iPad Review Roundup: Cutting Edge Hardware and OS Frustrations

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Late yesterday, iPad Air and Pro reviews were published, and I spent the evening reading and watching many of them, so I thought I’d share some highlights.

At Six Colors, Jason Snell, who has used and reviewed iPads for years, brings an excellent perspective to Apple’s latest iPad Pro. Like Federico, Jason is impressed with the iPad Pro’s hardware but frustrated by iPadOS:

This all leaves 2024’s modern iPad Pro in a very familiar place: It is a remarkable piece of hardware that can handle pretty much any task it’s capable of executing without breaking a sweat, and thanks to its new display, it’ll look great doing it. But it’s let down by iPadOS limitations (and more than a decade of slow-paced iPad development) that preclude it from being the shining star of Apple’s productivity line-up that it should probably be.

Also, like other reviewers, the iPad Pro’s new OLED screen was a highlight for Jason:

As a longtime user of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, I’ve been spoiled the last few years by its Liquid Retina XDR display. It was good, but it added weight and thickness, and even its 2500 individual dimming zones couldn’t match the precision that an OLED display can bring. Apple has outdone itself with the new Ultra Retina XDR display, powered by a tandem OLED panel that offers dramatic contrasts and bright colors.

David Pierce strikes a similar note at The Verge:

This new iPad Pro feels, in many ways, like the finale of the 14-year history of the iPad, all the pieces finally in place. It also feels, as ever, like a futuristic device plagued by software stuck firmly in the past, one I’m not sure I’d recommend to most people.

I do love it, though.

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

Another great perspective comes from Jaron Schneider at PetaPixel:

iPadOS is difficult to use for anything beyond typing because of the way files are managed. Beyond the Files app, which is pretty universally disliked by creative professionals, the ecosystem of apps really doesn’t feel like it is meant to facilitate working on anything other than an iPad. If you never plan to leave the iPad, that’s great. But that’s not how I work — and I don’t think it’s how many of you work either.

Apple is therefore riding line of continuing to make its iPads usable and approachable for content consumption while on the other side trying to make them more powerful and usable for content creation. For many types of content creation, it works great right now. For others, there is work to do.

Can you work on an iPad? Absolutely. There are tons of drawing apps, note apps, and even photo and video editing apps — Final Cut for iPad 2, DaVinci Resolve, and Luma Fusion are all excellent. But what if you don’t want to do everything on iPad? What if you use both an iPad and a computer? There, it gets tricky.

This is a topic Federico and I covered on this week’s AppStories episode. More than any other Apple device except perhaps the Vision Pro, the iPad is a workflow silo, which is frustrating.

Turning to the many video reviews released yesterday, you can’t go wrong, starting with Chris Lawley’s video. Chris, who has spent a lot of time working with photos and video on the iPad, has an excellent, in-depth look at iPad Pro’s new features:

It seems as though very few reviewers were given iPad Pros with the nano-textured display. However, Tyler Stalman got one and has an excellent video showing the difference between it and the glossy version:

I recently switched my iPad Pro order to the glossy version because the nano-textured model wouldn’t have arrived until late June, and Tyler’s video has me second-guessing that decision. It looks like a great option if you find reflections distracting.

Another video I enjoyed was Brad Colbow’s because it’s from the perspective of an artist and does an excellent job explaining what the device will mean for illustrators and other artists:

Federico and Jason Snell recorded an episode of Upgrade about the iPad Pro, too, which you can watch here:

Source: Apple.

Source: Apple.

New iPad Airs were released yesterday, too, but there’s far less to say about them. In summary, there’s a 13” model now, the FaceTime camera has moved to the long side of the device, and it supports the Apple Pencil Pro. However, if you’re looking for more detail than that, I’d suggest reading David Pierce’s review on The Verge.

As Federico and I discussed on AppStories, frustrations with iPadOS aren’t new. However, they’ve been compounded by the iPad Pro’s amazing hardware. There’s no other device quite like the new iPad Pros. I can’t wait for mine to arrive tomorrow, but at the same time, I can’t shake a nagging apprehension that I may never fully realize the promise of its hardware. There’s always a chance that next month, WWDC will begin turning the iPad Pro narrative around, but we’ve been down that road before too.

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