iPad Pro Hands On Review (9.7")

Introduction

My first iPad was the 2012 iPad Mini. I used it mainly for taking notes, browsing, playing some games, etc. I loved my Mini as it had the perfect form factor, big enough to be differentiated from my then iPhone but small (and light) enough to use in one hand. It was pretty fast for a year or two before this happened and I eventually stopped using it. After that for a couple of years I did not buy an iPad frankly because other than for taking notes, I did not have a pressing need for one. And even for that I had a lot of trouble using third partly stylii with my iPad Mini due to issues like too much lag, poor quality and reliability of the stylii. Another reason was that my iPhone was getting bigger and better and was approaching my iPad Mini in size and capability, voiding my need for an iPad. So when I got a good deal for thanksgiving this year why did I buy an iPad Pro? One reason (mainly), the Apple Pencil (here is my review of the Apple Pencil). After a few weeks of using the it, here is my iPad Pro Hands On Review in a list of likes and dislikes.

My iPad Pro hands on review is based on the 9.7" 2016 128GB model (Image Source: Apple.com)

My iPad Pro hands on review is based on the 9.7" 2016 128GB model (Image Source: Apple.com)

Like: Display

The display on the new iPad Pro 9.7" is in one word, gorgeous. The colors pop out more without being garish or un-natural. The display detail is super accurate be it in 4K videos or be it in action games. Also another aspect of the display is the true tone effect where the display adjusts its attributes (like the contrast) based on the ambient lighting conditions of the iPad. Apple claims that this makes using the iPad more natural. I am not sure if all this is helping, but what I have realized is that I can use my iPad (particularly for games) way longer than I could my older iPad Mini or even my iPhone 7 Plus for that matter without developing any eye strain.

The colors pop out more on the iPad Pro without being garish or un-natural.

The colors pop out more on the iPad Pro without being garish or un-natural.

The display detail is super accurate be it in 4K videos or be it in action games.

The display detail is super accurate be it in 4K videos or be it in action games.

Dislike: Heft

Now, don't get me wrong. At 0.96 pounds, the 9.7" iPad Pro (mine is a Wifi only model) the iPad Pro is a light device. And it is only 0.23 pounds heavier than the iPad Mini 2. But believe me, along with a simple folio case that I have, the iPad Pro feels heavy, but only for the one hand use. Unfortunately for my use case there are a lot of times I need to use the iPad in one hand, like while taking notes, specifically. Another point to note is that for one handed use, the iPad Pro's bigger foot print is also probably making it feel more heftier than it is actually.

Though the iPad Pro weighs only 0.96 pends, along with a simple folio case that I have, the iPad Pro feels heavy, but only for the one hand use (Image Source: Apple.com) 

Though the iPad Pro weighs only 0.96 pends, along with a simple folio case that I have, the iPad Pro feels heavy, but only for the one hand use (Image Source: Apple.com) 

Like: Battery life & Performance

In my iPad Pro hands on experience so far, it is blazing fast, be it in games or while editing photos or videos or just while browsing through a lot of Safari tats. I have so far not encountered even once when I had to force quit Apps or close tabs. However having had a bad experience in the past in terms how my iPad slowed down in a couple of years, I will take a final decision on the performance of the iPad Pro in a year or two after a few more iOS upgrades.

Another thing about the iPad Pro is its excellent battery life. I have had a few occasions where I have had to use the iPad Pro the whole day, mostly taking notes, browsing, checking emails and playing games. Almost the whole time, during these days, the iPad Pro was in more than 60% brightness. By the end of such heavy use days, I had at least 10-15% of the battery left.

Dislike: iOS on the iPad Pro

iOS (at least as of today) still feels like a smartphone OS. This is even after the iPad only improvements that Apple has made on the iOS for the iPad (like split screen, floating video pop out screen, etc.). There are two aspects to this dislike from my side. One is obviously the lack of Pro or Desktop grade features like even more improvements on multitasking and split screen implementation. Secondly even things that should be independent of what platform you are using, like Safari are too constrained or broken on the iPad.

There is an option to request a desktop version of the site on mobile Safari. It makes sense for using the mobile version of Safari on the iPhone, but the iPad is almost as powerful as the Mac and the 9.7" screen is almost as big as the 11" Macbook Air. So there is no reason for Safari on the iPad not to be as fully functional as on the Mac, but thats not the case. Try managing a Squarspace blog on Safari for the iPad for instance. All the building blocks are apparently there but nothing works. You cannot insert or manipulate blocks, or anything for that matters. My question is simple, who is at fault here? Why isn't Safari behaving the same on the iPad even though the hardware capability is obviously there?

Even if you request the Desktop version of a site on Safari on the iPad, Safari on the iPad is not as functional as on the Mac, not even close. 

Even if you request the Desktop version of a site on Safari on the iPad, Safari on the iPad is not as functional as on the Mac, not even close. 

Like: The Apple Pencil-iPad Interaction

With a major dislike as the previous point, I have still decided to hang on to the iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil is a big reason for my decision. I will post a separate review of the Apple Pencil itself a little later, but here I will mention a few things about the Apple Pencil - iPad interaction.

  1. There is almost no delay while using the Apple Pencil on the iPad Pro
  2. Using the Pencil to write on the iPad feels almost natural. And this is no ordinary feat to achieve as, remember you are writing on a glass surface, that is the iPad screen.
  3. Another most important thing about using the Pencil for taking notes on the iPad is Palm refection. I know that, part of the credit for this goes to the Apps themselves, but for enabling a 100% palm rejection with the Apple Pencil, Apple deserves full credit and is well appreciated. I've never experienced such a perfect experience with any other stylii.
  4. Last but not the least, the App selection, enabling the Apple Pencil on the App store is really good. Just for taking notes with the iPad and the Pencil, I have already found atleast half a dozen really good choices.
The Apple Pencil interacts with the iPad flawlessly

The Apple Pencil interacts with the iPad flawlessly

Wish list for the next iPad Pro

  1. When Apple introduced 3D Touch or Force Touch on the iPhone, there were a lot of skeptics and I was one of them. But the more I started using 3D Touch on the iPhone the more dependent on it I became. I did not realize how much I had been using 3D touch till I started using the iPad Pro which does not have this feature. So 3D Touch for the iPad Pro is high of my wish list for the next iPad. 
  2. The iPhone 7 has a solid state home button that is not a button that moves physically, but rather a button when pressed on sends a haptic feedback to your finger, emulating an experience of pressing a physical button. Apple's claim of using this on the iPhone is to save space. It was one of those features or changes that I personally took a while to adapt to and quiet frankly hated in the beginning. But again without me realizing it I had become so used to it that now I find the physical home button on the iPad Pro almost unusable! So Apple, please unify the home button experience on all the iOS devices as soon a possible, please...

Conclusion

As seen from the above list of my likes and dislikes, it should be clear that the biggest plus of the iPad Pro is the Apple Pencil and its biggest downside is iOS. However I am optimistic about the iPad and am confident that iOS for the iPad will only improve from here.

The biggest plus of the iPad Pro is the Apple Pencil and its biggest downside is iOS.