Apple throws an iPad Hail Mary with 10.5" and 12.9" Pro tablets

The all-new iMac Pro and the Kaby Lake updates to the iMac and laptop product lines weren't the only new bits of hardware announced at WWDC today. Apple also announced updates to its iPad Pro tablets, which were last updated in March 2016. The smaller version's screen is getting a size bump from 9.7" to 10.5". Apple shrunk the bezels of its mini-Pro to keep the one-pound weight and exterior dimensions about the same.

The new 10.5" and 12.9" iPad Pros boast screens with a rated brightness of 600 cd/m². Intriguingly, these screens support variable-refresh-rate technology, which Apple calls "ProMotion." iOS uses this VRR tech to crank up refresh rates to 120 Hz for smooth motion during scrolling and user input, while more static content can be displayed at lower refresh rates for power savings. The smaller iPad Pro's bigger screen has productivity benefits: two apps can be shown side-by-side, just like they can on the larger 12.9" iPad Pro. The old 9.7" model could display one half-size app and a second in a narrower, phone-like part of the screen.

Apple debuted a new SoC for both of its new iPads. The A10X Fusion chip has three high-performance cores and another three optimized for efficiency. The presumably proprietary integrated graphics processor comprises 12 "cores," and Apple says it can deliver up to 40% faster graphics performance than the old model. Apple further claims the internal battery will be able to deliver 10 hours of use between charges.

The new iPads get a boost in the storage department, too. 64 GB is the new baseline, and 256 GB and 512 GB capacities are optional. Apple cribbed the seven-megapixel front camera and 12-MP rear unit from the iPhone 7. As a final flourish, the company cut input latency down to 20 ms for the Apple Pencil with the new iPads.

The base-model 10.5" iPad Pro will sell for $650, and the refreshed 12.9" model will start at $800. Both models will be available for order next week.

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