With dimensions of 12 by eight inches, Apple's latest tablet release is literally their biggest to date. The super-sized iPad Pro is being pitched as a legitimate substitute for a laptop or desktop PC, but does it offer users more than merely a larger screen?
The first thing you should know before heading to the shops is that the iPad Pro, in its default state, represents something of an incomplete product. Users aiming to bring the most out of their device are also encouraged (with some justification) to also purchase the Apple Pencil - an exclusive fine-tipped digital pen - as well as the new Smart Keyboard. And that's just the hardware; fans have also been told not to expect any Microsoft freebies, with the iPad Pro having been deemed too big to support complimentary office use, a perk reserved for iOS devices of 10.1 inches and under. Against this, there is Apple's promise to compensate with a selection of built-in apps, but on closer inspection these represent little more than the bare tools required for the most basic tablet use.
Fortunately, the App Store has purportedly been replenished with a wellspring of downloadable content designed to enhance your iPad Pro experience experience - Adobe's custom-built Photoshop app being one such confirmed example. Once levelled with the charge of being fiddly and labourious, the iPad's touchscreen, used in tandem with the aforementioned pen add-on, now supports quick and easy precision strokes - the perfect tool for photographers looking to add the final touches to their snaps. With the option to use two separate apps simultaneously facilitated by Apple's new split screen function, artistic users will also be able to draw inspiration from online material without having to constantly click back and forth between their web browser and paint canvas. If for nobody else, the iPad Pro brings meaning to its name for creative professionals, particularly those forced to endure long train commutes.
So far, so gimmicky - but how does performance compare to that of a larger machine? The new A9X chip has been lauded as a touchstone in tablet technology; a powerful processor capable of propping up the device's huge screen without adding significantly to the weight or thickness (in case you were wondering, this model is still remarkably thin and easy to carry, even if some may find it awkward to hold). Speaking of the screen, the iPad Pro - as one might expect - boasts display resolution unrivaled by any handheld device currently on the market. Combine this with a four speaker sound output capable of generating some serious range, and bedtime Netflix bingers needn't worry about the quality of their favourite shows being compromised. And that's not all: it has also been fitted with a sophisticated self-moderating power-saving system to ensure no battery life is flippantly wasted during periods of low activity - another tick for commuters.
This time, nobody can accuse Apple of a slick marketing campaign designed to conceal a product bereft of new features. The iPad Pro is assuredly a significant upgrade on previous tablets, its large screen, while only slightly impinging portability, giving it a distinctly different feel from its forebears. But there are other, more subtle improvements as well: longer battery life, a more responsive touch-screen, easier multi-tasking. Across the board, Apple have succeeded in making the iPad a viable work tool as well as an outlet for leisure.
The only downside is the cost: the iPad Pro is smaller and less durable than most laptops without this being reflected in its price. Factoring in expenditure on add-ons - the Smart Keyboard if not the Apple Pencil being a prerequisite for most - we are talking about a significant outlay on hardware alone. Nevertheless, it still represents a worthwhile investment if your career has you out on the field rather than chained to a desk.