APPLE iPad Pro (2020) Review

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In this article, I give you my Apple iPad Pro (2020) review with specs included. The one I have is the 11-inch model. As ever, it’s available in the 11-inch and the 12,9-inch sizes.

For the 11-inch, this is the second-generation, for the 12,9-inch it’s the 4th generation of the Pro.

Firstly, as you probably know already, there’s not a huge upgrade here from the previous generation. The good part is it’s not gonna make you want to spend money right when you already have the previous generation.

On the other hand, we all like to see progress especially because it’s been about 500 days since Apple last refreshed the Pro-line models.

What is new here? You get twice the base storage. That’s always nice and this thing that Apple usually does over time as they move from generation to generation.

So, instead of 64 GB, the base model is 128 GB and you can get it with 256, or 512, or a terabyte of storage. It doesn’t matter which of the sizes you’re going for here.

Also, RAM now is 6 GB for both models instead of 4 GB for the previous generation. This does mean experientially and I’ve tested it compared to the previous generation less reloading of Safari tabs that sort of thing. That’s always nice.

You can say their OS is optimized for RAM, and it is, but still, it was clear that it can be used a little more especially for a power user device like the so-called Pro iPad model.

The Apple A12Z Bionic (SoC) is here instead of the A12X and all that means in this case is the same CPU they’ve just enabled a GPU core here that was disabled on the A12X.

So, you get a little bit better graphics performance but clearly, there’s no reason to upgrade here.

I can’t tell you why we don’t have an A13 like we have in the current model iPhones.

Lastly, the distinctive camera cluster that looks like the iPhone 11 Pro or Pro Max is here. It’s got two cameras, not three like the iPhones, there’s no telephoto but they did add a wide-angle instead of just having the main camera and that’s a 10 megapixel.

Honestly, the cameras on this are pretty darn good. I mean, you don’t expect much from tablets but these take pretty nice pictures. In fact, a picture taken in mediocre indoor lighting with the iPhone 11 2020 model is pretty solid quality.

But, this camera is not gonna beat the iPhone 11 Pro Max or Pro. But, for a tablet, it beats everybody else pretty easily.

Apple iPad Pro 2020 129 Inch Rear Space grey
Apple iPad Pro (2020) 12,9 Inch Back – Space grey

Apple says that the audio recording quality is better. It does sound a little better. I mean, it’s not studio-quality but it’s better. It has three microphones and that is nice.

By the way, for the cameras, there’s no portrait mode and no night mode for the rear cameras. There is a portrait mode for the front camera. It’s not bad actually, it’s great for selfies.

In conjunction with those cameras, there’s now lidar, which we see on some robotic vacuums and self-driving cars like Teslas and that sort of thing.

So what it does, it measures the room and depth and where objects are to create a model. So, that’s for AR (augmented reality).

Apple iPad Pro 2020 129 Inch Colors Silver and Space grey
Apple iPad Pro (2020) 12,9 Inch Colors – Silver and Space grey

Whether you’re using the IKEA furniture placing functionality are playing an AR game, it’s noticeably better. Before, if you waved your hand in front of the camera weird things would happen.

If somebody walked across unnatural things happen with the AR. We’d have furniture floating in the air, for example. So now, if you place a virtual chair using the IKEA app, for example, it stays grounded on the floor. When people walk by it actually looks like they’re walking by a real piece of furniture.

Is this gonna change your world? No. Apple seems excited about this, maybe they’re gonna do some other augmented reality products and this won’t complement that or go along with that.

Wi-Fi is also upgraded to Wi-Fi 6 from Wi-Fi 5. Not a lot of people have Wi-Fi 6 access points, there are plenty for sale at this point but it’s future proof and that’s nice.

If you go with the LTE plus Wi-Fi model instead of just the Wi-Fi model then you’re still looking at gigabit 4G LTE. Probably not until Apple has an A14 Bionic chip will we see integrated 5G LTE available.

When will that happen? When will they next refresh the iPad Pros or will they make that a higher tier model? I kind of hope not, iPad Pros are expensive enough but I don’t know.

Pricing is the same as it’s been before. Starting at $799 for the 11-inch and $999 for the 12.9-inch. Add more money if you want 4G LTE thrown in there and more money as you go up in storage increments.

Again. 128 GB is the base model configuration which is pretty reasonable given the amount of cloud storage many of us use. But, if you are actually using one of these for video editing with lumen fusion or with the included iMovie, you’re sure could actually do get a model with more storage.

In fact, that’s an interesting thing about the performance here. Yes, the CPU bump isn’t that big, even the GPU bump, but these things are wickedly powerful if you can tolerate the workflow on an iPad.

Mostly, I find it challenging getting files on and off of the iPad but this is faster to edit and export 4K video than even the 2020 MacBook Air and that’s kind of insane.

If you look at the benchmark graphs like in Geekbench 4 or Geekbench 5 (I think more people are still familiar with Geekbench 4 numbers) you look at that multi-core score and you’re like, wow this actually can be on an HP Spectre X360 13-inch with an intel 10th gen CPU.

Apple says that this can be your new laptop, sort of, and if you want a touch experience with an Apple product, well, this is your only choice. How true is that? It’s getting to be more true with this new iPad.

Yes, they do have a file manager now, it’s somewhat less painful to move files around. We do have cloud services to make that easier.

Apple iPad Pro 2020 129 Inch Cover Stand Side View
Apple iPad Pro (2020) 12,9 Inch Cover Stand Side View

Apple has its new magic keyboard (released on May 25th) and this one adds a trackpad. The iOS 13.4, which came out with these new iPads, does support trackpads. You can use them with other iPad models that are upgradable to this version of the operating system.

For the Pro models, for the 11-inch and the 12.9-inch, they have this new magic keyboard folio case. Yes, it’s a case, it protects the front and the back.

It has a magic keyboard which means the one-inch travel scissor key. Kind of nice, normal keyboard like on the 16-inch MacBook Pro, the 2020 MacBook Air, or the desktop keyboard that you can use with iMacs or anything that you want.

Apple iPad Pro 2020 129 Inch Keyboard Top View
Apple iPad Pro (2020) 12,9 Inch Keyboard Top View

So, it’s a better typing experience than the fabric case which is still available at $179 to $199 depending on the size.

Anyway, this new keyboard experience, given the trackpad and the clever ways that Apple has made it work, it’s not just a carbon-copy clone of the way it works on Mac OS, for example, it’s a little bit more object-oriented in gesture, it works really well.

It makes it more usable, ergonomically speaking, and workflow-wise as a laptop replacement. Selecting text becomes easy, you don’t need your finger or even the Apple Pencil 2, which these are compatible with, so that’s cool.

The only uncool thing, as ever with Apple, is pricing. So, for the 11-inch that magic keyboard is $300 for the 12,9 inch it’s three hundred and fifty dollars. A three hundred dollar keyboard accessory for a $799 tablet, that’s almost 40% more.

As I said, the Apple Pencil 2 works with these as well. That’s $129 and it’s, as ever, a glorious experience, right up there with Wacom EMR and Cintiqs and the much more expensive mobile Studio Pro portable tablet windows computers for pen experience,

The pressure levels, the tilt, the sensitivity, it’s on point here. I do a lot of digital art, that’s my hobby and my pastime and I love using the iPad Pros for that.

That’s one case where you could say these iPad products could actually maybe save you a little money versus something like a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro or a PC and the Cintiq to get that level of excellent pan experience which is better than even Microsoft Surface Pro much as I loved Surface Pros or an HP Spectre x-360.

Also, I would say that it’s a good deal when we’re talking about the price of software too. If you’re using Windows or Mac and you want to use Photoshop and such, you were looking at an Adobe CC subscription which ain’t cheap and other programs which typically are more expensive for desktop operating systems.

Whereas Procreate, which is superb, is $9.99. And there’s Photoshop for the iPad too, it’s not nearly as good as Photoshop on the desktop if you expect all the features but it’s pretty good for photo editing and all that sort of things. So, there’s a lot you can do here, not everything you can do on the desktop.

So, should you get this or a MacBook Air or Windows tablets like the Surface Pro and all that sort of thing? I would say if you know you need those desktop applications specifically and their functionality, if you’re an artist and you’re a professional artist working with workflows required by Disney or something like that and you absolutely have to have full Photoshop and so on, well then you might want to stick with the desktop operating system, obviously.

For me, I’m not going to spend weeks professionally editing videos to upload to YouTube on an iPad. You can do it but the workflows are still easier on a desktop, so it depends.

But, if you’re just doing Word, if you’re streaming video, if you’re editing video more casually, or if you’re editing photos it’s actually kind of fun to do it on an iPad. Especially if you’re using an Apple pencil or your finger to do some of the adjustments and the touch-ups on it.

As to which size you should choose, this question comes up every time Apple refreshes the iPads. I’ve been using a twelve-point-nine-inch iPad Pro and I get that because I do art and the bigger the canvas the better.

I have a love and hate relationship though with the iPad Pro 12,9 because it’s really big, it’s really awkward. This is why most Windows tablets are actually a little on the smaller side. I like to turn a tablet around to show somebody something not to be so careful and not knock anything over or drop it, you get the idea.

But, if you want to use it as a laptop replacement, a twelve-point-nine-inch makes sense. If you’re more into art, the twelve-point-nine-inch makes sense.

For everybody else, I think the 11-inch is a real sweet spot. For portability, easy to hold, it’s lighter, you get the idea. It’s one pound versus one-point-four pounds.

The display on this is the same liquid Retina display, 120 Hertz refresh rate, wide P3 color gamut. Yes, it is nicer than the cheaper iPad models. If you have the money it sure is nice to have those things. It’s not any different than the previous generation though, so there’s nothing to upgrade to here.

It’s 600 nits brightness on the display, which’s up a little bit from 500 nits in the previous generation. So, as for a tablet go, it’s a pretty darn bright screen.

Battery life is pretty much unchanged here, 10 hours for the Wi-Fi-only model. They are claiming 9 hours for the LTE model. And, as ever, if anything, Apple underestimates this. The battery capacity is 28,6 WHr for the 11″ and 36,71 WHr for the 12,9″ model.

Out of the box, you get an 18-watt USB-C-based charger. It’s very compact and a 1 meter (or a 3 foot) long USB-C cable. That’s kind of short for a Pro model, you have to be close to an outlet or spend some money to get a longer cable.

Everything else is the same, you have USB-C which means you can actually use the same USB-C adapter as you would buy for your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air at this point. So, if you need USB-C to an SD card reader or USB-C to USB-A, you can get adapters to that, Apple’s or another brand.

Even many USB-C hubs work so it is becoming more like a computer in that respect. We still have squared-off sides, we still have aluminum casing available in Silver or Space grey color, you get the idea, physically it’s the same.

So there you have it, if you had the previous generation this is probably not so much interesting unless you’re looking to do a size change. Some people want to go bigger, some people want to go smaller, you get the idea.

But, if you’re looking to upgrade from an older iPad, that’s where it starts to make sense. If you have the original generation iPad Pros, or if you have a lower-end, or older Air, or something like that and you want to take the next step up to faster, more storage, better screen, all those sorts of things, then you’re going to get that here.

So, that is when this makes a lot more sense and I can understand that. For those of you who are on a tighter budget, you want Apple Pencil support, you want to laminated display cuz that looks a little nicer and retina nominally maybe not as wide gamut maybe not high refresh but there’s still the iPad Air from 2019.

So, that one is a ten-point-five-inch display, supports the original Apple Pencil and the OS it does support trackpad, even though Apple hasn’t shown any magic keyboard case yet for that one.

So, for five hundred bucks it’s pretty compelling if you would like to have all these extra bells and whistles but you can’t quite make that stretch.

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Apple iPad Pro (2020)
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    Performance - 97%
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    Price - 96%
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    Value - 97%