Ever since the original iPad Pro, Apple needed to improve on its formula, and the iPad Pro 11 (2018) is the tablet it always set out to make. With a smaller frame but larger screen, bags of power, and a new redesigned Apple Pencil, this was for a while the new face of the company's slates, though the newer iPad Pro (2021) range now has that title.
Apple needed to make these improvements so the iPad Pro 11 could be the true device for a professional user, and it seems the company delivered. So here we are with the iPad Pro 11-inch (or iPad Pro 11, to you and us), which aims to fix the various issues the first Pros had. There's also the iPad Pro 12.9, with a screen that's a little bigger, for those of you who need extra screen real estate.
Indeed, Apple called this 2018 model ‘the iPad we wanted to make from the beginning’ (which says something about the newer 2020 models) – but while this is easily the best tablet Apple had ever made (along with its chunkier sibling) when it came out, there's a big question as to whether the 'average' user will get enough benefit out of the new iPad Pro to warrant the extra cost over the 'basic' iPad line.
This is the most recent iPad Pro, as Apple neglected to release the new iPad Pro in October 2019 as we were expecting, so if you need Apple's newest premium tablet hardware, this is still it, despite it being a little older. That's not bad news though, because it's still receiving Apple's newest software.
When we reviewed this iPad it ran on iOS, but since then Apple has released iPadOS 14, a 'fork' of iOS designed with tablets in mind. It brings a few useful features that iPad owners will appreciate. Most recently, iPadOS 15 is the newest version of the software.
With iPadOS, originally released in September 2019, iPads found their proper space in the Apple ecosystem between iPhones and Macs – no longer are they giant iPhones, but useful workstations in their own right.
Some of the useful features of iPadOS include gesture controls, and improved markups, and widgets you can place around the home screens. When Apple announced the operating system it showed it in use on iPad Pros, so it's more than likely it was designed with the high-power iPad Pro range in mind.
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iPad Pro 11 price and release date
The smaller, iPad Pro 11, which we're looking at here (there's also an iPad Pro 12.9) started at $799 / £769 / AU$1,229, and came in a variety of configurations.
To start with you can get it in a Wi-Fi-only version, or with a cellular connection to allow you to access 4G data on the go.
You’ve also got a variety of storage capacity options, so let’s break down the pricing. That starting price above is for the Wi-Fi-only version with 64GB of storage on board.
The next storage size up is 256GB, which starts at $949 / £919 / AU$1,449, followed by 512GB for $1,149 / £1,119 / AU$1,749. Top of the heap is the 1TB version, which costs a whopping $1,549 / £1,519 / AU$2,349.
Note that all the above prices are for the Wi-Fi-only version of the slate – if you want to add cellular connectivity you'll need to shell out an additional $150 / £150 / AU$200.
All these prices can be found with decent iPad Pro deals and prices, and since the tablet is getting a little long in the tooth (at least by tech standards), it's deprecated in price somewhat, so you can save triple-figure sums over the initial launch prices.
For some reference, the newer iPad Pro model costs roughly the same price as this one, but for some of the pricier storage and connectivity variants it can be a touch cheaper - not much though.
Usually with a new iPad there’s one new feature that stands out, but this time around there are several such features, as Apple overhauls its most powerful (and most expensive) tablet.
The first thing that will grab the attention of anyone picking up the iPad Pro 11 is the screen, as it’s stretched closer to the edges of the device, with the formerly thick bezels reduced in width.
The 11-inch screen itself has been upgraded by Apple to a Liquid Retina display, something we first saw on the iPhone XR when it launched recently. It doesn't have the same stunning effect you get from an OLED display, such as you'll find on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4, and given the high price the new iPad Pro commands, not having the best screen technology irks.
That’s not to say it’s a bad screen in any way – Apple’s TrueTone technology and the 120Hz refresh rate both really do add something to the quality of the experience, while HDR content is rich in detail.
Speaking of HDR though - while the iPad Pro 11 will indeed play HDR content, it outputs said content in EDR (Extended Dynamic Range), which offers the color range but not the brightness of true HDR.
It also doesn't have the rich color reproduction you can enjoy on OLED screens, erring more on the side of more natural-looking hues. If you're watching a period drama or gritty series, this is probably better – but for more visually powerful scenes you might find it a tad washed out, with the LCD backlight bleeding through the dark area more than on an OLED display.
The overall effect of the larger screen is impressive when compared side by side with the older tablet, although you’ll probably be surprised by how much bezel there still is.
You might have expected to see the display stretch right to the edges of the device, but there’s still a noticeable bar bordering the screen, which stops you accidentally pressing the screen when holding the device in landscape orientation, and which at the top edge houses the front-facing camera.
Apple seems to like to go through phases when it comes to design, flipping from smooth curves to a more industrial, almost brutalist design – and the latter is what you’ve got on the new iPad Pro.
The sides are more akin to the iPhone 4 or iPhone SE than to any other device we’ve seen from the brand, and it makes holding the iPad Pro 11 a slightly different experience.
It’s not uncomfortable, and it makes the iPad a touch more grippy, but it lacks the premium feel a curved piece of metal offers in the hand. Sir Jony Ive claimed, in a recent interview, that this design tweak was due to the engineers finally enabling it through component miniaturization, but in reality it feels like the flat edges were only implemented to provide a flat edge to stick the Apple Pencil to.
The overall design quality is definitely a step up, although there's no glass on the back here – a glass back would allow for wireless charging, although that's unlikely to be supported in a tablet just yet given how large the charging pads or docks would need to be.
The speakers in the corners of the device are still present as a quartet, but they've been tooled to include a woofer and tweeter in each to improve the sound – that's a plus for fans of music and gaming, but the bad news is that Apple has removed the headphone jack from this device.
With no headphones in the box, this is going to be a source of real annoyance for many users, who could run into issues pretty quickly.
You may think "It's fine, I'll just use the adaptor from my iPhone, after Apple dropped the headphone jack from the iPhone 7". Well, firstly we'd ask you why you'd say something so oddly specific… but then we'd have to tell you: not happening, as Apple has transitioned the iPad Pro to a USB-C connection, as on the MacBook.
So the upshot is: if you don't have a pair of Bluetooth headphones, or you have a lovely pair of wired cans you want to use, you're going to have to spend some more money on top of the purchase price of this tablet.
Sure, you can buy some nice Bluetooth options, and you may already have some. Or you can spend $9 / £9 / AU$15 on an adaptor so that you can use your current wired headphones. Whatever your preference, this is a key thing to be aware of before you purchase the iPad Pro 11.