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.

Comments closed
    • tipoo
    • 1 year ago

    I continually stand impressed by Apples silicon team, the A10X was matching Iris Plus 640 on GPU compute, and if they doubled it from there in a fanless form that’s crazy. The CPU performance numbers trickling out aren’t far from the 2018 15″ now…

    But…I just priced out the second lowest storage model, pencil, and keyboard, and it’s 1800 dollars in canada…That’s a mental barrier I cannot cross for a tablet, not with iOS’s limits, it would have to serve as a main home machine at that price and it still can’t work off external hard drives, have a cursor, etc. Hopefully iOS13 lifts some of those limits, so the silicon can really shine.

    • End User
    • 1 year ago

    Looks like it can handle desktop class apps (Photoshop) with great aplomb.

    • Redocbew
    • 1 year ago

    I look at those pictures of the screen and the first thing I think is “someone broke it”.

    Another thing which makes me wonder who’s weirder: me, or Apple’s most faithful.

    • blastdoor
    • 1 year ago

    So, the A12X can run autocad, photoshop, and drive an external 5k monitor.

    Makes me wonder what the new Mac mini would be like with an A12X clocked at a level appropriate for the form factor.

    I personally would find such power more useful if paired with MacOS rather than iOS.

      • End User
      • 1 year ago

      Think bigger – designed for desktop ARM processors.

        • blastdoor
        • 1 year ago

        I’d love to see that!

        • tipoo
        • 1 year ago

        So much potential. If Apple saw fit for instance, with variable length SIMD on ARM they could bring an AVX-512 equivalent down to more products than Intel segmented it into.

      • tipoo
      • 1 year ago

      Exactly what I’m saying. Apples silicon team – amazing, but hampered by iOS’s limits.

    • blargh4
    • 1 year ago

    Nice-looking machines. Not that I expect Apple to let up on storage price gouging, but it’s pity about the $150 base price hike for the same 64GB of flash since last gen.

    I expected them to go heavier on the use cases for the usb-c connector in the keynote, I’m still a kinda confused what exactly you can do with it within the confines of iOS. Is this one of those build-it-and-let-developers-come situations?

      • DancinJack
      • 1 year ago

      You can connect external displays, for one. It’s also USB 3.1 Gen 2 so it’s super fast. You can also charge other devices with it. Pretty great move IMO.

    • oldog
    • 1 year ago

    Apple removed the “home button”.

    What are they going to remove next year? And the year after that and the year after that?

      • cygnus1
      • 1 year ago

      Next will be the screen, duh. They’re just going to beam it straight into your brain!

    • cygnus1
    • 1 year ago

    The 12.9″ 1TB LTE model is $1899….

    Let that sink in

    • DancinJack
    • 1 year ago

    So, the iPad(s) are the only viable tablet IMO. I’ve owned a Nexus 7 and a Nexus 9 and neither were as good as their iOS counterparts. They just weren’t. And I’m generally an Android person. Having said that, there have still been some issues with the iPads in recent history and IMO the biggest thing about this announcement is the USB-C. Not so much because of the iPads, but because (to me) this signals that they are going to move to USB-C on the iPhones next year. Honestly, how do you have USB-C on your iPads and every notebook you offer (and iMac and now the Mini), but not offer it on your phones? 2019 feels like year of the USB-C iPhone to me. Thank god.

    Also, it’s pretty cool it’s USB 3.1 Gen 2. Display output and full 10Gbps support are great. Would have been cooler if it was TB3 but a bit (a lot) unnecessary.

    • synthtel2
    • 1 year ago

    How are you supposed to hold a tablet with small bezels?

      • blargh4
      • 1 year ago

      With my 10.5″ ipad (which has pretty thin bezels length-wise), I either let the back rest on my hands and fingers, and stabilize its sides/scroll with my thumbs, or lay it down on one hand and use the other hand to operate the touchscreen. I don’t find it particularly unwieldy.

      • Luay
      • 1 year ago

      Kensington may have solved this issue with their blackbelt back strap case. I have it for the surface pro and I didn’t have to remove the keyboard to use it. Hope it works the same way with the iPad.

      [url<]https://www.kensington.com/p/products/tablet-smartphone-accessories/rugged-cases/Kensington-BlackBelt-Rugged-Case-for-iPad-9.7-2017--2018/[/url<]

        • derFunkenstein
        • 1 year ago

        I imagine this sort of thing will be popular.

        • synthtel2
        • 1 year ago

        Ah, that seems like a good idea. Cool.

        • Star Brood
        • 1 year ago

        Slim it down to almost nothing, then massively inflate the size to make it usable. Tech these days is so weird. Can we just forget the stupid thin idea and go straight for big batteries? Thanks.

          • blargh4
          • 1 year ago

          I don’t disagree with that for phones, but the weight of the thing is a pretty important consideration for a large device that will see a lot of handheld use. The iPads’ battery life is already very good – I don’t think it’s worth making them any heavier for it.

    • NTMBK
    • 1 year ago

    They claimed it has more graphics power than an Xbox One S, which makes me really want an XBox handheld…

    • hungarianhc
    • 1 year ago

    Apple is doing a great job with segmentation on the iPad line. If you’re looking to buy a tablet for standard tablet things, the current iPad is a fantastic device. If you’re someone who wants high end speed, features, looks, etc, Apple will happily take a LOT of your money for one of these new devices.

      • MOSFET
      • 1 year ago

      It’s pretty crazy how good the 2017 iPad is/was for $329.

    • Chrispy_
    • 1 year ago

    My family’s iPads are damn-near perfect devices, and the only complaints I can actually raise revolve around the poor speakers and poor wifi speed/range

    I assume Apple refusing to put in a plastic RF window is a form-over-function choice, and the thinner iPads undoubtedly have even thinner-sounding speakers 🙁

    Regardless, the people who swear by Apple’s ecosystem and apps will continue to buy these so I guess we just have to get used to it.

      • leor
      • 1 year ago

      Even most laptop speakers are hot garbage, I just don’t think mobile devices lend themselves to good sound quality. Thicker laptops like Alienware’s sound a bit better, but when phones claim Dolby Atmos support it makes me want to hire a gaggle of monkeys to poop on their marketing department (and Dolby’s for creating a silly phone standard in the first place).

        • Chrispy_
        • 1 year ago

        Most are, yes. But that’s not because they have to be, it’s because the manufacturer’s don’t care about sound quality much, and the few that focus on sound are focusing on volume rather than covering a good range.

        I’ve had impressive sound quality out of a cheap dell studio laptop and in terms of phones I remember My Blackberry sounding much nicer than everyone else’s phone.

        The problem is that even though radiator woofers are slim and low-power, ideal for tablets and laptops, manufacturers are too busy making them thinner and cutting corners for more profit. Better speakers don’t show up on a spec sheet or webpage, so they don’t bother trying to compete on sound quality. We’re living in the era where the speakers in mobile devices are “as cheap and bad as the manufacturers can get away with before people start to complain”. 🙁

          • derFunkenstein
          • 1 year ago

          That’s one of the unexpected bonuses of the MacBook Pro. I wouldn’t classify the sound as “excellent” but it’s significantly better than other laptops I’ve used. There’s still a lack of bass, though.

            • leor
            • 1 year ago

            Maybe someone will use this tech in a laptop at some point?

            [url<]https://www.mirror.co.uk/tech/sonys-new-tv-emits-sound-9573145[/url<]

            • Zoolook
            • 1 year ago

            Samsung has licensed it, rumoured to be in Samsung Galaxy 10. I agree should work better on the ipad than on a phone.

            • psuedonymous
            • 1 year ago

            [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distributed_mode_loudspeaker<]Everything old is new again[/url<].

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