iPad Pro; to buy or not to buy?

I have been contemplating the purchase of an iPad Pro, ever since it’s unveiling at Apple’s “Special Event” in September 2015. Featuring a gorgeous 12.9” touch screen retina display, full-sized keyboard and an intuitive stylus, it wad the iPad all techies had been waiting for. To top it off a powerful A9X chip to handle ‘real’ productivity, a feature which has been lacking from iPads of the past. Yes, this all seems very familiar and Microsoft Surface has been on the scene for a few years now, but we all know that no company can provide the same intuitive and seamless experience that Apple can. So launch day has finally arrived (11th November) and I am sitting here writing this blog post on my retina MacBook, and not the iPad Pro. This has been one of the least hyped Apple launches I have seen for a new product category, and I am wondering why. Let’s take a brief analysis.

So I took a quick trip to the Apple Store on Regent St. London (which is currently being refurbished) and to my surprise, there was no visible queue or crowd for the iPad Pro! The story was busy for sure, but nothing more than I would expect from a typical day at Apple. I was also a tad disappointed that there were no iPad Pros on display. I asked a member of staff about this, and he said that one of his colleagues was giving a demo in the corner. I made my way over, and an Apple store guy was holding an iPad Pro and taking through some of the features. He had around 4 or 5 people around him, with the occasional glance from a few passers by. Nothing at all like the hype and anticipation I saw with the original iPad launch, or the release of the iPad mini back in November 2012.

What’s wrong with the iPad Pro?                       In a nutshell, probably nothing. In my view, it is a near perfect device, running off a very powerful chip, even providing better bench marks than some Apple desktops. According to a Macrumors post today, Ars Techina reported that the Geekbench results show that the iPad Pro is running a 2.5 GHz dual-core chip, providing significantly higher scores than the iPad Air 2, 2015 retina MacBook and even the current 15” MacBook Pro. Full details can be found at the following link: http://www.macrumors.com/2015/11/11/ipad-pro-tidbits-a9x-apple-pencil-tmobile-more/

However, the evidence for why there is significantly less hype, with shipping for this new product is shown as 1 business day, remains a slight mystery. Well, here are my thoughts on why I personally have not (yet!) taken the plunge.

1. No one knows what it is for. The thing about new Apple products is that no one really knows that they need one until they see it. This was Steve Job’s core philosophy when designing new products for Apple (although it can be argued that Apple never truly invented anything novel, but I digress…). The iPad Pro is a semi-new product, as it is an extension of the current iPad range, yet offers a novel twist (for Apple products) with the optional keyboard and Apple pencil. This may confuse consumers somewhat. The iPad Pro still runs iOS, which is probably not suitable for a lot of professionals. However, the powerful processor and almost 13” screen may be overkill for the average consumer. In some ways, it is the true middle child of the technological market which is currently saturated with options.

2. No force touch. This was a huge disappointment and there was absolutely no reason not to have included this emerging technological offering in Apple’s latest iPad. Featured as the main selling point of the new iPhone 6S and an integral part of the Apple Watch OS, it would have been an intuitive and welcome addition to the iPad Pro, offering novel and sophisticated ways for the iPad Pro’s exclusive apps to take advantage of. I strongly suspect that this will be included in future hardware revisions.

3. Expensive accessories. Although I feel that the accessories are over prices (£139 for the keyboard and £79 for the Apple pencil), some satisfaction is taken from the overall ‘package price’, which I will discuss shortly. The price being a pro or con is a little arbitrary and subjective.

What’s right with the iPad Pro? (again, in no particular order…)
1.Price. The iPad Pro starts at £679 for the 32 GB wifi only model, rising to £799 and £899 for the 128 GB wifi and wifi + cellular models, respectively. The Keyboard accessory is £139 and the Apple Pencil is £79. Factoring in the cost of the base model keyboard and pencil, the total comes to £897. I recall paying over £700 for the launch iPad (64 GB wifi + cellular) back in 2010. The iPad Air 2 starts at £399 and goes all the way up to £659, so £679 for the extra screen real estate, more powerful processor and upgradable options make the iPad Pro much more suitable for content creators.

2. It’s powerful! As I mentioned above, the A9X chip is a powerhouse, and can definitely handle complex multi-tasking and power-hungry apps.

3. Storage options. If I were to buy the iPad Pro, I would opt for the base model. Yes, 32 GB on the base model is not enough to store anything significant on the iPad, but for a handful of apps it is plenty. I don’t think that 128 GB is realistically going to store all the files, movies, music, etc of a given user, and we will inevitably be depending on iCloud storage whilst using this device.

4. Great hardware. Although I have not held an iPad Pro in person, Apple has boasted about the speakers and screen with online reviews confirming this claim. The iPad pro features four speakers, and the display, well, it’s a 13” retina screen with a screen resolution of 2732 x 2048 which provides a pixel density of 264 pixels per inch (ppi).

5. New accessories. The keyboard and Apple pencil provide an intuitive way to interact with the iPad Pro, and I envision that this will ultimately translate into new and exciting apps.

There is no doubt about the bottom line. The iPad Pro is an amazing piece of hardware. Conclusively, I feel that it is currently having a difficult time in finding it’s target market. In my case, I probably do not need one, which is why I am holding back. But I do know that I want one, and will undoubtedly find a place and purpose for it. My main gripe at the moment is that Apple has not included force touch, which I was really looking forward to on the larger screen. As it is also a fairly expensive product, which will cost me almost £1000, and factoring in that at the moment it is more for play than work (like the MacBook I got in April), I strongly believe that waiting for the second generation of the iPad Pro will firstly help see how the product fits into the line-up, and secondly has additional hardware features like force touch.

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