Australia’s first in-depth Apple iPad Pro review

The cost and confusion

Perhaps the biggest conundrum with the iPad Pro isn’t from its massive design or its confusing question of who it’s made for , but rather its price tag, because at $1249 the iPad Pro sits in the same league as some of Apple’s computers.

That’s by itself, too, with no $269 Smart Keyboard and no $165 Pencil, either. Factor these in and you pretty much have the cost of a decent Apple laptop, which could definitely throw people a curve ball, but that price comes back to who needs this, and who this is meant for.

At this point, we’re willing to say that more than anyone else, Apple’s roots are who this is meant for. Specifically, we’re talking about graphic artists and anyone needing to apply ink and line and colour and magic to the page, because this puts itself squarely in the territory Wacom normally works in, with what is basically an Apple-engineered portable Wacom.


It’s not the same, that said, and the Wacom graphics tablets out there allow you to do even more at the moment due to how these connect to Mac OS and Windows, and the real apps with more versatility. We’re not talking basics with these apps, but rather fully fledged graphic environments, allowing you to handle Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and pretty much anything else Adobe puts its name to, or even Autodesk for that matter.

That’s not to discount the iPad Pro, though, because with Apple working with these major software companies, the iPad Pro could become a very big deal, excuse the pun.

However, it is still a very pricey machine, and so we’re in the mindset that while it feels like it could be ideal for students, the over-thousand buck price tag really limits this. Right now, we suspect this will be made for people who draw and sketch frequently, for the artists and architects and storyboard artists keen to get their thoughts onto the page instead of the cocktail napkin they have been using for far too long.


The other part of this dilemma stems from its competition, and that clearly comes from Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 (left), which the iPad Pro (right) feels directly aimed at.

In terms of performance, the two are evenly matched, and they’re pretty close in size, though the iPad Pro has more overall screen size, less weight, and a hair less on thickness.

There is very little difference in the thickness between the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 on the left and the Apple iPad Pro on the right.
There is very little difference in the thickness between the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 on the left and the Apple iPad Pro on the right.

Actual usability is totally different, because while the iPad Pro lets you run some pretty impressive iPad apps made for graphics, it doesn’t let you touch Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, or Illustrator, staples for designers.

For that, you need to turn to something that can handle these apps, and that means Mac OS X or Windows. iOS is close, but while there are other programs that do similar things, right now, the iPad Pro isn’t made for the desktop apps.


Apple’s iPad Pro is a curious thing, and it kind of makes the iPad range a little like Goldilocks and the three bears. That said, we’re retelling the story, because you — Goldilocks — might find the small 7.9 inch Mini to be just right, and you might find the regular “normal” sized 9.7 inch Air 2 to be just right.

But if you prefer big, and find bigger to be better overall, perhaps the Pro will be the one that is just right for you.

It does need to be said, however, that the bigger sized iPad Pro is just that: an oversized iPad. Or not so much an oversized iPad, but a supersized iPad.

Apple's iPad Air 2 on the left, iPad Pro on the right.
Apple’s iPad Air 2 on the left, iPad Pro on the right, for both this image and the one below.


Perhaps the best thing about the genuinely massive iPad Pro is that it feels like you’re working on a piece of the future, with a super-thin tablet that now — thanks to the excellence that is iOS 9 — supports multi-tasking like a real computer, with split-screen app usage.

In fact, paired with Apple’s Smart Keyboard, the iPad Pro manages to almost feel like a 13 inch laptop, which might seem odd given the size, but this is a tablet following the 4:3 aspect ratio, and that makes the iPad Pro seem bigger than what it is.

For this reviewer, the most surprising thing was how quickly it grew on him. Taking it out for the first time, he wasn’t sure. In the hands, it felt like what he thought it would be, and that was just another big tablet.

Big tablets aren’t anything new, either, with both Microsoft and Toshiba trying them out.


But no one does a tablet like Apple, and the iPad Pro finally feels like the consumption device you’d actually be able to use to create content on as well, shifting the paradigm that has been connected with tablets since Apple reinvented them in the iPad.

We could write reviews on this device, and we could administer a website on this device. In fact, we’ve done it before on an iPad Air and an Android tablet before, and yet neither felt like a real computer.

Apple’s iPad Pro gets close, but we don’t think we’d spend this sort of money on one for ourselves. For this sort of money, we’d probably buy a great computer that can run more than just the micro apps that Android and iOS handle.

If you need a 13 inch tablet for digital drawing and painting, you already know you’re getting one, but everyone else, we’d recommend trying it out, because this isn’t just a big tablet that could work as a computer, it’s a big tablet that may not adequately match what you’re after.

It’s an excellent product, sure, but it’s not for everyone.

Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating0 Votes
The screen is freakin' spectacular; Same typical brilliant and sturdy design as the other iPad models; Comfortable to hold, despite its massive size; Great performance with little to no lag; Four speakers (woot!); Excellent battery life; Apple makes it with 4G; Optional Pencil can be paired and charged using the Lightning port at the bottom of the iPad Pro; Pencil is very easy to use, and feels as comfortable as using a real pencil; Apple's Smart Keyboard is an interesting keyboard to use, but it does grown on you;
Every accessory is optional; Nowhere to put the Pencil; Very expensive;