Ipad Pro 2020 Review: Vision For The Future
Ipad Pro 2020 Review has been the only product that Steve Jobs presented to us from a sofa. And it was a very good way to explain it because, traditionally, tech presentations don’t usually break the beat this way. Jobs sat quietly, as anyone would do at home, took the device in his hands, and began to use it.
And from that sofa, he began to do things that previously occupied another place: the desk. Browse a large web page without clipping, send emails, enjoy a movie on a nearly ten-inch screen, play games, read eBooks. “We think there is a gap between the iPhone and the Mac” – he said looking at the screen – “But it must be exceptional in the most essential tasks”.
Jobs opened the door of the iPad to content consumers. It was the best way to do that, and it could be done anywhere on a huge screen for the time – with the lessons learned from the iPhone and its multi-touch interface, taken even further. I am completely convinced that it was also clear that all this was only the beginning.
The passing of the years also attracted the creators: the tactile interaction made things much easier when it came to controlling not only the applications (I suppose you have seen a child handling Apps naturally) and that screen that started on a sofa became turned into a great magnificent canvas for creators. That change was so important within the range that Apple thought – at last – to create an operating system with its own life cycle: iPadOS had been born, and with it, many bets for a future that was no longer linked to the iPhone.
The iPad Pro was the conscious step that a more accelerated change – especially in hardware – was needed for those who not only wanted to create, but wanted to dedicate themselves professionally to it. Either they take their hobbies very seriously, or perhaps because they have a gift for painting, music, and writing. Really, that’s what the last name Pro, for Productivity, is about.
The first iPad Pro was an excellent model that straddled two worlds: the good ideas of the iPad Air and what was expected of a more powerful version. It was, however, in the presentation of the 2018 iPad Pro when Apple was fully successful: I remember the exact moment in the Steve Jobs Theater when that Apple Pencil 2 magnetically stuck to the top, and began to charge. People around applauded spontaneously because that is the way everyone expected it to happen.
And that design was the way everyone expected a Pro to have: away from normal iPads, integrating the latest technologies such as Face ID or the Liquid Retina display and taking advantage of the wingspan of the first model to display screens as large as 11 ”or 12 , 9 ”. Now we have the same screen, with the P3 color space, True Tone for the calibration of the warmth of the colors with respect to the room and the spectacular ProMotion at 120Hz – which achieves fluidity in graphics and transitions to another level – and Improve response time with Apple Pencil.
We have the same screen, and we are still delighted with it: the perfect viewing angles, the lamination with anti-reflective touch to avoid, for example, that right now I don’t see myself reflected on the IA Writer screen working in Dark Mode, the definition and depth of colors … It is great to watch movies but also to create: from an inspired text, a 3D plan or a sketch for an agency client – everything in this device is designed to turn it into a content generation tool , with total quality.
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As in the last 16 “MacBook Pro – at the level of” requirement model “- perhaps you could ask the brand for more resolution or 4K screens … but why? In a size such as these devices mount, a screen with that resolution would become a drain on the battery, and therefore energy efficiency, which would reduce the life and work cycles of the tasks that we really need to do. And even so, this screen looks magnificent (note that the 12.9 ”model has a not inconsiderable 2732×2048 pixel resolution), largely due to its 600 nits of brightness that makes the image look sharp even outdoors .
I also want to highlight the TrueDepth Camera, the optical sensor bar in charge of the FaceID but that in a device like this is used for something as fantastic as the recording of 1080p videos with the front camera, with portrait mode, Animoji, facial detection … A whole compendium of advances that for example we do not have on any Mac today. In these days of teleworking from home, it is when we realize the versatility and quality of a device like this, for example for teleconferences.
The good ideas are also kept in the design, which mimics the 2018 version in dimensions, weight and form factor. To order, we would ask for a reduction in the thickness of the edges, which will come sometime in the future but sincerely, now it does not need it either. Weighing 473g or 643g (11 ”or 12.9” models), they are perfectly sustainable by hand, and sometimes look like one of those science fiction dares. In short, on the outside it is the same design as the previous generation and even so, it is far ahead of the rest.
When we turn the new iPad Pro we see the great physical change evident in this generation: the addition of two new wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle cameras, very similar to those mounted on the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro, but with differences. For example, the wide-angle cameras on both devices are 12 Mpx, with the same aperture of f / 1.8, 2x optical zoom and up to 5x digital, but the ultra-wide angle on this iPad Pro is 10Mpx. Of course, we gain in change of vision already up to 125 degrees against the 120 of the iPhone 11.
Wide-angle photos look spectacular on the big screen of the iPad Pro, but it doesn’t seem like the most comfortable device to take them: perhaps that’s why we won’t have the optical stabilization of the iPhone 11, nor the night mode. However, 4K video recording is maintained even at 60fps in ultra wide angle mode, and slow motion video at 1080p at 120fps or 240fps (in ultra wide angle mode). All this continues to improve the overall of the previous generation, advancing at a steady pace to almost catch up with contemporary iPhone, which is appreciated in a device not very comfortable for it.
It greatly improves the capture of images or videos from the device itself in case we need it, but it should not be our first option if we have an iPhone or a camera at hand. In this “all in one” that is the iPad Pro, taking pictures or videos is appropriate for sketches, quick work shots or any content that we need to do here and now without leaving the device or using any external accessory. But without a doubt, the improvement in the camera comes from the hand of the next thing that I want to comment on.
One of the great novelties of this iPad Pro is the inclusion of a LiDAR scanner, the acronym for “Laser imaging Detection And Ranging”. It is a 3D sensor that measures the reflection of a pulsed laser light beam in nanoseconds, operating in nanoseconds at the photon level. This means that it scans at extremely high speed, practically instantaneously, a room 5m away from the device at most.
This absolute wonder is going to be in the next probes that NASA will send to Mars shortly since it is widely used in geography or archeology for its ability to map a terrain in 3D immediately. It is also used in many autonomous cars where responsiveness is paramount. Or even more amazing, at the beginning of this March 2020, Mayan houses and pyramids never seen before were discovered in Yucatan, using this technology. It is a more faithful representation of reality than the use of infrared point capture, which for example uses Face ID as it is short-range (approximately 1m) against the 5 meters allowed by the iPad Pro sensor.
Why do we want this on an iPad Pro? When will we start to see applications that use it? Well that’s the best part. All the Apps that use the ARKit (the programming tool to create extended reality applications), are already using the LiDAR scanner. It is the operating system that is responsible for managing LiDAR and instantly transfer the representation of reality to the application. And yes, it shows: do you know about those Augmented Reality Apps where you have to move the iPad on the ground to detect it? Now there is no need to do it: the App opens, the LiDAR projects reality to the App and we are already playing Hot Lava in our living room, Minecraft Earth in the middle of the field or watching a dinosaur cross the street.
Or put a virtual IKEA furniture in our living room, and see how a real person passes in front of it, covering it: it is called a virtual occlusion and allows combining artificial intelligence patterns (using the processor’s Neural Engine) to distinguish a type shape (a person, for example) to hide the covering part of the figure created in augmented reality.
We haven’t seen anything yet – developers will be able to use this development kit to design even better experiences by making the most of sensor data. Soon we will see such interesting Apps that they will take advantage of this technology to capture movements in an incredibly precise way, just using the iPad Pro – a huge advance for 3D rendering and modeling studios. One could even improve the taking of photographs by making the camera detail and outline those objects or shapes closest to the objective by knowing its three-dimensional representation.
Before continuing: Many people wonder why Apple has invested so much effort in this, when we have not yet seen all of what this technology can give of itself. This is similar to when people thought about why we needed a GPS on a mobile with iPhone 3G – and nowadays almost any application uses it in different ways. It is a spectacular technology that we will surely see much more at WWDC20 with the arrival of iPadOS 14.
The launch of the iPad Pro in March breaks the cycle of the typical launch of the annual iPhone model and then the Pro version of the Apple tablet. This time we are in a position between generations, so Apple has chosen to improve the areas of the A12X chip that this model needed most, and for which this review works perfectly well. Let’s look at the data that Geekbench 5 offers us about the device:
Here we already see some interesting things, such as the analyzed version of the iPad Pro (the 12.9 ”model) has 6GB of RAM, and works at 2.49GHz. The basic differences between this A12Z and the A12X is the increase in cores, reaching up to 8 cores for the GPU (the graphics processor – possibly the most essential part of the device). This is where we see the distance with the previous model:
The 2020 iPad Pro achieves a Metal Score of 10269 against the 9146 of the 2018 iPad Pro or the 6265 of the iPhone 11 Pro Max. That indicates that it is approximately 40% more powerful in graphics than the current fastest iPhone with an A13 Bionic processor. It is especially noticeable in applications or games with high graphics performance, such as the ubiquitous Fortnite or image processing applications such as Lightroom or Afterlight.
Undoubtedly, all graphic representation on these machines, with this power combined with the 120Hz screen, are spectacular: from the Apple Arcade games and their graphics as “author”, as the aforementioned applications. Those that use augmented reality also accelerate considerably: one of the most difficult tests to do with a stylus, such as tracing curved lines at high speed on the screen to observe the distance between the drawn point and the actual tip of the pencil, this iPad Pro far exceeds it. The distance is not appreciable between the virtual point and the authentic pencil, giving completely the sensation that we are drawing on the paper.
One of the improvements made to the MacBook Air also unveiled a few days ago is the inclusion of new, improved, professional-quality microphones. It’s also a nice upgrade for anyone who needs decent sound capture quality and doesn’t have any accessories to record them – on this iPad Pro we have for the first time five high-quality microphones spread across the span to not just capture sound, also to filter it when recording.
Another major improvement is the advent of Wi-Fi 6, a new ultrafast wireless communication protocol – already under the new nomenclature of the Wi-Fi Alliance, or it would be called 802.11ax. This standard is fully compatible with the previous standards, and can go up to 1.2 Gbps in theoretical operation. The improvement is not only in speed, this standard also makes it easier to connect a multitude of devices under the same network, improving transmission efficiency and reducing the error rate in communications. In other words, it is faster and allows it to work better in highly saturated device networks. Apple also adds support for 30 different Gigabit LTE bands, and incorporates Bluetooth 5.0 to connect the latest devices that use it quickly and safely.
All these improvements in graphics power, cameras, connectivity or even improvement in RAM do not manage to deplete the battery: it continues to endure the theoretical 10 hours of navigation that the brand sets as the baseline, and which are achieved thanks to the optimizations of the operating system and energy efficiency software from Apple’s “custom” ARM processors. In fact, one of the changes in this model is precisely that energy efficiency controller that allows the device to have sustained performance even at peak performance – without the need for fans or active cooling systems.
This new iPadOS comes from the factory with the iPadOS 13.4 version that includes the official support for mouse and trackpad that Apple showed us a few days ago. I was always quite skeptical about using something like this on a mobile operating system that has been designed from the ground up to work tactilely – in some ways it seemed like a “step back”. One thing is a Surface that is actually a tablet-shaped laptop, but an iPad was coming from the opposite direction.
Apple however did begin to explore the ability to bring a pointer to iPadOS, especially for something they themselves have always said: a touchscreen MacBook is not comfortable to use. And after all, an iPad with a keyboard is the same format, screen and keyboard on a flat surface. I think many of us who for this same reason did not see the usefulness of bringing it lacked that comfort on the desktop that is already beginning to be our main “computer”. Not as a precision pointer (for that in the iPad Pro we have something even better, the Apple Pencil), but as a quick use without lifting your hands from the table.
Starting with iPadOS 13.4 – which will be available to everyone this week – any iPad compatible with iPadOS 13 will be able to have this support for any trackpad or mouse that can be connected to the device via Bluetooth or USB-C (or with an adapter). Still, I didn’t see it clearly until I tried it on this iPad Pro, and I understood that more than a surrender to the desktop it is a sum to what we already have, adapted to the metaphor that iOS started in 2007. The cursor here is not an “arrow” to use, but a small pointer more in line with the tactile world in which we are changing depending on your situation. However, when you hover over a specific App control, it becomes that lit control – like stepping inside it. In a very similar way to how we scroll through Apps on tvOS.
Automatically it approaches the closest icon or control, so it makes the movements with the mouse very comfortable, which are even better if we have a trackpad. For example, for this analysis I have been using the Magic Trackpad 2 from Apple, which also adds different “combos” of gestures that are very familiar to us in the Mac world:
Go to the home screen: three fingers up Launch the Apps selector: three fingers up and a pause Switch between Apps: swipe with the three fingers to the right or left Right button (the context menu that appears in iOS when we left-click on an item): click with two fingers Show the Dock: move the cursor to the bottom and click Show the Control Center: Click on the status bar in the upper right corner Notifications: Click on the status bar in the upper left corner
There is nothing to learn. They are the combos that we already know and that now in iPadOS make us go faster. The cursor is very useful at last in spreadsheets or writing texts like this, where I hardly touch the screen at any time and I can control everything with the trackpad. We can even unlock the iPad if we press the trackpad and slide all three fingers up, Face ID will detect us and we’ll be inside.
Does this mean that we might get to see some MacBook in the future? Everything is possible, but perhaps this interaction does not work the other way: macOS is not prepared to work in a tactile way and there are very complicated controls and components to press with just the finger. If you have ever used Sidecar on the iPad and use the touch screen, you will understand.
This small change is an interesting improvement if you usually work with the iPad on a table, perhaps not so much for illustrators or designers who will continue to use the Apple Pencil: you can continue to do so, the inclusion of this option does not rule out the other, thanks that Apple has known to value the opinion of those who requested it, implementing it in a slightly different way and more adapted to the environment. This use will be greatly enhanced with the arrival of the highly anticipated Magic Keyboard in May, turning the 2018 iPad Pro (because it is compatible) and this into a whole productivity combo – which we will talk about later.
This 2020 iPad Pro is a very good update to the 2018 model: it’s faster, it has better cameras, sensors never seen before for augmented reality, more RAM, more internal memory (goodbye to the 64GB disk, now all models start at 128GB and can reach 1TB), better connectivity (Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0), five new high-quality microphones … but it also maintains all the good ideas of the previous one: the design, the weight, the screen ProMotion 120Hz P3, support for Apple Pencil 2 and changes like the arrival of the cursor or the Magic Keyboard.
This sum of features is equivalent to a consumer tool, but tremendously creative and powerful for the needs of a wide spectrum of people where they need to create something new in a different device than the one we had on the desktop – where the possibilities continue to grow generation after generation and are They also complement with new accessories, wrapped in construction quality and with very well thought-out goals.
It all started on a couch, but we don’t know where this journey will end. It is perhaps the most exciting part of a device like the iPad Pro: the concept we have right now will perhaps be radically different from the one we will be talking about in ten years. This ability to adapt to the moment and to adopt the technologies that can take it further, is also another of its great characteristics.