Apple has just announced an update to its iPad Pro range, boosting the power, improving the cameras, adding a LiDAR 3D scanner, and even adding real mouse support for the first time.
It's the first update to the iPad Pro range since late 2018, though they've been riding high in our list of the best tablets that whole time, so there hasn't been a pressing need for an update.
And this update is actually less of an overhaul that the range has seen in recent years, but there's still a raft of new features, so let's dig into what's new.
First is the processor, which is a new model that Apple is calling 'A12Z Bionic'. The previous iPad Pros had a processor called 'A12X', so it appears that the processor will be similar in many ways. However, Apple says that it will be the most powerful processor in an iPad so far, thanks to an "enhanced thermal architecture", among other tweaks. Given that the processor in the previous iPad Pro was already faster than some pro laptops that cost a lot more, it'll be interesting to see how this does when we get our hands on it.
You also now get more storage as standard in the base versions of the iPad Pro, at the same prices – and the prices for storage upgrades have been reduced. The 11-inch model costs £769/$799 for 128GB (up from 64GB previously), or £869/$899 for 256GB, £1069/$1099 for 512GB and £1269/$1299 for 1TB.
The 12.9-inch model starts at £969/$999 for 128GB of storage, £1069/$1099 for 256GB, £1269/$1299 for 512GB or £1469/$1499 for 1TB.
The camera system has been updated with a new ultra-wide lens in addition to the standard wide-angle lens, giving it the first dual-camera setup on an iPad. This is basically the same setup as the iPhone 11, though we don't know if it uses exactly the same sensors yet.
But there's a fascinating addition to that imaging setup: a LiDAR sensor. This uses light beams to scan an area in minute 3D detail – it's tech regularly used for self-driving car prototypes to help them scan what's around them. Apple says that the sensor will automatically be used in augmented reality applications to massively boost their tracking accuracy. This is a pretty niche addition, but it could be used for some incredible cool applications.
Another camera-related boost (sort of) is the use of what Apple calls "studio-quality mics" – five of them, in fact. Apple is suggesting they could be used for pro-quality video and even podcast recording, which is certainly possible – it may be similar tech to what's in the GoPro Max, and that really impresses. Again, we'll have to see how it works in practice.
Finally, there's a new version of iPadOS that brings real trackpad support to this new iPad Pro, as well as previous models. It includes better integration of the mouse support with the system, and there are gestures for switching between apps right on the trackpad.
And, naturally, that means there's a new Magic Keyboard case, which includes a trackpad. This new keyboard case does have a port for charging the iPad Pro though, leaving the lone USB-C port on the iPad itself for connecting accessories, which helps to fix an issue we had with the last model.
This keyboard works with the previous generation iPad Pro models too, and will be available in May.
Beyond these, the new iPad Pro 2020 looks to be the same as previous models – the same high-res 120Hz screen with True Tone, the same impressive speakers, the same design, the same Apple Pencil support – probably the same battery life. You can read all about it in our iPad Pro 2018 review.
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