I really can’t fault Apple with this approach. Although the basic design of the iPad Pro was first introduced in 2018, it’s still a beautifully designed piece of hardware. It features one of the best screens Apple has ever made, and it still surprises me that the company can pack so much power into such a compact frame.
- Incredibly powerful M2 chip
- Great battery life
- The screen and industrial design are still best in class
- A useful new feature of the Apple Pencil Hover
- The front camera is in an awkward position
- The stage director isn’t fully baked yet
While this year’s model looks a lot like what Apple was already selling, it arrived at an important time for the evolution of the iPad. That’s thanks to iPadOS 16, which was launched last week. For most iPads, it’s the expected set of useful improvements – but for the iPad Pro, it introduces a new multitasking system called Stage Manager. It’s an obvious answer to the question we tech reviewers (and many iPad Pro owners) have been asking for years: When will we get software that will let us harness the power of the iPad?
Gallery: Apple iPad Pro (2022) review photos | 10 photos
Gallery: Apple iPad Pro (2022) review photos | 10 photos
First, quick activation. The iPad Pro is still available in two sizes: 11 and 12.9 inches. Storage options range from a modest 128GB to 2TB, and you can configure it with an optional 5G radio when there’s no WiFi. And when you’re at home, it supports WiFi 6E, while last year’s model was limited to WiFi 6. As usual, we reviewers play with the iPad’s near-best: the 12.9-inch model with 1TB of storage and Verizon’s 5G service. This iPad Pro costs $1,999, and that’s before you add a $129 Apple Pencil and $349 Magic Keyboard. We’re in the MacBook Pro or Mac Studio territory at this point.
At least, the iPad Pro still feels like a device that’s worth that kind of money. (Whether he is A different question.) The fit and finish are still exceptional, and while the 1.5-pound weight makes it a bit more of a burden compared to smaller, lighter iPad models, I’m still impressed by Apple’s ability to cram such performance into an ultra-compact device. There are other well-designed tablets on the market, but I still don’t think anyone has caught the iPad Pro.
The 11-inch model should still handle the same Liquid Retina LCD display that’s been around for a few years now, but the 12.9-inch version has a Liquid Retina XDR panel that was first introduced on the M1 iPad Pro in May of 2021. This mini LED backlight monitor delivers 2,596 local dimming zones to deliver a wide dynamic range and 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio. It also has up to 1,000 nits of full screen brightness and 1,600 nits of peak brightness when playing HDR content, Which can really make movies pop.
There’s nothing new in the screen this year, but it’s worth highlighting just how good it is. Both iPad Pro models also have a 120Hz ProMotion refresh rate; P3 wide color gamut support; screen fully laminated front glass; and anti-reflective coating.
Just like last year, the iPad Pro has a 12MP Ultra HD front camera that supports Face ID authentication. This wide-angle camera supports Center Stage, which crops and zooms around your face to keep you center stage in a video call. That’s all well and good, but unfortunately, the iPad Pro still has the front camera on the vertical edge of the screen, which means you’ll always be somewhat off center and not look directly at the screen if your iPad is in the keyboard dock. This has been true of all iPads for years already, but now that the base model has got a landscape-oriented camera, we’ll be eagerly waiting for Apple to implement it across its entire range.
The rear cameras are the same too: there are 12MP ultra-wide and 10MP ultra-wide options, along with a flash and a LIDAR scanner. However, the M2 processor unlocks a new video trick, as the iPad Pro can now record video in Apple’s ProRes codec at 4K resolution at 30 frames per second, a feature first introduced in the iPhone 13 Pro. Admittedly, this is a niche feature, but it shows the M2’s improvements over its predecessor.
From an accessory point of view, the iPad Pro uses the same second-generation Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard that have been available since 2018 and 2020, respectively. Magic Keyboard still offers the best typing experience you can find on an iPad, even though the entire package is pretty heavy. It’s also quite expensive, as I mentioned earlier. Now that the new Magic Keyboard Folio for the base iPad offers a row of function keys and a slightly larger trackpad, I’m really missing out on those features here. But if you make a living with words, as I do, they are still an essential tool.
The Apple Pencil remains a tool that I’m not particularly adept at evaluating, because I seriously lack visual arts skills. I wish I could sit and draw and draw and make the wonderful creations I’ve seen others do, but it just doesn’t happen. If you’re a visual artist, you probably already know how well Pencil works.
The M2 on the new iPad Pro also enabled a new trick called Hover. If the pencil is within 12 mm of the screen, icons and interface elements can interact with it. The simplest example of this is how to increase the size of the application icons when you hover over the pencil, to show you what you are about to click. This works at the system level, at least in Apple apps. Third-party developers will have to build Hover features into their apps, but it should be a nice new tool in the Pencil arsenal. One place I was able to view it in the Notes app; When using your new watercolor brush, you can move the pencil over the screen to see how the color will interact with other elements you’ve already drawn.
I found another great Hover app in the excellent Pixelmator Photo app for photo editing. Moving and moving the stylus across a bar of different filters at the bottom of the app will automatically apply them as a preview. It’s a quick and fun way to see what your photo will look like. However, it’s something you can actually do with your trackpad and pointer; So far, a lot of the Hover actions I’ve seen are direct copies of what you can do when you hover over a widget using the trackpad. But I look forward to seeing what developers come up with in the future.