Read next: The iPad Pro review.
There's Apple's best-seller — the iPhone — and then there's iPad. That's not to say that iPad is a poor product; quite the opposite, actually, with the word "iPad" having become synonymous with "tablet." The issue is around tablets themselves. Consumers don't upgrade them as often as they do smartphones, and iPad sales have been slumping.
Apple's solution? Going all in on iPad, showing off a souped-up version of iPad today called iPad Pro. If you've been reading the rumors leading up to the event, you're not remotely surprised by this.
What I was surprised by, when I got some hands-on time with the tab today, is just how large it is. It has a 12.9-inch diagonal display. This is not your iPad mini, or any other 7-inch tab. This is not a cross between a tablet and a phablet. It doesn't even feel comparable to your standard 10-inch variety. It feels...big.
Technically, it's slightly thicker than last year's iPad Air 2 (6.9mm thin vs. 6.1mm thin), and it weighs about a half a pound more. All that said, given its size and 10-hour battery claims, it's still remarkably light.
So, aside from size and the fact that it has 78 percent more screen area than other iPads, what makes this worthy of the "Pro" moniker?
First off, it's running on Apple's new A9X processor, which the company says is a desktop-class CPU.
With 5.6 million pixels, it has, according to Apple, the highest-resolution display of any iOS device — higher than even a Retina MacBook Pro. The display also has increased sensitivity, due in part to its brand-new sidekick: the Apple Pencil.
Yes, Apple made a stylus.
This is the part where the iPad Pro starts to sound a lot like Microsoft's Surface tablet. The aesthetics are very different, but until we can get our hands on the iPad Pro for an extended period of time it's tough to say exactly how powerful it is (or how useful its accessories are).
I can tell you that the $99, all-white stylus felt light in the hand when I used it to scribble in Notes and draw on a picture in Apple's native Mail app. When I used the Pencil at an angle, I was able to alter the boldness of my writing or shade just as you would with an actual writing utensil. It also felt fast, unlike some styluses that suffer from latency issues. But again, I didn't use it for an extended period of time.
As with Microsoft's Surface Pro stylus, you can use it with certain applications, but not all applications.
There's also an iPad cover that doubles as a magnetic "smart" keyboard, that will sell for $169 with iPad Pro. It's covered in connective fabric, and the keyboard itself has no internal battery; it's powered entirely by the iPad. Most shortcut commands are the same as the ones on a standard Mac, though some app-specific commands are likely to emerge as developers make iPad apps with the keyboard in mind.
Of course, Microsoft also makes a snap-in accessory keyboard for its Surface tablet. Perhaps fittingly, Microsoft executive Kirk Koenigsbauer was the first person Apple's Phil Schiller welcomed on stage after the iPad Pro announcement, to show the capabilities of Office for iPad on the new tab.
A new Adobe app, called Adobe Fix, was demonstrated as well. A woman's unsmiling face was automagically turned into a smiling one, with Adobe Fix.
The iPad Pro will ship in November and starts at $799 for a 32GB device. For one with 128GB of storage, you're looking at $1,079. It will be available in silver, gold and space grey.
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