Apple 12.9-inch iPad Pro (2017) review: More pricey, but practically perfect

£769
Price when reviewed

12.9-inch Apple iPad Pro (2017) review: Performance and battery life

Major updates to Apple products usually bring with them performance upgrades and the 2017 iPad Pro is no different in this respect, including the most powerful processor to grace an iPad yet. The A9X chip found in the previous mode iPhones has been beefed up to the triple-core 2.4GHz A10X (with embedded M10 motion co-processor) and it’s accompanied by 4GB of RAM and flash storage up to 512GB.

Whatever the stats, this is a tablet that feels consistently nippy and responsive. Even when editing video, even at 4K resolution, the iPad Pro didn’t slow down. Tasks from video playback to side-by-side email and web surfing were swift and easy to accomplish.

If you do examine the numbers, though, prepare to be amazed because the A10X is blindingly quick, and its predecessor was no slouch. A Geekbench 3.1 single-core result of 3,935 (up from 3,192) and multi-core result of 9,292 (up from 5,413) are significant improvements.

I also ran the GFXBench Manhattan tests, which delivered results of 46fps (up from 33fps) for the onscreen test and 108fps (up from 79fps) for the offscreen test, which is run at 1080p. Again, these are seriously, seriously impressive results: faster than any Android or iOS tablet we’ve ever tested, and faster than a Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 ultraportable running an Intel Core i7-7Y75 processor.

The other critical component of performance for any tablet is battery life, and that’s an area in which Apple’s iPads have always been consistently good. At least, they usually hit Apple’s claims; I’d very much expect that to be the case here.

And this year’s iPad Pro bested last year’s by over three hours. In our video-rundown test, in flight mode with the screen set to a brightness of 170cd/m2, the 2017 iPad Pro lasted 12hrs 18mins as opposed to last year’s 9hrs 8mins. 

apple_ipad_pro_12

It’s also worth noting that, if you run this comparison with Windows-based 2-in-1 tablets such as the Surface Pro, the picture becomes more positive for the iPad Pro.

So, for a laptop-type product, that battery-life figure is actually pretty good. It will last you a full working day, and as always with Apple tablets, the iPad Pro won’t lose charge when you put it in standby. This means that the next time you go to pick it up and use it, it will almost certainly have a decent amount of battery life remaining – unless you’ve left it for weeks, of course.

Indeed, the only tablet for work I’ve seen recently that outstrips the iPad Pro for battery life is the Google Pixel C, which is in second place in the graph above.

Apple iPad Pro review: Verdict

The original Apple iPad Pro was a stunning machine and despite the relatively minor upgrade, the 2017 model is simply incredible. It’s faster, feel more fluid in use than before and remains every bit as good as the original.

It is more expensive than before – but despite this, the iPad Pro is not bad value

Add the Smart Keyboard or a rival setup and you have a credible laptop alternative, with decent battery life and Apple’s unparalleled choice of big-screen, touch-enabled apps. The Pencil adds a whole new dimension of usability and is an even more enjoyable peripheral to use thanks to the 120Hz display.

It is more expensive than before. Add it all up and you’re spending more than £1,000 for the full set of tablet, Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard. But despite this, the iPad Pro is not bad value in the current market. For your money you’re getting a fast, capable laptop running on iOS, and an eye-poppingly good tablet with ear-tingling audio to boot; an equivalent Windows 10 ultraportable or 2-in-1 will cost you at least this much.

And, while there are still some people for whom the 12.9in iPad Pro won’t be suitable – those who absolutely must use full-blown Photoshop, for instance, or Adobe Premiere – for most it’s a brilliant alternative to Windows tablets and actually more capable.

Fancy a proper laptop instead? Read our guide to the best laptops of 2016 to find the right one for you

Apple iPad Pro specifications

ProcessorTriple-core 2.38GHz Apple A10X
RAM4GB
Screen size12.9in
Screen resolution2,732 x 2,048
Screen typeIPS
Front camera7 megapixels
Rear camera12 megapixels
FlashYes
GPSYes (Cellular model only)
CompassYes (Cellular model only)
Storage (free)64/128/512GB
Memory card slot (supplied)No
Wi-Fi802.11ac
BluetoothBluetooth 4.1
NFCNo
Wireless data4G (Cellular version only)
Dimensions306 x 6.9 x 221mm (WDH)
Weight677g (Wi-Fi); 692 (cellular) – without keyboard
Operating systemApple iOS 10
Battery size41Whr

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