Technology

Experience Apple’s new iPad Pro hands-on: it’s thin, light and OLED

Just Apple announced a new iPad Pro, and at a watch party in New York City, some reporters got a first-hand look at Apple’s new tablet. After holding and playing with the device for a few minutes, I can safely say that Apple isn’t kidding about how much slimmer the new model is. At 5.3mm thick for the 11-inch model and 5.1mm thick for the 13-inch tablet, this new iPad is significantly thinner and lighter than anything the company has made before.

It’s such a big difference that the larger model, which I always found to be absurdly huge, feels much more comfortable to hold and use. (And it’s technically even bigger now, up to 13 inches versus 12.9 inches before1) You can practically tell the difference between the Pro and the new Air from across the room and as someone who last year Carrying around an 11-inch Pro for a half, it really is a big difference. The biggest question I have right now is about fragility: Is the new Pro potential? to thin? In my hands it feels rigid and sturdy enough, but with a device like this there are always compromises. We have to do a lot of testing.

The most notable new spec on the new Pro, aside from its small dimensions, is the new OLED screen. It’s a little difficult to see exactly what it looks like at first glance in a crowded room, but even from a distance it’s clear how much sharper the display really is. The “tandem OLED,” as Apple calls it, appears to be very bright and viewing angles are excellent, as is typically the case with an iPad. The screen didn’t immediately wow me as much as the redesign, but it looks great.

As for the M4 chip that powers the whole thing? Well, we’ll see. For most uses, the iPad has long had more than enough horsepower – the M4 is clearly intended for extremely intensive use cases, like the new multicam setup in Final Cut Pro or some of the more advanced artistic features in apps like Procreate. In a short demo it was super fast. The iPad is practically always super fast.

It’s amazing how much lighter and thinner the new Pro feels in the hand.

The key to the new Pro’s appeal is its two new accessories – the new Apple Pencil Pro And the improved Magic Keyboard. The Magic Keyboard looks and feels really good. Its aluminum body and enlarged trackpad are much more premium than what we’ve seen from previous versions. Typing on it felt a lot like typing on my MacBook Air, which was clearly the goal.

Function keys! It has function keys!

And there’s now a row of function keys at the top, making it a much more useful keyboard and trackpad device in general. (Although iPadOS is still not a particularly good operating system for the trackpad, we’ll have to wait for WWDC to see if Apple improves it.)

The Pencil Pro looks like the Pencil but has some nice new features.

The Pencil Pro…well, it feels like the Pencil. You definitely feel the haptic feedback when you press or double-tap, which is a nice addition to the setup, and on the Pro’s screen it was smooth and quick as I drew and moved things. (I’m definitely not an artist, so we need someone to test this more thoroughly.) Most of the coolest stuff is also software, and many of the Pencil Pro’s best features will come from third-party developers.

At $999 for the 11-inch model and $1,299 for the 13-inch model, the iPad Pro is not at all the iPad for casual use – that would be the new iPad Air or even the now cheaper one 10th generation iPad. But Apple wants to bring its best hardware performance to its high-end devices, and this Pro seems to continue the tradition well.

The two sizes of the new iPad Pro.

Photography by David Pierce / The Verge

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