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iPad Pro 12.9 (2017) review

This is Apple's super-sized tablet for multi-tasking

Final Verdict

The iPad Pro 12.9 is the tablet equivalent of a gaming laptop. It’s incredibly powerful, undeniably fast, and a visual treat every time you turn on the screen. It’s big to carry around, and expensive, and, also like a gaming laptop, it can replace your regular computer that hasn’t aged very well.

And it is a computer for a lot of people we know, and we can say that today thanks to iOS 11. The iPad Pro 12.9 running the iOS 11 update combines new multitasking and Apple Pencil powers with the best-looking large multi-touch display we’ve ever tested. It’s enough to make you want to start drawing diagrams in apps like Notes or Paper. iOS 12 should make the performance smoother in a few months, too.

What you’re not going to love is the iPad Pro 12.9 price. With this slate starting at $799 / £769 / AU$1,199), you’re really have to keep in mind that this is good value for its raw computing power – it matches or surpasses many of the best laptops in our tests, including the Microsoft Surface Laptop. It’s a fact that’s hard to hold onto when the “most people” who would consider this iPad Pro enough of a computer for their needs are likely on a tighter technology budget. And everyone with a bigger budget will likely spring for a laptop without productivity limits.

Your buying decision, then, comes down to three important questions. Can you afford an iPad that costs almost as much as an entry-level MacBook Air? Are you going to use the Apple Pencil and multitasking software that make this iPad so different from the non-Pro iPad 9.7? Can you easily carry this giant tablet around with you? Yes, yes and yes? Then this is a big-screen luxury gadget that’s fit for your multimedia and productivity needs in a thin and light format, if you can live within the (slightly expanded) confines of iOS 11.

Who’s it for?

What’s interesting about Apple’s biggest tablet for power users is that it’s expensive, yet it’s not quite a laptop. So you have to care enough about productivity and efficiency that you’re willing to spend top dollar on the most expensive iPad out there, but not so much that you have to go the extra mile and buy a MacBook. Who is that person, really? The iPad Pro 12.9 may be a tough sell compared to the more affordable, more manageable iPad Pro 10.5.

It has iPad Pro-exclusive perks you can’t get on a laptop, of course: the incredibly precise Apple Pencil, a fantastically responsive and bright Retina display that you can’t buy into with the entry-level MacBook Air level (Apple’s premium laptop display is saved for the costlier 12-inch MacBook), and an enviably thin and light design.

Should I buy it?

It’s very easy to love the iPad Pro 12.9 for its expansive size, and to also wish it was smaller. That wish may come true months down the line with the iPad Pro 2018, but there are no guarantees, and you’re probably looking to buy a 2-in-1 laptop alternative right now. So yes, buy this if you have a desire for Apple’s largest and most powerful new iPad.

It’s great for indulging in video, making presentations, and multitasking with multiple app windows. It’ll cost you money, and space in your bag, but it’s the best big tablet you can buy if you think the iPad Pro 10.5 is too small.

Matt Swider
Matt Swider