Apple just announced its largest iPad ever, the iPad Pro. Like Microsoft’s Surface Pro, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is designed to straddle the gap between laptop and tablet, and allow users to create content rather than merely consuming it. It brings a massive screen, “desktop-level” power, and accessories like a keyboard and stylus that allow new ways of interaction.
The iPad Pro’s resolution of 2,732 x 2,048 pixels gives it higher resolution than the 15-inch MacBook Pro and more pixels than any other iOS device. Even with the gargantuan size of the iPad Pro, it is still 6.9mm thin and only weighs 1.57 lb, around the same weight as the original iPad.
The display has a unique aspect ratio that allows two full-sized iPad Air apps to run side-by-side in portrait mode on the iPad Pro. Like the 5K iMac, it has a variable refresh rate to conserve energy. Apple’s Phil Schiller claims the Split View on iOS 9 was built with the iPad Pro in mind.
Internally, the iPad Pro runs on the new A9X chip, Apple’s second 64-bit chip with double the memory and double the storage performance. It is a huge step up from the iPad Air 2, which ran on the A8X chip. Apple claims this is “desktop-level performance” and should be faster than 90 percent of portable PCs when it comes to graphically intensive tasks.
Apple also claims the iPad Pro will have full-day battery life, which should amount to 10 hours. It has a four-speaker audio setup for the first time on an iPad, with audio volume three times louder than the iPad Air 2. Touch ID and an 8MP iSight camera have been added to the iPad Pro, and it will have 802.11ac Wi-Fi and LTE support.
The big changes to the iPad Pro come with the accessories. Apple launched two new accessories, the Smart keyboard and the Apple Pencil.
The Smart keyboard is built in the same way as the smart cover, and snaps on using a new proprietary magnetic connector that carries both power and data. When the physical keyboard is not needed, a full-sized software keyboard is also available. Apple will allow developers to change the design of the keyboard on the iPad Pro to fit with different apps.
The Apple Pencil is the company’s first stylus for iOS. It allows more precise drawing capabilities, previewed by Adobe at the event with Photoshop and Illustrator. The pencil should be able to distinguish faint strokes from bold presses, hopefully interesting professional artists and visual designers.
The iPad Pro will be available at $800 for 32GB of onboard storage, $950 for 128GB of onboard storage, or $1080 for 128GB and LTE. The Apple Pencil will be available for $99, and the Smart keyboard will cost $159 — both sold separately. All will go on sale in November.