10.5-Inch iPad Pro Early Impressions: The Anticipation is Strong With This One

BY Evan Selleck

Published 14 Jun 2017

Earlier this month Apple officially announced the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, which effectively replaces the 9.7-inch variant and offers up some pretty noteworthy improvements at the same time.

Story time: I was supposed to get the 10.5-inch iPad Pro yesterday, but life got in the way, and I missed the delivery. Thankfully I was able to stay firmly planted at my place today awaiting the arrival of Apple’s newest tablet, not really knowing what to expect from it. I’ve read the reviews that cropped up earlier this week, and the glaring positivity was almost daunting.

And before we dig in to my early impressions, I want to note a couple of things: The original iPad convinced me to switch to Apple’s mobile operating system way back in the day, which eventually led me to an iPhone, and so I’m a big fan of Apple’s tablets. The other side of that coin, however, is that I haven’t always figured out a need for one. I’ve owned every variant of the iPad at some point, but I’ve rarely kept them.

That changed with the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, and, well, if my time with the 10.5-inch model is any indicator so far, it’s going to be sticking around, too.

So that’s all out of the way, let’s get into the tablet itself. When Apple unveiled it on stage earlier this month, and they talked about the reduced bezels, it was noticeable that they were smaller, but I wasn’t all that impressed at the time. That changed the moment I saw it in the box, though. While the top and bottom bezels aren’t too different, the reduced profile on the sides is really nice.

It became even more apparent when I set up the iPad Pro next to me and just put something on to watch. Having a tablet that’s a lot of screen –and not just because it has an almost 13-inch display– is a bonus all around as far as I’m concerned, especially when I watch as much content as I do. The smaller bezels are the right move, but I also like the fact that they haven’t been completely abolished (yet). Holding the tablet on the sides, while reading for instance, would be a real pain if I had to keep dealing with accidental screen touches.

Let’s go back to watching content. One of the reasons I loved the 9.7-inch iPad Pro (and the original 12.9-inch model when I had it) was the four speakers. I watch a lot of movies, and YouTube, and those speakers are fantastic. They are still just as great this time around, too. Content is loud and balanced.

And then there’s the display, which is basically just working on an entirely different level. This thing is ridiculous, and that’s coming from someone who prefers OLED panels. It gets ridiculously bright, the colors pop, and the 120Hz refresh rate (which you can see in action right here) is something I want on every device I use with a touchscreen now.

It feels like Apple is showing off with its panels now, even without harping ridiculously high resolutions along the way — not that the resolution on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is bad by any means. Apple is likely to switch to OLED displays at some point in the future (sooner rather than later for iPhones), but there isn’t a bad thing about this screen that I can find so far.

The 10.5-inch iPad Pro’s display just makes me hope that we see the same amazing quality out of those oft-rumored OLED screens in the future.

I haven’t spent a lot of time with it yet, and these are the parts that just stood out to me. I haven’t tried out the camera yet (taking pictures with an iPad isn’t my cup of tea), and other parts are just typical expectations, like the fact the tablet, despite its bigger display, is still ridiculously light and comfortable to hold and use. Touch ID is ridiculously fast, just as we’ve seen in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. And while it’s way too early to say definitively, I think it’s safe to say that the A10X Fusion processor under the hood is another aspect to the iPad Pro that shows Apple is just running up the score at this point.

My early impressions of the 10.5-inch iPad Pro are all positive, which I think should be expected at this point. Apple has been working on refining and perfecting its tablet lineup since the original iPad landed on the scene. We’ve seen the lineup shrink below the size of a pencil for Pete’s sake. And while iOS has improved over the years, so has the iPad hardware, leading us to this point, where Apple is showing off just how great its tablets can be.

I do need to point out one thing, though: Anticipation. I might be the odd-person-out here, but I don’t think iOS 10 on the iPad is all that bad. However, with that said, I’m chomping at the bit here to get iOS 11 on this thing. To the point where I might break my rule of not using betas and give it a shot. All the features that Apple announced for the iPad tied into iOS 11 are must-haves at this point, and while the newest iPad Pro is fantastic in its own right right now, I think it will break through any barriers it might have as soon as iOS 11 drops.

(That’s the 10.5-inch iPad Pro (on the right) compared to a closed 12-inch MacBook (on the left).)

Do I think you should wait to buy the 10.5-inch (or 12.9-inch) iPad Pro until iOS 11 arrives? Well, honestly, no, because this tablet is already fantastic. Yes, it’s going to get better, and yes those improvements are substantial, but that doesn’t somehow make the 10.5-inch iPad Pro any less spectacular right now.

I have to try out the Apple Pencil, the new Smart Keyboard, and then put the 10.5-inch iPad Pro through its paces over the next several days. Once I’ve done that I’ll come back with a full review of Apple’s newest tablet and let you know what I think.

Who of you out there have already picked up your new iPad Pro? If you did, what do you think of it?