iPad Pro Review: A great slate

When Apple announced that it planned to release a smaller version of its iPad Pro our curiosity was piqued.

Despite having a smaller battery and a smaller screen the same A9X chip that the 12.7inch Pro boasted would a make a return.

This, and the tablet would also have full support for the Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard cover, both of which we received for review as well.

Straight out of the gate we’re going to warn you that unless you are comfortable working on iOS with a touchscreen this isn’t a notebook replacement, but even if you only use the iPad Pro for playing around, you might find yourself surprisingly impressed.

iPad Pro Review: So what are we dealing with here?

Apple’s A9X chipset doesn’t chug; it blazes through tasks. There is only 2GB of low-power DDR4 RAM rather than the 4GBs the 12.9inch boasted, which isP probably due to the device’s size constraints.

You notice this lack of RAM coming through as screen lag when the slate is reaching the end of its charge and when multiple apps are running. It’s a bit annoying but it’s not a deal breaker. Once you’re in apps they run at a decent pace and we never experienced crashes that forced a restart.

Despite being smaller, the battery is rated at 27.9Wh which produces 12 hours of screen time. However, our model was fitted with Wifi only so if you opt for the LTE option expect a lower screen-on time. Charging takes roughly two and a half hours to reach 100% so charging it overnight is our recommendation.

When you do need to juice up the iPad, or transfer files, the familiarity of the Lighting port is welcome.
When you do need to juice up the iPad, or transfer files, the familiarity of the Lighting port is welcome.

The display is good but it isn’t great. From an arm’s length everything looks good but once you bring it in closer you start to notice a few pixelated edges here and there. Brightness is also not an issue for the slate with full brightness giving you ample viewing comfort in direct sunlight, just remember to turn it down before you get indoors because it will blind you.

iPad Pro Review: So what did we do with it?

For one, we played a lot of Hearthstone. Hey, Apple wanted to send us the iPad at the same time Whispers of the Old Gods is out, we can’t hate on that sort of convenience factor.

Given that we’ve now played enough of the game to make people sick, we are happy to report that the iPad handles games very well though we did find ourselves wishing that the loading times were just that little bit faster. That doesn’t mean that the iPad is slow but rather that it could do with a slight speed bump.

The iPad also flies through most tasks including emails, web browsing and watching movies without fail.

Speaking of which, the iPad has four speakers that pack quite a wallop. During our time with the iPad we only ever cranked the sound up to full blast once, and that was during a Skype call with some friends gathered around the table trying to hear the conversation.

Two speakers on top and two at the bottom.
Two speakers on top and two at the bottom. The back of the iPad really does latch onto fingerprints though.

So about the Pencil. It’s a really big, and by extension, extremely awkward to hold, stylus that has pressure detection, which allows you to press harder to get dark lines and if you touch the screen lightly you’ll get lighter lines.

The touch display and Pencil work really well together and you can get some drawing done if you are the artistic type. I’m not but I’ve included a screen-grab of my artistic prowess.

My handwriting is that untidy and I can draw that well.
My handwriting is that untidy and I can draw that well.

The 12MP snapper at the back of the slate is also, very good but that makes sense because its the same sensor that we saw in the iPhone 6s. You will still look a bit out of place holding a massive tablet up to grab a snap but at least your photos will look great. Our usual slew of unedited examples follows below.

Finally, the Smart Keyboard cover attaches to the iPad with a satisfying magnetic click. From there the cover can be used to prop up the iPad or protect the back cover though you can only really use the keyboard when it’s propped up. The keyboard is actually rather nice to use. It’s a far cry from a proper keyboard but we never felt like using the keyboard was a chore we’d rather not do.

iPad Pro Review: Conclusion

The iPad Pro is, great, as I mentioned unless you are comfortable working on iOS it isn’t going to be a notebook replacement. That said if  you really want to give it a go this smaller iPad Pro is a great starting point.

The small screen is comfortable to hold and easy to manage. The camera is superb in good lighting conditions but is extremely noisy in the dark. The performance is somewhat hampered by the low amount of RAM but that is really our only major complaint in an experience that has been superb up until this point.

Overall then the iPad Pro is a really great tool with admirable performance, you don’t absolutely need one but if you’re considering handing over the R11 899 needed to make the Wifi version your own (the iStore has a whole variety of options including the 12.9inch monster and cellular options that support LTE) you’ll have a really great tab.

[su_box title=”Details” box_color=”#f37021″]

Chipset Apple A9X with the M9 motion coprocessor


Storage 16GB

Connectivity Wifi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (Cellular version has support for LTE)

Interface Thunderbolt charging port, finger print scanner

Camera 12MP (primary), 5MP (front)

Battery 27.9Wh non-removable Lithium ion battery

Operating System iOS 9.3.2

Optional Accessories Apple Pencil (RRP R2 299), Smart Keyboard (RRP R3 349)



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