First look

iPad Pro's better design, function

Apple's new iPad Pro sees a major overhaul in both design and function.

The Home button - used for the Touch ID fingerprint recognition function - is replaced by Face ID, Apple's face-detection technology. Instead of using your finger, you use your face to unlock the iPad.

Unlike the Face ID of its iPhone X cousins that works only in the portrait orientation, the Face ID of the iPad Pro works in both portrait and landscape orientations.

The absence of the Home button allows Apple to push the iPad Pro's display to the edge of the tablet. I am surprised that the thin bezels are still able to accommodate the TrueDepth camera needed for Face ID.

It really feels like you are holding a display instead of a tablet. This is especially so when you are watching a movie, as the black bezels virtually disappear when alongside the black borders of the movie.

The iPad Pro still has a metallic unibody, but is now made of 100 per cent recycled aluminium - meaning it is more environment-friendly.

Its sides are flat like an iPhone SE, unlike the curved edges of its predecessors.

 
 

I think Apple has given it flat sides so that it can accommodate the new Apple Pencil 2 stylus ($189).

Unlike the original Apple Pencil that plugs awkwardly into the Lightning port for charging and pairing, you just attach the new Apple Pencil to the right side of the tablet, where the Smart Connector used to be.

The Apple Pencil 2 magnetically attaches to the devicefor pairing and charging. It is also a neat way to keep the stylus with the tablet.

The Smart Connector has been relocated to the rear, near the bottom USB-C port, where the Lightning port used to be. Yes, for the first time, the iPad Pro uses the USB-C instead of the Lightning interface.

The USB-C port lets the tablet be connected to even a 5K monitor, as well as lets it charge an iPhone.

With the change in the Smart Connector's location, the Smart Keyboard Folio has also been re-designed. It now covers the front and back of the iPad, unlike the previous model which covers only the front.

It now allows for two viewing angles instead of one. But you can use the folio's keyboard with the iPad only in landscape orientation.

The iPad Pro has been upgraded with the A12X Bionic processor that is supposed to be up to 90 per cent faster in processing speed and twice as fast in graphics performance compared with its predecessors.

During the demonstration, apps ran really fast and editing images felt smooth. But I will know how fast it really is only when I put it through its paces in a full review.

The new iPad Pros come in two colours - silver and space-grey. There is no longer a rose-gold option.

However, there is now a 1TB model, in addition to the 64GB, 256GB and 512GB models.

The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $1,199 for the Wi-Fi-only model and $1,419 for the Wi-Fi and cellular model, while the 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $1,499 for the Wi-Fi model and $1,719 for the Wi-Fi and cellular model.

If you want the top-of-the-line 12.9-inch iPad Pro Wi-Fi and cellular model with 1TB storage, it will cost a whopping $2,839 - more expensive than many laptops in the market.

• The new iPad Pros are available today at Apple online and retail stores as well as authorised resellers.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 07, 2018, with the headline 'iPad Pro's better design, function'. Print Edition | Subscribe