Today at its WWDC Keynote event in San Jose, California, Apple announced two refreshed models in their iPad Pro lineup. While both new iPads sport the same set of hardware and design improvements, the most significant change is unique to the smaller iPad Pro model. The original line included a 12.9-inch and a 9.7-inch model, but today the 9.7-inch has been replaced by a larger 10.5-inch iPad. This change could mark the beginning of the end for the 9.7-inch screen size — a size which has remained constant in the iPad line since the introduction of the original iPad back in 2010.
While the exterior design of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro remains the same, the bezels on the new 10.5-inch model have been reduced by 40% to accommodate the larger screen while keeping the overall exterior as compact as possible. To compare the new iPad Pro chassis with that of the 9.7-inch standard iPad (which did not receive an update today): the 10.5-inch Pro is 9.8 inches high by 6.8 inches wide while the iPad is 9.4 inches high by 6.6 inches wide. The iPad Pro does continue to trounce the iPad in thickness, however — coming in at 0.24 inches thin to the iPad's 0.29 inches.
Interestingly, Apple managed to keep the weight of the new 10.5-inch iPad Pro down to only 1.03 pounds — the exact same weight of the current model 9.7-inch iPad. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro still weighs in at 1.49 pounds.
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro maintains its 2732‑by‑2048 resolution Retina display. The new 10.5-inch model brings a brand new resolution to the game — 2224‑by‑1668 — nestling in between the 12.9-inch Pro and the 9.7-inch iPad's 2048‑by‑1536 display. The displays on all three of these iPads have the same 264 ppi density, which still falls short of the aging iPad Mini's 326 ppi display.
For the first time the 12.9-inch iPad Pro has been updated with a display supporting Apple's True Tone technology for adjusting its white colors to match the lighting in the room where it is being used. The 10.5-inch model includes this as well, and both also support wide color gamut, ultralow reflectivity of only 1.8%, 600 nits brightness, and HDR video.
The displays on both new iPad Pro models also include a brand new technology that Apple is calling "ProMotion." ProMotion displays deliver incredible 120Hz refresh rates — double the previous best for iPad displays. When using the Apple Pencil on a ProMotion display, Apple claims that they only have 20 milliseconds of latency.
The new displays can also dynamically adjust their refresh rates depending on usage — saving battery life by dropping to only 24Hz for displaying still images, 48Hz for video content, etc.
Performance and Battery Life
The new iPad Pros are powered by Apple's brand new A10X Fusion chips. The A10X packs a six-core CPU — with three high-performance and three high-efficiency cores — and a twelve-core GPU. Altogether the A10X delivers 30% faster CPU performance over previous iPad Pro models, and 40% faster graphics. The battery life in both new iPad models remains the same "all-day" 10 hours, so customers who don't think that's enough will again not see improvement with this round.
Cameras and Speakers
Both iPad Pro models feature the same 12-megapixel cameras with optical image stabilization and 7-megapixel FaceTime HD cameras that are shipping in current iPhone 7 models. They also continue to use the same advanced 4-speaker system that debuted on the original iPad Pro — with no new improvements this year.
The new iPad Pros are the first iPad models to ship with Apple's second-generation Touch ID fingerprint sensors. This means that fingerprint authentication to the devices will be twice as fast — or the same speed that everyone is used to since this sensor has been shipping on iPhones since the 6S.
The new 10.5-inch iPad Pro has been released alongside a new version of Apple's Smart Keyboard to match the size of the new chassis. Apple says this is a full-sized keyboard, and for the first time it comes in unique layouts for 30 different languages (the Smart Keyboard for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro has been updated to receive these new layouts as well).
Apple has also released brand new leather sleeves for both sizes of iPad Pro. The sleeves come in several different colors and include a slot to store an Apple Pencil at the top. Standalone leather Apple Pencil cases have been released as well — available in the same set of colors.
The new iPads look like a great refresh of Apple's iPad Pro lineup. With impressive improvements in display technologies and expected increases in CPU and GPU performance, the new iPad Pros bring advancements in all the right places.
The screen size adjustment for the 10.5-inch model shows that Apple is searching for a sweet spot between the spacious 12.9-inch and the somewhat crammed 9.7-inch displays of their previous iPad Pro offerings. Time will tell if they've pinned that down, or if they need to continue iterating on this aspect of their professional iPad hardware.
While all of these hardware improvements are welcome and necessary, the greatest part of Apple's new iPads will be the software that they run. Thankfully, Apple devoted significant effort this year into upgrading iOS specifically for iPads. We'll cover these changes in detail in our iOS 11 overview later today, but be sure that the combination of new software and hardware has resulted in extremely exciting new prospects for iPads as a whole.
Both of Apple's new iPad Pro models are available for purchase today, starting at $649 for the 10.5-inch model and $799 for the 12.9-inch model. Storage starts at 64GB on either model, and can be configured with up to 512GB. As usual, cellular models are available for an extra $130 on top of any storage and size configuration.