Home / iPad / Apple iPad Pro 11-inch (2018) review: a cautionary tale [Part 2] – Matridox

Apple iPad Pro 11-inch (2018) review: a cautionary tale [Part 2] – Matridox

Welcome back to my iPad Pro review! In part 2, I’m talking about performance, battery life, and my favorite parts of the iPad’s new operating system, iPadOS. In part 3, I’ll reveal my conclusion about the tablet and whether it’s a good idea to buy it going into 2020. Be sure to stay tuned for that, but for now, enjoy part 2.

(You can read part 1 here!)


Performance

Okay, let’s get into the performance.

Back in 2018, the Apple A12 Bionic chip was still brand new since it had just debuted in the iPhone XS and XR. Now, the processor is well over a year old, and it’s been succeeded by the A13 Bionic which is faster and gives you more headroom for the future.

But Apple never includes these chips in their iPad Pros. Instead, they build special versions of them that further optimize performance, endurance, and latency. The one in my 11-inch iPad Pro is the A12X, a spin-off of the chip in the iPhone XS. And as it turns out, it’s not only faster than the standard A12, it’s faster than the A13.

NotebookCheck.net ran a ton of different benchmarking tests to see what chip was the fastest under heavy workloads. They tested the A12, A13, and A12X. With the exception of a couple of architectural tests, the A12X came out on top every time.

I don’t have an iPhone 11 to compare my iPad Pro to in order to test performance, but you don’t need one to tell the 2018 iPad Pro is still blazingly fast. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the performance on this tablet. Tasks are opened and closed quickly, graphics are fantastic, and RAM management has never been a problem for me.

Speaking of RAM, the iPad Pro ships with 4GB of it. That doesn’t sound like a lot whatsoever, but Apple devices have never needed a ton of RAM to run well. In fact, I think the 4GB is plenty. I haven’t experience any app crashes or reloads because of it, and multitasking is always a breeze.

Overall, I have zero complaints about performance on the iPad Pro. The A12X is a powerful chip, and going into 2020, I really don’t think anyone will have a problem with it. An A13X will eventually arrive, though, and Apple will make a ton of different claims as to why it’s miles better than the A12X.

But in all honesty, the current chip at hand is plenty powerful for everything, whether you’re doing productivity work, gaming, editing photos, or just doing iPad things like streaming Netflix. And going into 2020, it should still perform like a beast.


iPadOS

The biggest issue with every iPad Pro that’s come down the pike has been the software. Until this year, Apple never gave the tablet a proper operating system so you could take further advantage of the power under its hood. In fact, the entire iPad line has been suffering from a blown-up version of the iPhone’s OS, and that’s unacceptable when you’re dealing with an iPad that can cost nearly $2,000.

In 2019, Apple kind of fixed this with iPadOS, the first operating system specifically designed for iPad. Admittedly, it’s essentially iOS 13 with some iPad-exclusive features, but it at least shows Apple is focused on further refining the iPad experience and not simply giving it a “super-gigantic iPhone” UI.

With iPadOS, Apple brings a number of new features to the iPad like more icons on your home screen, widgets on your home screen, new Apple Pencil shortcuts, and dark mode. Then there are the much more useful features like desktop-class web browsing and improved multitasking gestures.

But by far, my favorite feature of iPadOS is the tried-and-true file system Apple finally decided to include. There’s a whole conversation as to whether your iPad can actually replace your laptop, and without a proper file system, it doesn’t stand a chance.

Now that it’s here, though, I can kind of see how you could use the iPad Pro as your only computer. You can download and send files just like you would in macOS or Windows, and you get easy access to all of your cloud storage subscriptions. Granted, it’s not as extensive as a desktop-class file manager, but at least it’s something, and something is better than nothing.

Every year, the iPad’s operating system gets closer to actually being capable of replacing your laptop. It still hasn’t gotten to that place yet, but it keeps inching closer and closer.

I like Dieter Bohn‘s analogy in his iPadOS review over at The Verge. He compares the system to Zeno’s paradox in which a runner tries to reach a finish line, but in order to get there, he has to get half way to the goal. Then half of that distance, then half of that, and so on.

That’s literally the case with iPadOS. Each and every year, Apple gets closer to the inevitable future where iPads can replace Windows, Chrome OS, or even macOS laptops. But there’s always a couple of features missing that can convince someone switching to the iPad won’t be worth it.

I can’t tell you if the iPad will ever get to a place where you pit it against Windows 10 laptops. But in the same breath, I can see a future where the iPad Pro can serve as your only computer. That future isn’t here yet, but it’s certainly on the horizon.

And no, 2020 probably won’t revolutionize computing on the iPad with iPadOS 14, but it’ll at least be a better version of what comes with iPadOS 13, and that’s a step in the right direction.


Battery

Reviewers have told you time and time again that the iPad Pro has fantastic battery life. Some might say it’s amazing, others might say it’s life changing. But for me, I wasn’t as impressed with it, and here’s why.

I couldn’t tell you the exact reason why, but whenever I see an iPad, I immediately assume it has good battery life. It’s weird. The iPad Pro is the first iPad I’ve ever extensively used, yet I already knew what to expect: at least all-day battery life.

That’s pretty much what I get with my 11-inch cellular model. Standby time is good, a full charge gets me through at least a full day’s worth of use, and the included 12W power brick is enough to supply somewhat of a timely refueling from zero to 100. But that’s exactly what I expect from an iPad.

I think it’s mainly thanks to Apple’s success in the tablet field. Since the first iPad generations, the company’s tablet range has adopted a reputation for sporting great endurance, even under heavy workloads. So for me, whenever I see the word ‘iPad” associated with a new tablet from Apple, I assume it’ll get me through a full day’s worth of work, play, and casual use.

There’s nothing revolutionary about the 11-inch iPad Pro’s battery life. I’ll admit, it’s impressive how something so thin and light can produce this kind of endurance. But at the same time, it’s what I’ve come to expect from iPads. There was never a moment during my longer-than-usual review period with the iPad Pro that made me say, “man, this iPad has great battery life!” It just never happened.

Admittedly, if your iPad is a few years old, you’ll love the battery life you get from this model. It’ll be a serious upgrade for you. But if it’s the first iPad you get (like me), you probably won’t be blown away.


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