Opening apps on the dock is confusing. Rather like on newer iPhones, where tapping hard opens a second menu, and tapping more lightly allows you to delete them, you have to tap apps in the dock with just the right amount of deftness to drag them around. And once you’ve got an app ready to open, you have to be careful where you drag it to—when you want to just open it quickly to check something in the app, if you drag it too close to the left or right side of the screen, it’ll open completely, replacing whatever app you had open before. It took me an age to realize that to close an app that floats above two others, without making it replace the app, I had to swipe it offscreen from the right, while touching the top of the app—not exactly an intuitive action.

Fine control is still difficult. It took me three or four taps to bold the sentence right before this one—this could be because I have fat fingers, but I never really have issues like this when using a mouse to select text. I also kept managing to activate the new dock every time I tapped on something near the bottom of the screen. Having the dock pop up every time you go to click on something gets frustrating.

This view of everything running on the iPad, the system controls, and the dock, is visual soup.
This view of everything running on the iPad, the system controls, and the dock, is visual soup.
Image: Screenshot

The keyboard case is inelegant when it’s closed. The bump that the keyboard produces on the case makes it a little awkward to hold. It also creases the leather on the case. The magnets in the lid of the case also seem to be a bit too weak to keep the case closed—the case has a tendency to flap open while you’re holding the iPad.

Should you get one?

At home, I use a 2016 MacBook Pro, and at the office, I use an older iMac. If someone took those away and replaced either of them with this iPad Pro, I would not be happy.

The iPad, as close to a traditional computer as it is, is still not a traditional computer. It doesn’t have a mouse. It doesn’t have any useful ports. Its operating system is still too fiddly. But that’s not really what the iPad is about—it represents an ideal that Apple always seems to be striving for, where every device is prefectly designed with as few buttons or openings as possible; monolithic slabs of glass and plastic. We, the users, keep getting in the way of that vision when we want things to be like the things we’ve used before and act the way we’ve become accustomed to.

As such, the iPad isn’t going to replace any laptop anytime soon, because even as much as Apple’s marketing may be trying to convince us that it can, it’s not really trying to. But what this iPad can offer customers is an excellent media-consuming device, and a great vacation machine. It’s all you need if you want to read books, check Twitter, stream some TV, or answer some emails—as pretty much every iPad has been before. In between writing this post, I watched a bit of Men in Black, I sent my parents a photo I snapped on July 4th, I tweeted some errant thoughts, and checked Facebook. Tomorrow, when I’m back in the office and need to Photoshop an image or make some charts using Excel and Atlas, I’ll be glad to be back on a full-fledged computer. But for this train ride, the iPad Pro gives me a cheaper, more compact—if slightly frustrating—experience.

The 10.5-inch iPad is the iPad I would recommend to anyone looking to buy a new one, or anyone looking to get a new casual device for using around the house. But if you still need a powerful machine to do more than just browse the web or draw pictures, you probably already know you need to look elsewhere.

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