iPad Pro 10.5 (2017) review

Is bigger always better?

iPad Pro 10.5
iPad Pro 10.5
(Image: © TechRadar)

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The Smart Keyboard for the 10.5-inch iPad Pro has been upgraded from the one available for the 9.7-inch model, with more keys on offer but the same cloth-like covering and lower-travel key press.

It takes some getting used to, but most people trying out this keyboard will get up to speed in no time at all – after a day or two we barely noticed any loss in typing speed whatsoever, although there was some drop in accuracy, thanks to the keys not being as easy to identify under the digits.

It's a shame Apple hasn't made an all-in-one protective case for the iPad Pro range, choosing to go with the single-side cover the keyboard offers. 

We've been using the Logitech Create keyboard cover on the older iPad Pro 12.9, which is tough and has backlit keys with long travel – that's the kind of thing we'd love to see Apple offer, but it seems locked to the Smart Keyboard for now.

At least on the 10.5-inch iPad Pro the keyboard has the full gamut of keys – the modified shape of the chassis could have meant fewer were on offer, but they're all present and correct.

Sitting the iPad Pro on one's lap with the Smart Keyboard attached is a decent experience – there's a sense it's going to topple over, but actually we never had an issue with it flipping over our knees, and sat on a desk it's at a perfect angle for typing.

The Smart Keyboard comes in at an additional $159 / £159 / AU$235, which seems rather steep for an add-on that many other tablet manufacturers are offering in the box. The iPad Pro really does need this accessory to make it useful for professionals, and it adds a premium to the already high price.

Apple Pencil

Apple's stylus-that's-definitely-not-a-stylus hasn't been updated to go with the new iPad range, but it does work better on the iPad Pro 10.5, simply because the screen responds more quickly due to the improved latency.

It can still take a little while to get used to using the Pencil as an interaction tool – and no matter what Apple or anyone says about the 'feel', sliding across the screen with the rubber tip doesn't feel anything like writing on paper.

It makes it harder to take notes with the same level of precision as a pen and paper combination, but it's not impossible... it's just that your handwriting will look a little less impressive. 

However, for more precision-dependent tasks such photo editing, graphic design or just painting it's a very good idea to invest in the Pencil (if you can afford it at $99 / £99 / AU$145), as the nuanced touch the Pencil offers enables you to work more accurately and effectively.

We still wish there was more functionality built into the Apple Pencil, in the same way Microsoft has lumped in a few decent options with the stylus for the Surface Pro range.

For instance, it would be great if there was a home button on there that could be easily clicked to take you back to the main screen, or held down to activate Siri or flick open the Control Center.

When you're holding the Pencil it's annoying to have to put it down to hit the round button at the bottom of the iPad – we ended up tapping it with the point of the Pencil at times, which feels throughly counterintuitive.

Leather case

There's a new accessory in the mix this year for the iPad Pro range: a leather sleeve with microfiber innards to keep your tablet sleek and clean.

There's even a slot to slip your Apple Pencil into at the top – and it'll accommodate the 10.5-inch iPad Pro even with the Smart Keyboard attached, thus solving the problem of how to transport all your Apple tablet gadgets in one go without worrying about damage.

It's a lot more money again – $149 / £129 / AU$189 – but it is a sleek way to keep your tablet safe, if you like to stick with official Apple products and don't want to wait and see what the third-party world comes up with in a month or two.

Gareth Beavis
Formerly Global Editor in Chief

Gareth has been part of the consumer technology world in a career spanning three decades. He started life as a staff writer on the fledgling TechRadar, and has grown with the site (primarily as phones, tablets and wearables editor) until becoming Global Editor in Chief in 2018. Gareth has written over 4,000 articles for TechRadar, has contributed expert insight to a number of other publications, chaired panels on zeitgeist technologies, presented at the Gadget Show Live as well as representing the brand on TV and radio for multiple channels including Sky, BBC, ITV and Al-Jazeera. Passionate about fitness, he can bore anyone rigid about stress management, sleep tracking, heart rate variance as well as bemoaning something about the latest iPhone, Galaxy or OLED TV.