MY 2020 IPAD PRO AND MAGIC KEYBOARD REVIEW

For the longest time, I could never truly find a genuine use for an iPad or a tablet. For the most part, an iPad was always just a huge iPhone that couldn’t make calls. Not saying that this was a bad thing but for me, I could never recommend an iPad to someone for any reason other than it being great for watching movies and videos.

I have always been a a fan of an iPad and I have always owned the latest version of it. My iPad was always my media device and it was always incredible at that.

There was one thing that always frustrated me. Since the release of the first iPad Pro 5 years ago, Apple kept stating that this new ‘Pro’ version of the iPad was meant for professionals and that it was a laptop replacement. Believe me when I say that I tried everything to try and make my iPad fit somewhere into my workflow and be more than just a media device and I just couldn’t get it right. For work, a MacBook always did everything better, faster and more effectively.

The introduction of the Apple Pencil was great but if you were not an artist, it was just an expensive accessory that you carried around and never used. Also, it had to be plugged into the iPad for it to charge in a manner which Steve Jobs would have been ashamed of.

You had to find a different workaround for each task you needed to get done. Something that would be so easy to take care of on a laptop would require third-party apps. Sometimes it would even require more than one app to accomplish a task. This became very frustrating and I always just went back to using a laptop for work tasks and the iPad was back to being the media device.

A laptop is supposed to have a good physical keyboard experience. Instead, Apple made these thin keyboard case accessories covered with a material that I didn’t enjoy touching at all. These Smart Keyboard cases were flimsy, had no added functionality, they were very expensive and the typing experience was really bad. There were some great third-party keyboards manufactured by Logitech and Brydge but they lacked the polish that we would usually recieve from an Apple product.

But one of the main issues had been the operating system. The iPad always ran the same version of iOS as the iPhone and this is what added to the limitations. Apart from some multitasking features which I didn’t enjoy at all, it was basically the same as using an iPhone. The biggest drawback for me was that even though the iPad Pro was priced similarly to a MacBook, it didn’t even have a desktop internet browsing experience. Websites would detect the iPad as being a mobile device and you would just get a blown up mobile versions of sites which I hated. File management was also a huge mess. This is something which is so simple on a MacBook or Windows PC and it was just impossible to perform simple file management tasks on an iPad Pro.

But to my surprise, just like with the release of the 16-inch MacBook Pro, Apple actually listened to their users and took our feedback. As I watched the keynote presentations over the past few months as Apple announced new software and hardware, it was as if all my own issues and gripes were personally being addressed by Apple.

And then came the 2020 iPad Pro…

After years and years of wishing that I would eventually get an iPad to be the device I wanted it to be, Apple finally granted my wishes. I am very happy to say that as of 30 May 2020, my entire workflow has completely changed because the iPad is finally worthy of the ‘Pro’ title.

DISPLAY

The iPad Pro line always had some of the best mobile displays. It is the reason why it would be my portable media device each year. The Liquid Retina display on this iPad Pro is colourful, bright and a pleasure to look at. Promotion also allows the display to automatically adjust the refresh rate of the screen up to 120hz.

As you can imagine, watching high resolution movies and videos is amazing. Especially with the amazing surround sound speakers, the experience is great.

If you are into photography or design, you’ll be happy to know that this display delivers a really wide array of colours – It registers 122.9% of the sRGB colour gamut. With a Delta-E score of just 0.34, the colours are also extremely accurate on this iPad.

Overall, the iPad’s display trumps everything else in its category.

PERFORMANCE

This 2020 iPad Pro is equipped with Apple’s new A12Z Bionic processor. The A12Z Bionic offers an 8-core CPU and a new 8-core GPU which should delivery a huge boost in graphical performance. The horsepower in these iPads are incredible. This iPad is so much more powerful than most laptops which is really impressive considering the fact that this is still a mobile device.

Honestly, I don’t even think that I was ever able to fully put this processor through any strain even though I do put the iPad through some really heavy usage.

The iPad is so powerful that it is changing the way that professionals work in the video and music industries. It is being used for 4K video editing as well as music production which is amazing. I was able to collaborate with my team on a development project which consisted of thousands of lines of code and I could follow the project and work just form my iPad.

One thing I can guarantee is that you will never have any issue running any task, playing any game or even doing both of these at the same time. This incredible performance means that you are covered for a very long time if you are an owner.

iPADOS

On 25 September, Apple finally gave the iPad its own mobile operating system. iPadOS was released a few days after iOS 13 and millions of users couldn’t wait to get it installed. Not only did the introduction of iPadOS bring all the features and optimisations from iOS 13 to the iPad, but it also brought some desktop-like features and functionality which is exactly what I and millions of power users needed.

FILES APP

The Files app was upgraded to bring better file views, quick actions, the sharing of folders and it now even supported external drives. You are able to connect a hard drive, a flash drive or a SD card reader to an iPad which opens up a lot of use cases for many users.

It isn’t anywhere near the level that it is on a MacBook but it is miles better than it was previously and it is actually very usable now.

MULTIPLE APP WINDOWS

Multiple instances of the same app can be opened simultaneously so you can have two windows of the same app opened side-by-side.

App Exposé Allows users to hold down on any app icon to be able to view all the open windows for each app and makes switching between the windows easier as well.

SAFARI DESKTOP BROWSER

This was definitely the most important feature for me. The iPad now has a desktop browser which opened up a lot of possibilities for me.

At my Software Agency, the developers who work on our projects log all their work on our online portal which is accessed through a browser. So this meant that I could keep track of my entire business from my iPad. We also develop a lot web-based software so I was able to moderate a project from my iPad as well.

On a whole, the entire internet browsing experience is absolutely amazing. It works just as it would on a MacBook. All that is missing now is the inclusion of browser extensions which would take this to a new level.

THE APPLE PENCIL

I am not an artist and I do not do any creative work with a stylus but the Apple Pencil is now an important tool for me. I use it for marking up and signing documents daily. It also comes in handy when brainstorming an idea or planning out a project because taking notes with it is great.

IMAGE SOURCE: digitalartsonline.co.uk

Also, the issues of easily losing your Apple Pencil as well as the charging issue were resolved with the release of the 3rd generation iPad Pro. The Pencil connects magnetically to the top of the iPad and it is also charges wirelessly from this position which is amazing.

This 2nd generation Apple Pencil is much better in my opinion as well. It feels better in hand and I’ve had no issues with it at all.

I especially enjoy that you can swipe with the pencil from the bottom edge of the screen in any app and immediately start marking up what is on your screen. Also, when your iPad is asleep, all you need to do is tap the Pencil on the screen and you can immediately begin taking down a note.

THE MAGIC KEYBOARD

Everything that I mentioned above already meant that the iPad was finally capable of being a useful work tool for me but this is what actually makes all of it a complete package. Gone are the days of the material smart keyboard cover. The Magic Keyboard is a proper ‘Pro’ tool which makes the iPad Pro into something very special.

The keyboard itself is excellent. It is on the same level of the keyboard that you will find on the 16-inch and new 13-inch MacBook Pros. In fact, I actually enjoy typing on this keyboard more than both those new MacBooks. It is that good. The keys have some great travel and feel really satisfying to type on.

The trackpad on the iPad is great as well. Apple introduced the inclusion of mouse support officially so you can now use any mouse or trackpad with your iPad. Apple’s implementation of mouse support into iPadOS is genius. I was a bit skeptical when I heard about the mouse support because we are so used to iOS being so limited and simple. But they blew me away by the implementation how it works on iPadOS. The UI of apps and the OS still looks the same but when moving your cursor near any option, button or panel, the cursor sort of just flows onto that element. Eventually, you get so good at it that you are able to get the cursor to flow onto the exact element you are trying to select. It’s really difficult to put how it works into words. It has to be experienced.

It also looks really cool when opened. The iPad sticks to the top of the cover with some very strong magnets and then the back cover can be tilted and adjusted to a suitable viewing angle. This means that the iPad looks like it is floating which is an excellent design accomplishment. I would like the tilt to be a bit more adjustable but it isn’t a dealbreaker at all. The keyboard itself is heavier than the iPad itself but that is because it needs to be to be able to support the iPad. This isn’t an issue at all in my opinion because it still weighs the same as a MacBook or laptop. I would have loved for there to be a row of function keys on the keyboard but it is fine to just use your finger on the screen. Hopefully this is added in the next generation.

The build quality, typing experience, design and the functionality that the Magic Keyboard adds to the iPad Pro is excellent but all of this does come at a price. The Magic Keyboard costs R6999/$299 for the 11-inch version and R7999/$349 for the 12.9-inch version. Yes, this is really expensive but for those who do not need this professional tool, the regular smart keyboards are available for approximately half the price of these.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The iPad Pro is now a professional tool and together with the Magic Keyboard and the Apple Pencil, it really is something really impressive. It is the perfect tool for creative professionals.

So, can the iPad Pro finally replace your laptop? For most people, yes definitely. For someone like me that depends on desktop software and hardware for professional work, I still need a powerful laptop or computer – but that is not what this iPad is intended for. 90% of people use their laptops for emails, web browsing, video conferencing, note taking, media consumption, spreadsheets and gaming. For all of these use cases, the iPad Pro is the perfect solution.

You can have a professional typing setup at a desk or you can always just take the iPad off the keyboard and just use it as a tablet or with the Apple Pencil. Everyones use cases will be completely different and that is what makes this such a compelling device.

The iPad Pro, together with all of its accessories, can put a huge hole in your pocket but what people miss is the value that you need to look at when considering it as an option. So yes, it is expensive, but this package will last a decade of daily usage, and for me, that makes a lot of sense.

Not only can the iPad Pro get the job done, but it will get it done in a manner which feels very different than it would on a laptop. For me, the difference is that the iPad brings along a fun factor even when doing something as simple as just typng out a document or taking a note with the Pencil and that is something special.

I had to always carry a laptop and a tablet with me wherever I went and now, when I am not at my desk, I am able to just carry my iPad Pro with me. This device allowed me to change my workflow for the better. It made my life so much more easier and made me so much more productive because of the amount of freedom that a complete package like this offers.

There is probably a whole bunch of things that I didn’t mention and I can go on about this device for hours but I can conclude with this: The iPad finally has its own identity and if you are able to pick one up, then you definitely should because you will not regret it at all. In fact, it will change your life.

CONCLUSION
The iPad Pro is an amazing tool and it can easily replace a laptop for most people. Together with all the accessories, the overall package is really dynamic and can be very useful, especially to creative professionals. All of that does come at a price, however, if you are a professional or if it suits your work, you should definitely pick one up.
DESIGN9.5
BUILD QUALITY9
DISPLAY9.5
SOFTWARE & FEATURES8
DAILY USAGE8.5
ACCESSORIES9.5
PERFORMANCE9.5
VALUE8.5
POSITIVES
MAGIC KEYBOARD IS EXCELLENT
APPLE PENCIL ADDS GREAT FUNCTIONALITY
IPADOS IS GETTING GOOD
GREAT PERFORMANCE
EXCELLENT FOR MEDIA
EXCELLENT FOR GAMING
NEGATIVES
EXPENSIVE PACKAGE
BATTERY LIFE CAN BE IMPROVED
FRONT CAMERA IS AT THE TOP RATHER THAN THE SIDE
9
EXCELLENT
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