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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

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The best of the new iPad Pro you already have it in the old one

The new version adds memory, power and a new sensor that promises to revolutionize augmented reality applications

For much of the last year the iPad Pro has been my main computer; the machine that I use the most throughout the day and in all kinds of tasks, from podcast and photo editing to most of the tasks that can be done online. It is not a surprise or a sudden change: since the iPad came on the market in 2010, different versions have gradually taken over many of the tasks for which you used a conventional laptop.

The changes to the Safari browser in version 13 of the iPad operating system ended up solving many of the sticking points that were still present. Some remain, of course, but they are minor. Now, when I have to go on a trip for three or four days, I don’t even think about it. The iPad is the only thing that comes with me. At home there is still a laptop connected to a good monitor and I use it a lot throughout the day, but the passage from one machine to another has been quite smooth for a long time.

My situation, however, is not everyone’s and this is where the main problem lies when it comes to tackling the debate of whether or not an iPad can be a substitute for a computer. For the vast majority it may be, but there will always be cases for those who are not. With each generation, Apple tries to reach a wider market and the 2020 iPad Pro, announced last week, is no exception. I have been able to test it during the last days and the best news is that, although there are some exclusive novelties, the best of the tablet is also available for the 2018 model and even for many iPads that do not carry the Pro surname. Let’s go by parts .

THE NEW PRO

There are few differences in the new tablet, which replaces in the catalog the model announced at the end of 2018. It is basically a refreshment of the range with an eye on augmented reality.

Seen from the front, it is exactly the same. Same 11 or 12.8 inch screen, same thickness and weight. The screen is fantastic and reaches 120 Hz refresh rate, which contributes to a very fluid user experience, for example, when browsing a web.

Inside there is some change. All models now start with 128GB of memory in the base configuration and all have 6GB of RAM (in the 2018 version only the 1TB models had that memory capacity).

The big difference is the processor. Instead of the A12X Bionic there is now an A12Z Bionic. Be careful, not an A13X Bionic, which is what would correspond if Apple continued the tradition of using the same processor architecture as in the iPhone, but an evolution of the A12X that the 2018 iPad Pro already had.

It is somewhat faster, although the difference is hardly noticeable in performance tests. It handles workload and heat somewhat better and the integrated graphics card has an additional core (8 instead of 7), but the A12X was already a comparable beast to many mainstream notebooks and this A12Z only raises that bar a bit more. In single-core processing capacity, the A13 in last year’s iPhones is slightly more powerful, but with more cores, the one in the iPad continues to lead.

LIDAR AND CAMERAS

The big difference of this iPad with the model of a year and a half ago, therefore, is in the back. Instead of one camera, it now has two, and a new LiDAR sensor joins the party, tasked with accurately measuring the distance to objects up to five meters from the tablet.

The cameras are quite similar to the iPhone 11, but similar does not mean the same. There is a 12 megapixel angle, as in the iPhone, and a wide angle but in this case it has slightly less resolution, 10 megapixels. Another difference: the main camera cannot capture photography in night mode, a somewhat strange decision but that may be associated with the chosen processor.

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