Apple iPad Pro (2020) hands-on: Not a laptop, more than a tablet
Is it a good laptop replacement?
The new iPad Pro is more powerful, has a high tech sensor for AR, works with a mouse and trackpad — there’s even a Magic Keyboard. With all these new features, is it good enough to replace your laptop?
This is officially the fourth generation iPad Pro — following the announcements in 2015, 2017, and most recently 2018, where Apple first debuted this form factor.
It comes in two sizes: 12.9 and 11 inches. Its camera bump is now similar to the iPhone 11 — squarish with two rear cameras, a first on the iPad.
Like the 2018 model, this iPad Pro comes with Face ID as its biometric security option.
How much better is it than the 2018 model? On the outside, there’s only the camera bump to tell both models apart. Button, port, and speaker arrangements are all the same; even the dimensions are the same. It also comes with the same 1 meter long USB-C cable, and 18W charging brick.
As with most Apple updates, it’s what’s on the inside that matters. There’s a new A12Z Bionic Chip which is much more powerful than the 2018 model.
While we don’t usually do benchmark tests, this new chip scored higher than the previous model in both CPU and GPU tests.
Camera and LiDAR technology
The new iPad Pro now has a 10 MP ultra wide angle camera to go alongside its 12MP wide camera.
I understand tablet photography is often frowned upon, but Apple really sees the iPad Pro as a device for content creators like me. Aside from being able to to edit entire videos on apps like Luma Fusion, Apple wants the iPad Pro to also be a device you can use for video capture.
Both cameras shoot 4K video, and just like on the MacBook Pro, it’s got 5 studio microphones built in.
That ultra wide angle camera also comes in handy when you’re scanning in documents, which the iPad is great for especially if you need to make annotations — the Apple Pencil is made for that.
Reps from Apple also tell me that the cameras work in conjunction with the new LiDAR scanner that’s built into the device. LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging. If you’ve heard of it before it’s probably in relation to self-driving cars where the technology is also used.
LiDAR works by sending beams of light at your surroundings and creates a map of objects in the space around you by measuring the time it takes for the light beams to bounce back.
The new LiDAR scanner is meant to elevate the augmented reality experience on the device, which Apple is committed to making a reality, pun intended.
One great example of this is the upcoming AR game Hot Lava. With LiDAR technology, the iPad Pro is able to accurately detect objects in a room, that in-game elements can interact with them — including humans in the scene.
The IKEA app which I used a lot while designing my apartment is also getting an update. It will soon be able to recommend matching furniture or accessories based on what you currently have.
There are scientific applications, too, like the Complete Anatomy App that uses Lidar to measure the range of motion of someone’s arm in real time.
With LiDAR, it’s also easier to set up AR applications. Previously you needed to scan your surrounding by moving your device around. Now you just launch the AR app to start.
Magic Keyboard and trackpad function
With the Magic Keyboard, the iPad Pro gets elevated, giving it an iMac-esque feel. The elevated display means you don’t have to look down as much.
Built into the hinge is a USB-C port so that you can keep your iPad charged while in use. The hinge is sturdy enough to keep the iPad Pro propped up at all times.
I think what makes the Magic Keyboard even more exciting though is the built in trackpad. iPad OS 13.4 brings this functionality to the iPad.
Swipe gestures work just like on the Mac: swipe up with four fingers to see all your open apps, scroll down with two fingers to scroll through web pages. It works just like on a computer just reimagined for a touch screen device.
On the screen, instead of a pointer you’ll see a circle instead. When you hover over menu items they get highlighted to indicate they’re being selected.
It transforms into a vertical bar when you’re highlighting text. You can easily copy text like you would with a right click or a two-finger tap.
If you’re editing a long document, you can also move entire blocks of text by simply dragging them. It’s the same thing if you’re using a mouse. Third party mice work, too.
While we’re on the topic, mouse and trackpad support isn’t exclusive to the new iPad Pro. All iPads that will get this update support this functionality. The Magic Keyboard will also work with the 2018 iPad Pro.
iPad Pro vs MacBook Air
Another question I get a lot is whether it’s good enough to be an alternative to the MacBook Air? Is it powerful enough? Is it just an oversized iPhone?
With this latest iPadOS update, the iPad encroaches more on Mac territory. Having said that, these are still two different kinds of devices.
The iPad Pro is still a tablet so it’s a great device for reading books or magazines, not to mention watching videos on a plane especially when you’re flying economy.
It has a touch screen display, which means apps built for the iPad are optimized for touch, and in some cases that makes more sense.
It also has pen support making it a great device for taking notes the old way, or sketching and drawing.
It’s thinner and lighter. I love the portability of the iPad and love how I can squeeze my 11-inch iPad into my man bag, which is not something I can do with my MacBook Air.
As a creator having the two cameras on its back are a plus too. If you get the cellular model, that also means you can have internet connectivity everywhere you go.
If we’re being literal, balancing the Smart Keyboard Folio or Magic Keyboard on my lap is not as easy as the MacBook Air for example. In that sense, it doesn’t make a good laptop replacement.
The iPad Pro also isn’t necessarily cheaper than a Mac so you don’t buy it to save money. All this extra functionality I just talked about, you pay for.
The cheapest MacBook Air starts at US$ 999. The cheapest iPad Pro with the Smart Keyboard Folio and Apple Pencil will cost you at least US$ 1,107.
Ask yourselves which apps you use on a daily basis. If you edit on Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premier for example, you’re stuck with the Mac. The Mac is also better at file management.
If these aren’t things you need and you’re lured by pen support and portability, then go for the iPad Pro.
I want to correct the impression that you can’t get desktop browsing experiences on an iPad.
Since iPadOS 13, a desktop version of Safari has been included so things like Google Docs and WordPress work just fine.
Is the iPad Pro your GadgetMatch?
If you follow me on social media, you’ll know that starting with the 2018 model, the iPad Pro has been one of my most favorite devices of all time — apart from my iPhone that is.
I just love it. I love all the things that I can do on it, and I love the portability that it allows.
Is it for everyone? As its Pro branding suggests, this is a device for those who have more specialized needs. Those who need more power for things like photo or video editing, for professional illustrators and artists. It’s perfect for creators on the go.
If you just need an iPad for surfing the web, or taking notes, watching videos or playing games, Apple makes many capable iPads that you can get for less.
Should you get the 2018 model instead? The answer really depends on what you plan on using the new iPad for and how big of a discount you should get.
If you plan on using it for things like video editing, take advantage of the newer more powerful processor. Also remember iPad Pro updates come every 2 years.
It’s also great for students, but because of its price tag I think you’re better off getting the iPad or iPad Air. They will do the job as well.
Is it a laptop replacement? It’s not, and Apple is clear that that isn’t the point here. It’s about having different kinds of devices that match what it is you’re trying to do. If I were to paraphrase, it’s to make sure each kind of user has his or her own GadgetMatch, even if the line between the iPad and Mac is now blurrier than ever.
One thing I’ll say is this: While tablets continue to struggle to find relevance, there’s still plenty of reasons to get an iPad.
motorola rizr Hands-On
Hello Moto! from my rollable
If you’re an oldie (but goldie) gadget nerd, you would probably remember the stylish slider Motorola RIZR Z3 from 2006.
Fast forward this 2023, we might actually hear “Hello Moto” in this new form factor.
Originally unveiled at Lenovo Tech World ’22, motorola’s rollable concept made its way through the eyes of many at MWC 2023 in Barcelona, Spain.
Are you excited to see the future of smartphones with rollables?
Here’s our brief hands-on with motorola’s rollable concept A.K.A the moto rizr.
HONOR Magic5 Pro Hands-On
A closer look at the hardware
The HONOR Magic5 Pro opened to much fanfare at MWC 2023 in Barcelona, Spain and for good reason. This is HONOR’s first major release in front of a massive audience and is a follow up to the really solid Magic4 Pro smartphone. The Magic5 Pro doubles down on what made its predecessor great, and after a few days of Hands-On, we’re fans of its potential.
Box inclusions are par for the course: You get the Magic5 Pro, a jelly case, the usual documentation, a UBC-Cable, and the 66W SuperCharge adapter.
Unboxing the Power of Magic #HONORMagic5Pro #MWC2023 pic.twitter.com/rc5kTVSyRP
— GadgetMatch (@gadgetmatch) March 1, 2023
Specs and button placements
Let’s get the basics out of the way first. Here’s what the Magic5 Pro is like on paper:
- Processor — Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset
- OS — MagicOS 7.1 based on Android 13
- Graphics — Adreno 740 GPU
- Memory — 12GB DDR5X
- Storage — 512GB UFS4.0
- Display — 6.81-inch LTPO quad-curved floating screen, 2848 x 1312, 120Hz, 100% DCI-P3, 1800 nits peak brightness, HDR10+, TÜV Rheinland certified Low Blue Light
- Audio — Stereo system with dual speakers, DTS:X Ultra
- Security — Dual-TEE security system, NFC support, 3D face recognition, AI Privacy Call 2.0, fingerprint sensor
- Connectivity — USB Type-C, dual-SIM slots
- Wireless — Wi-Fi 7, Bluetooth 5.2
- Battery — 5,100mAh, 66W wired and 50W wireless SuperCharge
There’s no denying, that’s a 2023 flagship right there. But we’re gonna hold off on any real testing. HONOR told us that the unit we have still needs to receive a software update to fully have the device optimized. So, wait we shall.
Button placements are your usual affair.
At the bottom you’ll find: SIM Tray, USB-C port, speaker grilles.
On the right hand side are the volume rockers with the power button right below it.
Up front, you’ll see the pill-shaped cut-out on the left housing the 12MP (f/2.4) front camera and 3D depth camera.
Design and hand feel
The unit we got is the Classic Black one. The finish is glossy, it’s pretty slippery, and will definitely be home to fingerprints and smudges. Definitely use the included jelly case or buy one if you end up with this unit.
The Cyan variant has more of a frosted matte finish, but it isn’t that much better in the being-slippery department.
Despite measuring a massive 6.81 inches, the device is pretty easy to hold because the display and the back panel curves to the side. It’s also not significantly heavier than most other flagships in this form. The Galaxy S23 Ultra, in 2023 at least, still holds that heavyweight title.
Overall, it’s pretty comfortable to hold and use either with one hand or two hands. Recommendation is to use/buy a case. Our hope that the device becomes popular enough that many case-makers consider creating really good ones for it.
50MP Triple Camera
Prominently featured at the back is the camera module. It houses the crowning glory of the Magic5 Pro – its trifecta of 50MP cameras.
It’s an interesting look. The camera module protrudes but how the back panel goes up, curves, and blends with the camera module is reminiscent of the OPPO Find X3 Pro. But the camera placement is dead center instead of flushed to the left.
100X is also clearly visible in the middle of the camera module, showcasing its digital zoom capability. Here’s what those three cameras are packing:
- 50MP wide camera (f/1.6, 1/1.12-inch sensor)
- 50MP ultra-wide camera (f/2.0, 122 degrees field of view)
- 50MP Sony IMX858 telephoto camera (f/3.0, 3.5x optical zoom, 100x digital zoom)
HONOR is also bucking the trend of smartphone companies partnering with known camera brands (i.e. Xiaomi x Leica, OPPO/OnePlus x Hasselblad). HONOR Global CEO George Zhao spoke about this at a media interview during MWC 2023 in Barcelona.
HONOR Flip coming? @Honorglobal CEO George Zhao says it may come but can’t disclose when. #HONORMWC2023 #MWC2023 pic.twitter.com/fJCS1gjXD1
— rodneil (@rodneilquiteles) February 28, 2023
And it looks like, for now, they’re doing more than okay without any such partnership. DXOMARK has them at first place in camera rankings as of this writing.
The HONOR Magic5 Pro is with an all-new image engine called Millisecond Falcon Capture. It gives users the luxury to capture even the most complex scenes with remarkable clarity and ease.
Along with this algorithm are shooting modes like Super Night Capture and AI Motion Sensing Capture. For video shooters, the phone is capable of recording up to 4K videos at 60fps.
As mentioned earlier, the unit we have is still awaiting the official retail version of the software. Thus, we were advised to not extensively test the camera. But we couldn’t resist taking a few snaps while in Barcelona.
Here are a few sample photos, which already look pretty good, despite the software not being final yet.
Plenty of potential
If its predecessor is any indication, we’re pretty excited to fully test the HONOR Magic5 Pro. It’s undeniably a 2023 flagship on paper and is looking like a phone that can contend against the best of the best.
Its cameras, in particular, will be one to watch out for. HONOR packed some major features here that we can’t wait to try.
Price and availability details in Europe are here. Such details in other markets should be available soon.
Samsung Galaxy S23, S23+ and S23 Ultra Hands-On
Samsung has finally Unpacked the newest Galaxy S23, S23+, and S23 Ultra in San Francisco.
This is actually Samsung’s first in-person event during the pandemic.
With all the design and hardware improvements, do you actually need to upgrade?
Watch our Samsung Galaxy S23 Series Hands-on video to help yourself decide.
SHOP S23 Ultra
SHOP S23 & S23+
DISCLOSURE: GadgetMatch earns a commission from qualifying purchases from any of these links.
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