If there were any doubts, the name alone should clear them up. After years of rumors that Apple would be developing a version of the iPad for business users, the not-so-subtly named iPad Pro was launched at the company’s annual event yesterday. And it made no attempt to hide its ambitions to target enterprise clients.
At first glance, the Pro seems to be designed with significantly different uses in mind from the other models in the iPad line. It’s the first to come with a detachable keyboard (although it has to be bought separately), Apple’s first concession that other tablets, such as Microsoft's Surface, might be on to something.
Pencil for Designers
Apple also introduced a new stylus for the iPad Pro, despite the company’s famous disdain for such accessories. While third parties have been selling styli for the iPad for some time, they generally haven’t been good for much more than note taking, since they’ve lacked the pressure-sensitive technology necessary to allow them to imitate pen or pencil strokes.
The Apple Pencil addresses that problem, allowing graphic designers and other artists to use the iPad Pro as a digital sketchpad, similar to other professional graphic design devices, such as the Wacom tablets. Like the keyboard, the Pencil will be sold separately.
The company was vocal about the advantages the iPad Pro has for professionals and enterprise clients. “The new iPad Pro will enable a new generation of advanced apps for everything from productivity, design, illustration, engineering and medical to education, gaming and entertainment,” Apple said in a statement.
Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, also emphasized that the new accessories the company is offering for the iPad Pro add to its utility and flexibility for a variety of uses in the workplace. “The innovative Apple Pencil and new Smart Keyboard enable users to customize their iPad Pro experience to the particular apps they use and the work they do, making iPad Pro ideal for everything from professional productivity to advanced 3D design,” he said in the statement.
Faster and Bigger
Besides the new keyboard and stylus, the iPad Pro is big. At 12.9 inches for the display, it dwarfs the iPad Air and Air 2 models, which both sport 9.7-inch displays. The iPad Pro is also about 50 percent heavier, weighing 1.57 pounds.
The IPad Pro is powered by Apple’s new A9X chip, the company’s third generation processor, which boasts 2.5 times faster processing power than the A7X that powers the iPad Air and Mini 2, and five times faster graphics rendering.
The 32 GB Wi-Fi-only iPad Pro model is priced at $799, while the 128 GB model will cost $949. The cellular-equipped 128 GB model will cost $1,079, At those prices, the iPad Pro will cost more than many high-end laptops.