12.9-inch iPad Pro
Last updated: 2 weeks ago
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is Apple's flagship tablet capable of being used in multiple configurations. Be it a tablet with Apple Pencil, a laptop with the Magic Keyboard, or a desktop with an external monitor; the iPad Pro is ready to be your next computer.
● Edge-to-edge ProMotion Display
● A12Z Bionic
● Face ID
● Apple Pencil support (second-generation)
● USB-C port
● Liquid Retina Display
● LiDAR for improved AR
● Starts at $999
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is Apple’s most premium iPad, which the company built to help users augment a Mac or replace it entirely. Featuring ProMotion and Liquid Retina display technology, Apple hopes to offer the best tablet experience available for artists and consumers alike.
The fourth-generation model introduced LiDAR and the A12Z Bionic processor which arguably was a small step forward for the model. The Magic Keyboard was transformative, however, and brought the iPad Pro closer to being a full laptop replacement for many.
Despite changes to iPadOS which include cursor support and external storage drive compatibility, the iPad still lacks access to much of Apple's professional software platforms like Logic Pro, Xcode, and Final Cut Pro. The iPad Pro is Apple's vision of the future, but still has plenty of minor limitations to iron out before many users can consider it instead of a MacBook Pro.
12.9-inch iPad Pro Design
The iPad Pro launched in 2015 in an almost comical size class compared to previous iPads. The screen was encroaching on MacBook territory, but its design was stuck in the past. A large forehead and chin with Touch ID made this already oversized device even bigger.
The introduction of edge-to-edge displays with the iPhone X prompted Apple to do the same for their tablet line the following year. Removal of Touch ID and new LCD display technology allowed the 12.9-inch display size to stay the same, but in a much smaller and thinner device. The latest generation of iPad Pro measures less than a quarter-inch thick, making it the thinnest iPad ever.
The iPad Pro also has flat sides, making it easier to grip and allowing for the Apple Pencil magnetic charging mount to sit flush on one side. The smart connector is now on the back of the iPad Pro alongside over 90 magnets, which support cases attached to the rear.
This also means that old Smart Connector accessories won't work with the new iPad Pros, and we likely won't see third parties adopt the new design. Accessory companies have resorted to clips, cases, and bluetooth for their peripherals rather than adopt the new Smart Connector.
Apple replaced the old Lightning connector with a USB-C port, which allows for easy connection to many devices without needing proprietary cables. USB-C was an essential change if Apple was ever to convince professionals to switch to iPad, and iPadOS furthers the port's usefulness. External drives, monitors, cameras, or other USB-C devices can be plugged directly into your iPad Pro due the connector's versatility and ubiquity.
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 allows for improved photography and depth capture. The camera system uses a similar sensor to those found in the iPhone XR series of phones, falling short of iPhone 11 photo quality, and it also lacks night mode.
The LiDAR sensor will be used for 3D environment mapping that allows for improved AR. The scanner works from up to 5 meters away and gets results instantly, making AR apps much easier to use and more accurate.
What’s a Computer?
One side effect of Apple pushing its 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 led to many articles debating the idea's merits, but simply put, it's user preference.
Power and app availability won't be an issue, given that the A12Z Bionic processor is more powerful than most consumer PCs, 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 as your primary or only computer, you will find a wholly different platform requiring many workflow changes. If learning how to use a new device does not intimidate you, then iPad Pro may be worth a shot. However, if you have specific software not on iPadOS, or want to develop 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.
The A12Z Bionic
Apple is well-known for the power of the ARM chipsets operating all of its mobile devices and latest Macs. These processors are custom 5-nanometer or 7-nanometer chipsets with an 8-core GPU. Apple claimed that, at release, the 7nm A12Z Bionic was outperforming most Windows laptops. All of the 2020 iPad Pro models come with 6GB of RAM and have better WiFi and cellular connections.
While touted as a pro device, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is also a very capable gaming machine. Developers are beginning to update games to utilize the 120Hz refresh rate for smoother gameplay, and the A12Z Bionic handles this without any issue. With the introduction of Apple Arcade in 2019, 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. The A12Z is a rebinned version of the A12X, which means an inactive GPU core is in use now that was not before.
What accessories work with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro?
Due to the smart connector's location on the current-generation iPad Pro, Apple is the only company with compatible accessories: the Smart Keyboard and Magic Keyboard. Other keyboards will connect over Bluetooth or USB-C, and usually attach directly to the iPad Pro to form a clamshell design.
The second-generation Apple Pencil is the only model that will work with the latest iPad Pro. 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 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
The USB-C port offers many other accessory options like external drives, monitors, keyboards, controllers, and hubs. Many devices use this standard, opening the door to iPad owners using accessories they already own. The USB-C port also lets users charge an iPhone via the iPad's battery.
A new Magic Keyboard launched in May with an all-new design derived from the Smart Keyboard Folio. The iPad sits on a magnetic mount and hovers above the keyboard and trackpad. The new keyboard works with both the third and fourth-generation iPad Pro models. A USB-C port in the base of the keyboard allows for pass-through charging while the iPad is connected, leaving the iPad's port free for accessories. The keyboard's port does not support data transfer.
You will need a new case if upgrading from any previous model to the newest fourth-generation pro iPad. These are some recommended cases that went on sale right after they were announced.
12.9-inch iPad Pro Pricing
You can purchase the 12.9-inch iPad Pro in space gray or silver and configure it with 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB of storage. These models cost $999, $1,099, $1,299, or $1,499 respectively. Add $130 to the total if you want to add cellular to any model.
Frequent 12.9-inch iPad Pro Questions
Does 12.9-inch iPad Pro come with Apple Pencil?
Does 12.9-inch iPad Pro have wireless charging?
Is 12.9-inch iPad Pro good for college students?
How much does the 12.9-inch iPad Pro cost?
12.9-inch iPad Pro pricing starts at $999 for the 128GB Wi-Fi-only model.