As the 10.5 numerical suggests, this iPad Pro 10.5 is smaller than the 12.9-inch model, but marginally larger than regular 9.7-inch iPad that comes without Pencil or Keyboard support.

With lots of power under the hood - the screen is bigger and brighter than before - the new Pro is a device that continues to blur the lines between tablet and laptop thanks to the expansion of pro features that will appeal to those looking to be productive on the move.

Having lived with the iPad Pro 10.5 since the launch in June 2017, it’s clear that this iPad Pro will be, for many, the perfect laptop replacement, although it does come with some caveats.

An iPad Pro with a thinner bezel

  • 250.6 x 174.1 x 6.1mm; 469g
  • Thinner bezel
  • Replaces 9.7 model
  • See iPad Pro 10.5 on Amazon USAmazon UK

The 10.5 model features a much thinner bezel than the standard iPad and that means it's only a few millimetres taller and 10mm wider even though you get a much bigger screen.

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When we first saw the 10.5's trim bezel we had concerns that accidental fingers might touch the edges of the display and affect performance, but fortunately that's not the case in use. Apple has edge-detection down to a tee so it seemingly doesn't matter how you hold it.

The slight upscale means the new Pro is slightly heavier than the outgoing 9.7-inch Pro model, as you would expect, but in the hand that weight difference is barely noticeable. It's still a thin and light device that feels well balanced - despite the camera lens still protruding from the body, just as it did in the earlier model.

Although the 10.5 is physically larger, it happily slips into a bag in the same way our 9.7-inch model would, while making everything feel a little more contemporary thanks to that bigger screen size.

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Overall the Pro 10.5 is very much the same design as the Pro models before it, offering that familiar metal back and the range of colours you'd expect (Space Grey, Silver, and Rose Gold; the last of which isn't available in the 12.9-inch model).

ProMotion display

  • 10.5-inch display, 2224 x 1668 pixels (264ppi)
  • ProMotion 120Hz adaptable refresh rate
  • See iPad Pro 10.5 on Amazon USAmazon UK

The display isn't just larger, but technically much more capable too. This is still a Retina display, offering a high resolution - here it's 2224 x 1668 pixels, so the pixel density remains the same 264ppi of the 12.9-inch and 9.7-inch models - and it's certainly bright, crisp, and clear.

It's a fully laminated display, offering Apple's True Tone technology, but introduces something that Apple is calling ProMotion. This allows the display to run at a 120Hz refresh rate, meaning if you are viewing fast-moving motion you get the improved screen refresh rate to make things look buttery smooth. Whether it’s high end Augmented Reality, games or just simply day to day tasks everything really does look smoother. Scrolling webpages or reading emails is just fresher to the eyes, and although it's one of those  technologies that you can't necessarily see the point of on paper, once you go back to a device that hasn't got it, well, it is as if something is missing.

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That enhanced refresh rate is also used to the Pro 10.5's advantage when it comes to using the Apple Pencil. The latency is noticeably down, which helps those who are already starting to use the iPad for drawing or even just taking notes.

A critical thing about ProMotion is that it's adaptive. Having a 120Hz refresh rate puts much more pressure on the battery, so the iPad Pro will adapt the display to suit the content you're viewing. If you're reading a book, for example, you don't need that 120Hz boost, so it drops down to suit the conditions, saving battery drain.

Despite the new screen and its higher refresh rate, we've not seen any real-term affects to the battery life compared to our outgoing iPad Pro. Obviously if you use the iPad as a true laptop replacement it is going to last as long as it would if you're just occasionally surfing the odd web page, but it's not something you'll need to be concerned about.

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But the biggest difference we've noticed and enjoyed, is that extra screen real-estate, as we'd much rather carry around the 10.5-inch model than the 12.9-inch one. While the additional display is completely wasted on apps like Twitter and Facebook, it's really useful in photo editing and drawing apps, as well as apps like Microsoft Excel. That will make a huge difference to users upgrading from the 9.7-inch model, without taking the huge leap in size and weight of the 12.9-inch Pro.

Boosted performance

  • Same cameras as iPhone 7
  • A10X Fusion processor
  • 64GB storage starting point
  • 10 hours battery life per charge
  • See iPad Pro 10.5 on Amazon USAmazon UK

A new model means more powerful hardware. The 10.5-inch iPad Pro gets the same front and rear cameras that sit in the iPhone 7, a new A10X Fusion processor, and larger standard storage options.

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We're never going to complain about more power, speed, and performance capabilities, and users won't be disappointed on this front. In our time with the iPad Pro we've been using it for a number of different tasks, from drawing in ProCreate, photo editing in Affinity Photo, to editing movies with Apple's own iMovie app, watching TV shows on Netflix, Sky and Amazon Prime, as well as a host of other things.

In all cases the iPad hasn't feel sluggish for a moment. Applying blends and effects through apps like Affinity Photo even ocurred just as fast as on our Mac. Graphic demos for images, videos, and AR have run smooth, and overall everything has run just as impressively, if not more so, than what we've seen previously on the two other iPad Pro models.

It's not just about a processor update though. In a nod to trying to become more "laptop" the iPad Pro 10.5 can come with storage up to 512GB. The starting size is 64GB (£619), jumping to 256GB (£709) and maxing out at 512GB (£889) in the UK.

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It's not just about a processor update though. In a nod to trying to become more "laptop" the iPad Pro 10.5 can come with storage up to 512GB. The starting size is 64GB (£619), jumping to 256GB (£709) and maxing out at 512GB (£889) in the UK.

Whether you'll want to drop such a wedge of cash on maximum storage is for debate. There's no microSD card slot available. And it's worth noting that you could buy a 2TB iCloud storage account - which will cost, per annum, £6.99 in the UK and $9.99 in the US - to make sure content is backed up, or sourcable from the cloud if you would rater work that way.

One of the reasons you might need such large storage capacity, aside from apps like Affinity Photo coming in at 1.2GB, is for photos and 4k video. The iPad Pro now comes with the same camera found on the iPhone 7, giving you potential to quickly fill up the available storage.

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We used the camera to take a picture of Her Royal Majesty the Queen, no less. As with the iPhone 7, the picture quality is very good. Remember it's not the dual-camera of the iPhone 7 Plus, however, so you don't get the depth effect features here.

The iPad with iOS 11.3

  • Dedicated iOS 11.3 iPad features

The latest operating system update from Apple offers a range of new features, but in particular a number aimed at really super-charging the iPad for pro users, including a new dock, app switching options, and Files so you can quickly get files from your other Apple devices. The changes make a huge difference in practical productive use and further push the question of whether you even need a laptop.

App switching, although it might look complicated for the novice user, makes a huge difference for power users, meaning more options for multi-tasking, viewing multiple apps in different ways, as well as managing files more easily than before.

Drag and drop makes it easier to move files and folders from one app to another, while the Files app will give you a window into a wide range of online document services, meaning it will be really easy to get to your content, whether it's on Box, Dropbox, iCloud, G Drive or elsewhere.

We are especially like the notes mode that will allow you to tap the screen with the Apple Pencil to go straight to a new note in the Notes app. It’s been handy for jotting stuff down quickly. You can read our full review of iOS 11.3, including how it performs on the iPad here.

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iPad Pro 10.5 Accessories

  • Larger size means new cases and keyboards

The new iPad gets Apple's usual array of cases and smart keyboards. The device's new size means the keyboard is now full size, which means typing isn't so squished and more akin to a laptop experience. It also means you are more able to balance the iPad Pro on your lap when you're on the go, or on the sofa when you're not - and that in itself is likely to make a big difference for a number of people.

For those who want to protect the new Pro, there's a leather case that you can slip your iPad into (even with the keyboard on). This Apple case also has a slot for the Apple Pencil so you don't lose it in the void of your bag.

iPad Pro 10.5 vs iPad (2018)

The iPad Pro range has a lot of differences over the standard iPad, and although Apple has added Pencil support to the entry level 2018 model there is still plenty to justify the purchase. You get TruTone and ProMotion screen technologies, quad speakers over the dual offering on the standard iPad model and a faster A10X Fusion Processor. There's also the Smart Connector for the Smart Keyboard, the bigger screen, and the thinner bezels. If you're looking for a laptop-esque replacement rather than just a tablet to use around the house, the Pro model has a lot to add to the mix. 

Verdict

The iPad Pro 10.5 is a lovely tablet to not only look at, but also to use. It wins on performance, display, camera (if you ever use it), and size.

As a tablet there are few better than the iPad Pro. And in 10.5-inch size it feels like the perfect ultra-portable companion. Maybe this should have been the original Pro size all along.

If you own an older iPad then the Pro's leap in power is certainly worth the upgrade - especially once it's supercharged with keyboard and Pencil accessories. If you own an iPad Pro 9.7, however, then you'll be able to live on as you are, as the marginally bigger screen of the 10.5 is a nice-to-have rather than an essential upgrade.

But back to the big question at hand: is this the tablet to finally replace the laptop?

We've found the Pro 10.5 makes a number of tasks easier than on our MacBook Pro, so it's become a natural laptop replacement for when we're on the go.

Whether it’s the battery, the ability to focus you on the app on the screen, or that full-size keyboard, we love it for working on the go. We’ve not been able to ditch the laptop completely, but for 80 per cent of the time, the iPad is more than capable, even in our demanding work lives.

This is an iPad that will happily let you live in a post-PC era.


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Alternatives to consider

Surface Pro 5

Pocket-lintmicrosoft surface pro 2017 review image 2

Not an Apple fan? Got a bit of extra cash? Then the Microsoft Surface Pro is a superb full Windows machine with more flexibility. There's a full-size USB port, for starters, and with the Type Cover keyboard attached this tablet ultimately becomes a laptop.

Read the full article: Surface Pro 2017 review