iPad Pros go edge-to-edge with A12X Bionic power


Not content with upgrading the Mac Mini and the MacBook Air (more on that shortly), Apple put its iPad Pros under the knife and gave them the upgrade treatment this morning.

At least style-wise, the new iPad Pros are a significant departure from the previous-generation models. The chassis has iPhone 5-like straight edges all around, and the company ditched the home button for an iPhone X-like gesture-style interface. As a result, the display's bezels are now fairly thin and the same width all around. An Apple TrueDepth camera at the top edge enables Face ID authentication as well as the all-important Portrait Mode for selfies, Animoji, and Memoji.

Under the 120-Hz display sits a rather-impressive A12X Bionic chip. Apple's SoC design is arguably the most interesting thing going in chip development, and this time around, the iPad Pro packs an eight-core SoC in the usual arrangement of four fast cores and four power-saving units. The Cupertino folks say that the new chip's single-core performance is 35% faster than the A10X, and that the seven-core Apple GPU is twice as fast. Additionally, the A12X Bionic carries a Neural Engine that powers Face ID, AR apps, and machine-learning applications.

In another big move for an Apple device, the old-fashioned Lightning port on these iPad Pros gives way to a modern USB-C connector with charging capability for an attached iPhone. The Apple Pencil also got an upgrade, and it now attaches magnetically to the iPad Pro and charges wirelessly. Perhaps more interestingly, it also has a finger-tap functionality that could help make some work flow faster. The Smart Keyboard Folio case now protects both the front and back of the iPad Pros.

Despite all the upgrades, the newer iPad Pros are actually smaller than their predecessors by a sizable 25% in total volume, and they measure in at a mere 5.9 mm thick. Apple says the battery's good for 10 hours of work, and that LTE connectivity can now hit gigabit speeds.

The new 11" iPad Pro starts at $799 with Wi-Fi only and 64 GB storage, or $949 for a model with LTE connectivity. Its 12.9" brother will set buyers back $999 for the Wi-Fi model with 64 GB of flash and $1149 for an LTE version. There are now options for storage ranging up to 1 TB of flash on either model, though at a sizable expense. Interested buyers can order their iPads right away and get them on November 7. 

Over on the accessory aisle, the second-generation Apple Pencil goes for $129. The upgraded Smart Keyboard Folio has a $179 price tag for the model that fits the 11" iPad Pro and $199 for the 12.9" version.

Tip: You can use the A/Z keys to walk threads.
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