iPad Pro 10.5 (2017) review

By admin -

The 10.5-inch iPad Pro in 2017 represents Apple deciding to make a tablet with absolutely everything crammed in. The best in audio performance, the cream of the company's mobile screen tech, and all the power that can be crammed inside the metal walls of a digital slate.

Make no mistake: this iPad Pro is the device that Apple wants you to buy to replace your laptop if you're not going to pay out for a new MacBook.

Ironically, the price is such that – when paired with the necessary accessories– it's not far off the cost of such a device, but the iPad Pro offers something a little different.

It's an entertainment hub that flips to become a mobile work station – the iPad Pro's strength is that it can do many things well, and in a compact form. Like the larger iPad Pro 12.9, it has iOS 12 onboard, its new software make it more versatile than when it first launched, although you can now upgrade it to iPadOS.

There's only so much manufacturers can do to update a tablet these days beyond increasing the specs, as the use case for these devices hasn't altered much over the years, beyond them now being able to serve as pseudo-tablet replacements with the addition of a keyboard.

That said, Apple has shoved all the high-end specs it can into the iPad Pro, and it really does make a difference – but are they the sorts of things that will really impress consumers, and is it enough to warrant the higher price.

To find out, we're going to try and do what we didn't manage with the first iPad Pro, and write this entire review on the new iPad Pro 10.5 – including photo processing and editing, and with our hands-on pictures of the tablet shot on the iPhone 7 Plus, which has a comparable sensor to the new iPad Pro – and see how easy it is to achieve.

The issues we encountered in 2015 revolved around the ease of switching between apps and uploading pictures to our content management system, as well as the usefulness of the Apple Pencil in replacing a mouse – so will this year be any different?

iPad Pro 10.5 price and release date

Let's not mess about here: the price of the 10.5-inch iPad Pro borders on eye-watering. It's £619 / $649 / AU$979 for the base model without cellular data – and that's if you only want 64GB storage.

That'll be acceptable for some, but many users will probably want the 256GB model, which hikes the price up to £709 / $749 / AU$1129 – and it's £889 / $949 / AU$1429 if you want the 512GB model, although that's probably a bit overkill for anyone who doesn't need the security of half a terabyte of space.

This is a surprising jump in price, given that the 2016 iPad Pro 9.7 cost $599 / £499 / AU$899. There are some key upgrades to the chipset and screen size / technology, but considering that 2016's model was perfectly adequate in many ways it's curious that Apple is pushing the cost up once again, and explains the decision to remove the Pro-level 9.7-inch tablet from its stores.

Even though the iPad Pro came out in June 2017, we've yet to see the price drop much. We expect it to drop once we hear all about the new iPad Pro (2018) that we expect to see unveiled on October 30. 

Anyone looking to give up some Pro-level features for a cheaper tablet can find it in the new iPad 2018, which also works with the Apple Pencil stylus.


If you're familiar with any kind of iPad, then the new iPad Pro isn't going to be a surprise. You've got the same rounded metallic back (and now there's no plastic cut-out at the top of the device for the antennas, which improves the aesthetic) and it's incredibly light in the hand at 469 grams.

Even with the Smart Keyboard attached it's almost impossible to detect the presence of the new iPad Pro when it's thrown in a bag, and on its own it's a great tablet to hold for extended periods.

The protruding camera on the back irks slightly – you'd think that on a device this size there would be space to make it flush – but given that it's using the same sensor as in the iPhone 7, we can see the choice Apple made here.

Keeping the components smaller this way means there's more space for the speakers, which have large resonance chambers to amplify the sounds coming out from the new iPad Pro. We're so glad Apple decided to do this, as the audio from this tablet is just sensational – more on that later.

It's perhaps a shame that the 10.5-inch iPad Pro isn't waterproof, as Apple clearly has the ability to make it so, as it demonstrated with the iPhone 7. 

However, apart from enabling it to be safely used in the bath or by the pool, waterproofing on a tablet is less necessary than on a phone, which can be accidentally dunked into many more wet things due to its size.

It feels redundant to talk about the build quality of this tablet, because the higher premium placed on Apple products does guarantee something that's made to last and feel good in the hand.

The buttons feel well machined and have a pleasing travel, everything is easy to find under the finger and the TouchID sensor at the base of the device is swift to respond, and within reach whichever orientation you hold the tablet in.

You'll spend a lot on this device, but at least you'll get something that seems to justify the cost in terms of build quality.


The screen on the 10.5-inch iPad Pro is one of the best we've seen on a tablet, thanks to the wider color gamut, brightness and overall sharpness.

This is the area where Apple has put in the most effort, and it shows. The instant you pick up the new iPad Pro you'll be taken with how little bezel there is, and how swiftly it works under the finger.

Apple has jammed a lot of new technology into the screen to make it the standout feature... but there's a feeling that perhaps it's overkill, especially as it's likely the reason the cost has risen so much.

Yes, the screen looks better – but does it really add enough to the experience?

It's definitely an upgrade, although you feel like it's still constrained somehow, as the 12.9-inch model is just so much more expansive. 

However, there is more screen real estate to play with, while Apple has maintained sharpness levels by putting 1668 x 2224 pixels onto the display to balance out by the larger size, which is a good move.

The display is capable of going even brighter than on previous tablets, heading up to 600 nits, which means it's capable of showing HDR movies in all their glory. That's a great thing in theory, as the visual quality of some programming on the iPad will look amazing.

We say in theory as this has been impossible to test, as trying to stream content from YouTube hasn't given the full HDR effect, and HDR-capable video files won't copy across to the iPad.

In short, and as you'll see in a later section, it's not easy to access HDR content yet, so one of the selling points of the 10.5-inch iPad Pro isn't fully accessible.

The ProMotion display technology is something that's worth looking at in greater depth, as it's something Apple highlighted many times during the launch and during demonstrations.

The idea is that the screen's frame rate will vary depending on what's being shown– when scrolling through the home screen or flipping through a web page it'll be 120 frames per second to offer the smoothest experience possible, but when showing a static image will drop right down to preserve battery.

When playing video things shouldn't be that much different to normal, so don't worry that your movies will look weird – the dynamic refresh rate is there to save battery as much as anything.

It's hard to say how necessary this technology is, especially from a visual standpoint – we found it noticeably slicker when scrolling through the home page, and the animations between apps seemed clearer than ever, but that might not impress many general users.

However, we kept feeling that just flicking around the new 10.5-inch iPad Pro was just a generally more slick experience – there's definitely an upgrade both visually and in terms of speed under the finger.

There wasn't a huge amount wrong with the refresh rate on previous iPads, and the ProMotion technology basically offers battery saving... and there's not really a lot needed for a tablet. It probably has some effect if you're using the iPad Pro day in, day out, but we didn't spot a huge change.

The TrueTone display is a hard one to assess – it mimics the lighting conditions around you by measuring the color of what's doing the illuminating, so the screen will look different when using it by lamplight and outdoors.

It's easy to say that TrueTone technology doesn't do anything... until you turn it off in the settings. Then you'll see there's a genuine and pleasant difference, especially when using the new iPad Pro by lamplight.

Overall, the screen quality is stunning in so many ways – but there's still the question of whether it's actually overkill.

If you're an Apple fan and just crave the best of what's on offer, then this tablet will impress without a doubt. 

Better colours, brighter scenes and an anti-reflective layer make it easy to use in any environment – it's just whether the improved frame rate is really worth the extra money, when we bet some people might not even notice the difference.

Every few years, Apple gives iPad software the attention it deserves, and luckily, 2017 is one of those years. iOS 11 gets as many tablet-focused features as iOS 8.

What's new in iOS 11 makes the iPad Pro 10.5 better for productivity, primarily thanks a new dock that's hidden, but you can swipe up to access at any time. It also shows up in the refined multitasking menu that's been combined with a fresh Control Center layout. All of your open apps are laid out in an easier-to-see grid pattern alongside Control Center's quick settings.

However in mid-2019 Apple is set to release iPadOS, a new operating system designed specifically for - you guessed it - iPads, such as the iPad Pro. Many of its new features could reinvent how you use your iPad, so check out our coverage on it to find out all its new features.

The dock makes switching between apps more seamless and moves this tablet ever closer to being a touchscreen low-end MacBook. 

No, we wouldn't say it's there yet, but it's at least closer than any other iPad before today. The streamlined Control Center takes some time to get used to, but we started liking its one-page approach after a few hours.

Drag and drop has the same productivity-enhancing benefits, letting you drag everything from text, to photos, to files, from one app to another in split-screen mode. It's much easier and quick vs copying and pasting everything on iOS 11.

You can drag hyperlinks, too, but for some reason, you still can't make a hyperlink anything but the full URL in the default Mail app. The iPad Pro hardware seems so much more advanced than this limitation, and that's really the problem with Apple's software, even when updating to iOS 11. There are certain things you just can't do well enough on an iPad.

The split screen view is fine – and designed for the iPad Pro range too. You can swipe over from the right-hand side and call up all manner of apps, but not as many as will likely be on offer with the new software.

iOS 11 does, however, give Apple Pencil more meaning outside of drawing on the tablet. Instant Markup lets you draw on PDFs and photos, so we were able to sign a contract emailed to us and email it back without printing it out or opening up several programs to get the job done.

Instant Notes lets you jot things down right away on the lockscreen. Now you won't forget that million dollar idea that you had and would have forgotten by the time you got beyond the lockscreen.

We also really liked Document Scanner in Notes. Its ability to photograph a piece of paper and automatically adjust for tilt and glare finally makes for a great use of the iPad camera.

Apple still has a touch of work to do with its widgets, which appear when you swipe right on the main home page. 

Yes, they're useful and if you set them up just as you want you'll get a decent amount of information into your eyeballs (such as the quickest train home, trending news topics or simply more detailed updates on all the devices connected via Bluetooth) but it still feels a little... blocky. 

The performance of the 10.5-inch iPad Pro is strong, with the new Fusion A10X chip (offering six cores of varying power to accomplish different tasks) pushing things along nicely. According to GeekBench 4 there's 4GB of RAM inside this tablet, and that's probably enough to get through any task that you can throw at it.

Talking of GeekBench, this iPad is really powerful. It clocks in at 9290 through our tests, and that's about 50% more powerful than the Samsung Galaxy S8, which is one of the strongest mobile handsets on the market. 

Apple really isn't lying about putting the best of the best in its A10X chipset – this is, by far, the most impressive mobile CPU we've seen, and makes the decision from Samsung to put the Snapdragon 820 chipset in the Galaxy Tab S3 seem like a backwards step.

The ProMotion display does a good job of hiding any lag, such is its speed, but in truth we've rarely seen any issues with the iPad Pro slowing down. 

Photo editing is almost instant (depending, admittedly, on the app and the intensity of the task you're trying to achieve), and every app opens and closes with consummate ease. There is still some lag when waiting to process more advanced photo edits, but it's minimal.

Apple has confirmed you'll be able to download iOS 12 on this tablet when it's ready, which will likely change a few of the core features of this slate. 

Movies and music

If you're looking for a compact tablet that can double as a decent speaker, then you should just buy the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, no question.

The sound quality and volume coming from this two-in-one device is sensational; nobody who's heard it has been anything other than impressed. That's due to the larger chambers we spoke about in the design section, which allow the audio from the speakers to reverberate for a deeper, richer sound.

As such, if you're listening to music when making dinner or noodling around in the kitchen, the sound quality is great – audio is sharp and expansive, but most importantly loud. It's not going to rival a Sonos speaker or the upcoming Apple HomePod, but for a makeshift, or even replacement, Bluetooth speaker the 10.5-inch iPad Pro is a great choice.

When it comes to movies, if you're ever in the mood for watching a film without headphones, whether that be sitting in bed with your other half or by yourself, cradling a lasagne for one, you'll get a perfect performance from the iPad Pro.

Even outdoors, with the wind and cars roaring by, we were able to hear a movie completely, far more accurately than expected. It was so loud that we started to worry about disturbing people 20 meters away, which shows the range the new iPad Pro has.

The only thing that outdoes it is the iPad Pro 12.9, which has larger speaker chambers and generates an even louder and more realistic sound – but that comes with an even higher price tag, and most will be more than happy with the output from the 10.5-inch iPad Pro.

Watching movies on the smaller of the two new Pro models is great, as you'd expect with something that has such a powerful screen.

The ProMotion dynamic frame rate is pretty unnoticeable in movie-watching mode, other than for its effect on optimizing the battery life. However, that doesn't matter here, because the overall image quality for movies is superb.

The higher brightness, combined with the lower reflectivity of the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, makes it possible to sit in direct sunlight and still comfortably watch a movie. The low reflection is really impressive actually – we tried watching the same movie on the iPhone 7 Plus and the HTC U11, and both of those were far more mirror-like. 

It's not perfect – you'll still be able to see yourself, and bright areas behind you – but it's another feature that goes some way to justifying the price of this tablet.

The biggest shame is that there's so little HDR movie content available to be viewed on the iPad, as it can handle that level of visual quality. There will be a slew coming from Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, but at the moment content is pretty hard to find.


The battery life on the 10.5-inch iPad Pro is, well, rather dependent on what you actually do with it. If you're just going to leave it in a bag for days on end, pulling it out for a spot of word processing or the odd movie, you'll easily get a week's worth of standby from a single charge.

However, you'd have to wonder why anyone would spend so much money on a tablet like this and then just use it a couple of times a week. Where it really shines is as a laptop replacement – and that's where the battery life is a bit harder to quantify.

If you're using the new iPad Pro as a word-processing machine, we found that the battery depleted by around 12-13% per hour with the screen turned up to a higher brightness, which makes for a more comfortable working environment.

However, trying to download files on Safari and then switching back and forth between Safari (trying to get an HDR movie to show up for the testing) and Pages, to write this review, saw it deplete a little faster, probably close to 15-20% per hour.

So if you're thinking of using this as a laptop replacement then you'll probably be looking at around 6-7 hours of use on a single charge (depending on how bright you have the screen), with a drop to 2-3 hours if you're going to be doing more hardcore tasks such as photo processing.

We managed to watch some video, browse the internet and do a lot of writing using the Smart Keyboard, and the battery was nearly dead after six and half hours of constant use.

Running the battery test we conduct on all devices (playing a Full HD movie at maximum brightness for 90 minutes) the result was an 18% drop, which is a very good result indeed. Compare that to the iPad Pro 9.7, which has fewer pixels to drive but dropped 22% in the same test.

That proves that the combination of the A10X chipset and the ProMotion dynamic display gives an even better battery life for media – and of the two it's probably the more efficient engine inside that's keeping things going for longer.

Does the 10.5-inch iPad Pro have good battery life? For a laptop replacement it's probably slightly shorter-lasting than notebooks that cost far less, which will likely be a consideration for some.

However, that slightly reduced stamina is an acceptable trade-off for the portability of the iPad Pro, and the battery life is impressive for a device of this size. It's not as good as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, for instance, but it's more than acceptable for a tablet of this size.


It's still hard for us to talk about the camera on any iPad, because it means us accepting that people will be taking snaps with a tablet – and that's something that shouldn't happen.

We're almost annoyed that Apple decided to make the camera sensor so competent on the new iPad Pro, as it means some people will be encouraged to take pictures with it.

There's a 12MP sensor with optical image stabilization on the back, with an f/1.8 aperture. The front-facing sensor is 7MP, and comes with the same power as on the iPhone. Just be careful when taking a photo with the 'flash' on, as the screen is so big that it's rather blinding.

The results are strong though, and in bright light the photos you'll take will look especially great, with the larger display allowing you to really appreciate the snaps you're taking.

The front-facing camera, which is arguably the more important of the sensors, is very good too, capturing natural-looking pictures even in darker conditions. It also comes with Live Photos functionality and the ability to take a square picture, should you be desperate to make Instagrammable snaps from the front of an iPad.

However, using the camera with other apps shows that it is worth having a powerful sensor in the camera on the iPad Pro, as scanned images and text are much sharper thanks to the improved brightness and clarity on offer.

The iPad Pro is also an excellent tool for editing photos, able as it is to handle complex tasks with impressive speed. However, for the person on the street who doesn't have in-depth knowledge of photo manipulation, there's probably too much power on offer here, as the basic photo-editing tools (allowing you to tweak the color and white balance, or apply an effect) are just fine.

Importing photos from the cloud makes more sense here, as it enables you to make use of the clear and bright screen to properly edit and enhance your images.

Camera samples

The Smart Keyboard for the 10.5-inch iPad Pro has been upgraded from the one available for the 9.7-inch model, with more keys on offer but the same cloth-like covering and lower-travel key press.

It takes some getting used to, but most people trying out this keyboard will get up to speed in no time at all – after a day or two we barely noticed any loss in typing speed whatsoever, although there was some drop in accuracy, thanks to the keys not being as easy to identify under the digits.

It's a shame Apple hasn't made an all-in-one protective case for the iPad Pro range, choosing to go with the single-side cover the keyboard offers. 

We've been using the Logitech Create keyboard cover on the older iPad Pro 12.9, which is tough and has backlit keys with long travel – that's the kind of thing we'd love to see Apple offer, but it seems locked to the Smart Keyboard for now.

At least on the 10.5-inch iPad Pro the keyboard has the full gamut of keys – the modified shape of the chassis could have meant fewer were on offer, but they're all present and correct.

Sitting the iPad Pro on one's lap with the Smart Keyboard attached is a decent experience – there's a sense it's going to topple over, but actually we never had an issue with it flipping over our knees, and sat on a desk it's at a perfect angle for typing.

The Smart Keyboard comes in at an additional $159 / £159 / AU$235, which seems rather steep for an add-on that many other tablet manufacturers are offering in the box. The iPad Pro really does need this accessory to make it useful for professionals, and it adds a premium to the already high price.

Apple Pencil

Apple's stylus-that's-definitely-not-a-stylus hasn't been updated to go with the new iPad range, but it does work better on the iPad Pro 10.5, simply because the screen responds more quickly due to the improved latency.

It can still take a little while to get used to using the Pencil as an interaction tool – and no matter what Apple or anyone says about the 'feel', sliding across the screen with the rubber tip doesn't feel anything like writing on paper.

It makes it harder to take notes with the same level of precision as a pen and paper combination, but it's not impossible... it's just that your handwriting will look a little less impressive. 

However, for more precision-dependent tasks such photo editing, graphic design or just painting it's a very good idea to invest in the Pencil (if you can afford it at $99 / £99 / AU$145), as the nuanced touch the Pencil offers enables you to work more accurately and effectively.

We still wish there was more functionality built into the Apple Pencil, in the same way Microsoft has lumped in a few decent options with the stylus for the Surface Pro range.

For instance, it would be great if there was a home button on there that could be easily clicked to take you back to the main screen, or held down to activate Siri or flick open the Control Center.

When you're holding the Pencil it's annoying to have to put it down to hit the round button at the bottom of the iPad – we ended up tapping it with the point of the Pencil at times, which feels throughly counterintuitive.

Leather case

There's a new accessory in the mix this year for the iPad Pro range: a leather sleeve with microfiber innards to keep your tablet sleek and clean.

There's even a slot to slip your Apple Pencil into at the top – and it'll accommodate the 10.5-inch iPad Pro even with the Smart Keyboard attached, thus solving the problem of how to transport all your Apple tablet gadgets in one go without worrying about damage.

It's a lot more money again – $149 / £129 / AU$189 – but it is a sleek way to keep your tablet safe, if you like to stick with official Apple products and don't want to wait and see what the third-party world comes up with in a month or two.

Is the 10.5-inch iPad Pro the perfect device to allow you to ditch that ageing laptop? Well, not really... but it does have some charms that are worth checking out.

We tried to write and upload this review using only the iPad itself – a task with plenty of challenges along the way.

Firstly – writing the darn thing. That's where the new iPad Pro was the strongest, thanks to being so portable. We were able to slip it into a bag and take it anywhere, writing at tables in cafes, whipping it out on the train between stops to begin tapping away again, and taking it out in a park to finish things off.

The Smart Keyboard, as discussed, is a good enough upgrade, but we're looking forward to some third-party options making use of the Smart Connector to bring bigger keys with better travel.

Then came working with photos on the iPad Pro – and that's where things get more tricky. We shot our iPad images on the iPhone 7 Plus and uploaded them to Google Photos (as our iCloud is full, as it is for most people it seems).

From there we downloaded them to the iPad Pro and did some basic editing to crop them and tweak the colors in the Photos app. We did download Affinity Photo to try and dial things up a notch, but quickly realised that this Photoshop substitute was going to require us to spend a rather large amount of time learning how to use it.

The Apple Pencil is a useful tool here – it's easier than using the fingers, especially when trying to be nuanced in your adjustments – but it's still tough to remember to use it in place of a mouse when fingers would do.

So the pictures weren't perfect, and despite the power of Affinity Photo we were still yearning for the laptop to really get our edit on.

Then came putting the review onto the site – and that's where things started to unravel. We could upload photos (and from iOS 11 you'll be able to do so directly to an image server through the new Files app), although the smaller screen made dealing with an interface designed for mouse input a little fiddly.

Then the moment where it fell apart: we couldn't input text for some reason, as our platform for inputting work wasn't able to accept text on an iPad... so we had to finally crack open the laptop.

Oh, it was like coming up for air. There's no doubt that the iPad Pro is a mostly adequate substitute, but there's no way we'd ever choose it over a dedicated laptop.

Using a mouse and larger keyboard was wonderful, the bigger screen and better weight of the device sitting nicely on the lap... while you can do so much stuff with the iPad, it's just easier on a proper laptop.

So this review you're seeing now was mostly achieved on the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, and with some tinkering and time dedicated to learning a few new apps, we can see it being even more useful. 

It's also got a lot better as a laptop replacement since the first iPad Pro came out in 2015... and if you're after the full Apple experience, there's not a lot better.

The portability is what sells it as a laptop replacement – if you're after something that can go in and out of a bag for multiple different purposes a day, this is a great choice.

But we'd be tempted to use it as well as a laptop, not instead of – it's an expensive luxury to have, but one we enjoyed having the option to use.


The 10.5-inch iPad Pro is a stunning machine in many ways. The speed and raw power on offer when doing pretty much any task on it can't be understated, and the upgrades to the screen are just beautiful at times.

The issue comes when comparing what's on offer to the cost – when you add up all the things you need to make the iPad Pro a real laptop competitor – the Smart Keyboard, Apple Pencil and the iPad itself – you're looking at around $900 / £900 / AU$1200, and that's verging on MacBook territory.

iOS 11 does help this tablet a lot, with Files and such really making a difference - we're not totally sold on the new interface, with elements moved around, but being able to drag and drop between apps is helpful. It's still not a full laptop replacement with the new software, but it's closer and more useful.

The camera, battery life, screen technology and audio output are all top-notch in the tablet world, and there's no doubting this is the best tablet on the market right now (with the only competitors being the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and the Surface Pro 4, a laptop that masquerades as a tablet).

Who's this for?

This depends on what you'll really use it for. If you're an on-the-go worker who needs powerful applications, and your company has an IT system that has vetted and understood the software you need (and you really value portability), then the 10.5-inch iPad Pro is unrivalled.

Or if you're someone that really likes to watch media on the go – whether that's over headphones (it has a headphone jack!), or just playing a movie or music when lounging around at home – the speakers and visual clarity on this tablet are excellent; they're really among the best on the market, if not the best, and you'll not want for anything if you're a movie buff.

In reality, the main reason to buy the 10.5-inch iPad Pro (or get your company to supply you with one) is the portability – this is power in a miniature form, and great for just slinging in a bag and pulling out anywhere you just need to work.

You'd still want a 'proper' laptop around, but for many day to day tasks the iPad Pro is a strong replacement... as long as you can afford it.

Should I buy it?

For the 'average' user – someone coming from the iPad Air 2 or just looking to upgrade another old tablet – it's hard to recommend the 10.5-inch iPad Pro. 

Most people won't need the raw power on offer, and won't want to spend the extra money on the accessories that make this a competent laptop replacement.

You'll have to be someone that really just loves what Apple is putting out there; the 10.5-inch iPad Pro is an exceptional device in many ways, but struggles at times to justify the price tag – although the addition of new features in iOS 11 helps mitigate that somewhat.