New iPad Pro 12.9" (2018) Review

Discussion in 'iPad' started by booksbooks, Nov 8, 2018.

  1. booksbooks macrumors 6502

    Aug 28, 2013
    I've owned pretty much every iPad made. I've written articles on the history of tablet computers. I've studied the form factor and done usability studies on them. I founded an entire business off of the iPad when it first launched.

    An iPad is an iPad and will always be an iPad.

    I knew that going into this $2000 purchase. New 12.9" iPad, with folio and pencil. Anybody who thinks that the iPad is a laptop or desktop replacement or can even compete with them is either delusional or never needed a laptop or desktop in the first place.

    Yes, the iPad can do a few specific things well. If it didn't, it would have no reason to exist. Here's what the iPad Pro is good at:
    • Surfing the Web.
    • Reading.
    • Editing photos and videos.
    • Taking notes.
    • Drawing.
    • Not much else (I want to say watching videos but even my MacBook Pro is better at that!)
    Is it better at these things compared to my MacBook Pro? Generally, it's better at taking notes, drawing, and reading. That's it. And those three things along with surfing the Web are what I mainly use it for.

    Otherwise, I don't bother using the iPad over my MacBook Pro.

    Here's what the iPad Pro (tablets in general as well) is bad at:
    • Productivity (limited, simplistic operating system with terrible multi-tasking). It really is a giant iPhone that uses a smartphone operating system. Add this to a relatively small screen with no multi-monitor support.
    • Graphic design: need a point and click device.
    • Word processing: it's not lappable, it has limited font support, and takes too long to use multi-touch to create and edit documents using multi-touch.
    • Spreadsheets and other such creative applications: same deal... multi-touch is awkward, slow, and imprecise.
    • Overall multi-tasking: terrible. iOS plain sucks. Period. Getting things into split view, for instance, is like driving a car with an italian transmission: you have to make love to it.
    • Being a laptop. It's not lappable, and only has 2 degrees of screen freedom. The keyboard also kind of sucks.

    Overall Conclusion

    This is the best iPad Apple has produced. But it's still just an iPad running a smartphone operating system. No matter how many ugly accessories people glue and hang off of the iPad, it doesn't change what it is, the same way that make up doesn't fundamentally change what a person is underneath it. The iPad has narrowly confined use cases and is not a laptop or desktop replacement. The new iPads, pencils and keyboard cases are all horribly overpriced. I am not happy about this purchase but will likely keep the iPad. Overall, I will likely use this iPad 15% of the time with my laptop being used the rest of the time.

    Save your money if this device is not a must.
  2. George Dawes macrumors 6502a

    George Dawes

    Jul 17, 2014
    You missed out the iPad's big advantage ;


    When your mac crashes big time , have fun typing in loads of weird unix commands and still get nowhere ( i know i did - not )

    On your iPad just turn off and restart !
  3. Marzel macrumors regular

    Sep 12, 2018
    If according to you the iPad is only good for simple tasks and multimedia consumption how do you justify buying a new one every year and paying $2000 for 1TB for tasks like surfing the web? I’m not trying to judge you here but understand the thought process. Others with iPad Pros, and high storage capacities in particular, claim they use their devices for productivity tasks that you claim you don’t.
  4. Ctyldsley macrumors newbie


    Nov 9, 2018
    I actually agree with pretty much everything you're saying - iOS really needs to improve on tablets. But I am a little curious why you dropped $2000 on the 1TB model if you knew about iOS' limitations?

    It's my main reason for 'only' going for the cheaper 64gb model - most things I use are streamed or via the cloud so tablet storage isn't a big deal for me when the OS side of things isn't all that flexible.

    I truly hope iOS13 leads to some pretty significant improvements in multi-tasking and using that screen estate effectively. Also, let us manage USB-C storage properly please Apple.
  5. fokmik macrumors 68040

    Oct 28, 2016
    Does the non LTE version still has the top and bottom bands?
  6. Davefevs macrumors member


    Dec 14, 2015
    Bristol, UK
    Agree. I have an iPhone 8plus, MacBook Pro (with touch) and a IPad Pro 1st Gen (12.9).

    I love my iPhone for all the usual things you can do on it, but for me the camera saves me carrying another camera (I only had a compact lumix tz8). I have a Moment 2x Tele for a bit of zoom. Took 2.5k photos on holiday to Oz, and for my level of very-amateur photography, I probably wished 50 of those photos were taken with my lumix. The phone isn’t cheap, but I like the iPhone / iPad ecosystem.

    My iPad Pro is used for most other things indoors (taken it to work a few times too). I obviously browse the Internet, emails, notes, view photos / videos (taken on phone), basic editing of photos and videos, etc. I update spreadsheets, write the odd word doc, manage my finances, store all my scanned docs (using iPhone and Scanbot app) into Onedrive. For me, it avoids me needing to use a desktop / laptop 99% of the time.

    So what do I use my MacBook for? It was an extravagant purchase having set my business up and I need a laptop if Client doesn’t force me to use their kit. I use it for:
    - spreadsheet stuff where I want to do more than just =(sum).
    - editing metadata on my photos (there’s probably an app I could use) so they are indexed / searchable
    - backing up my iOS devices to my WD device using iMazing
    - iTunes!!

    If I ignore the extravant MacBook purchase, I can do 99% of my stuff on my iPad Pro. It will last me years doing the 1% I need from it. Could’ve got a cheaper Windows pc, but thought I’d give the MacOS a try.

    There will be a lot of people with similar uses to me, where an iPad upgrade makes sense. For me, I treat it like a laptop, whether it is ir not, doesn’t matter. I don’t have a separate keyboard, I do have a pencil which I use for signing electronic docs and the odd drawing, note taking in work. I will plan to keep the new IPP for at least 3 years (I’m only changing thus one because I only got the 32Gb version and I can afford the 256gb this time around).

    The iPad is whatever you want it to be / however you want to use it. It has its limitations, but so does a laptop.

    If people are genuinely pro users and they can’t do what they need to on an iPad, don’t buy an iPad, or if you do buy one, buy it for what it is....for what you can use it for....and importantly budget.
  7. Rogifan macrumors Core


    Nov 14, 2011
    Why do people who are more productive on a Mac buy an iPad? Just use your Mac if that’s what works for you.
  8. Marzel macrumors regular

    Sep 12, 2018
    Yeah I don’t get that either. I understand people that use iPad Pros for creative purposes where the Pencil is involved but that’s a very narrow use case that doesn’t justify the number of people that buy iPad Pros and high storage capacities in particular. There is nothing the iPad does better than a MacBook Pro (again Apple Pensil aside) apart from being a convenient multimedia consumption device. Personally, I just got the 11” iPad Pro after years sticking with an iPad Air knowing that it covers a very narrow set of use cases.
  9. Mabus51 macrumors 65816

    Aug 16, 2007
    It’s funny TC states that the iPad isn’t good for productivity. Yet I use my iPad Pro more than my company laptop. The only thing I use my company laptop for is Excel on occasion, that’s not the iPads fault. Microsoft’s tablet version of Excel is really just a viewer it’s not even good at basic functionality.
  10. Macalway macrumors 68030

    Aug 7, 2013
    Gotta love these. Guy hates it but will put up with it. :D

    But seriously, some people are surprised that anyone even uses these. But they do use them. I see them at Starbucks all the time. People love them.

    So if it's not for you, I suggest not to spend huge amounts on it.
  11. TrueBlou, Nov 9, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018

    TrueBlou macrumors demi-god


    Sep 16, 2014
    I actually ended up using my 1st gen iPad Pro so much that I sold my then six month(ish) old MacBook Pro TB and went all in on iMac and iPad Pro. Never regretted it.

    I do agree to a point with some of the things the OP is saying, there is a LOT of room for improvement with the iPad Pro as an actual Laptop replacement device.

    But there's a couple of things I'd likely disagree on too. One is Graphic Design needing a mouse. For one thing there's an awful lot of graphic designers (my wife included) who would disagree. Even on a computer many prefer to use devices such as a Wacom Cintiq to get the precision of a pen/pencil.

    Even as a hobbyist and semi-pro myself (I originally trained as an architect,) I much prefer them to mice and trackpads. It's one of the reasons both she and I love the iPad Pro. Particularly with apps like Graphic. And you can use Astropad with iPad and your Mac as a much more affordable and more versatile alternative to a Wacom Cintiq.
    Perfect? No. Useable? More than.

    As for general productivity, I actually do most of my writing on my iPad these days, have done for the past couple of years. I've yet to find it a particular hardship. It's certainly capable of doing the vast majority of tasks. On the rare occasions when I'm away from home and really need a full blown desktop OS. I use Parallels Access to hook me into my iMac and as I keep most of my files in the cloud. I just edit what I need to on the Mac remotely, then switch back to the iPad.

    One other thing is the limited font support of iOS. Yes, iOS has a limited set of built-in default fonts. But are you aware you can add almost any font you want to it? I have added dozens of TTF fonts to both mine and my wife's iPads. Which can then be used in any software.

    There are limits with an iPad, of course there are, but those are slowly, slowly, but surely being decreased.
    It will never replace a laptop for some people until Apple make some serious changes.
    It won't be the tool some people need it to be for a long time, so, don't buy one for that purpose.

    I wouldn't suggest for a moment that what I do applies to everyone, we all have different needs.
    I'm just typing this to point out that there are plenty of people who can use one as a secondary device to their main computer right now - I am one.
  12. Davefevs macrumors member


    Dec 14, 2015
    Bristol, UK
    Nail on head :)
  13. booksbooks thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 28, 2013
    For those of you flaming me as to why I’m keeping it: I do point out how I use it, so it’s not like there aren’t some use cases for it.

    Now for the model. It’s not a 1 TB model. I paid $2000 CAD. The iPad is 256 GB, then add the pencil and overpriced keyboard.

    A lot of people want iOS to be point and click as well, which is dumb. And a lot of people seem to miss something: Mac OS X IS like a hybrid OS. That’s because what people forget is that it has multi-touch. With the advancement of the hardware and software around that (e.g., more gestures and bigger trackpads), the value of an iPad becomes less for me. Couple that with the larger screen iPhones and there are a lot of devices out-competing the iPad in terms of overall functionality and value.
  14. inmnbob macrumors regular

    Aug 6, 2014
    Chicago and Twin Cities
    I bought the 2018 12” and at first had a really bad case of buyers remorse. I own the 10.5 pro and felt the $1500 price for the new model was crazy and the weight and size was too much. One he first day I started to box up the device and then decided since I had 14 days to return it that should play with it. Since then I have really have started to love it and made the decision to keep it. I think I can compliment my new MacBook Pro 2018 15, which is great but too big to take on every business trip or meeting, with the iPad Pro and keyboard. I anticipate that I will be taking the iPad to the meetings, coffee shops and short business trips more than I did the 10.5

    Why I like about the iPad is speed, quality of the screen, the size of the 12’.9 for productivity work and all the iOS media consumption value.

    I compose music and expanding into more videos so I look forward to light video editing on the iPad and to what iOS 13 brings.
  15. Greenmeenie macrumors 65816


    Jan 14, 2013
    I ditched my laptop for the ipad pro. Actually, i pretty much agree with this guy comparing the two, and why I prefer the ipad.

  16. VSMacOne macrumors 601


    Oct 18, 2008
    I recently upgraded to an 11” from my 9.7” Pro. It’s amazing how much difference this larger screen makes. I was not ready for a 12.9” screen to throw around, butt his 11” is so versatile. And thanks for FaceID it’s so much quicker to open up and get going.
    Honestly, I think the biggest advantage of the Mac of iPad is the multiple screen support. If they can figure out how to add that in iOS 13, i’ll be a super happy camper.
  17. aevan macrumors 68030


    Feb 5, 2015
    So, basically, you bought a great and powerful device that you don’t really like and now you’re trying to convince other people they don’t really need it either. Nice try.
  18. masotime macrumors 68020


    Jun 24, 2012
    San Jose, CA
    Please validate / back up the claims above.
    • What iPads have you actually owned?
    • Links to the articles on “history of tablet computers”?
    • What studies have you done on the form factor / usability? Are they published in a journal / peer reviewed?
    • Nature of the business / name of the company built “off of the iPad”?
  19. ipos macrumors 6502a

    May 4, 2011
  20. secretk macrumors 6502

    Oct 19, 2018
    Good post! I agree with some things and not so much with others :). I have said here more than once that for me personally iPad is not a computer replacement. There are things that it does great, there are things that it does not do great.


    First I always wonder what people understand as Productivity. Like what do you guys include here?

    I am asking because I can do things that are productive on an iPad (like brainstorming about work, writing down meeting minutes, drawing diagrams to share with co-workers etc). Of course I would also never edit Word or Excel file there. Some people blame Microsoft for this, others blame Apple. For me the truth is in the middle.

    When it comes to editing text for me it's not Microsoft's fault. It's the way iOS supports text editing. It's slow, inefficient and cumbersome. It's really difficult to put the cursor where you want it. I know that some people suggest using voice to record text. However that first does not work for non native English speakers, second cannot be done in a place with a lot of people because it would disturb them.

    Another issue with editing text is the keyboard size itself. The 11 inch keyboard is small IMO. The 12.9 inch is better as it resembles most 13.3 inch laptops.

    When it comes to big Excel tables people simply need big external monitor. Problem with iPad and external monitor is the fact that you need to switch between touching the iPad and looking at the monitor. That's really uncomfortable. And that is not Microsoft's fault either.


    Splitview is great but honestly it's just not enough. Even 12.9 inch screen is small enough for me to look at two things in the same time. What would help for true multitasking is support of external monitors. Here we have the same issue though. We need to switch between looking at the iPad and the monitor which is cumbersome. It's easier to work with mouse without looking it than working with the iPad itself.

    Another big issue is the fact that you cannot open two files of the same type with the same app. Now this is a lesser issue because like I said opening two files in a small screen does not help that much in general. So first we need external monitor support that we can comfortable use and then to have this option to open more than one file with one app.


    Honestly the ergonomics of the device itself for me is a deal breaker. They made the new iPads really small and portable. This is awesome when you use your iPad lying down on the table as sketching pad or digital notebook. When you have to prompt it in angled vertical position it's rather small and it causes neck and back strain. That for me is a reason to not want to use the iPad as a laptop replacement. I would gladly use it for digital notebook and reading and coloring, but I would not want to use it the way I use my laptop. I spent at least 12/13 hours on my laptop daily. I would not feel comfortable using the iPad in similar way for that long.

    That being said I also did not buy Pro and I would not for those reasons mentioned above. I am happy with my regular iPad because it's a good ratio of price and usage for my specific case.
  21. Mainsail, Jan 18, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2019

    Mainsail macrumors 6502a

    Sep 19, 2010
    I traded-in my old phone and iPad for the larger iPhone Xr, so I am kind of old school now with just a MacBook Air and iPhone. Nevertheless, I was often surprised at how much I could get done with the basic iPad and keyboard case. So, I think the iPad is a great device. For those willing to spring for three devices, I think an effective combination is a iPhone + Mac Desktop + iPad.

    If you must decide between an iPad or a laptop, I would keep the following in mind:

    • The iPad is better than a laptop for reading, drawing/sketching, taking handwritten notes, annotating documents, and media consumption. You can definitely run Productivity Apps (i.e. Word, PP, Excel) and create content, but there will be limitations with the number of windows you can have open (split view) and the feature set in these Apps. Notably, you won't be able to have two documents of the same App open in split view, which can be very frustrating for some workflows. IOS 13 might improve things, but we don't know that now.
    • The Laptop is better than the iPad for File/Data Base Management, Document Creation, and Multi-window multitasking. The trackpad with precision pointing is just better for working with documents and especially spreadsheets. The laptop also gives you greater connectivity options for transferring files and printing documents. If you frequently works with files, databases and multiple documents, it is pretty hard to beat the smartphone + laptop combo for those limited to two devices.
  22. Greenmeenie macrumors 65816


    Jan 14, 2013
    All i know is that all the things i used to do on a macbook, i now do on an ipad. And i enjoy doing them on an ipad a lot more. Not everyone is going to feel that way, and thats totally cool. But the ipad is becoming a laptop replacement for many many people. And not just for average users, but for more and more professionals too. In the end, it’s all good. Whatever you prefer, and whatever tool gets the job done.
  23. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    I think many are missing the point. If what the iPad is GOOD at is 90% of what you do then ....
  24. secretk macrumors 6502

    Oct 19, 2018
    You mean 90 % of the things you do or 90 % of the time for the things you do? Because for me that is a big difference :). For me time matters more than the things themselves. Like say I type daily (lots of chat at work, lots of work emails, lots of documents) and I just hate iOS for typing. I love to color and I love ProCreate. I color 1 hour per day, I type 7 hours per day. I need both activities in my life obviously and I use both devices. However if you tell me that I have to choose only one I choose laptop. I can buy coloring books and color, but I can't get the laptop experience when it comes to typing with my iPad.

    For others however will be different. So yeah for me it's not about the activities you do, it's how important those activities are and how much time you spend doing them.
  25. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    Which I would agree with 100%.

    It still would fit into the realm of " if the iPad can do it ... "

    I for one wouldn't bother if writing a document or anything took longer on the iPad.

    Or for instance, we all know we can edit video on an iPad and in iOS, but for some, the workarounds and solutions to basic problems take longer on iOS. I've never recommended it for serious, working professionals unless they have a system ready built to handle those issues.

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