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.

Comments closed
    • tipoo
    • 2 years ago

    I watched the Metal 2 session, looks like the 120Hz screen can indeed freely adapt like Gsync/Freesync, not just have a few set refresh rates like the previous 30/60 one. That’s pretty awesome and I hope it comes to iPhones, they may be some of the smoothest scrolling phones but they absolutely do still drop a frame here and there which a person aware of it can notice.

    7 years and I never really wanted an ipad, just when it’s starting to slump they add a bunch of stuff that appeals to me, lol.

    • tipoo
    • 2 years ago

    With 3 core scaling, performance is almost double. 30% claimed by Apple was very modest, or only reflects single core.

    [url<]http://browser.geekbench.com/v4/cpu/compare/3042613?baseline=3036382[/url<] When are they going to put Xcode on these?

      • bhtooefr
      • 2 years ago

      Where this gets downright amazing is things like this one (my stock-clocked i5-6600K against that same iPad): [url<]http://browser.geekbench.com/v4/cpu/compare/225392?baseline=3036382[/url<] Intel should be crapping their pants right about now, when a literal tablet chip (in a 10.5" tablet, even, not a 12" one) is catching up to their mid-range gaming desktop part. Add the fourth core, and it's damn near there.

        • tipoo
        • 2 years ago

        Yeah, insane. With a fourth core (and the caches/bandwidth to match it), it would be matching completely with my workstation replacement M4800s 4710HQ. That’s a high end Haswell part.

        Crazy.

        [url<]http://browser.geekbench.com/v4/cpu/compare/3042292?baseline=3036382[/url<]

    • Flying Fox
    • 2 years ago

    Why is this a “Hail Mary”? In the context of dwindling iPad sales? Or because it is a [i<]response to[/i<] the new Surface Pro (I lol'ed at the 20ms vs 21ms "industry leading" pen latency)?

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 2 years ago

    the ipad 12.9 is actually really appealing. Anyone able to sight drawbacks?

      • Peldor
      • 2 years ago

      1.5 pounds makes for an inconvenient tablet to hold one handed.

        • 223 Fan
        • 2 years ago

        I am clumsy as all get out and I have only dropped my 12.9″ iPad Pro once using it one handed. Fortunately the case took the brunt of the impact.

          • Flying Fox
          • 2 years ago

          I think the “inconvenience” here means weight not dimensions nor level of grip.

            • kamikaziechameleon
            • 2 years ago

            looks like an amazing device. I wonder how it would work as an image editor for my Nikon D5200 when I’m on the road. I tend to not do any work on photos soon as I get home.

    • ptsant
    • 2 years ago

    Just out of curiosity, with the exception of games, is there an application where SoC speed really matters? I have only owned a 1st gen Ipad and an ipad mini 3. Both work quite well, so I’m wondering what would be the advantage of having a faster CPU.

    Btw, I mostly use these for browsing, youtube/netflix and kindle.

      • blastdoor
      • 2 years ago

      Unless you only visit websites from the 1990s, SOC speed (and RAM) have a very noticeable effect on web browsing.

      Just go into an Apple Store and load some of your favorite websites on an iPad Pro.

        • ptsant
        • 2 years ago

        I am currently using the 1st gen iPad and it feels OK. No site is unusable, really. When I compare the iPad mini 3 with the iPad (the mini is supposed to be faster, no?) it is a little snappier, but I’m not really impressed.

          • tipoo
          • 2 years ago

          A first gen iPad as in the OG single core one? It’s a little hard to believe modern hardware was only “a little snappier” than that, unless the internet connection is especially horrid?

          Are you sure it’s not an iPad 2 vs a Mini 3? OG one didn’t have cameras which is a big tell, plus was fatter. Last I remember using the original one, single web pages were struggling to render with its free RAM.

          Even the A5 devices feel agonizing to me these days, and that’s much faster than the first gen iPad.

            • blastdoor
            • 2 years ago

            Agreed. I find an iPad2 to be almost unusable with the web as it exists today.

            • ptsant
            • 2 years ago

            Out of curiosity, can you give examples of sites that are very demanding? I really want to check this on the ipad 2 vs the mini 3 vs my desktop.

            • tipoo
            • 2 years ago

            These should use a fair bit of javascript:

            [url<]https://www.cascadebreweryco.com.au/agegate?destination=[/url<] [url<]http://www.hhog.com/?referrer=loewy.com[/url<] [url<]http://www.toasteddigital.com/[/url<] Even The Verge, though they lightened up. On the A5 iPad 2 you have it should be pretty apparent how much more the CPU struggles.

            • ptsant
            • 2 years ago

            I does have a camera, so I guess it must be the ipad 2 vs Mini 3. Certainly not the Air, though. Connection is fiber, so not a limiting factor.

            • tipoo
            • 2 years ago

            So that’s A5 vs A7, I can see that not being drastic, had it been the single 800MHz core A4 in the original iPad I would be flabbergasted at not noticing the difference 😛

      • tipoo
      • 2 years ago

      As with all compute devices, you don’t know how outdone yours is until you’ve felt faster. I remember thinking C2D was more than I’d ever need for web browsing until my Haswell upgrade.

    • tipoo
    • 2 years ago

    I’m unclear on one thing, is the display able to do arbitrary refresh rates between 120 and whatever it’s bottom is, a-la G-sync and freesync, or is it at certain fixed amounts, 24, 48, 60, 120, etc?

    Last time they introduced adaptive refresh rates it was 30+60

    • VincentHanna
    • 2 years ago

    In what way us this a “hail mary” on apple’s part?

    Seems like a simple product refresh to me.

      • 223 Fan
      • 2 years ago

      iPad sales have been declining in terms of units sold for quite some time. Yes, it’s a product refresh but Apple is also trying to stop further erosion of iPad unit sales thereby earning the “Hail Mary” moniker.

        • kmm
        • 2 years ago

        No, it still needs to be explained. A Hail Mary is something well out of the ordinary, a big gamble that is executed when the end is near. It’s a high risk, high reward play that generally makes sense if a high reward (and not just any old ordinary outcome) becomes necessary, especially for survival.

        Unless I missed some details, these iPads don’t look to be much radically different, and not too much is staked on them. Everybody knows iPad sales are down from the peak, but it doesn’t seem as though these are intended as some gamble to revive them. Companies managing sales of product lines past their peaks (still can be much profit to be made riding it out) and executing product refreshes are everyday, routine occurrences in general. To claim a Hail Mary implies something much more than that.

          • cygnus1
          • 2 years ago

          A Hail Mary as an expression, not a specific sports play, is generally accepted to mean a last ditch or last second effort to get a win. Doesn’t necessarily mean the action itself is high risk, the risk in this case is that if it doesn’t work the whole product line will probably be dead very soon.

        • Flying Fox
        • 2 years ago

        The new Apple Pen is a [i<]response to[/i<] the new Surface Pen. "Industry leading" 20ms latency vs the other guy's 21ms, we win!! Who knows if we are talking 20.9999ms vs 21.0001ms, but it's a Hail Mary alright!

    • brucethemoose
    • 2 years ago

    Still LCDs? I was kinda hoping Apple would jump on the OLED train, but perhaps the production capacity isn’t there yet.

      • Airmantharp
      • 2 years ago

      I’d expect burn-in and associated color drift over time if burn-in isn’t managed to be deterrents for Apple.

      Great for phones of course, but phones have a different set of objectives than tablets do. Even if their functions overlap almost completely, priorities will be different for tablets.

        • Laykun
        • 2 years ago

        I’ve been on a Galaxy Tab S for about 2 years now (might have actually been longer than that, not sure), full on 2560×1600 OLED panel, I have yet to noticed any burn in on the display and it looks as beautiful as I ever remember it being. I use it on a daily basis.

          • Airmantharp
          • 2 years ago

          But if it were calibrated to a particular specification, would it still be calibrated? Could it be recalibrated if it were now out of spec?

          I don’t know if Apple used my argument for going toward LCDs over OLEDs or not, but I do know that they’re particularly focused on color accuracy and that’s one area where OLEDs introduce doubts.

          Theoretically speaking, if sub-pixel decay were known and properly tracked, color accuracy could be maintained over time, at least until the display had decayed to the point that certain colors were simply no longer producible.

            • Laykun
            • 2 years ago

            Don’t you get the same thing with LED backlights (degradation that is)? Nothing stays perfect over time, and unless you’re re-calibrating your iPad Pro for all your different ambient lighting conditions then calibration means nothing in a serious productivity sense.

            I know it’s called iPad Pro, but lets get serious now, this really isn’t for that kind of Pro, a professional already has a multi-thousand dollar desktop setup because that setup earns them money, money that would be wasted with spending their time on a tiny limited iPad (as they can make much more money with a proper work station). Call it Pro all you want, it’s at best pro-sumer, and pro-sumers don’t benefit from colour accuracy beyond swinging their junk around while they use the phrase.

            • Airmantharp
            • 2 years ago

            I agree that ‘pros’ will likely have proper workstations, but many are inserting tablets into their workflows as well. Here, having a calibrated (and reliably so) output is something Apple can brag about, and people will buy it whether they [i<]really[/i<] need it or not.

            • Laykun
            • 2 years ago

            Then you could just as easily call an OLED calibrated and be done with it, I see no issue with using an OLED.

            • tay
            • 2 years ago

            OLED sub-pixels degrade at varying rates. This is what Airman is referring too. They’ll fall out of calibration very quickly.

            • Laykun
            • 2 years ago

            Which is why oleds are made with different subpixel sizes, as blue generally wears out quicker they make it bigger. These are solved problems.

            • Airmantharp
            • 2 years ago

            Because subpixels wear at different rates, color is [i<][b<]constantly[/b<][/i<] changing, which means that calibration must too if color accuracy is to be maintained over time. Granted the change is slow enough that calibration would still be within limits for a period of time, but my point is simply that color is constantly changing (meaning, shifts hue) due to the properties of OLED technology and that this may have been what deterred Apple from using OLED for these devices.

      • tipoo
      • 2 years ago

      They’re going to go small to big I bet. Watch, then Touchbar, see how those work for a while, iPhone 8, then up to iPads.

    • End User
    • 2 years ago

    Ordering for the new iPads and new MacBooks went live shortly after the keynote. I ordered a 12.9″ with 512GB.

      • dyrdak
      • 2 years ago

      Damn, so goes ~1000$. Even 650 for base is crazy money. One can get MB Air that’s similar in size and likely more usable for real work than even an iPad Pro.

        • Spunjji
        • 2 years ago

        I wouldn’t be so sure about that. The Air has a substantially worse screen in all regards, no native pen support, and the CPU / GPU may well actually be of a comparable speed at this point. The air would also have 1/4 the storage at that price point.

        Honestly I’m not a fan of Apple’s pricing, but I’d get the iPad Pro over the Air every time.

          • VincentHanna
          • 2 years ago

          The pen is a gimmick. Anything you can do with a stylus, you can do with a finger, and if the argument is that the pen offers more fine control, I challenge you to write {anything} with the keyboard turned off. It’s like trying to write with a laser pointer (through glass). Precise, but also overly sensitive to angular change.

          The screen isn’t relevant for productivity. I personally WANT the Ipad’s screen, but ‘substantially worse in all regards’ is not bad. The Air can have a mediocre screen, and still ostensibly fill the role of a laptop. The iPad being a tablet is actually detrimental to productivity.

          Apple (and other companies) marketing ultra-books with small SSDs has actually long been a pet peve of mine, so I’ll agree with you there. Anything less than 256GB is basically unusable. Still, it’s hard to justify any tablet with a base price over $500. Tablets, as a rule, are less portable than cellphones, and less capable of doing real work than other devices with a real keyboard, and a USB port for a mouse. As great as the ipad pro may be, I’d rather have a $300 S tab, simply because it’s $300.

        • End User
        • 2 years ago

        I have the original 12.9″ iPad Pro and it is a beast. I absolutely love it. The new iPad Pro, paired with iOS 11 looks outstanding. I did not hesitate to pull the trigger on the new one.

        The current MacBook Air is a very dated laptop. A better comparison would be with a 12″ MacBook or a base 13″ MacBook Pro. Even then the iPad Pro would fare very well.

    • invinciblegod
    • 2 years ago

    So, will the iPads finally support 3d Touch?

      • tsk
      • 2 years ago

      Yes.

      • tipoo
      • 2 years ago

      I don’t think so.

    • mmp121
    • 2 years ago

    Looks like Apple couldn’t muster enough ‘courage’ to remove the 3.5mm headphone jack on the iPad Pro.

    Interesting. I was expecting it to go the way of the Dodo.

    • blastdoor
    • 2 years ago

    So far, no info that I can find on the A10X in terms of clock speeds, whether it’s 10nm or 16nm, etc.

    Apple makes a vague claim that the A10X is 30% faster than the A9X, but that’s kind of weird (given that the A10X has 3 big cores and the A9X just two) unless Apple is either just focusing on single thread performance OR if they had to scale back the clock speed on the A10X a fair bit relative to the A9X (but why?)

    [edit]
    Reconsidering my earlier post. I forgot that the IPC boost for the A10 relative to the A9 wasn’t that big. So they might have held the clock constant, added a third core, and their “30% faster” claim might represent a mix of single and multiple threads. So maybe not so weird after all.

      • tipoo
      • 2 years ago

      By history, probably a conservative guess including the third core, while perfect scaling apps will be more. When the A8X had a third core they did the same thing, performance estimate was between 2C scaling and 3C scaling.

      • tipoo
      • 2 years ago

      Geekbench is in – 30% faster was for single core alone, with 3 it’s nearly double! 9K multicore, 5K before.

        • blastdoor
        • 2 years ago

        Most impressive!

        But it just renews my sadness that Apple won’t make a Mac-optimized ARM SOC.

    • chuckula
    • 2 years ago

    [quote<]The presumably proprietary integrated graphics processor comprises 12 "cores," [/quote<] I'll do ya one better: [quote<]The presumably proprietary pixel pushing processor purportedly posesses 12 "cores," [/quote<]

      • K-L-Waster
      • 2 years ago

      I want to hear someone say that in a Porky Pig voice.

        • Shobai
        • 2 years ago

        “That in a Porky Pig voice”? I’ll see what I can find.

      • Anovoca
      • 2 years ago

      “possesses a plethora of pith partitions”?

    • blastdoor
    • 2 years ago

    [url<]https://www.apple.com/ipad-pro/specs/[/url<] Storage capacity levels are actually 64, 256, and 512.

      • morphine
      • 2 years ago

      Thanks for the heads-up. Apple being “generous” with storage capacity isn’t something we’re quite used to.

        • blastdoor
        • 2 years ago

        I think it’s pretty interesting the contrast between iPad and Mac price/performance.

        Part of it is probably driven by the more expensive Intel processors in the Mac, but I bet Apple is also accepting lower margins on iPads.

          • tipoo
          • 2 years ago

          *yells into the wind*
          “A10X Clamshell would be sweeeeeet!”

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