Read in this iPad Pro 2020 review what we think about the improvements in Apple’s latest professional tablet. Is the LiDAR Scanner worth upgrading and can this iPad Pro really replace your laptop? You can read it in our review of the iPad Pro 2020!
Introduction iPad Pro 2020
Apple’s slogan for the new iPad Pro is, “Your next computer isn’t a computer.” We’ve heard that several times, but this time Apple really hopes to deliver on that promise with a separately available keyboard cover and new features in iPadOS that everyone can take advantage of. The cursor support and new iPadOS functions also work on previous models. And the new Magic Keyboard keyboard cover also works on the 2018 model of the iPad Pro . We’ve been talking about whether the iPad Pro can replace a laptop for a few years now. We therefore have the iPad Pro vs MacBook Air in a separate articlecompared and compared on a number of points, including screen, connections and availability of apps. The latter is perhaps the most important: if you need specific desktop software, you will not be able to trade in your laptop for an iPad Pro for the time being. Price and weight are also factors: an iPad Pro with complete accessories is more expensive and heavier than a MacBook Air.
- 2018 model
IPAD PRO 2020 11-INCH
Still, the 2020 version of the iPad Pro has enough to offer to write an extensive review about it. The quality of the screen, the battery life, the finish of the case, the speed of the processor, everything is fine. The iPad Pro was already the best tablet on the market. And as an extra you get the new cameras and the LiDAR Scanner.
On which points do you improve even more and is it worth an upgrade? You can read that in our extensive iPad Pro 2020 review!
The iPad Pro 2020 is an important milestone for Apple. With a real keyboard with trackpad and customizations in iPadOS, it is more than ever a laptop replacement and a worthy competitor to the Microsoft Surface Pro tablets. You get better performance, a longer battery life, a better screen and better cameras. Plus: you get the opportunity to use all kinds of AR applications. No tablet offers this combination for properties. This is an expensive device and we have high expectations (rightly so, we think).
Improvements iPad Pro 2020
These are the main improvements Apple has made to the 2020 iPad Pros:
- New LiDAR Scanner for future AR applications
- Dual camera lens with ultra wide angle lens for more photography options.
- Optional Magic Keyboard with trackpad, also works on 2018 model.
- iPadOS with mouse and trackpad support makes this an even better laptop replacement (also works on previous iPads).
- A12Z Bionic chip with 8 CPU cores and 8 graphics cores makes this tablet faster than a typical MacBook.
Not sure about the iPad Pro? We have made these comparisons for you:
iPad Pro 2020 design
- Design and dimensions identical to iPad Pro 2018
- Dimensions 247.6 x 178.5 x 5.9mm (11-inch) and 280.6 x 214.9 x 5.9mm (12.9-inch)
- Weight 473 grams and 643 grams respectively
- Borderless design without a home button
- Choice of silver and space gray
- Flat sides, not rounded
- New camera hump at the back
The iPad Pro 2018 got a new design with thinner screen edges, a Face ID camera and an aluminum housing with flat sides. There are rumors that we will also see this design with the iPhone 12 . In terms of appearance, not much has changed with the 2020 model of the iPad Pro and we don’t mind at all. We still think this is the most beautiful tablet in Apple’s range and cannot wait for Apple to bring this design to the iPhone . Everything still looks the same, except for the camera bulge on the back. This ensures that the tablet is now 10 grams heavier. It is reminiscent of the camera bump of the iPhone 11 Pro, only on that device you have three camera lenses to photograph, while the iPad Pro has two camera lenses and a LiDAR Scanner.
The Pro is nice and thin at 5.9 mm. The headphone jack is still absent and that can be a bit inconvenient in the current era (although you can of course use an adapter or Lightning headset). A cable connection is simply more reliable and faster if you have to make video calls with colleagues. You do get four speakers all around and five microphones for FaceTime, for example. At the bottom is still one USB-C port, which unfortunately does not support Thunderbolt 3. You can stick your Apple Pencil on the side just like before. You can unlock with Face ID, thanks to the camera that is incorporated in a black strip above the screen. The iPad Pro does not need a notch.
The screen covers almost the entire front of the iPad and is one of the nicest parts. The high refresh rate, beautiful color rendering, True Tone technology and the high pixel density make it more pleasant to look at than a laptop screen. The laminated screen is anti-reflective and has a grease-resistant coating, all features that are largely missing on the entry-level iPad model.
As before, you can choose from space gray and silver. We tested the silver-colored model, but found the color to be very ‘white’. Maybe that’s because we all work with space gray MacBooks at the editorial office, and your eye gets used to that. It is a shame that Apple has not experimented with a new color.
- Renewed A12Z chip
- 11- and 12.9-inch Liquid Retina display
- Screen resolution 12-inch: 2732 x 2048 pixels
- 600 nits of brightness
- Face ID and USB-C
- Battery life of about 10 hours
Renewed A12Z chip
The iPad Pro has long been one of Apple’s most powerful mobile devices. The iPad Pro is therefore faster and more powerful than the average laptop. That is no different with the iPad Pro 2020, although the step that Apple has taken this time is very small. Rather than opting for an A13X chip, this model has an A12Z chip. So it is the same A12 series as in the iPad Pro from 2018, but with a Z instead of an X. But what does this Z stand for? That is not entirely clear, but what we do know is that the performance is almost the same.
In the use of the iPad Pro 2020 we therefore hardly noticed any difference in speed, such as starting up (heavy) professional apps. The chip is also just as energy efficient, so that’s not the difference. The only difference is that this new model has an extra graphics core, which makes graphics-heavy apps run slightly better. But this extra power is especially useful with the 3D LiDAR Scanner. More on that later.
If you already had an iPad Pro 2018, then there is absolutely no reason to upgrade in terms of performance. We also did not notice a lot of difference in everyday use compared to the iPad Air 2019 with the A12 chip. Only with the most demanding apps do you notice what the iPad Pro 2020 uses its power for.
We also find it a strange choice that Apple has not equipped the iPad Pro 2020 with a U1 chip. Although we hardly use this chip in the iPhone 11 series now, it will come in handy with the upcoming AirTags . With the U1 chip you can find much more accurate objects to which the AirTag is linked. Although the AirTag is probably suitable for working with the iPad Pro 2020, in that case the Bluetooth connection is used. With a U1 chip you are better prepared for the future and Apple will probably add it to the successor to this iPad Pro 2020.
Two screen sizes again: 11- and 12.9-inch
Apple has not tinkered with the displays either. You can choose between two sizes (11- and 12.9-inch) with a pixel density of 264. As with the previous generation, this is a Liquid Retina display , with all the familiar screen technologies being retained. Think of True Tone , ProMotion and the wide color reproduction. The screen looks beautiful as before. The colors splash from the screen. ProMotion is still a pleasure to work with, because the refresh rate with 120Hz makes everything run super smooth. From scrolling to animations, everything looks super sleek.
Despite the high quality of the screen, we regret that Apple has not innovated even further. There have been rumors for some time that Apple is working on an iPad Pro with a mini-LED display, which has a number of advantages. There were rumors that Apple would want to incorporate this screen into an iPad Pro this year, but that may not be the case until the beginning of next year. In any case, this has not yet happened. This shows that this model is a kind of intermediate step. There is a lot of work behind the scenes on new techniques, but they are simply not ready to be released yet. That does not detract from the quality of the current display, but it is a shame to see that Apple has not gone further.
For example, this model lacks full HDR support. We already found that a loss with the previous generation and that is all the more the case now. We now find HDR on the OLED iPhones and it is a shame that you cannot watch beautiful HDR movies in full quality on the iPad Pro. The maximum brightness of the iPad Pro 2020 screen is also not as high as, for example, with the iPhone 11 Pro .
Face ID and USB-C
You can also unlock this model of the iPad Pro with Face ID. As with the 2018 model, this works both horizontally and vertically, a feature we also like to see on the iPhone. Furthermore, we noticed no difference with the use of Face ID . The viewing angle was already great, so we have no complaints about that either. Face ID now feels just as familiar on the iPad as it does on the iPhone. We also find it more pleasant than Touch ID due to the size of the iPad , especially when using apps or entering passwords. With an iPhone, the home button with Touch ID is almost always within reach, but that is much less the case with an iPad.
We had now found it more logical to process the Face ID sensors in the wide side of the iPad, instead of just like the iPhone at the top. The iPad Pro is most often used in a horizontal position, especially if you have a keyboard cover attached to it. It sometimes happens that you cover the Face ID sensor with your hand. If the camera had been in a horizontal position at the top, that would have been the case much less often.
Just like in previous years, Apple promises a battery life of about 10 hours. This can be easily achieved with average use, but with heavier apps this can be a lot shorter. Especially in combination with all kinds of accessories, recharging the Apple Pencil and things like that, the battery drains a little faster. Nevertheless, we have nothing to complain about the battery life, not even because recharging is relatively fast thanks to the included 18W charger. Apple has been supplying these as standard since the 2018 model and that is no different with the 2020 model. We do find the supplied cable to be on the short side, especially for such a model that also serves as a laptop replacement. With your MacBook you get a cable that is twice as long. Wireless charging is not yet supported, but in practice we don’t really miss that.
Still, we do miss a number of features when it comes to hardware, in addition to the aforementioned U1 chip. In the iPhone 11 series, Apple added the spatial audio function, which makes the speakers sound a lot better and it looks like you are in a surround environment. This is not available on the iPad Pro, while it can come in handy with this device while watching movies and series. The iPad Pro still has four speakers that sound fine, but it is not as spacious as with the iPhone 11 series.
- Two cameras and LiDAR Scanner on the back
- Main lens: 12-megapixel, f / 1.8 aperture, 28mm equivalent
- Ultra-wide-angle lens: 10-megapixel, f / 2.4 aperture, 14mm equivalent
- No night mode, like on iPhone 11 series
- LiDAR Sensor for Time of Flight measurements
- 7-megapixel front camera for FaceTime (max. 1080p 30/60 fps, f / 2.2 aperture)
- Front camera has portrait mode (only recognizes people, not animals)
- TrueDepth front camera for Face ID
We have to be honest: there are not so many innovations in the iPad Pro. The camera is one of them: it now contains two cameras and a LiDAR Scanner. We are already hearing the first jokes about elderly people using their iPad to take holiday photos, but of course these iPads are not primarily intended for that. The cameras are intended for professionals, for example in the construction sector or in hospitals. But also for sports training and in the installation industry, where people receive instructions via augmented reality on how to install or repair equipment. The quality of the photos is not that important, it is mainly about ease of use: the fact that you can view construction drawings and take a photo immediately with the same device. For beautiful holiday photos, it is better to use an iPhone.
Still, you want to take acceptable photos with such an expensive device, and the 12-megapixel camera, supported by the 10-megapixel ultra-wide angle, ensures that. It produces sharp and colorful photos. We did notice that the camera made it just that little bit nicer. A bouquet of flowers got brighter colors than in reality and our green plants suddenly looked very fresh.
The 12-megapixel camera is also identical to the one in the 2018 version and the photos you take are therefore difficult to distinguish from each other. You now get the ultra-wide-angle lens, so that you can photograph a building in one go, including its surroundings. Switching between the two lenses is a matter of pressing the zoom button. You can choose from 1x (normal) or 0.5x (ultra-wide angle). You can also shoot 4K video movies at 24fps or 1080p videos at 120fps for slow motion.
Cityscape with normal lens.
Cityscape with super wide angle lens (0.5x).
However, what is not on it is night mode. The cameras do a great job in poor lighting conditions, but if you want to take photos late at night, you better use the camera of the iPhone 11 series, which with an extra long exposure ensures that your photos are not underexposed. Funnily enough, portrait mode is also missing for the outer camera.
The front camera on the front is still a 7-megapixel one, identical to the model from 2018. It provides better images than the camera in your MacBook and it is therefore recommended to use your iPad during video calling. It is true that the camera is at the top of the screen. If you use the iPad in landscape mode (for example in a keyboard cover), you will notice that the camera is in a strange place on the side. It seems to your conversation mates as if you look away more often. We would not have seen this as a problem before, but now that daily life consists of video calling for many people, it will bother you.
The front camera also supports portrait mode as with the previous version, but only for people and not for animals and objects. Nice, but an unnecessary addition and the special filters such as contour light give a pretty unnatural, straightened effect.
The TrueDepth camera is not only used to unlock your tablet with Face ID , but also allows you to use Animoji and Memoji – nice for your video calls too, if your hair isn’t in the right place because the hairdresser is closed.
LiDAR Sensor: look into the future
- Enables AR apps to scan the environment faster
- More accurate distance determination, for example in the Measure app
- The iPad Pro is the first Apple product with such a scanner
- Works with laser beams instead of infrared
- Possible preview of Apple’s AR glasses
The LiDAR Scanner is new. The iPad Pro is the first product in which Apple has applied such a time-of-flight sensor. It makes it possible to determine depth more accurately, making augmented reality even better. There will be applications “that were impossible until now” with normal cameras. Only… there are hardly any applications anymore because many apps have not yet been adapted for them. You can currently use it in Apple’s Measure app, which can now take much more accurate measurements. LiDAR recognizes the objects in normal AR apps faster, but this is only a matter of speed. Of course it will be really fun when LiDAR makes new applications possible. Apple showed a demo of the game Hot Lava with adjustments for the LiDAR Scanner, where the game looks at furniture pieces in your living room.
Apple has big plans for the sensor, but you do pay for something that you do not yet know whether you need or whether it is really worth it. Hopefully Apple will announce more about this at WWDC . It may be a test balloon for Apple’s own AR glasses and we will also hear more about it during WWDC – but we will still be careful.
An advantage for existing augmented reality apps is that the recognition works faster. Normally you have to walk around when starting an AR app and wait until the environment is recognized. This is much faster with a LiDAR Scanner. The sensor works together with the A12Z Bionic chip and the Neural Engine. LiDAR measures the time it takes to send laser beams to an object and receive the reflection back. Many smartphones from other manufacturers use a single infrared beam for time-of-flight, but Apple is doing it more thoroughly with a beam of lasers.
Something to take into account is that a 12.9-inch tablet is quite large and heavy to hold for a long time. This is especially true if you also have to touch things on the screen and hold the tablet with one hand.
Software: even better with iPadOS
- Standard with iPadOS 13.4
- Innovative mouse and trackpad controls
- Even more wishes for iPad-specific improvements
Opinion: New cursor controls are what the iPad needed
Now it’s a lot easier to work on your iPad with iPadOS 13.4. As far as we are concerned, Apple has taken the right steps with the new cursor control.
Since the introduction of iPadOS, the power of the iPad Pro has become a lot better. You can work much more comfortably on it, use apps at the same time and perform advanced tasks. The iPad Pro is therefore much more of a laptop replacement than it was before, especially if you use the right accessory.
But do you really need an iPad Pro for this experience? The answer to that is unfortunately (or fortunately) no. Almost all software functions of iPadOS are also available on, for example, the iPad Air 2019 , which is a lot cheaper. All kinds of handy keyboard covers (also with a trackpad) are available for this, so you can save a lot of money if you are looking for an iPad that can replace your laptop for certain tasks.
We hope that Apple will take steps again in iPadOS 14 to get even more out of the iPad Pro. With Split View you now put two apps next to each other, but certainly on the largest iPad Pro we would find it useful to use three apps side by side. Now this is only possible by combining Split View and Slide Over, but actually dividing the screen into three fields is just a bit more convenient.
Magic Keyboard: New keyboard cover with trackpad
- 1mm key travel, comparable with Magic Keyboard for MacBook
- Angle adjustable between 90 and 130 degrees
- Weight around 700 grams, heavier than the iPad itself
- Scissor keys and backlight
- Built-in trackpad and extra USB-C port
The Magic Keyboard must ensure that the iPad Pro becomes a real laptop replacement. Especially the trackpad, the improvements in iPadOS and the fact that you have real keys are praised. But many of those improvements (such as mouse and trackpad support) have also become available on previous iPads. If your iPad is compatible with iPadOS, you have this too. However, the special Magic Keyboard is only available for the iPad Pro 2018 and 2020.
It is a significant improvement over the existing Smart Keyboard Folio, but it also has a number of drawbacks: you have to purchase it separately, the price is hefty and the thing itself is rather heavy. This makes the 12.9-inch iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard weigh more than a 13-inch MacBook Air . There are also advantages: you have the same scissors keys as on the normal keyboard, with 1mm travel and backlighting. That’s better than the Folio’s textile-covered membrane keys. And it has a trackpad, so you can operate the cursor more easily.
The floating design looks nice and makes up for the high price of € 339 / € 399. Also nice: you can turn the viewing angle between 90 and 130 degrees. And it has an extra USB-C port, so you can charge the iPad Pro more easily. The USB-C port on the iPad Pro remains free for other accessories.
Apple’s Magic Keyboard for the iPad: Everything You Want to Know
With the iPad Magic Keyboard with built-in trackpad you can type comfortably. The Magic Keyboard is intended for the iPad Pro and the latest iPad Air.
Accessories: more choice than ever
- Apple Pencil 2 for precise drawing
- Smart Keyboard Folio: cover with built-in keyboard
- More accessories on the way
The iPad Pro 2020 works just like the previous model with the Apple Pencil 2. We have been a fan of this pen since the introduction of the second generation. The improvements compared to the first generation have proven themselves. Charging is easier, it feels better in the hand and switching between a pen and pencil by tapping twice has become a habit. We are therefore pleased that this Apple Pencil is simply suitable for this new model. If you want to make the switch from the iPad Pro 2018 to the 2020 model, you don’t have to get a new Apple Pencil. We do think it is a pity that the iPad Pro 2020 is not suitable for the first generation Pencil, if you still have it from an earlier iPad. If you want to draw accurately now, you have to bring in the more expensive second generation.
The cheaper Logitech Crayon drawing pen also worked with the previous generation iPad Pro. Unfortunately we were not able to test this pen with the latest iPad Pro 2020 , but we assume that it also works without problems.
The Smart Keyboard is also available in familiar form. We have been typing on this keyboard for the iPad for years and still find this a practical option. But with the Magic Keyboard for iPad as an option, it might be better to go for it if you plan to actually use the iPad as a laptop replacement. Although it is much more expensive, it makes typing seem a lot more comfortable. In addition, Logitech has also adapted the Slim Folio Pro case for the new iPad Pro. This is a cheaper alternative and is a completely standard keyboard including key lighting. Prefer no keyboard? Then you can also choose Apple’s Smart Folio case. There are for the iPad Pro 2020therefore enough accessories to choose from. What is a disadvantage is that the previous accessories will not work in most cases because the camera crop is different. If you switch from the 2018 model, you will most likely have to buy a new cover.
Who is this new iPad Pro 2020 for? Professionals, of course, but we actually think the need to upgrade is less important than with the iPad Pro from 2018 . Apple skipped a year, so it’s the time to upgrade again for people who always want the latest.
But it is not wise. The innovations it contains, such as the LiDAR Scanner, have no practical application yet and will only prove their value later. In addition, there are rumors that Apple will release another update to the iPad Pro within a year, although there are also rumors that the device has been delayed to early 2021. We cannot guarantee that it will (they are, after all, rumors) , but we wouldn’t advise friends and family to buy one now if you’re not in a hurry.
If you still have one of the older iPad Pro models from 2017 or earlier, you can now easily upgrade to be completely up-to-date again.
- The best professional tablet has been improved even further
- Fast A12Z Bionic processor
- Fantastic screen
- Long battery life
- Improved cameras
- Intuitive trackpad controls
- LiDAR Scanner offers little new
- No headphone jack
- Front camera is on the side during video calling
- Relatively expensive, especially if you include extra accessories
- No night mode on the cameras
- Portrait mode only works on front camera
Conclusion iPad Pro 2020
The iPad Pro has become a laptop replacement more than ever, thanks to trackpad support, super-fast performance and the promising Magic Keyboard (sold separately). Developers have to adjust their apps for trackpad support and that also applies to the LiDAR Scanner that is inside. You will only know what it really benefits you in a few months.
The cameras are a great addition, but will not immediately convince people who already had the 2018 model. After 1.5 years we naturally expected a bit more innovation. This is mainly an intermediate model: if you are now ready for a new iPad, this is an excellent choice and the best professional iPad on the market. But for the major innovations you will have to wait for its successor, which is rumored to be coming soon and is equipped with a Mini LED screen and 5G.
The biggest improvement is trackpad support, but you get that on most other iPad models too. And the Magic Keyboard makes the iPad Pro even more of a laptop replacement, but it also works on the 2018 model and requires a considerable extra investment.
Still, the iPad Pro 2020 is an important milestone for Apple. With a real keyboard with trackpad and customizations in iPadOS, it is more than ever a laptop replacement and a worthy competitor to the Microsoft Surface Pro tablets. You get better performance, a longer battery life, a better screen and better cameras. Plus: you get the opportunity to use all kinds of AR applications. No tablet offers this combination for properties. This is an expensive device and we have high expectations.