New iPad Pro 2018: Should you upgrade?

Apple has finally announced the latest instalment of its high-end iPad Pro range, first leaked earlier this year.

Known simply as iPad Pro, the revamped 2018 model was unveiled at Apple’s iPad and Mac event in October alongside the new MacBook Air and Mac Mini. Apple’s new iPad Pro for 2018 replaces the discontinued 12.9in iPad Pro 2017 but sits alongside the 10.5in iPad Pro from the same year.

Apple has made several changes to the iPad Pro formula for this model. Some of them are minor adjustments, such as a revamped Smart Keyboard and screen size changes; others are major, like the introduction of Face ID a new liquid retina display and an all-new design. Oh, and the headphone jack has now gone for good.

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Here’s everything you need to know about Apple’s brand-new iPad Pro 2018 devices ahead of our review, which will come shortly after launch.

iPad Pro 2018: Price and release date

Usually, Apple releases its iPad Pros in the first half of the year, not since 2015 have we seen one released this late in the year.

Preorders for the iPad Pro 2018 are open right now on Apple’s online store, and the devices will ship on 7 November. You’ll also be able to snap up an iPad Pro 2018 from retail outlets then too.

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If you’re wondering how much an iPad Pro 2018 will set you back, you’ll be pleased to know that pricing is rather complicated. While prices start at £769 for an 11in device, and £969 for the 12.9in iPad Pro, there are sixteen different configurations available between the two products.

Prices differ depending on screen size, storage space, and 4G or Wi-Fi connectivity. The prices for the screen sizes and different storage spaces are below, and it costs £50 more if you want your iPad Pro 2018 to come with a mobile connection alongside Wi-Fi.

11-inch device

12.9-inch device

64GB

£769

£969

256GB

£919

£1,119

512GB

£1,119

£1,316

1TB

£1,519

£1,719

If those prices for a tablet don’t make you balk, then you’re in luck as Apple has even more ways for you to spend money on an iPad Pro. Like Microsoft with Surface Pro 6, Apple hasn’t included its redesigned Apple Pencil nor its Smart Keyboard Folio so you can look forward to spending more on those too.

The redesigned Apple Pencil is available for £119, and the Smart Keyboard Folio comes in two sizes (for respective iPads) and cost £179 and £199 respectively.

iPad Pro 2018: Design

The iPad Pro 2018 looks noticeably different from previous iPads, with one notable omission is the removal of the Touch ID home button. It also features a reduced bezel, a more angular form factor, and a screen that stretches (almost) to the edges of the tablet. As with practically every iPad announcement, it’s also the thinnest iPad ever – measuring just 5.9mm in thickness.

The tablet retains Apple’s Retina Display, as seen in the iPhone XR, which Apple promises brings “industry-leading colour accuracy” in addition to True Tone balancing and low light reflectivity.

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As previously mentioned, the iPad Pro 2018 comes in two sizes, 11in and 12.9in, although it should be noted that the screens aren’t actually these sizes. However, the near edge-to-edge technology means the screen is still massive.  You’ll also be able to buy these new iPad Pros in two colours, silver and grey.

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iPad Pro 2018: Features

With the iPad Pro 2018 model, Face ID has finally come to the iPad. Like the recent iPhone Xs, Apple has dropped Touch ID in favour of the facial recognition tech which can work in both portrait and landscape mode. Face ID can also be used to log in to apps and authorise payments.

To facilitate Face ID the front of the tablet has Apple’s TrueDepth camera system, with three cameras that also aid in Memoji and Group Facetime functions. The rear 12-megapixel camera allows for augmented reality apps, 4K video shooting and document scanning.

Apple suggests the tablet will have a 10-hour battery life, although we’ll have to run our own tests to find out for sure. In comparison, when we tested last year’s 12.9in iPad Pro 2017, it ran for over 12 hours.

One interesting addition to the tablet is the inclusion of a USB Type-C port. This replaces the Lightning port of previous iPads and suggests that Apple could well be moving away from its proprietary connector.

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The change was likely made to increase the range of products and devices the iPad Pro can connect to. Apple states how you can now connect it up to a camera to transfer images, or directly into an instrument to record music. It’ll also support connectivity for external monitors and workspace setups too.

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Unfortunately, this move also means Apple has ditched the headphone jack. Don’t worry too much as Apple sells an adaptor to let you connect via USB Type-C, but if you don’t want to shell out for that you’ll just have to enjoy the 4 speakers the tablet boasts. The headphone jack removal is also an interesting move as, for many creative professionals – especially those involved in music – Bluetooth headphones just don’t cut it for audio quality and USB Type-C connected cans aren’t prolific enough just yet.

In terms of actual functionality, the iPad Pro 2018 runs on iOS 12 with all its unique functions (and problems). Thanks to the A12x bionic chip, with 8 core CPU and 7-core GPU, Apple says the iPad Pro is capable of running 5 trillion operations per second – which is a wholly pointless statement to make about a chip. However, this basically translates into enough power to help Apple run advanced graphics and give its machine learning algorithms a kick.

New Apple Pencil

To make the most of the redesigned iPad Pro for 2018, Apple is also selling a redesigned version of the Apple Pencil.

The new pencil now comes with a touch sensor on it to easily change size and shape of a brush or pencil while using it. It also features a magnet so it can slap to the side of your device a la Microsoft‘s Surface Pen, and it also uses wireless charging to help it charge from the side of your device too.

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Smart Keyboard Folio

Apple has also redesigned the iPad Pro’s keyboard folio with an all-new Smart Keyboard Folio. Aside from being a keyboard and case for the iPad Pro, it’s been slimmed down and revamped slightly so it now has two viewing angles, as opposed to the single angle that the previous version utilised. It’s still not quite as intuitive as Microsoft’s Type Cover, but it’s a step forward.

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