The new iPad Pro, aimed at artists, designers and other creative users, will be available for online ordering starting Wednesday, Apple announced today. The device is expected to be in Apple retail stores and other outlets later this week.
Featuring a 12.9-inch Retina display, the iOS 9-powered iPad Pro is priced at $799 (32 GB with Wi-Fi connectivity) and $1,079 (125 GB with Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity). It can be used with two new accessories Apple is also releasing this week: the Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard.
The iPad Pro’s 5.6-million-pixel display is “the most ever in an iOS device,” according to Apple. The device also provides a battery life of around 10 hours, making it useful for users on the go, the company said.
Apple has seen iPad sales shrink over the past couple years, with an especially dramatic decline over the past 12 months. In its financial results for the fourth quarter of 2015, released October 27, the company reported iPad sales for the year of just over 23 million, down 23 percent from 2014 sales of more than 30 million.
The company attributed the decline in part to “a longer repurchase cycle for iPads and some level of cannibalization” from Apple’s other products. The drop also reflected a wider global decline in tablet sales that coincided with the growing availability of mobile phones with larger screens.
Those circumstances mean there are high expectations for the new iPad Pro. While emphasizing the device’s appeal to artists and designers, Apple is also targeting professional users in general, pointing to a range of new apps that have been developed for “everything from productivity, design, illustration, engineering and medical, to education, gaming and entertainment.”
Pencil, Smart Keyboard Bring New Capabilities
“The early response to iPad Pro from app developers and our customers has been incredible,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing. He said the new device is the most powerful iPad that Apple has ever made.
“The iPad Pro is far and away the fastest iOS device we have ever made — its A9X chip beats most portable PCs in both CPU and graphics tasks, but is thin and light enough to hold all day,” Schiller noted in September upon announcing the new device.
The $99 Apple Pencil and the $169 Smart Keyboard are designed to be used with the new iPad Pro. Schiller said the Pencil and Smart Keyboard “enable users to customize their iPad Pro experience to the particular apps they use and the work they do, making iPad Pro ideal for everything from professional productivity to advanced 3D design.”
Apple also said it redesigned the touch subsystem of the iPad Pro’s Multi-Touch display specifically for the Apple Pencil to “dramatically reduce latency and deliver incredible accuracy for activities like fine art illustration and detailed 3D design.”
The full-size Smart Keyboard connects to the iPad Pro via a Smart Connector port, eliminating the need for a separate battery. The keyboard is also designed to work with the new QuickType features introduced with iOS 9 to make typing even faster and easier, Apple said.