iPad Pro 12.9 (2015) review

The iPad Pro 12.9 took Apple's tablet strategy in a new direction

iPad Pro

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Ah, the iPad Pro and media. A marriage made in heaven. In many ways, this is the perfect media device, for a multitude of reasons.

Firstly, it's powerful. That means it can handle all kinds of footage without worrying about judder and slowdown from the hardware. The screen is superbly high-res and even 'normal' HD footage looks great on it.

Then there's the speakers - they're just brilliant for all of it. The sound coming out is exquisite and makes it all a joy to use.

iPad Pro review

But, for me, the biggest reason is the app range available. You can get so many powerful media players now on the App Store that it's always going to be a great experience. When it comes to video it's a little annoying - you have to sideload stuff through iTunes rather than just being able to drag and drop like on Android devices, but it's possible.

There's also the issue of storage, where you've got two choices: big or little. There's no way to add in another bit of storage through microSD slot (although if you expected that on an iPad in this day and age, where have you been?)


Let's get into the smaller components of this category, and music is a big part of that. It's not often I'll say that about a tablet, but in this case it's warranted thanks to the audio performance.

With headphones on (at a desk of course - this isn't something you'd cart around on the train to play tunes instead of your phone) the audio quality is excellent, using Apple's music smarts to create a really compelling sound.

iPad Pro review

But it's with the headphones out that the iPad Pro 12.9 really comes into its own. The four speakers are really loud and powerful, working as well as many Bluetooth speakers and not sounding at all tinny. I was genuinely surprised at the audio performance here, expecting it to contain a lot more distortion thanks to being on a tablet.

iPad Pro review

Move to Apple Music though and things are (obviously) fine. The audio quality of these tunes is great, and I'm starting to quite like the curated playlists offered up every single day. It does require the $9.99 / £9.99 monthly subscription - use the three month trial to see if it's something for you (and it's on Android devices now, if you're a cross-tribe phone and tablet user).


I just love using the iPad Pro for all manner of movie and TV watching, as it's an experience far enough removed from my phone that I'll now instinctively reach for the iPad whenever I want to watch football highlights, grab a few minutes of a movie or start streaming Netflix.

Thanks to the power of the App Store, there's loads to choose from here, and you're safe in the knowledge the apps will likely be most effectively coded onto the iPad platform. It doesn't support all file types, but add in something like VLC Player and you'll be able to play back nearly any format.

iPad Pro review

The colour rendering is good, and the contrast ratio decent - it's not the best out there and did have elements of looking over-bright at times - I'm one of those that prefers the crisp lines of the Super AMOLED technology, and in terms of out and out iPad screen performance, the iPad mini 4 takes the title right now.

That said, the large screen is just brilliant for all kinds of moving images, especially when you're just quietly streaming some sport in the background while you're supposed to be working.

Here's something that's happened which has really upset me: I've started using the mini-video player when split screening. I've said above that I can't see why anyone would ever do that, but I was watching a movie and realised I needed to check email. The movie screen is the size of an iPhone, so that's usable.

Then I needed to open the calendar too, and I realised what I'd done. I'd lied to myself. It hurt. But it was WELL GOOD.


The gaming element of the iPad Pro is theoretically strong, but then again it was on other devices too historically. Being able to connect up a controller and play Sonic the Hedgehog on the go has always been awesome.. The A9X is very powerful though, and as such you'd expect every app to fly along using it.

I played the graphically-rich 'The Room Three' (seriously, head out and buy The Room One AND Two right now, then play this) and apart from slowing down in the opening loading scene (as it did the mini 4) there weren't any issues at all - seeing the same issue in two places shows it's the coding, not the hardware that's got the slight issue there.

The real problem with the iPad Pro and gaming: it's just too cumbersome to be held in two hands for any length of time if you're constantly stretching all over the screen to kill robot aliens or what have you.

While I didn't find myself playing that many speedy games over the course of the review (preferring my phone often to get the more agile experience), the slower, puzzle-based games seem pretty cool, and as mentioned, throwing a Bluetooth controller into the mix seems like a perfect fit when you download the older, retro titles for gaming on a train when you have one of those 'winning at life' moments and get a table seat.

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.