First impressions of the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard Folio

My new 12.9-inch iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard Folio were delivered to my office at 4:30pm yesterday (talk about cutting it close, UPS!) and I didn’t get to unbox everything until after 7pm last night. In total I’ve spent about three hours actually using the new iPad, but that’s been enough time for me to form some early impressions of and fall madly in love with this gorgeous new computer.

For context, I’m upgrading from the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard from 2015.

  • This is the first iPad I’ve owned with Pro Motion, Apple’s marketing name for the 120Hz screen refresh rate introduced with the 2017 iPad Pro models. My first exposure to Pro Motion has not been great so far; during the setup process I started to feel motion sick, and that sensation persisted for most of last night. I have sensitive eyes so I do want to give them time to adjust to the 120Hz display, as it makes every animation and interaction look buttery smooth. I hope I can adjust to Pro Motion and won’t have to disable it.
  • The new “edge-to-edge” display is gorgeous. Apple have left just enough bezel around the edges to fit the Face ID sensors and rest your thumb on when holding the iPad Pro. Don’t expect to see the iPad Pro’s bezel shrink any more in the foreseeable future. I love the rounded corners on the iPhone X and Apple Watch Series 4 displays, and I’m glad they’re finally on the iPad Pro as well. Rounded corners add so much to the cleanliness of a device’s design. I never want to see sharp, squared-off screen corners ever again.
  • The new 12.9-inch iPad Pro feels and appears SO much smaller than the old model. I noticed the size decrease immediately upon taking the new iPad out of the box. It’s much more compact to hold, aided by the even thinner and lighter body. While I was watching House of Cards on Netflix last night in bed, I actually had to hold the old 12.9-inch iPad Pro up against the new one to double-check that the screen was the same size. It seems that much smaller to the eye.
  • I’m already sad that I opted not to buy the new Apple Pencil 2 right away. I want to sketch and colour on this new iPad so bad, and have the full setup of iPad Pro in the Smart Keyboard Folio with the new Apple Pencil magnetically attached to the top. When I do eventually order the new Pencil, I’m debating whether I should have it engraved. How cute would it be to have a personalized, engraved Apple Pencil attached to the iPad Pro and Smart Keyboard Folio covered in stickers?
  • Because the on-screen Home indicator takes up extra pixels, all iPad Pro apps have to be re-compiled with Xcode 10.1 to fill the entirety of the new edge-to-edge displays. Most iPad Pro apps currently run in a “compatibility” mode that leaves black bars above and below the app, and some apps – such as Netflix and Marvel Unlimited – have black bars around all four sides. This sucks, and I hope app developers ship updates for their apps really quickly.
  • The new iPad Pro is incredibly thin. I can’t believe Apple fit one of their most powerful portable computers ever into such a small body. I want to take it out of the Smart Keyboard Folio all the time just to hold it. I’m also a fan of the new flat sides. Like the Microsoft Surface, I think the flat sides give the iPad Pro a much more modern design and I would love to see this design language come to a future iPhone X as well.
  • The Smart Keyboard Folio feels much sturdier than the original Smart Keyboard. I do miss the old “Media Mode” that would stand the iPad up with the keyboard hidden behind the device, but the new angle that Apple calls “Desk Mode” is an alright substitute.
  • The 12.9-inch Smart Keyboard Folio weighs 407g (according to Marco Arment) and coupled with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro at 631g the entire package weighs in at 1038g or 2.29lbs. That means despite the iPad Pro’s reduction in size and weight, the entire combo weighs only fractionally less than the old 12.9-inch iPad Pro (713g) and Smart Keyboard (340g) at 1053g or 2.32lbs.
  • I will be covering my Smart Keyboard Folio in stickers as soon as I can build up a good collection. I really wish my favourite podcasts and apps would start making logo stickers available again.
  • This article was written and published on the new iPad Pro. It’s a real computer, even for media production. And that photo up top was shot, edited, resized, and retouched entirely using iOS, too.

There’s still plenty about the new iPad Pro I want to test and play with, so stay tuned for further coverage right here on Fresh Fruit and be sure to follow me on Instagram for more glamour shots of the new iPad Pro in the coming days.

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