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iPad Pro 10.5 Review: Still a laptop beater?

5

The Good

  • iOS 11 improvements
  • Slick performance
  • Great battery life
  • Media monster

The Bad

  • Accessories sold separately
  • No expandable storage

Apple’s iPad Pro 10.5 is one of the most essential professional tablets of the moment, boasting incredible performance and a much improved user experience in iOS 11.

Tablets have come a long way in recent years, evolving from simple devices that you can browse the web with, to power-packed laptop replacements which can chew through any task going.

Apple’s iPad Pro family is just one example of cutting-edge tablet tech. Professionals and creative users can ditch their notebooks and carry this surprisingly slender tab around instead. With the keyboard cover and Apple Pencil accessories, it’s possible to smash out a novel or sketch wherever you roam. Or of course, you can stitch together an Ultra HD movie, edit documents and apply finishing touches to your photos. Whatever you want to do, chances are these premium iPads can manage it.

The original 9.7-inch Pro has now been retired, replaced instead with this 2nd-gen 10.5-inch model. You can expect some refined design work and Apple’s latest mobile tech crammed inside of this tablet, while the new iOS 11 experience offers a streamlined and satisfying means of interaction.

Here’s our full iPad Pro 10.5 review, written and compiled entirely on the device itself.

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iPad Pro 10.5 review: Design

This new 10.5-inch model is a great size, offering a larger screen than the older 9.7-inch iPad Pro, crammed into a chassis that’s about the same dimensions. That’s thanks to the skinnier bezels, while the device remains impressively slender. At just 469g on its own, Apple’s tab won’t have your biceps aching, even with extended use.

Beneath the display you’ll find a TouchID sensor as usual, for verifying your identity. As expected, this is impressively accurate and unlocks your tablet almost instantly. The only time it fails is when your fingers are sticky, which for us happened a lot while cooking - some kind of FaceID mechanics would’ve been pretty useful in those cases.

While the new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus rock a fresh new metal and glass chassis, the iPad Pro 10.5 sticks closely to Apple’s old design language. That means you have a metal rear which curves around the edges of the tablet, offering a rugged finish that’s quite resistant to scratches and scuffs. This size of Pro comes with a choice of four colours, one of which is the ever-lovely rose gold number.

What works?

A bigger screen with the same slender design, plus that traditional rugged metal finish.

What doesn’t?

The Pro doesn’t exactly shake up the ageing iPad look and feel, despite those slimmer-than-ever bezels.

iPad Pro 10.5 review: Screen and media

Apple’s 10.5-inch Retina display is an LED panel, packing a 2224x1668 pixel resolution. The result is crisp images, along with impressively realistic colour reproduction. While standard colours don’t pop as much as they do on more vibrant OLED screens, the natural-looking hues really shine when viewing professional photos or kicking back with a movie.

We found that 10.5-inches was spacious enough for any task we threw the iPad’s way. Photo and video editing, gaming, design work and even split-screen multitasking is perfectly comfortable on the whole.

You also get the usual True Tone tech on board, which essentially just makes the display warmer to the eye when conditions aren’t bright. It’s a natural extension of the usual night modes (also available on the Pro) and works fine, offering a comfortable viewing experience that automatically adjusts to suit your environment.

The iPad Pro shines when it comes to the audio side as well. Like the original model, you get quad edge-mounted speakers that blast music at an incredible volume, clearly cutting through even quite obnoxious background noise. We could happily watch a bit of Netflix while working at a hot stove, for instance, with people jabbering away right next to us. And even when the volume is quite high, the sound quality remains quite strong; not too much of the finer detailing is lost.

You can of course connect wireless headphones if you want, although there’s no Bluetooth 5 support for streaming audio to two sets at once. Meanwhile the 3.5mm headphone jack means you can get wired pairs connected too.

You get a choice of storage options for your media and apps, with the same selections as the bigger 12.9-inch model: 64GB, 256GB and 512GB. That base model should suit anyone who simply wants to mess around with documents, browse the web and so on, while video editors and more creative professionals might wish to upgrade. Sadly there’s no microSD support as usual, so you’re stuck with whatever you choose.

What works?

The gorgeous screen and powerful audio make for a great entertainment experience on the move.

What doesn’t?

No expandable storage, as ever.

iPad Pro 10.5 review: Features and accessories

The Pro 10.5 comes with iOS 11 pre-installed and it’s a significant step up for Apple’s mobile OS, offering a richer tablet experience. For one, the new dock interface makes it a lot easier to switch between apps on the fly, or get two of them working side-by-side. The likes of the Control Center have also been overhauled, to make them more satisfying to use.

Smart home control has also been improved, with even greater support from Apple Home. Thanks to Airplay 2 support you can even stream your music (be it from iTunes, Spotify or whatever) to every room in your house simultaneously.

Check out our in-depth iPad and iOS 11 tips and tricks guide to see how Apple’s new software features really shine on the Pro 10.5.

As with the other Pro tablets, this model offers an optional keyboard cover and Apple Pencil support. The keyboard cover is great if you want to smash out emails or that sexy vampire novel on the move, offering well-sized and well-spaced keys that provide tactile feedback when pushed. We’re fans of the Pencil too, which is ideal for sketching up a storm or simply annotating documents.

However, it’s a shame that these pricey accessories don’t come bundled with the device, as they really do add to the overall experience.

What works?

Apple’s latest iOS 11 software is designed with iPad use in mind, while the accessories help to enhance the overall experience.

What doesn’t?

If you pay up for the keyboard cover and Pencil on top of the original cost of the Pro, your savings are likely to take a serious hit.

iPad Pro 10.5 review: Performance and battery life

With Apple’s A10X Fusion chipset on board, the 10.5-inch iPad Pro can happily deal with anything you throw at it. Even editing 4K video isn’t an issue, thanks to the capable M10 coprocessor. And of course the most demanding games play with a perfect frame rate.

That said, we did see a rather odd bit of slowdown just the one time, when using Google Docs at the same time as Chrome. Thankfully a quick reboot sorted it right out and the issue didn’t pop up again.

Battery life is solid considering the smarts packed inside the Pro. We easily made it through a full day of work using just this tablet, even with Spotify blaring non-stop throughout. You can stream video for roughly ten hours on a full charge too, which is ideal for those long-haul flights.

What works?

Slick performance and long battery life makes the Pro an ideal companion for any travelling professionals, or anyone who wants a powerful entertainment device.

What doesn’t?

In this case, pretty much nothing.

iPad Pro 10.5 review: Verdict

The iPad Pro doesn’t do much different compared with the older 9.7-inch model, although you do now get a slightly more spacious screen packed into the same dimensions. With strong accessories support, impressive A/V chops and premium performance and battery life, this really is the ultimate tablet for professionals and creative users. It’s not cheap though, and we’re a bit miffed that the keyboard cover and Pencil don’t come bundled.

Key Specs

  • 10.5-inches
  • 2224x1668
  • 469g
  • iOS 11
  • 7MP
  • 12MP
  • A10X Fusion
  • TBC
  • 64/256/512GB
  • Optional
  • TouchID, Apple Pay, Pencil and Keyboard Cover support

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