So I got a pretty special package in the mail. This supposedly contains a preview of the next iPad Pro, the 2019 iPad Pro 4th generation, and without further adieu let’s open this up and see what we have inside!
UNBOXING & FIRST IMPRESSIONS
So opening up this box and inside we get this iPad mock-up wrapped in bubble wrap. The one I have is the 12.9” mode, which is the same dimensions that we currently have now with that model. But taking a look at the front nothing really has changed, we get the same design style, the same bezel sizes. The side frame is once again appears to be identical to the one we have now, same thickness as well.
So really, the only new thing about this iPad, is on the back, which has a fairly massive triple lens camera module. This is coming from the single module camera that we’ve had so far on pretty much every single iPad model, including the recent 3rd generation iPad Pro.
Now something that I’ve noticed is that the camera module itself is a bit smaller than the camera module on the iPhone 11’s. This usually means a trade-off in some regard but to be honest I wouldn’t expect Apple to manufacture a separate triple lens camera module just for this 2019 iPad Pro.
So what’s likely the case here, is that they just managed to reduce the footprint of the camera unit, by spacing out the camera components better since an iPad does have significantly more space inside, compared to an iPhone.
Now having that triple lens module on an iPad Pro might seem like overkill, and it kinda is. However what this means is that if you’re the kind of person that edits photos taken with the iPhone on the iPad Pro, like I do a lot of the time when I’m travelling then you won’t need to use AirDrop to constantly transfer your photos, since you can just take them with the iPad Pro instead.
BATTERY & RAM PREDICTIONS
So although we get a pretty big upgrade in the camera module, there must be something else to warrant upgrading to this right? Well from what we know it would appear that the battery life is also getting a huge upgrade.
The new iPad Pro is will be getting the Apple A13 processor, the A13X even, which will be Apple’s most powerful mobile processor by far! For context, the 2018 iPad Pro with the A12X processor scored 5106 SC and 17156 MC in Geekbench 4, which is just nuts! The iPhone 11 Pro Max for example, with the Apple A13 processor, scores 5411 SC and 13883MC, again in Geekbench 4. So the SC is even higher than the iPad Pro 2018’s, it’s just that the multicore and the compute GPU scores are lower. It is very likely that this will be the case again. The A13X will have an even higher SC than the iPhone 11 Pro does, probably at around 5700 or so and the MC should be around 19000 or so, while the GPU will be further improved.
But just like I said before, the biggest improvement that we are getting with the A13 processor isn’t necessarily the performance gains, but the battery life. The iPad Pro should be getting about 2 hours extra battery life, if not even more than that, thanks to this A13 processor.
Now, something that Apple has added to the new Apple Watch Series 5, is an LTPO display and a new display controller that can adjust the refresh rate from 60Hz down to even 1Hz. The iPad Pro can already do something similar. It has a Pro-Motion display which also adjusts the refresh rate from 120Hz to 24Hz, depending on the content that you’re watching but it cannot go lower than 24Hz. Apple could implement the same display technology and the new display controller from the Apple Watch to let the iPad go as low as 1Hz and improve the battery life thanks to that as well.
Now, with the iPhone 11 Pro’s, we still have 4GB of RAM unfortunately. I know that some of you will say that “oh, iOS doesn’t need more than that because it’s very well optimised”, and while that is true, my Note 10+ which has 12GB of RAM, can keep many more apps open in the background compared to my iPhone 11 Pro which does have to reload certain apps quite often.
So with the iPad Pro 2019 I am personally expecting 6GB of RAM as standard, just like we had in 2018 with the 1TB models.
The thing that I want to see the most on the iPad, is an OLED display. Same Super Retina XDR that we have on the iPhone 11 Pro’s. That would look insane on an iPad!
But don’t get your hopes up for 2019. We have seen a recent report from Ming-Chi-Kuo yesterday, who claims that Apple will be releasing Mini-LED displays for iPad & MacBooks in 2020 and 2021. Now Mini-LED should not be confused to Micro-LED, which is the next display innovation after OLED. MicroLED is the future of displays, but it won’t be coming out until a few years from now.
Mini-LED is what Apple already uses on their Pro XDR Display for the Mac Pro, and that one uses 576 full array local dimming zones. So it’s in between LCD and OLED. It’s an LCD technology with a lot of dimming zones so you can still get deep black levels and high brightness but you only have 576 dimmable zones rather than 20.4 million zones like you would have if the Pro XDR Display had an OLED panel. Kuo claims that the new iPad Pro’s with the Mini-LED displays will launch in Q4 2020, with the MacBook Pros following in Q1 and Q2 2021. So this year’s iPad will have the same display as in 2018 for the most part.
THINGS THAT NEED FIXING
Well, the current iPad Pro 2018 model does have 2 issues, which Apple should be looking to fix.
The 1st one being Bend Gate. If you remember the iPad has the Apple Pencil connector on one side and the microphone port on the other, which greatly reduces the structural rigidity of the iPad itself. This means that not only will it easily bend when you put stress on that point, but more importantly if you’re carrying it in a tight backpack with lots of stuff in, there’s a high change that when you remove it from the backpack it will be bent. I’ve even seen some cases where this iPad Pro came bent out of the box brand new, and in a lot of those cases Apple even refused to replace or repair it, because they considered it to be something that the user has done.
Now on the mock-up I’ve noticed that it still has the microphone port in the middle of the frame. The Apple Pencil charging pad seems to be in the middle as well, maybe slightly off, but visually at least I cannot see any changes and improvements from the 2018 model. Now there is a chance that Apple alters the construction of the aluminium back to make it more durable and less prone to bending. Apple have done this in the past, like the move from the iPhone 6 to the 6S with 7000 series aluminium, which is the strongest aluminium on the market that manufacturers can use. But overall, I cant guarantee that this will be altered before the release.
Then the 2nd issue that we’ve had is the Scuff Gate issue. This is actually something that affects more users than the Bend Gate issue. Essentially if you have the new iPad and the 2nd generation Apple Pencil, after a few weeks or months of use, you’ll notice that the pencil has started scratching and eroding the actual aluminium frame of the iPad. The reason why this happens is because the magnets aren’t strong enough to hold the top and bottom portions of the pencil, they only hold the middle of it. This means that it will slightly move, either in your bag or when you’re carrying the iPad in your hand, and this slight movement of the pencil will cause the aluminium frame to be eroded. This is something else that Apple will not replace your iPad for. I did ask Apple about this and they’re classifying this as cosmetic damage, even though it’s a fault in the iPad itself. In my opinion, and I’m sure you’d agree, using the Apple Pencil which is a 1st party accessory, shouldn’t damage your iPad in any way.
So these 2 issues, the Bend Gate and the Scuff Gate are something that I do expect Apple to address with this new iPad Pro.
In terms of the release date for this 2019 iPad, it appears very likely to be the end of October, at a special Apple event where Apple will also unveil the new MacBook Pro 16” redesign. We’ve had some reports claiming this to be released in March, but personally since this will be a fairly small update, an October release it what looks to be the most likely scenario from my perspective as well.
The Triple Lens camera module is really the only noticeable upgrade and we could kinda say the same about the iPhone 11 Pro’s. But then we got some pretty big upgrades that no one was expecting, such as the significantly improved battery life, the 4m water resistance, the speaker improvements and more.
So I do think that Apple will have some more exciting features to talk about, when it comes to this new iPad, we will just have to wait and see.