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On Wednesday, Apple held its annual conference dedicated to everything utilising the mobile iOS operating system. Apart from a Watch refresh, new iPhone 6S series, and Apple TV, the company announced two new additions to the iPad family: the iPad Pro and iPad mini 4.
The California-based tech giant dedicated a large portion of its event to the iPad Pro and showed off a multitude of features the device boasts. Apple has created a tablet range for professionals and looks to take on the uber high-end range.
All of the specifications shown have yet to be tested under real-world situations.
Firstly, the iPad Pro has a 12.9-inch screen, which is larger than the iPad Air 2’s 9.7-inch display. It is composed of 5.6-million pixels; Apple states it contains more pixels than the 15.0-inch MacBook Pro with retina display. That means a resolution of 2732×2048. The screen will have a variable refresh display in order to maximise battery usage.
The iPad Pro is powered by the a 64-bit 3rd-gen Apple A9X chip with M9 motion coprocessor, while the iPhone 6S series will only be equipped with the A9. According to Apple, it is 1.8x faster than the previous generation of A8 series. It looks as it the iPad Pro range will be the test-bench for its high-end mobile processors. One of the apps shown off consisted of a medical program running at 60fps in with real-time rendering.
One of the more interesting features is that of the built-in quad-speaker audio sound system. The iPad Pro will adapt audio volume depending on how the device is tilted, which means it is linked to the accelerometer. This is an upgrade over the standard stereo speakers found in previous and lower-level iPad models. There was no mention if these are in some way related to Apple’s Beats range.
All of these features are contained within the 6.9mm thick frame. Apple states the Pro’s battery has a 10-hour battery life, but Apple hasn’t quoted how large the battery is.
Unlike the new iPhone 6S range, which contains the most powerful cameras in Apple’s arsenal, the Apple’s iPad Pro will have an 8MP rear-facing ‘iSight’ camera and 1.2MP front-facing ‘FaceTime HD’ camera.
This new iPad will be available in a silver, gold, or space gray finish. It will be available in three SKUs, 32GB with WiFi (US$799), 128GB with WiFi (US$949), and 128GB with WiFi and cellular (US$1079). Surprisingly there is no mid-range 64GB model available for purchase.
Along with the iPad Pro, two add-on accessories were show off at the event. The Apple Pencil, retailing for US$99, and the Apple iPad Pro Keyboard, which will cost US$169.
When fitted with the keyboard the iPad Pro looks surprisingly similar to the Microsoft Surface. The keyboard contains an “innovative new interface that allows for a two‑way exchange of power and data.”
Apple’s Pencil is the company’s answer to a first-party stylus for the device. The Pencil was shown to use a range of applications, such as Microsoft Office 365, Adobe Photoshop, and medical applications. It will be rechargeable through a Lightning connector on the back of the device.
The iPad mini 4 received far less stage time and was more of a fleeting comment. It will be replacing the iPad mini 3, while the iPad mini 2 will shift down the line to become Apple’s entry-level tablet device. The mini 2 will start from US$269, which the iPad mini 4 begins at US$399.
The new refresh is similar to the iPad 3, but with a few upgrades. It will come pre-installed with iOS 9, have an A8 processor, 8MP iSight camera, and Bluetooth 4.2. Apple’s iPad mini 4 will also be available in 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB capacities with either a silver, gold, or space grey finish. The SKUs will also contain a mixture of WiFi and cellular options.
“We’ve taken the power and performance of the iPad Air 2 and built it into an even smaller mini enclosure, which is 0.65 pounds. It’s incredibly powerful, yet small and light,” says Philip Schiller, senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Apple.
Apple appears to be placing more stock in the new iPad Pro range of devices than other iPad in the family.