iPad Pro 11in (2018) review: Hands-on

We were lucky enough to be invited to Apple’s iPad Pro 2018 launch in New York on 30 Oct, and spent some time trying out the devices (along with the new Apple Pencil) afterwards. Our hands-on review of the new iPad Pros, which focuses on the 11in model, is based on those first impressions (in simple terms, what is the tablet like to use?) and the specs and headline features announced on the night. A more in-depth review, featuring detailed battery and speed testing and our thoughts after prolonged use, will appear on this page once we’ve got samples into our lab.

iPad Pro 11in (2018) review

Price & Availability

The new iPad Pros are available to order now, but won’t ship (and appear in shops) until 7 November. Instead of giving the surviving 2017 Pro model a price cut (the traditional approach), Apple has made the bold move of simply pricing this year’s models so high that the unchanged older version now looks (almost) cheap by comparison.

  • iPad Pro 11in (64GB, Wi-Fi): GBP769/£799
  • iPad Pro 11in (256GB, Wi-Fi): GBP919/£949
  • iPad Pro 11in (512GB, Wi-Fi): GBP1,119/£1,149
  • iPad Pro 11in (1TB, Wi-Fi): GBP1,519/£1,549
  • iPad Pro 11in (64GB, cellular): GBP919/£949
  • iPad Pro 11in (256GB, cellular): GBP1,069/£1,099
  • iPad Pro 11in (512GB, cellular): GBP1,269/£1,299
  • iPad Pro 11in (1TB, cellular): GBP1,669/£1,699

The 12.9in model starts at GBP969/£999 for the 64GB, Wi-Fi version, and tops out at GBP1,869/£1,899 if you want a terabyte of storage and cellular. Yes, these are costly devices.

But they are also extremely lovely and high-powered, as we will see.

Design & Build

Apple has redesigned this year’s Pros to match the X series of iPhones. It’s a fairly radical change and instantly makes the old 10.5in Pro (which is still on sale) look old-fashioned. The Home button has been removed, the bezels have been shrunk and the screen has been given curved corners to match the chassis.

All of these things together mean the front of the iPads are almost entirely screen – and there isn’t even a notch spoiling things, because Apple managed to find space for the TrueDepth camera in the bezel. The interesting thing here is that Apple has used this all-screen design to achieve two different things on the two Pro models. The 11in we’re focusing on here, as the name suggests, has a larger screen than the equivalent 10.5in model last year, within a chassis of the same size.

The 12.9in model, on the other hand, keeps the same screen size but shrinks the chassis around it. Here’s what the new 11in model (left) looks like next to the 10.5in. iPad Pro 11in (2018) review: Size comparison

The Pro models are thinner than ever, both now 5.9mm thick (compared to 6.1mm and 6.9mm respectively last year) and incredibly light in the hand.

We found them comfortable to hold for extended periods; they will be great for sketching and drawing on the go. Look round the back and you’ll notice that the rears are now less curved. This more squared-off look reminded us a little of the old iPhone 5.

Liquid Retina screen

This 11in option is yet another new screen size for Apple’s iPad range.

There are now five different options – 7.9in, 9.7in, 10.5in, 11in and 12.9in – and one can only imagine the confusion this will cause inexperienced customers. The new screen is being marketed as ‘Liquid Retina’ (same as the iPhone XR), and aside from offering more screen space (always welcome) it struck us as bright and bold. The resolution of the new 11in screen is 2388×1668, which works out at Apple’s standard 264ppi pixel density for mid-size and above iPads.

Using the iPad Pro

As was the case for iPhone buyers last year, those who get the new iPad Pro will have to re-educate their fingers and learn a new gestural language – simply because there isn’t a Home button any more. (Granted, if you’ve got an X-series iPhone these gestures will be familiar already.)

We spent only a short while trying out the Pro so it isn’t surprising that our muscle memory remained wedded to the old ways; we found ourselves reaching instinctively for the Home button without thinking. But it shouldn’t take much longer than this to readjust. The new iPads are equipped with Face ID, which replaces the (Home-button-based) Touch ID fingerprint scanner.

We’re big fans of Face ID on the iPhone XS, which is fast and reliable, but there’s one potential issue here: iPads are bigger than iPhones. If you’re using the Pro flat on a table, for example, it could be inconvenient to trigger Face ID – you may have to move yourself, rather than lifting a lighter iPhone in front of your face.

Apple Pencil

Accessory fans will be pleased to hear that a new Apple Pencil is launching alongside the new iPads. We will focus on that in a separate review, but we will briefly touch on its capabilities here.

The round shaft of the older Pencil has been shaved lengthways, leaving a flat edge on one side. This simple change means the stylus won’t roll off the desk any more. You can magnetically attach the new Pencil to the edge of your iPad Pro and it will automatically pair and start charging wirelessly.

This is all a far cry from the awkward setup before, which required your Pencil to stick out from your iPad’s Lightning port while charging – and by combining charging with storage, it means your stylus should usually be powered up, rather than usually needing charging, as we tended to find in the past. iPad Pro 11in (2018) review: Apple Pencil

You can double-tap your second-gen Pencil (on the flat edge) to trigger app-specific functions, but this will obviously depend on developer support.

iPad Pro specs

There are some serious numbers on the specs sheet, and it’s tempting to get carried away – but of course we will need to see what these translate into in terms of real-world performance. A couple of changes are worth highlighting, however.

The processor has double-jumped from the A10X in 2017’s Pros to the A12X Bionic this year; that’s a souped-up version of the iPhone XS’s A12 chip, tasty enough in its own right. Storage now goes up to 1TB, and Bluetooth has been upgraded from 4.2 to the 5.0 edition. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that the Lightning port has been done away with: it’s USB-C all the way now, which brings the side benefit of enabling you to charge an iPhone from your iPad.

Here are the iPad Pro 11in’s full specs.

The 12.9in model has largely the same specs, except for a larger screen and battery capacity, and bigger dimensions.

  • A12X Bionic processor, Neural Engine, M12 coprocessor
  • 64GB/256GB/512GB/1TB of storage
  • 11in (2388×1668 at 264ppi) LED ‘Liquid Retina’ screen, True Tone, ProMotion
  • 12Mp rear-facing camera, f/1,8, flash, 4K video, slow-mo at 240fps
  • 7Mp front-facing camera, 1080p video, ‘Retina Flash’ feature, Portrait Mode, Animoji
  • Four-speaker audio
  • Face ID facial recognition
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
  • nano-Sim/eSIM
  • USB-C connector, no headphone port
  • 247.6mm x 178.5mm x 5.9mm; 468g

iPad Pro 11in (2018) review: Keyboard

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