Apple’s iPad Pro LANDS: A9X Chipset, Specs & Apple Pencil Detailed


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Personally, I can’t say that whenever I’ve used a 9-10in tablet, the iPad included, I’ve thought to myself “you know what? this needs to be bigger.” Seems to me there’s a very good reason why the iPad started out at 9.7in and then received a smaller iteration in the form of the iPad Mini, but then shrank its own bodywork down with the iPad Air to the extent that the iPad Mini virtually became superfluous and dropped off in sales sharply (along with steadily declining tablet sales generally, of course, but that’s a separate issue). That reason being – people want their portable devices to be just that; portable. To an extent, smaller is better, as long as a decently sized display can be maintained. 

However, clearly there are those who think differently, and they exist in sufficient numbers for Apple to go against its own grain and develop an even bigger iPad. Ever since the first iPad emerged way back when there have repeatedly been rumours of a larger iPad aimed at professional users. Apple repeatedly stated that the iPad’s 9.7in form factor was perfect, and variants in size were not needed. Then the iPad Mini happened and rumours re-emerged with more gusto, but still nothing in the way of tangible evidence, and nothing else was launched. Most tech punters had all but given up on the idea of a bigger iPad, it had spent so long on the rumour mill churn year-in-year-out that everyone sort of got fed up of the crying wolf all the time. An iPad Pro was a myth, a fantasy. Nothing more.

Then something happened. A big upsurge in iPad Pro rumours occured after a long hiatus, and what’s more, rather than coming from the usual spurious sources they started spilling from credible, big names in the media. They became repeated, and they became consistent – hallmarks of the rumours which generally turn into something solid. Things started to snowball.

And now, it’s finally here; Apple, at long last, announced the iPad Pro at its September 2015 launch event, alongside the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus.

The iPad Pro is the biggest iPad Apple has ever produced. As predicted the iPad Pro has a 12.9in display and it will also benefit from iOS 9’s built-in split-screen mode. Interestingly, this feature was aired a few months back and everybody knew it was designed with the iPad Pro in mind.

Being a massive touchscreen device with some incredibly robust technology and specs for business use means the iPad Pro is also VERY expensive compared to the rest of Apple’s iPad stable. It’s more in-line with Mac pricing, meaning this is a tablet designed for professionals only — those that want to work on the move, creating video and images. The HUGE iPad Pro will be powered by Apple’s brand new A9X chipset, which Phil Schiller claims is faster than 80% of the portable PCs shipped in the last 12 months.

The iPad Pro got its UK release date on November 11: 

“The early response to iPad Pro from app developers and our customers has been incredible, and we’re excited to get iPad Pro into the hands of customers around the world this week,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “iPad Pro is the most powerful iPad we’ve ever made, giving users the ability to be even more creative and more productive with the epic 12.9-inch Retina display, powerful 64-bit A9X chip and groundbreaking Apple Pencil and new Smart Keyboard. We can’t wait to see what they do with iPad Pro.”

iFixit has conducted its annual tear-down of Apple’s new iPad Pro. But unlike previous episodes, the website found quite a few surprises:

“This isn’t quite what we’re used to! With the logic board situated in the center of the iPad,” noted the report. “The display cables connect in the very middle, we can’t even lay the display down while we work… Instead we have to support the weight of the display while taking out a few screws securing the display cable bracket…. Here’s a first in iPad history. We have to remove the logic board EMI shielding to remove the logic board itself.”

Here’s a list of components iFixit found inside that aren’t publicly detailed by Apple:

  • 2 × Broadcom BCM15900B0
  • NXP Semiconductors 8416A1 Touch ID Sensor
  • Parade Technologies DP695 Timing Controller
  • This is likely an iteration of the DP665 LCD timing controller found in the iMac Retina 5K, modified to support the display’s variable refresh rate.
  • Texas Instruments TPS65144 (Likely an iteration of the TPS65143A LCD Bias found in the Air 2)


Apple says the iPad Pro will last 10 hours on battery with the ability to edit three streams of 4K video simultaneously. The iPad Pro also features four speakers for excellent sound fidelity. Let’s just hope your local chav doesn’t get one and start mixing up tunes on the bus. I guess the idea here is that DJs and producers can work on tracks without headphones… or something like that. No doubt it will enhance media experiences aboard the slate as well.

The day following Apple’s big announcement (September 10) reports have emerged claiming the iPad Pro carries 4GB of RAM onboard – that’s the most RAM Apple has ever put in a mobilie device. It does makes sense though considering this is a tablet aimed at enterprise customers and needs to be capable of 4K video editing, amongst other intensive tasks. The news comes via none other than Adobe, which disclosed the information in a post on its official blog regarding its purpose-built applications for the iPad Pro.

But is there demand for a larger iPad? Here’s what John Lewis’ Head of Tech had to say on the matter:

“We know our customers like to have access to their work and personal content wherever they are so the launch of the iPad Pro with larger screen size means access to content will be easier than ever.

Having a range of varied options to personalise technology is of prime importance to our customers, so the colour options of Silver, Gold and Space Grey will mean users can easily tailor their device to their tastes and preferences.

With 5.6 million pixels, the iPad Pro has a higher resolution than a 15 inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display – which is the first time customers can benefit from such clarity in a thin, light-weight form. The launch of the new Smart Keyboard, which connects to the iPad Pro via the new ‘Smart Connector’ in addition to the new Apple Pencil will give our customers a completely new dimension to the way they use an iPad – the productivity of a tablet but the power and precision of a laptop. This addition to the iPad range is ground breaking.”

Some iPad Pro Units Freeze When Charging

We don’t want to get all alarmist over what will very likely be a small number of devices, but at the same time we feel we should warn readers of potential known issues too. With that in mind, reports have emerged on November 17 detailing issues some users are experiencing with their new iPad Pro tablets. According to posters on Reddit and Apple Support Communites, some units are prone to becoming unresponsive and freezing up while charging. Fortunately this doesn’t brick the device, a hard reset seems to solve the problem, but that’s still annoying in terms of having to go through setup multiple times, re-linking with the cloud, and so on, particularly bothersome for business users who will be after efficiency not tomfoolery.

Apple is reportedly aware of the issue and its tech support reps have begun advising users on how to deal with the problem, but we can likely expect further details from Apple soon, either if it can be fixed by a software patch, or if some units simply need to be replaced. It’s worth mentioning that the problem has also been spotted on iPhone handsets, suggesting it may indeed be software issue, and therefore patchable.

As of November 23, Apple has officially acknowledged the freezing issue with charging iPad Pro devices. The firm has released an instruction document on its support website detailing how users can fix the issue when it occurs, but stated that it is investigating the problem and working on a proper solution. The workaround involves restarting the iPad Pro by holding both the power key and “wake” button for 10 seconds, but it’s believed a software patch for iOS 9 will be needed to resolve things fully.

iPad Pro Release Date & UK Pricing

During the iPad Pro launch Apple mostly revealed info for people in the US eagerly awaiting the chance to get their hands on the massive slate. Things have been oddly quiet on the European and UK fronts. Now though, we have some new details regarding the iPad Pro’s debut in the UK. Apple itself has confirmed that the iPad Pro will be available to pre-order in the UK from Wednesday November 11 and will land in retail stores shortly thereafter. The UK prices have also been unwrapped and, as we were expecting, it’s not cheap!

The entry level model is the 32GB Wi-Fi only edition and this will cost you £679. Going up from there, a 128GB Wi-Fi only model will cost £799, while going for he 4G LTE capable variant bumps it up to £899. The Apple Pencil is an optional extra that costs another £79 on its own, while the Smart Keyboard will cost an extra £139. Essentially, if you want the big kahuna with all the extra gubbins you’re looking at a hefty £1,120. Cha-ching!

According to November 16 reports the 128GB iPad Pro model is experiencing shipping delays. On some of Apple’s online retail webstores users have discovered that when purchasing a 128GB iPad Pro (both Wi-Fi only and LTE capable) the shipping date is pushed back by up to three weeks – to the end of November or early December, meaning you won’t get hold of the device until well into the festive season. This suggests either production issues at Apple’s end, or simply that demand for the larger storage iPad Pro has exceeded Apple’s stock and production. We’re guessing the latter.

Things are still looking good for the 32GB model, which can be had within a week of ordering.

On top of the issues with the 128GB iPad Pro, Apple has similar four-to-five week delays listed for the tablet accessories – the keyboard and Apple Pencil, meaning access to key functionalities for end users may be significantly delayed.

A New Keyboard & Apple Pencil

Because the iPad Pro is SO BIG, a lot of punters will want to use it to replace their existing laptops and netbooks. But to do this they will need a keyboard — and probably a mouse, too. Luckily, Apple has one to sell you, and according to Schiller, “it’s unlike any keyboard you’ve ever used before”…

Apple recently detailed some of what you will be able to do abaord the iPad Pro: 

“iPad Pro enables new forms of mobile creativity that will help transform how creatives work,” said Scott Belsky, vice president of Products at Adobe. “With the larger iPad Pro screen and lightning-fast performance, creatives will be able to take full advantage of Adobe’s family of Creative Cloud mobile apps. For example, the ability to manipulate a 50-megapixel image right on iPad Pro in Photoshop Fix and then send that image to Photoshop CC on a desktop, for further refinement, is the kind of industry-advancing collaboration that millions of Adobe and Apple customers will benefit from.”


“Creative thinkers worldwide use Paper as part of their workflow, designing everything from flow charts, to storyboards, to wireframes, to architectural sketches. iPad Pro is the ultimate platform for Paper, with a powerful 12.9-inch Retina display and A9X chip that deliver performance rivaling most portable PCs,” said Georg Petschnigg, CEO and co-founder of FiftyThree. “iPad Pro gives Paper users an even bigger and more dynamic canvas on which to rapidly capture ideas however they strike — as notes, photos, sketches or diagrams.”


“Procreate 3 is designed for iPad Pro to give artists a more immersive experience than ever before,” said James Cuda of Savage Interactive. “iPad Pro’s gorgeous 12.9-inch Retina display lets you create massive artworks: up to an incredible 16K in resolution. This new level of definition allows for large format printing and exceptionally detailed artworks. Procreate 3 is also built for Apple Pencil. Its remarkable accuracy, pressure sensitivity, tilt detection and palm rejection make Apple Pencil the tool we’ve been waiting for.”

The Apple Pencil is essentially a stylus in the vein of Samsung’s S-Pen, just shinier because, well, it’s made by Apple. Apple claims the Apple Pencil is as close to the real thing as you can currently get — though we’ll be the judge of that claim Apple, if you don’t mind. Using Force Touch technology, the iPad Pro can detect varying degrees of pressure which in turn result in thicker, thinner or harsher lines.


The Apple Pencil will work with all of Apple’s core applications too. Charging is taken care of via a Lightning Connector and Schiller didn’t mention battery life, but we’d imagine it’d be pretty good.

The iPad Pro features Touch ID too, as well as an 8MP iSight camera on the rear for capturing images, not that anyone will use it for taking pictures with, but, hey, at least you have the option to be a douche on holiday with your iPad Pro.

As with all iPads there will be Wi-Fi and LTE models; the LTE versions will cost more, though. Apple says it plans on releasing the iPad Pro in November. A 32GB model starts at $799, while a 128GB version is priced at $949. If you want the LTE 128GB model, well, that comes in at a whopping $1079.

As per Apple, neither the Apple Pencil or keyboard will ship with the iPad Pro. Nope, you’ll have to shell out extra for those — and the Apple Pencil ain’t cheap either ($99). Ditto for the keyboard ($169).

Over on the next page you can get a full rundown of all the specs as well as some very early reviews. 

iPad Pro: Specs


Here’s the full specs for the iPad Pro:

  • Display: 12.9-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit widescreen Multi-Touch display, 2732×2048 resolution at 264 pixels per inch (ppi)
  • Dimensions: 305.7 mm x 220.6 mm x 6.9 mm
  • Weight: Wi-Fi: 713 g, Wi-Fi + Cellular: 723 g
  • Storage: 32 or 128 GB flash storage
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Processors: A9X chip with 64-bit architecture, M9 motion coprocessor
  • Front camera: FaceTime HD camera. 1.2 MP photos and 720p HD video.
  • Rear camera: iSight camera. 8 MP photos. ƒ/2.4 aperture. 1080p video.
  • Battery life: Up to 10 hours mixed usage
  • Touch ID: yes
  • Colors: Silver, Gold, or Space Grey

On the previous page we’ve already talked a good deal about the specs, but it’s worth noting here that there were several people upset that Apple has decided not to release a 64GB version of the iPad Pro. THis, of course, was deliberate. They just want two storage sizes: the paltry 32 GB and the one they want everyone to buy – the 128 GB model. And honestly, they probably should have eliminated the 32 GB option all together. The iPad Pro isn’t for consumers. It’s for professional graphic designers and and audio and video and photography pros why wants a MacBook Pro-level laptop in tablet form.

The A9X CPU is also MEGA powerful too! 

“Let’s go over the basics first: Geekbench reports that the A9X is a dual-core chip running at about 2.25GHz. The A8X used three CPU cores to boost performance, but the A9’s “Twister” CPU architecture and the big boosts in clock speed that Apple is squeezing out of it (up from 1.84GHz in the iPad Air 2) both apparently made that third core unnecessary,” notes Ars Technica.

The report added: “The A9X can’t quite get up to the level of a modern U-series Core i5 based on Broadwell or Skylake (see the 2015 MacBook Air and Surface Pro 4 results), but it’s roughly on the same level as a Core i5 from 2013 or so and it’s well ahead of Core M. And despite the fact that it lacks a fan, the A9X shows little sign of throttling in the Geekbench thermal test, which bodes well for the iPad Pro’s ability to run professional-caliber apps for extended periods of time.”

One thing some people might also be dissapointed about is the iPad Pro’s lack of a NFC chipset, which means you can’t make Apple Pay purchases in stores (only in apps). But I mean, come on, are you really going to be swining this beast up over the contactless terminal at a Costa?

iPad Pro: Design


THe design of the iPad Pro isn’t too shocking: it looks like a big iPad. But hey, I bet Jony Ive will have more to say about it than that. I bet it’s a super-revolutionary design like nothing no one in any universe has ever done before. Lets see…


The iPad Pro comes in three colors: Space Grey, Silver, and Gold. Yep, Rose Gold gets the shaft–a shame because that’s probably the coolest color (certainly the boldest choice) that Apple has created for its other iOS devices in years.

iPad Pro: Apple Pencil


Despite having a kind of silly name, it appears the iPad Pencil could be the star of the iPad Pro show. It’s supposedly the best stylus for any tablet device ever invented. That’s because there’s virtually zero lag between your movement and the pencil’s reaction on the screen. Apple says this is due to the fact that “its latency — the tiny delay between when you begin drawing and the time it appears on the screen — has been reduced to an almost imperceptible level.”

“iPad Pro knows whether you’re using your finger or Apple Pencil. When iPad Pro senses Apple Pencil, the subsystem scans its signal at an astounding 240 times per second, giving it twice the data points it normally collects with your finger. This data, combined with Apple-designed software, means that there are only milliseconds between the image you have in your mind and the one you see on the display.”


Fraser Speirs, an education and tech expert who runs an iPad school recently got to use the iPAd Pro and he seemed to love the Pencil too. “The Pencil was extremely impressive. Certainly the best iPad stylus I have used by a country mile. Palm rejection near-perfect,” he said on Twitter.


One final cool thing worth mentioning about the Apple Pencil is that it charges by Lightning connector. As Apple points out on its website: “Just 15 seconds provides enough charge for half an hour of use. And a full charge gets you 12 hours’ worth of scribbling, sketching, annotating and editing.”

iPad Pro: Keyboard Cover


Then there is the iPad Pro’s optional keyboard cover, or Smart Keyboard, as Apple calls it. Unlike the Pencil people that have used the Smart Cover say it’s nothing to write home about–it similar to other keyboard covers for the iPAd Air and Microsoft Surface already available. 

Here’s what Speirs said about it on Twitter: “The Smart Keyboard is a bit fiddly. It’s decent enough kbd but there is *so much material* to flip ‘n’ fold. Like a broadsheet newspaper!” He also compares it to an exisitng Logitech keyboard: “It’s not that similar. It’s closer to the Logitech keys-to-go than anything.”

One big bummer for those who ARE excited about the Smart Keybaord is that it’s a US-only keyboard layout for now. That’s right, Apple hasn’t said when a UK version will be coming out.

Apple Highlights iPad Pro’s Main USPs

Innovative Design

iPad Pro’s 12.9-inch Retina display, with 5.6 million pixels and refined Multi-Touch technology, is the most advanced and highest resolution display ever in an iOS device. It delivers greater contrast, more uniform brightness and improved energy efficiency through photo alignment technology, oxide TFT and variable refresh rate. A new four-speaker audio design provides powerful, clear and rich stereo sound, and a refined unibody enclosure of anodised aluminium gives iPad Pro a sturdy feel with a thin and light design that is easy to hold.

Powerful Technology

iPad Pro delivers groundbreaking performance and energy efficiency, so you can tackle the most demanding tasks. Apple’s powerful new 64-bit A9X chip, with third-generation 64-bit architecture, provides desktop-class CPU performance and console-class graphics. Ultra-fast wireless connectivity keeps you connected wherever you go with 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO technology, support for a wide range of LTE bands and other fast cellular network technologies (DC-HSDPA, HSPA+).* All-day 10-hour battery life** delivers the efficiency that users have come to expect from iPad.

iOS 9

iOS 9, the world’s most advanced mobile operating system, brings more intelligence to iPad with proactive assistance, powerful search and improved Siri features, all while protecting users’ privacy. New multitasking features designed specifically for iPad allow users to do more at the same time, while built-in apps become more powerful with a redesigned Notes app, detailed transit information in Maps and an all-new News app for the best news reading experience on any mobile device. The foundation of iOS is even stronger with software updates that require less space to install and advanced security features to further protect your device. 

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