Apple held their much-hyped media event today and announced a wide variety of new products for consumers. The event this time of year traditionally focuses on new iPhones, but it was the news of a new iPad Pro model this time around that is making headlines. Apple also announced a new iPad Mini 4, which is the first substantial upgrade to the smaller iPad in nearly 2 years.
The brand new iPad Pro features a large 12.9″ screen and is primarily targeted towards students, creative professionals and those that prefer an iPad for daily use instead of a laptop. The screen has a high-resolution 2,732 x 2,048 pixel display, and the larger allows the on-screen keyboard to be presented at a size comparable to what you’d find on a similar sized 13″ laptop.
The iPad Pro features both a front and rear facing camera, and 4 speakers located on both the top and bottom of the tablet (2 more than the iPad Air). It incorporates a brand new A9X processor that Apple claims to be better performing than 80% of the portable PCs sold in the last year. Battery life is advertised to be the same as existing iPads at 10 hours, but the weight comes in at only 1.57 lbs–just a hair more than the original iPad weighed when it was launched in 2010. It’s also remarkably thin for the large size, coming in at 6.9mm, compared to 6.1mm for the iPad Air 2.
Like the iPad Air 2, it will support the new iOS 9 split-screen feature that was previewed in June at the developer conference, making it a great display for running two apps side by side. Like the iPad Air 2 it includes a built-in barometer and anti-reflective screen coating, which we’ve found to be a real improvement over the traditional glossy iPad screen.
To add additional capability you can add Apple’s smart keyboard accessory (picture a Microsoft Surface cover) for a better typing experience. A stylus is also available as an option, called Pencil, that is sensitive to both tilt and pressure to enable realistic note-taking and drawing on the tablet.
The iPad Pro will be available in November and isn’t cheap, with the 32GB WiFi-only model selling for $799 and $949 for 128GB. A 128GB Wi-Fi+Cellular model is available for $1,079, which also includes an internal GPS. The smart keyboard cover will retail for $169 and the Pencil stylus goes for $99.
The iPad Pro will be a tight fit in most cockpits, though some may want to make use of the the larger size to run 2 apps simultaneously with the iOS 9 split-screen multitasking feature. We can also see some value in using the iPad Pro as large panel-mount display for experimental airplanes, since it would be able to dedicate plenty of real estate to both flight instruments and a GPS moving map.
iPad Mini 4
Apple today also announced the first substantial update in 2 years to the iPad Mini, which pilots will love. The iPad Mini 4 brings the feature set and performance in line with the iPad Air 2, but with the smaller footprint that many have found to be a better fit in the cockpit. The new model adds the higher-performance A8 processor, 1 gigabyte of RAM, built-in barometer and antireflective screen coating–all of which will significantly improve its utility in flight. The iPad Mini 4 should support the new multitasking features, and starts at $399 for the 16GB Wi-Fi only model. It’s available for order now and will ship out next week.
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