Apple’s 2020 iPad Pro 12.9-inch brings a useful speed bump, overhauls the main camera, adds full mouse and trackpad support.
This is part one of a series of posts looking at the new iPad Pro. Part two looks at the camera and lidar.
The 2018 iPad Pro reboot was a huge leap forward for tabletkind.
Apple created a laptop replacement that keeps the advantages of a tablet. The result was to deliver a productive computing experience. It has little in common with the Windows alternatives, yet is still capable of serious work1.
This year’s update builds on that. Most, but not all, of the hardware changes are incremental. We will look at the big changes in future posts. What has changed since 2018 is that iPadOS has come of age. The software is now far better suited to mobile computing.
All the best things about the 2018 iPad Pro remain. The design remains stunning.
The screen is still beautiful. In use it is nicer than any other tablet display I’ve seen. There is next to nothing in the way of bezel, that’s the thin strip surrounding the display. Apple’s designers squared off the edges and went for rounded corners. It feels so right that it’s hard to envisage what a better design could look like.
While the A12Z Bionic system on a chip is faster than its ancestor, few will notice much improvement. The 2018 model used the A12X. Like its predecessor there are eight cores divided into two groups. It uses four cores for high performance, four for efficiency.
The A12Z is not a Great Leap Forward, more a pigeon step in the right direction. No-one is going to upgrade their iPad Pro for a better raw computing performance.
I noticed a little more power with graphics-oriented tasks like photo-editing. There was extra speed when working with audio applications. Other high performance tasks were also a tad faster than before. While the responsiveness was noticeable, it wasn’t enough to measure. It felt better, but I can’t put numbers on it.
When it comes to everyday tasks like browsing or writing on an iPad; I couldn’t see a difference.
That’s not to say the 2020 iPad Pro 12.9-inch isn’t fast by today’s computing standards.
The 2020 iPad Pro not as grunty as the new MacBook Pro. But that’s a high octane laptop for power users. It performs very well compared with the 2019 MacBook Air which uses the Intel Core i3 processor.
2020 iPad Pro 12.9-inch battery life
I’ve used the 2018 iPad Pro as my main portable device for over a year. When I’m not pushing it hard, the battery can last for as long as 12 hours continual use.
iPad battery life is dependent on the task in hand. Run high end software and you might only get six hours of intense computing.
With basic tablet tasks, the 2018 iPad Pro is good for a full day and then some. I could get 10 hours. When taking meal breaks into account there’s enough to get me from Auckland to Singapore2.
There is a fraction less battery life in the 2020 iPad Pro 12.9-inch. It can still cope with a full day’s everyday work with a little left over. I managed a little over nine hours. Thanks to the Covid–19 lockdown, I didn’t get to test this on the road.
You might get the impression from above that the performance is good, but not outstanding. After all, we’re talking about an incremental speed bump when compared to a two year old iPad.
This fails to take into account how far the 2018 iPad Pro was ahead of its time. When Apple launched the 2018 iPad Pro, it was, according to some benchmarks, the fastest portable computing in the market. The 2020 is still blistering fast by everyday laptop standards.