduced a new Magic Keyboard.

The Fourth Generation iPad Pro has a new dual-camera system with built-in LiDAR. A 12MP wide-angle and 10MP ultra wide-angle camera will allow for improved photography and depth capture. 

The LiDAR will be used for 3D environment mapping that will allow for AR to be massively improved. The scanner works from up to 5 meters away and gets results instantly, which makes AR apps much easier to use and more accurate.

A tear down of the 11-inch model revealed a slightly smaller battery, which seems to be for hosting the new larger camera system. 

What's a Computer?

One side effect of Apple pushing their iPad line to be even more capable as a standalone device is the concept of being "iPad only." A highly controversial ad from Apple in November of 2017 sparked the debate surrounding the idea of using an iPad full time. This has caused much turmoil and many articles surrounding the idea, but simply put; its user preference.

Connect an external display to your iPad Pro via USB-C Connect an external display to your iPad Pro via USB-C

Power and app availability won't be an issue, given that the A12X Bionic processor is more powerful than most consumer PCs, meaning the latest A12Z is even faster, and Apple's iPad App Store hosts powerful professional tools. iPadOS takes this even further with better multitasking and external storage support and a new mouse cursor.

If you choose the iPad Pro to be your primary, or even only computer, you will find a wholly different platform that requires a lot of changes to your workflow. If learning how to use a new device does not intimidate you, then iPad Pro is worth a shot.  If you have specific software not on iPadOS, or want to make apps, going iPad only isn't for you.

Apple designs all of its devices with overlap and the idea that cannibalization of different products will occur, and they are ok with that.

The A12Z

Apple is well known for the power of the ARM chipsets operating all of their mobile devices. These processors are custom 7-nanometer chipsets with a 8-core GPU. Apple claimed that, at release, the A12Z was outperforming most Windows laptops. All of the 2020 iPad Pro models come with 6GB of RAM and feature faster WiFi and cellular connections.

While touted as a pro device, the 11-inch iPad Pro is also a competent gaming machine. Games are beginning to update to utilize the 120Hz refresh rate for even smoother gameplay, and the A12Z handles this without any issue. With the introduction of Apple Arcade this year, we will likely see more games taking advantage of this powerful processor.

Early benchmarks show little improvement in processing and graphical power, but this may also be due to unoptimized tools on an unreleased version of iOS. Another theory behind limited speed gains shows the A12Z could be a re-binned A12X, which means an inactive GPU core is in use now that was not before.

What accessories work with the 11-inch iPad Pro?

Due to the location of the smart connector on the iPad Pros, Apple is the only company with an accessory that supports it; the Smart Keyboard. Other keyboards will connect over Bluetooth or USB-C, and usually attach directly to the iPad Pro to form a clamshell design. The new design allows for some nice cases too.

The latest keyboard from Apple makes the 11-inch iPad Pro float The latest keyboard from Apple makes the 11-inch iPad Pro float

The second generation Apple Pencil is the only one that will work because the first generation Apple Pencil pairs over lightning, which the modern iPad Pros do not have. The second-generation Apple Pencil uses a magnetic mount on the iPad Pro for storage, charging, and pairing. The Logitech Crayon will also work with the iPad Pros, since apple included the proprietary pairing tech in the 11-inch iPad Pro.

As stated before, the USB-C port offers many other accessory options like external drives, monitors, keyboards, controllers, and hubs. Many devices use this standard and it is one less thing to worry about when deciding what to buy or what to pack with you.

new Magic Keyboard is due to arrive in May and it features an all new design derived from the Smart Keyboard Folio. The iPad will sit on a magnetic mount and hover above the keyboard and trackpad and works with both the third and fourth generation models. A USB-C port in the base of the keyboard will allow pass through charging while the iPad is connected and leave the port free on the iPad itself.

You will need a new case if upgrading from any previous model to the newest fourth generation pro iPad. These are some good cases that went on sale right after they were announced.

Pricing and configuration

You can purchase the 11-inch iPad Pro in space gray or silver. It is configurable to have128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB of storage. This model is priced $799, $899, $1099, or $1299 respectively. Add $130 to the total if you want to add cellular to any option. See our Price Guide for information on current sales and prices of the iPad Pro.

 

 

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