I Went Hands On with the iPad Pro… Here are My First Impressions

Last week at the Adobe MAX conference I was invited to a special event that was held by Adobe and Apple. At this event I was given the opportunity to try out the new iPad Pro. There were a lot of people at this event, so I didn’t get a ton of time to review the hardware, but I thought I’d quickly share some of my initial thoughts.

The iPad Pro is Big. Really Big.

The first thought that ran through my mind as I entered the demo area and saw the iPad Pro up close was “Wow, this thing is big.” Indeed, it is big. The iPad Pro is the largest iPad that Apple’s ever made, so I really shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was nonetheless. The screen is 12.9″ and there’s a bezel around the outside of it, so that makes the actual footprint of the device almost about as large as a 13″ MacBook Pro.

The Weight Caught Me Off Guard

Even though the device was larger than I thought it would be, the weight of the device is what really threw me for a loop. Given that several tech blogs had said that it was about the same weight as the original iPad, I sort of expected a somewhat brick-like heft to the iPad Pro when I picked it up. Well, that couldn’t have been further from the truth. The iPad Pro is astonishingly lightweight. They do, after all, have a lot of surface area on which to spread out the weight of the device, so it seems to weight a lot less than it actually does. I don’t think I would have any problem holding this device for a prolonged period of time, but that being said, I still don’t think I’ll be using it while I’m in bed or on the couch. I’ve dropped my iPhone 6 Plus and iPad Air on my face enough to know that’s a bad idea.

The iPad Pro is Lightning Fast

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but the iPad Pro is in a class all by itself in terms of speed. The Pro was able to handle everything I threw at it and then some during my brief testing period. From what I’ve read online it appears that the iPad Pro sports 4GB of RAM, so it’s not a shock that it screamed through the apps that I was able to test on it.

Drawing On the iPad Pro is an Awesome Experience

The one thing everybody is talking about when it comes to the iPad Pro is how it is going to revolutionize the workflow of artists and creatives. Without a doubt, I can say that I agree with that 100% and then some. I drew several quick sketches while I used the iPad Pro and I was really happy with how it performed.

The screen of the iPad Pro is really beautiful, and no matter how close I got to it I couldn’t see any pixelation. If there’s one thing that I could take points off for on my initial test, however, it would have to be the latency of the screen while I was drawing. Yes, this is the best screen I’ve ever drawn on personally, and yes the latency is nearly nonexistent, but it does still exist. Artists with a well-trained eye will be able to spot this while they’re drawing, and while it’s not a deal breaker, it’s still something that deserves to be noted.

The Apple Pencil is a Thing of Beauty

I was excited to see they had Apple Pencils laid out next to the iPads when I walked into the room, and I immediately found the first one that was available and picked it up. The pencil is longer than you would expect, I think, but the weight is nothing short of perfection. I’ve had just about every stylus out there since I began using an iPad a few years ago, and I can honestly say this is the best feeling stylus I’ve ever held.

I should also note that while I was drawing with the pencil I could feel some resistance or texture. I’m not sure if the pencil’s tip or the screen of the iPad Pro itself is textured, but there’s definitely something there that simulates a drag like you’d feel when drawing on paper, and I appreciated this little detail immensely.

A Device Built for the Creative Cloud

There’s no doubt that Adobe and Apple have been working hard to make sure that the Creative Cloud mobile apps are fully compatible with the iPad Pro. The attention to detail in the UI, how the apps integrate with side-by-side view, and the performance of the Apple Pencil when using apps like Sketch and Draw is unlike anything I’ve seen before. This is truly going to be a device that is built to take full advantage of what Adobe offers in the mobile space, and with Adobe seemingly going all-in on mobile-first workflows, things can only get better from here.

Am I Convinced?

As I said before, I only got to handle the device for a few moments, so I’ll reserve final judgement on the device until I’ve had at least a full week or two to play with it. That being said, I was very impressed with what I saw, and I’m not just talking about the hardware. I was enamored by the reaction of other fellow creatives as they picked up and used this device. I spent almost two full hours at the event, much of that time just watching other people use and interact with the iPad Pro. Each time I saw someone pick it up, I saw their face light up. When they began to sketch, I saw how amazed they were at the iPad Pro’s ability to keep up with them, and the fact that the Apple Pencil could handle so many different drawing positions and techniques without hesitation.

My favorite part of the event was when I stumbled upon a Disney animator who was using the iPad Pro to sketch out some cartoon characters. He had never seen the device before, but he was able to pick it up and start drawing just as he normally would on paper, and it never seemed to slow him down. That’s what I was looking for. Someone who doesn’t use technology every day. When I saw what he was able to do in just a few minutes, I was convinced that this device has a place and a purpose. I was probably sold on the iPad Pro before I walked into that room, but now it’s no longer up for debate. Shut up and take my money!

Justin Seeley is a graphic designer, author, and online content creator. His work can be seen on platforms such as LinkedIn Learning, Lynda.com, CreativeLIVE, and Pluralsight. Justin loves helping both individuals and businesses reach their professional goals through education, creative services, and social content strategy.

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