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iPad Pro diary: Day 1, first impressions


This could be dangerous to my wallet. The last time I ordered an Apple gadget, confident that I wouldn’t be keeping it, I turned out to be wrong. Very wrong.

My view of the iPad Pro before mine arrived was very clear: this was a corporate device. It’s going to be great for carrying around lots of A4 documents to view at almost full size. It’s going to be a fantastic presentation tool for one-on-one meetings.

But I didn’t see it as a consumer device. It does nothing a standard sized iPad can’t do – though I was sure my colleague Dom was going to be right in describing it as a killer Netflix machine.

But will it, like the Watch, win me over in my arbitrary one-week trial … ? 

I was fully expecting my first impression to be that it was big – very big. Curiously, this wasn’t the case. I’d ordered the Logitech Create keyboard with it, and two separate packages arrived. I opened the larger of the two, expecting it to be the iPad, but nope, that was the keyboard.

Even when I took it out of the box, it didn’t look huge. Holding it in my hands, it felt big for sure, but not ridiculously so, as I’d expected. In fact, it was only really when I put it next to my iPad Air 2 that the true size difference became instantly visible.


Which was when I noticed something unexpected: the iPad Pro didn’t look huge, the iPad Air 2 started to look a little small. My wallet was starting to feel a little nervous.

Similarly with my iPhone 6s. I actually stuck with my iPhone 4s right up until the iPhone 6, as I actually preferred the more pocket-friendly size. Eventually I had to upgrade, of course, but I still find it right at the limit of the size I’d want a phone to be. In this company, though, it looked rather small.


It still feels like a slim device, though the Logitech keyboard does make it significantly thicker.


I thought a size comparison with my MacBooks would be interesting. First with my MBP 17.


But the really interesting comparison is with my MacBook Air 11 – the one I was praising yesterday. That’s the top photo (where metering from the screen does some interesting things to the color of the desk due to the white balance), but to save you the trouble of scrolling:


Their overall dimensions, with the keyboard, are not dissimilar. But suddenly the MacBook Air screen feels a little cramped.

In use

Switching it on and restoring from a backup reminded me how clunky this process is. Restoring a new device from backup, whether it’s iCloud or iTunes, ought to be a simple two-step process: confirm you want to do the restore, then enter your iCloud credentials and wait.

It’s really not like that. You have to login to iCloud multiple times, and then login to all your apps. It’s a pain, and Apple really needs to make this process much, much better. But that’s another topic. Back to the iPad Pro …

Once everything was restored, the first thing that struck me was the ridiculous waste of space on the Home screen.


I know Apple doesn’t want to do different grid spacings for every single device, but this is crazy. In fact, to show just how crazy, Benjamin took Jeremy’s iPad Pro Home screen and managed to fit the original iPhone Home screen in the gap between icons!


Apple could comfortably accommodate eight columns by six rows on this size screen with plenty of space between icons – even more for my personal tastes. That would be double the number of apps per screen, something I’d love to see.

Using apps is a very mixed experience. Some are nothing short of fantastic! Reading a magazine in Magzster, for example, is just a joy. You don’t need to scroll or zoom on any page – it’s almost like holding the paper magazine in your hands. This one needs the iPhone 6s in shot for scale.


It’s beautiful. If you’re a magazine guy, and could afford to drop this kind of cash on the Pro, that’s almost enough reason right there.

iBooks too is just lovely. In landscape mode, you have the closest thing you’re ever going to get to holding the paper book in your hands.


In an ideal world, I’d like to see the book use a little more of the width of the display, but it really is a fantastic way to read a book. (Yes, by a staggering coincidence, that is one of my technothrillers.)

iBooks makes good use of the screen size on the library screen, with the covers a sensible size. Kindle doesn’t, and really needs to follow Apple’s lead here – the covers are too big on this size screen.


Netflix is indeed a joy to watch, as you’d expect, but again could usefully reduce the size of the icons for the Pro.

Most apps are not yet optimized for the iPad Pro, so as Jeremy mentioned yesterday, mostly what you see are standard iPad apps, magnified. Everything works just fine, but many do look rather silly.

Optimizing apps to support different screen sizes is a bit of a pain for developers. Mostly they do it for iPhones because the downloads justify it. With iPads, it’s less clear-cut, and given the relatively small proportion of iPad Pro users we’re likely to see, I’m not sure that many will choose to optimize for it – which does limit the benefit of the larger screen.

But web pages … that’s a different matter! With my iPad Air 2, I almost always keep the screen locked to landscape mode. But with the iPad Pro, portrait mode is just fantastic. Webpages start to feel like magazine or newspaper pages. Here’s how much of the BBC news site you can see in portrait model, for example – and on the Pro, the text is all comfortably sized.


It’s the same story with other websites (ours, for example). You see a lot of the page at once, and get a very magazine-like experience.

But by this stage I had discovered one drawback: I was really starting to feel the weight difference. The iPad Pro weighs 1.59 pounds against just under a pound for the iPad Air 2. When you’re holding it in one hand to scroll with the other, you do really feel that weight. When you have to hold it still with one hand to type with the other, then it’s nothing short of uncomfortable.

John Gruber even went as far as to suggest that this is the first iOS device designed to be used on a desktop rather than in the hand. I wouldn’t go that far, but yes, if you’re planning to type on it, you do definitely want it on your desk.

The iPad Pro is also undeniably less portable than its smaller brothers. I have a shoulder bag that accommodates my normal iPad, and this definitely wouldn’t fit.


Conclusions so far

It’s a lovely device. Even in the few hours I’ve had to play with it so far, the size has already started to feel normal – the weight not so much.

I’ve had very little time to play with the keyboard as yet, so I’ll talk about that in the next update. I do like the fact that there’s no messing around with pairing. Immediate impressions of it in use are that it isn’t as nice as a MacBook keyboard, nor the Brydge one I use with my iPad Air 2, but it does the job. ‘Adequate but not great’ would be my immediate assessment.

Which does, of course, raise another issue. If you have a bunch of accessories for your iPad – case, keyboard and so on – then the true cost of upgrading to the larger device are even higher than the rather steep purchase price (I of course opted for the 128GB with LTE).

Am I likely to keep the iPad Pro? Before it arrived, I was confident the answer would be ‘no.’ I have to confess, I’m already less sure. My wallet is currently looking over its shoulder with a very nervous expression.

But I haven’t taken it outside the house yet. Once I start carrying it around, and using it on the move (as I will tomorrow evening), I’m going to get a more realistic perspective. Let’s see.

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  1. ag80911 - 7 years ago

    “It’s really not like that. You have to login to iCloud multiple times, and then login to all your apps. It’s a pain” – sounds like you didn’t do an encrypted backup – if you do all your passwords are saved and you would have a lot less to re-enter.

    • Alex Moran - 7 years ago

      Can some one please insert a thank you gif over here

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      I’ve done it both ways – was really hoping the encrypted backup approach would help, so did that when I upgraded to the iPhone 6s, but it really didn’t help all that much.

      • Grayson Mixon - 7 years ago

        I’ve had better reliability with the iCloud backup than an encrypted iTunes backup. I had some connection uses with the cable and ended up putting my new iPhone in a state where I had to recover to get it to turn on.

        I would love the option of an encrypted iCloud backup to get passwords and health data restored over the air.

  2. 89p13 - 7 years ago

    Ben – I agree with (almost) all your points. My sticking point is the size of the Pro – I still find it to be HUGE when compared to the ipad Air – but maybe it’s an age thing? :)

    I can only hope that Apple starts to make better use of all the real estate on the App Screens – It’s just crazy big!

    Keep the diary going – I enjoyed your diary on the watch – and was one of the ones betting you’d keep it. I’m willing to bet that 6 days from now you make the same decision on the iPad Pro!

  3. PhilBoogie - 7 years ago

    Staggering review!

  4. taoprophet420 - 7 years ago

    Installment plans for the LTE model run $45 a month, making the high price much easier to digest.

    All the iPads need smaller spacing between the apps. I dont’t care who wants to defend Apple, but there is. O way in hell my 6 plus should have more rows then my Air 2. Also my 6 plus should have more edit options in the landscape keyboard then my Air 2. At least the pro has full set of number keys, tab, shift and caps lock keys.

  5. bennynihon - 7 years ago

    I just wish Apple actually had a way to buy the Pencil and Keyboard. My local stores have none and they are expected to ship within 4-5 weeks online. Considering the iPad Pro is nothing without at least the Pencil, this is poorly executed launch by Apple

    • Terrence Newton - 7 years ago

      ‘Tablet is nothing without at least the pencil.’ Kind of overdramatic don’t you think? If you’re not handwriting or drawing, etc., you don’t need the Pencil. iPad Pro is a great consumption device.

      • Daniel Beehn - 7 years ago

        No, actually he has a good point. If you’re not handwriting or drawing, you probably don’t need the iPad Pro period. Just buy one of the smaller ones and save yourself a few hundred bucks.

      • I think his point is that many of us bought the iPad pro almost specifically for drawing/sketching/etc with the Pencil. If you don’t ever plan to do any drawing or anything using the pencil, I would almost argue you don’t need the pro unless you just have to have a larger screen.

  6. ytsethunder - 7 years ago

    I have a question (and I’m honestly not being facetious at all), why get the (relatively) huge Logitech keyboard when you could get arguably a better experience from a similarly priced MacBook?

    • ytsethunder - 7 years ago

      (Similarly priced based on iPad pro + keyboard, for clarification)

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      I prefer my MacBook Air 11 to the 12-inch MacBook, and there really would be no reason to have both. I do sometimes use my MBA and iPad in similar ways, but I also the the iPad as a pure tablet (for ebooks and Netflix, for example). If I were to end up keeping the Pro, I’d sell my Air 2.

      • ytsethunder - 7 years ago

        I guess I hadn’t considered you might actually use the tablet as a tablet… I’m guessing the keyboard will only be present when you want to use the iPad as a MBA replacement (or, more objectively, as a work machine)?

        As a side note, I’ve used my iPad Air far less since I’ve had my 6s, and I now rely on it far less… Right now I only use it as a glorified notepad for capturing lectures, and never use it at home (the performance compared to my MBA or iPhone is noticeably worse). If money were no object for me (or at least, if I had any) I would probably buy the Pro – interesting article and interesting perspective!

      • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

        Yep, my existing iPad is used with or without the keyboard depending on what I’m doing with it, and this would be the same.

  7. friedmud1 - 7 years ago

    Really enjoyed reading this! Keep it up!

    I got up at 3AM to order my iPad Pro, but the lack of Pencil availability ultimately made me decide to wait. I mainly want it for taking notes and annotating scientific papers… so the Pencil is critical. Once I can try one with a Pencil to make sure it’s awesome I’ll probably buy in.

    In the meantime it’s good to hear from people who are actually giving it a fair shake… from someone who is actually trying to USE it and giving their honest feedback on it. I’ll keep watching his column!

  8. The One Que (@Marque___) - 7 years ago

    Please try this with the ipad pro and let us know how it works out:

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      Not something I have any use for myself, but I could definitely see that as an interesting option for some.

  9. islandgirl45 - 7 years ago

    Is there a way to do a forward delete on the Logitech CREATE keyboard?

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      I don’t know yet – I’ve only had a brief play with it – but I’ll let you know in the next update.

      • islandgirl45 - 7 years ago

        Thanks! A way to produce forward-delete would make it easier to use for writing.

      • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

        I’m using it now, and so far I haven’t found a way to do it.

      • pecospeet - 7 years ago

        On my Logitec keyboard for iPad Air, it’s Fn Delete.

      • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

        There’s no Fn key on this one.

  10. Terrence Newton - 7 years ago

    I share the same fear of developer sluggishness to optimize their apps for the new screen size. The on screen keyboard on non-optimized apps is horrible (I wish Apple would allow those apps to use the new keyboard without updating). I feel like this could be one of the biggest negatives for this device. One thing that softens that a bit though is the fact that using a website instead of an app is a legitimate alternative on this device.

  11. Eduardo Antonini - 7 years ago

    My bet is you’re keeping it. A lesson I’ve learned after buying my iPhone 6 Plus: when a company that takes design as serious as Apple makes a product available in a larger size, it’s because the extra space really enhances the experience. Once you go Plus (or Pro, rather), there’s no going back.

    • Daniel Beehn - 7 years ago

      Bull. Freaking. Crap. If they REALLY took the design seriously, they’d make sure iOS was properly optimized for the large display. Instead, you have things like having so much dead space on the home screen you could fit the Grand Canyon in between each of the icons.

      It’s stuff like this that make it hard to take the iFans seriously.

  12. shoegazer4 - 7 years ago

    Basically this review is showing how its just a blown up iPad. I can’t see how our 50+ graphic designers are gonna be able to connect our file servers, manage version control, connect to our font server and be able to open multiple PSD’s, InDesign and Illustrator files?

  13. Howard Cheng - 7 years ago

    Why would journalists need to buy products themselves in order to review them? I would think the publisher (9to5) should pick up the tab. Do you buy your stationeries and computer too? Is it all like this in the blogger’s scene?

  14. Vincent Conroy - 7 years ago

    Looking forward to future entries. As always, nice job!

  15. André Hedegaard - 7 years ago

    I never did understood how Americans can be complaining about prices, when they get their iStuff dirt-cheap compared to Europe.
    iPad Pro launched today and the base model costs:
    In USA it costs:

    200$ less.

    Nothing to complain about if you’re an American.

    For these prices I could buy an iPad Pro and a MacBook from New York and the price difference would pay for my plane ticket and hotel for a weekend!

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      Remember, the prices on Apple’s US website don’t include sales tax, whereas the ones on all of the European sites include VAT. Taking the UK as an example, the base model is £679 inc VAT, which is £565 without it. That’s $860, which is still higher than the US price, but by nothing like as much as it appears.

  16. triankar - 7 years ago

    For me the main reason for going for the iPad Pro (amongst all iPads) is its stylus (sorry, pencil) support.

    Can’t wait for the moment its smaller siblings get compatibility as well. (But, given what we’ve seen from Apple this year, yes, there is room for expecting this NOT to happen :/ ).

    I’ve tried all sorts of styli for my iPad mini* that are available in my country (from the unbranded 2€ variety to Wacom styli to Adonit’s Jot products) and I was happy with neither of them (Wacom: hit and miss, Adonit: always a few pixels off, vertically, knockoffs: quite good actually :/ ).

    (* which still remains my preferred size, having first owned an iPad Air)

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      As someone who never could draw, and never handwrites anything, the Pencil isn’t relevant to me personally, so I’ll wait for my colleagues to report back on that.

      • triankar - 7 years ago

        Working as a software analyst/engineer and having worked in the past as a graphics artist + typographer (which I now exercise on the side), I VERY frequently have to jot down quick diagrams and mockups of anything from websites to print layouts. But with the current limitations in iOS (file access model + lack of proper file management), I cannot justify to myself buying another device the size of my rMBP 13, so that I carry this instead.

        So, the iPad Pro seems like a device “built for me”. It probably is, but I’m just too used to the mini’s portability + holdability. Maybe I will be tempted to make the jump once iOS is a little more business-ready (and I’ve read a few more positive reviews of the Pro from you ;) ).

  17. cubsnlinux - 7 years ago

    I bought an iPad Air 2 about a month ago and went to my Apple Store today to try the Pro. I heard everyone who saw it the first time say – “It’s HUGE!”. It is definitely huge in size but doesn’t feel uncomfortably heavy or cumbersome to hold even with one hand. I think the thinness certainly helps.

    I told the Apple rep that I would have picked this up if I hadn’t purchased an iPad Air 2. They gave me an option to return the Air to pick up a pro. I am seriously considering to take advantage of this. All the Air 2’s depreciated quite a bit on 3rd party markets like gazelle so I think its a no brainer for me to return the Air 2 and pick up a Pro. What y’all think?

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      Ask me this time next week. :-)

      • cubsnlinux - 7 years ago

        Ha! I think from a purely financial stand point assuming that I would be able to sell the Pro off at say even 50% of the original price after an year it does make sense than keeping the now more than an year old Air 2. Don’t you think?

  18. Doug Aalseth - 7 years ago

    In 2-3 years I’m going to get an iPad Pro.
    By then there will be a good supply of Apps optimized for the larger screen. (Remember when the original iPad came out. We all used iPhone Apps for a year or two until the programs caught up to use the additional real estate. )
    Yes it’s big but I’m replacing a 2012 MacBook Pro. This thing’ll seem like nothing after carrying that monster around.

    • Doug Aalseth - 7 years ago

      Oh and Why 2-3 years? Because I figure it’ll be that long before my current equipment needs replacing.

  19. Will Van Gelderen - 7 years ago

    So I am curious on this. Steve Jobs always said touch is never good when a device is not laying flat. I agree on this as you get arm fatigue, however it seems that is exactly what Apple is having you do with this if you have to scroll or click something when using the smart keyboard. I wonder they could have benefited from adding a trackpad into the smart keyboard

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      Steve said that in the days when desktop PCs were the norm. The same point applies to laptops, of course, but to a far lesser degree (smaller movement). I still think the point has some validity, though, and it will be interesting to see if it proves to be an issue here.

      • Will Van Gelderen - 7 years ago

        It just baffles me that on a “pro” device you don’t even have a trackpad. I mean I know iOS doesn’t have a true mouse cursor, but still If they are going to claim this can replace your laptop it would be nice to use it like one

  20. Ed Hansberry (@EdHans) - 7 years ago

    I want to hear how the Pencil works. This is the one area where it will differ from other iPads. My wife is seriously looking at one, it would be her first iPad, and she wants it just for the Pencil capabilities. The Pro-Create demo in the keynote was phenomenal.

  21. Great article – first time reader. I’m looking forward to the next one.

    I hope to have my LTE iPad Pro within a week. 🤓

  22. Sandra Kees - 7 years ago

    Apple iPad Pro, Apple Pencil and the Lumiy Lightline 1250 LED desk lamp would be the powerhouse suite for designers. Amazing graphics with iPad Pro

  23. Gerry R. Dagonese - 7 years ago

    Thank you for the article Ben. I found this while searching to see if Brydge (outstanding keyboard and the subject of many questions I receive from other attorneys admiring the iPad Air and Brydge combination in court) has any plans for a keyboard for the iPad Pro. Do you know?

  24. gerrycurry - 7 years ago

    By the time you add a keyboard and other accessories what you’ve got is a laptop, NOT a tablet! I’ll put up with iOS on a tablet because I only consume with it, but if I’m going to actually use it like a computer, and start to actually create content with it then I want MacOS. I use my iPhone and iPad almost as much as my Mac, but ONLY to consume. In my view, iOS and the productivity apps that run on it are too crippled and compromised for serious, day to day use.

  25. Carolyn Juran - 7 years ago

    All you techies miss one thing. For us of the older generation the large screen is easier to see. Enough reason for me to keep my air for travel and cellular and use the pro at home for everything else. Therefor the $700.00 model will be a keeper.

  26. 89p13 - 7 years ago

    Not directly related, but . . . .

    On this weeks episode of Grey’s Anatomy, all of the cast doctors were carrying and using iPad Pros! Product Placement 101 – Grey’s Anatomy is an ABC show and ABC is Disney and Disney and Apple are . . . . You see the pattern.



    • PhilBoogie - 7 years ago

      Which episode would that be? I haven’t seen anything on the net. Can you post some screen dumps please?

  27. Carolyn Juran - 7 years ago

    The devil made me do it….. It’s on the way.

  28. jamkor - 7 years ago

    “Once everything was restored, the first thing that struck me was the ridiculous waste of space on the Home screen.” That’s exactly what i thought. That and Wow, does iOS look dated.


Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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