Hello new iPad Pro, goodbye Home button

Apple showing off its new iPad Pro at the Howard Gilman Opera House in New York City on Tuesday. The new device has an all-screen front, with no "notch" and very thin bezels. It features up to 1TB of internal flash storage.
Apple showing off its new iPad Pro at the Howard Gilman Opera House in New York City on Tuesday. The new device has an all-screen front, with no "notch" and very thin bezels. It features up to 1TB of internal flash storage.PHOTO: NYTIMES

Apple swops Touch ID for Face ID, Lightning port for USB-C; device on sale from Nov 7

Apple has unveiled its most drastic redesign of its iPads in years with new iPad Pros that ditch two mainstays of the company's previous slates - the Home button and the Lightning port.

The iPhone maker announced at a special event held at the Howard Gilman Opera House in New York City on Tuesday that the new iPad Pros use Face ID, Apple's face detection technology, for biometric authentication instead of the Home button or Touch ID.

The iPad Pros were the last Apple mobile gadgets to have the Home button. With this move, the new iPad Pros have an all-screen front with very thin bezels. Yet, the tablets do not have the "notch", which houses the TrueDepth camera needed for Face ID, found in the latest generation of iPhone XS.

The new iPad Pros are just 5.9mm thin - 15 per cent thinner and 25 per cent smaller in volume than their predecessors.

While the days of the Home button have been numbered since they were left out of the iPhones, perhaps the bigger news is how Apple has ditched its proprietary Lightning port in favour of the USB-C port for the new iPad Pro. With USB-C, it allows for connectivity to 5K monitors without the need for an adaptor. It can be even used to charge other devices, like the iPhone.

The Apple Pencil 2, which can be used with the iPad Pro, has also been updated, with the metal ring on its top gone. It can be connected magnetically to the side Smart Connector for storage as well as pairing and wireless charging. Furthermore, a double tap on the stylus allows for a quick change of the tools on the iPad Pro.

The updated iPad Pros come with the new A12X Bionic chip for up to 90 per cent faster processing speeds and twice the graphics performance than its predecessors. It also features up to 1TB of internal flash storage, up from 512GB previously.

 

Apple even claimed that its new iPad Pro is faster than 92 per cent of all PCs sold in the last 12 months.

Mr John Ternus, Apple's vice-president of hardware engineering, said: "The iPad Pro delivers Xbox One S-class graphics performance in a package that is much smaller."

It is a clear sign that Apple is advocating the iPad Pro as a laptop replacement. But analysts do not foresee this to happen any time soon.

"While Apple is advocating iPad Pros to replace laptops, I do not foresee that happening for the majority in the near future. The Windows and macOS ecosystems are still very strong with many productive applications and legacy applications in enterprises," said Mr Kenneth Liew, associate research director at market research firm IDC Asia/Pacific. "For the general users, that possibility is getting closer, with many consumers ditching their PCs and moving to mobile devices like tablets and smartphones."

The new tablets will be available from Nov 7 with prices starting from $1,199 for the 11-inch version and from $1,499 for the 12.9-inch version.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 01, 2018, with the headline 'Hello new iPad Pro, goodbye Home button'. Print Edition | Subscribe