Hands-on with Apple's new 10.5-inch iPad Pro

JP Mangalindan
Chief Tech Correspondent
The 10.5 inch iPad Pro is faster, smoother and ever-so-slightly larger. Source: Yahoo Finance/JP Mangalindan

Apple (AAPL) on Monday announced it would replace last year’s 9.7-inch Pro tablet with a slightly larger 10.5-inch version. Available June 13, the 10.5-inch iPad Pro will once again be available in silver, space gray, gold and rose gold. This time around, however, Apple doubled the amount of available built-in storage, netting you 64GB for the starting price of $649 instead of just 32GB. (Apple will also continue to sell the 12.9-inch iPad Pro starting at $799 for 64 GB.)

We managed to score several minutes with the new 10.5-inch tablet and while its display is gorgeous and has impressive power, it’s still no replacement for a MacBook.

That’s one beautiful screen…

Apple made some considerable upgrades to the displays on this year’s 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models. It upped the tablets’ brightness and doubled their refresh rates from 60 MHz to 120 MHz.

That translates to a tablet screen that’s noticeably brighter and more fluid to use. Last year’s models were no slouch, but you’ll find navigating the new iPad Pro is a buttery smooth experience, whether you’re surfing the web, scrolling through your Facebook (FB) News Feed or switching between multiple apps on-the-fly.

Part of that improved performance is, of course, due to the new A10X Fusion chip under the hood, which promises 40% faster graphics, but all of Apple’s upgrades make for a hitch-free experience.

Finally, a full keyboard…

One of the perks of the 10.5-inch iPad Pro? A full-sized Smart Keyboard

As an owner of last year’s 9.7-inch iPad Pro, I was disappointed by the tablet’s lack of a full-size keyboard. Toting it around the apartment or around San Francisco was a far easier experience than dragging along the 12.9-inch iPad Pro — a beast, no matter how you slice it. However, the optional Smart Keyboard on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro felt cramped, even for my small-ish hands.

During Monday’s keynote, Apple said having the 10.5-inch iPad means the Smart Keyboard is now full-sized, meaning there shouldn’t be any significant difference between typing on that and your average, everyday keyboard. And in my 10 minutes banging away on the new Smart Keyboard, I definitely made fewer errors. Typing just felt easier and more comfortable. Hallelujah. 

It’s still not a real laptop replacement…

The new 10.5-inch iPad Pro is perhaps the best balance yet of portability and power in a tablet. Giving the tablet nearly another inch to breath makes for a better typing experience, and there’s no denying the new brighter, smoother display is a pleasure to swipe and tap through.

But it doesn’t change the fact that while this new iPad Pro allows you to do even more than ever before (thanks partly to iOS 11’s new pro-user features), doing more intensive tasks like an Excel spreadsheet or even simply juggling multiple browser tabs is still more easily accomplished on any one of the upgraded MacBook Pros Apple also unveiled on Monday.

JP Mangalindan is a senior correspondent for Yahoo Finance covering the intersection of tech and business. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.  

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