Beautiful design and display
Good battery life
Few AR apps with LiDAR support
iPadOS could still get better
The best tablet you can buy certainly isn’t cheap. Starting at $799 for the smaller 11-inch model (and going way up from there), most folks that want a great tablet for watching Netflix, browsing social media, and playing games should seriously consider other iPad models. That said, if you do want ultimate performance and all the premium features you can get, the 2020 iPad Pro delivers. You’ll fall in love within minutes of opening the box. I know I did.
About the 2020 iPad Pro
The 2020 iPad Pro is available in two sizes and there’s a price difference between them. Performance is similar for all models, depending on the extras you want to add such as a cellular connection (remembering this also means you'll need a cellular data plan), storage, and accessories. We tested the $1,299 11-inch model with the added cellular connection (though we didn't test the cellular portion).
Here’s a rundown of pricing, including some add-on accessories:
- 11-inch iPad Pro: $799 for 128GB, $899 for 256GB, $1,099 for 512GB, and $1,299 for 1TB. Add $149 for the cellular model.
- 12.9-inch iPad Pro: $999 for 128GB, $1,099 for 256GB, $1,299 for 512GB, and $1,499 for 1TB. Add $150 for the cellular model.
- Magic Keyboard: $299 for the 11-inch, $249 for the 12.9-inch.
- Apple Pencil: $129
Since the different-sized models perform almost identically, the only real difference for would-be buyers is the display size (and some added weight). The resolution of the display is different, but that’s essentially only to account for the extra screen real estate.
Of course, the reasons to buy the iPad Pro aren’t limited to the display. Here are some of the key specs on offer by the 2020 iPad Pro.
- Chipset: Apple A12Z Bionic
- RAM: 6GB
- Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB
- Rear-facing camera: 12MP wide + 10MP ultrawide with LiDAR sensor
- Front-facing camera: 7MP
- Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0, GSM/CDMA/HSPA/EVDO/LTE (Cellular model only)
- Biometric authentication: Face ID
- Display: IPS LCD with 265 pixel-per-inch density
- Connections: USB-C
What We Like
While the 2020 iPad Pro offers little in the way of design changes over the 2018 model, that’s by no means a bad thing—the 2018 iPad Pro was a beautiful tablet, and two years later, most other tablet manufacturers are still playing catch-up.
Compared to other iPad models, however, the iPad Pro is a breath of fresh air. Touch ID has been replaced with Face ID, which is super fast and rarely fails. And as a result of the switch, the bezels around the display are around a third of an inch, which looks slim and stylish on a tablet-sized device.
The tablet itself is even thinner than the bezels. Both models measure 0.23 inches deep, resulting in a device that feels like a pane of glass in your hand. Part of that has to do with the squared edges which, despite the way they look, never feel sharp. The tablet comes in Silver and Space Gray.
As mentioned, the iPad Pro comes in two sizes—an 11-inch model, and a 12.9-inch model. The larger device may offer a more immersive experience for entertainment like watching movies, but it verges on being unwieldy, and playing games in bed puts serious limits on how you can hold it. That said, the larger screen may the better choice for artists and graphic designers—especially those who plan on utilizing the Apple Pencil.
The latest iPhone models offer a speedy Apple A13 Bionic processor, and some were expecting the newer iPad to offer an upgraded version of that chip. It doesn’t, but you probably won’t miss the performance upgrade. Simply put, the 2020 iPad Pro is a workhorse that can handle almost anything that you can throw at it.
Now, that could change in the future. As Apple begins building ARM-based chips for its Macbook lineup, many expect the company to also port over software like Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro to the iPad, which could take a toll on performance. In the absence of those apps, however, it’s hard to judge if more power will be necessary.
What’s easy to judge is the ease in which the 2020 iPad Pro handled heavy multitasking across a range of productivity apps. That includes image editing and writing, and even some basic video editing. Most of this was done while we listened to music or podcasts in the background, too.
That goes for gaming, as well. The device was easily able to handle games like Call of Duty: Mobile and Asphalt 9, retaining smooth performance and fast load times. And with gamepad support to add your own controller, playing games on the iPad is even more fun.
The excellent performance is confirmed in the benchmarks we achieved with the 2020 iPad Pro listed below.
- GeekBench 5 CPU: 1,122 single-core, 4,701 multi-core
- AnTuTu: 771,809
These are excellent scores. For comparison, most 2020 flagship Android phones hit scores under the 600,000 mark on AnTuTu, and none get close to either of the GeekBench scores. That’s true in the tablet world as well. Basically, the iPad Pro gets closer to laptop scores than ever before.
Solid battery life and camera
The iPad Pro’s battery life is pretty good, though it probably won’t break any records. Starting a particularly long workday at 7 a.m., by 5 p.m. the device still had 19% of its battery remaining with the screen set to 50% brightness. You should expect to get around 11 to 12 hours of battery at half brightness, and you can eke out more with a dimmer screen.
The camera quality on the device is also pretty good, but don’t expect the same quality as a new iPhone. The device has a dual-sensor camera, and generally, it’s able to take colorful shots in well-lit environments, but it’s probably best viewed as a tool for things like AR rather than a camera to use when you’re on holiday. The front-facing camera is fine too and will do the job for video-chatting or the occasional selfie.
Coupled with those cameras, you’ll get Apple’s “Studio Quality” microphones. As someone with a background in audio production, I wouldn’t exactly call them studio quality—but they do sound pretty good for a tablet, with a more in-depth frequency response that should ensure you sound great on a video chat.
The placement of the Face ID array is our only gripe here. It’s on the top, which means you can occasionally cover it when using the device in landscape mode. If it was on one of the sides, the same would be true in portrait orientation. I tend to use tablets more in landscape, so having it on a side might be better for my needs, but not everyone else does the same.
All of the iPad Pro models offer lovely displays, despite the fact that they retain the older LCD technology, instead of adopting the newer OLED technology found on modern iPhone models and high-end TVs.
There are a number of things that make this display particularly great. Apple ported over its Liquid Retina display from the 2018 model, which basically means it offers Apple’s Retina resolution (2388 x 1668 for the 11-inch, 2732 x 2048 for the 12.9-inch), with a 120 Hz refresh rate. The increase over the 60 Hz refresh rate of other iPads will be especially notable to sharp-eyed viewers, but anyone can appreciate the upgrade, offering smooth animations and buttery motion response.
When watching movies, colors are bright and vivid, while black levels are nice and deep, despite the lack of OLED. The display gets super bright too—and it was a rare occasion that we had the display brightness past the 75% mark. That’s helpful for more than watching movies though—graphic designers, photographers, and other display-oriented professionals will love what the iPad Pro has to offer.
If you plan on using the tablet for anything productive, you may be considering getting the Magic Keyboard and/or Apple Pencil to use with it. While certainly a serious investment, these accessories are absolutely awesome.
The Magic Keyboard brings a laptop-like experience to the iPad in style. It’s built from a pleasant, rubberized material that’s soft to the touch, yet strong enough to protect the device from scratches. It also has a USB-C port on the side, and while it can only be used for charging, it does free up the iPad’s own USB-C port for other things. Power passes through the case to the iPad through the iPad’s Smart Connector. Smart is right—it’s a great system.
The one thing that we did miss was the row of function keys/software controls that you’ll get on a Mac. I listen to music and podcasts enough to get a lot of use out of those playback controls, and the extra steps it takes to control playback with the Magic Keyboard is a little frustrating.
One of the best things about the keyboard design is that it’s super easy to attach and detach the tablet magnetically, which essentially acts as a snazzy case. The only downside is the fact that it means a case-less experience for those times you don’t want to use the keyboard.
Typing on the keyboard feels great. Keys aren’t cramped, and they have a good amount of travel for an experience akin to newer Macbooks—which is a good thing. In typical Apple fashion, the trackpad is super responsive, even around the edges and corners. It is a bit small, but it’s hard to imagine how Apple could have made it bigger without compromising key size—and that’s a trade-off I agree with.
The Apple Pencil is perhaps the best stylus out there. I’m far from a graphic designer, but I still like to draw, and the second-generation Apple Pencil feels natural and responsive. The quick commands are super helpful, allowing you to do things like switch tools by simply double-tapping on the Pencil. The ability to charge it simply by snapping it to the top of the iPad is a nice touch, too.
iPadOS is getting better
iPadOS is getting better and better. This isn’t an iPadOS review, so we’re not going to do a deep dive into all of iPadOS’ features, but with things like touchpad and mouse support, the operating system helps make using the iPad feel more and more like using a laptop. Not that everyone wants the iPad to feel like a laptop. Thankfully, you don’t have to use features like home screen widgets and the touchpad, but they’re there if you need them.
Cool AR features
As mentioned, the 2020 iPad Pro has a LiDAR sensor built right into it, and the result is that the device can detect objects in 3D. That can make for some pretty cool augmented reality applications, like the Ikea Place app, which allows you to place objects in space and see how they interact with your home. It’s a great idea, and means that figuring out how furniture looks in your home isn’t up to the imagination alone.
The only downside to this is that developers really have yet to adopt the LiDAR sensor to its fullest, and the apps that do support it are very limited. Rumors indicate that Apple will be adding the sensor to the iPhone in late 2020, and if that happens, expect a ton more apps.
What We Don’t Like
The price of a MacBook
The iPad Pro is easily the best tablet on the market right now, and you’ll have to pay for that kind of performance. With an entry-level price of $799 for the iPad alone, not to mention the $299 Magic Keyboard and $129 Apple Pencil, if you want a productivity machine, you’re looking at paying at least the price of a MacBook Air. With the larger model, more storage, and so on, that price could skyrocket.
Not a laptop replacement for everyone
If you’re looking for a laptop replacement, the iPad Pro may be it—but not for everyone. That’s mostly down to iPadOS. Multitasking on iPadOS just isn’t the same as on MacOS, especially if you’re juggling multiple apps at a time. You also can’t adjust the size of app windows to any size like you can on a desktop operating system, which limits versatility.
iPadOS is getting better at handling the web, but some power users will still get frustrated. For example, while the iPad Pro can handle the basics of blogging platform Wordpress, any complicated setup will likely make you pull your hair out. This will probably improve over time, and may get a lot better in iPadOS 14, but you generally shouldn’t buy a device based on future software updates.
Should You Buy It?
Yes, but only if you really need the best
There’s really no denying that the iPad Pro is the best tablet out there. It’s more powerful than ever, has a beautifully modern design, works with some awesome accessories, and yes, could arguably replace your laptop. If you need all of those things, this is absolutely the tablet to buy.
Because of the price, most should consider other iPad models first. Unless you’re a heavy user, you may be perfectly happy with the entry-level iPad, which starts at $329. It doesn’t offer the same performance, design, or features, but it’s still great for browsing the web, using social media, and most mobile games.
Those that need a performance boost should also consider the current-generation iPad Air instead, which offers an A12 Bionic chip that’s almost on the same level as the A12Z Bionic in the iPad Pro 2020. You won’t get the same display or design, but for performance alone, it’s a great option at its lower $499 price point.
Of course, the iPad isn’t the only tablet lineup out there. There’s little competition on the Android side of things, but the Galaxy Tab S6 is probably your best bet if you’re firmly in Google’s ecosystem, though you won’t reach the same performance. Alternatively, if a desktop operating system is important to you, then the Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is a great option, though neither the battery life nor the display match the iPad.
All that said, if you want the complete package and can afford to spend $799+, you’ll fall instantly in love with the 2020 iPad Pro.
Meet the tester
Christian de Looper
Originally from Australia, Christian has long had a passion for gadgets and consumer electronics. Christian has experience reviewing products in all areas of the consumer tech world, and is dedicated to helping people find the best products for their lifestyle.
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