Compared: 2018 iPad cost efficiency versus iPad Pro features and speed

Posted:
in iPad edited March 2018
The addition of Apple Pencil support to the sixth-generation iPad makes the tablet a considerably cheaper option for those needing to use a pressure-sensitive stylus when compared to the iPad Pro range, but there are more differences that need consideration. AppleInsider pits the new iPad against the current 12.9-inch and 10.5-inch iPad Pro models to show what else the extra cost offers consumers.

Apple Pencil with iPad and iPad Pro


At first glance, those considering a purchase of an iPad Pro may look at the 2018 iPad as a steal, especially if they are primarily looking to use the Apple Pencil. Just on price alone, the cheapest new iPad at $329 is almost half the $649 price for the cheapest 10.5-inch iPad Pro excluding the $99 Apple Pencil, and is greater than half the price of the lowest-cost 12.9-inch second-generation model.

Looking to the cellular-equipped models, it's a similar story, with a $320 difference between the iPad and the 10.5-inch iPad Pro's base models, and a massive $470 for the 12.9-inch version.

Simply comparing the device families based on price is ill-advised, as there are a number of other areas consumers must consider before opting for the cheapest option. Some of these differences are obvious, while others require a much closer look.

Screens

The main obvious difference between the device ranges is that you do get larger screens in the iPad Pro family than the iPad. The new 2018 model sticks to the tried and tested formula of a 9.7-inch Retina display with a resolution of 2048 by 1536, extremely familiar numbers that have remained static over the years.




As the names suggest, the 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models are bigger, and this extra space allows for higher-resolution displays to be used. The 10.5-inch screen has a resolution of 2224 by 1668, and the largest 12.9-inch version offers a resolution of 2732 by 2048, with the resolution width the same as the iPad resolution's length.

While the resolutions and sizes differ, Apple has notably kept the pixel density the same across the board. All three tablet screens offer 264 pixels per inch.

The iPad Pro range does add in some extra screen features that the iPad simply doesn't have, including the use of ProMotion technology to raise and lower the refresh rate depending on the user's activities, up to 120Hz when using an Apple Pencil. The True Tone display adjusts the color of the screen when users move to new environments, keeping the image consistent in relation to available lighting, while the wide color display (P3) allows for images to be more vibrant and show more colors to the user.

Performance

While the new iPad is a processing powerhouse compared to the previous iPad models, through its use of the 2.22Ghz A10 Fusion, it is simply no match for the iPad Pro models and their use of the Hexa-core A10X Fusion, clocked at 2.39GHz.




The difference in performance between the ranges is exacerbated by the vastly different memory quantities. The new iPad has 2 gigabytes of memory while both iPad Pro tablets use 4 gigabytes, with double the memory making the latter more capable of handling app multitasking than the iPad.

These two differences are reflected in the Geekbench 4 benchmarks, with the 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro scoring 3908 and 3903 respectively in single-core testing compared to the 3254 of the iPad. Based on these figures, the Pro models have a 20-percent lead in terms of single-core performance, which some may not believe is that big of an improvement.

Moving on to multi-core testing, the hexa-core nature of the A10X Fusion boosts the scoring of the iPad Pro group to 9287 for the 12.9-inch model, and 9304 for the 10.5-inch iPad Pro. Though the 5857 scored by the new iPad is admirable when put aside other iPads, the iPad Pro models are approximately 58 percent better than the latest Apple release in this test.

Despite the multi-core disparity, the unclear nature of how symmetrical multiprocessing is employed in iOS for day-to-day iPad use and the relative closeness of the single-core scores means there won't be as much visible difference between the models in everyday usage than one would think. For multitasking and for applications that need as much processing power as possible, the iPad Pro pair continue to be the better option.

Cameras and imaging

Ever since the introduction of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, the product line has offered better imaging capabilities than iPads. On the other side, the new iPad is continuing to use the same cameras as its predecessors, complete with their limitations.




The iPad has an 8-megapixel rear camera, one that is capable of capturing 1080p video, and doesn't include a flash. Both iPad Pro models are equipped with a 12-megapixel camera, complete with optical image stabilization (OIS) for better photographs, 4K video recording, and a quad-LED True Tone flash.

The iPad Pro camera also boasts a wider color capture for photos and live photos, a six-element lens instead of five, automatic HDR for photographs, and Focus Pixels for phase detection autofocus.

There is also an upgrade to its slo-mo video support, with iPad Pro models able to capture 1080p footage at 120fps and 720p at 240fps. The iPad is only capable of 720p slow motion video capture at 120fps.

Around to the front, the FaceTime HD camera in the iPad has a resolution of 1.2 megapixels, with the ability to record video at 720p. Again, the iPad Pro version is a 7-megapixel camera with 1080p video, and while the iPad can perform HDR on photos and videos, the iPad Pro camera can do this automatically.

Miscellaneous




The iPad has a pair of speakers, located at the bottom of the tablet, and provides stereo audio. Again, this is the same as the previous model's configuration, and will be fine for most users.

The iPad Pro instead boasts four speakers, one for each corner of the iPad. Again, they provide stereo sound, but its party trick is to automatically adjust the audio output so that the left and right channels come out of the correct speaker, regardless of its orientation.

Oddly, battery life is not as great a differentiator as you would expect, despite having three different capacities. The iPad has a 32.4 Watt Hour battery, while the 12.9-inch iPad Pro sports a 41 Watt Hour unit, and a smaller 30.4 Watt Hour version is included in the 10.5-inch model.

Despite the varying sizes of both battery and screen dimension, the latter being a major consumer of power, Apple claims all three offer up to ten hours of active battery life in the Wi-Fi models.

If you want to connect accessories that require power to work, the iPad Pro's Smart Connector is handy in that it provides both power and a data connection to keyboards and other peripherals via contacts on the side. In a world where Bluetooth keyboards with their own battery exist, this is less useful than you would expect.




For those who care about the appearance of their tablet, there is variation across the board on what colors you can select. All are offered in Silver, Space Gray, and Gold, but only the 10.5-inch iPad Pro can be acquired in Rose Gold.

Capacities and cost

Possibly the second-biggest differentiator behind the physical display size, both lines give a variety of storage options, but the iPad Pro collection ultimately has the ability to offer far greater storage than anything else in the iPad range.

On the iPad side, there are two capacities, with the 32-gigabyte $329 base model accompanied by a 128-gigabyte variant for $429.

Both iPad Pro models have the same three capacity options, starting from a higher base level of 64GB and rising to 256GB, topping out at 512GB. The pricing scales from $799 to $1149 for these models, depending on capacity, although discounts can be found at Apple authorized resellers.

If cellular connectivity is also required, that works out to be an extra $130, regardless of capacity and whether it is an iPad or iPad Pro.

For most users, the iPad's capacities are probably more than enough, especially the 128GB version, and the same could be said for the base model iPad Pros. If vast quantities of storage are required, the iPad Pro range is the only option outside of using some form of external storage or using cloud services like iCloud.

Apple 2018 iPad

Buying a higher-priced iPad Pro could be worth it, depending on the user

The decision of whether to get an iPad or an iPad Pro is a far greater question than one of cost, if more than enough funding is available. In fact, there's quite a few good reasons to go for an iPad Pro, aside from bragging rights for owning the higher-tier tablet.

If you need a tablet for processing-intensive apps, like gaming or video editing, the iPad Pro is your best option. The same can be said if you simply want to use a larger screen, though in that case the purchase would be leaning towards the 12.9-inch iPad Pro than the relatively marginal increase of the 10.5-inch version's screen.

The front and rear cameras are also far better on the iPad Pro, both for still images and for video, but the iPad's imaging capabilities are fine for most people. Given the iPhone's ability to record 4K footage, there's also the consideration of simply using the iPhone to capture footage then transfer it over to the iPad, instead of spending more on an iPad Pro.

Given the arrival of Apple Pencil support on the sixth-generation iPad, do the benefits of the iPad Pro range match up to the extra expenditure? For those who need it, certainly.

For everyone else who just wants to scrawl with the Apple Pencil and are unlikely to care about the other benefits, the new iPad provides a far cheaper way to do what they want. For families where more than one person could benefit from using an Apple Pencil, the low price point even makes it plausible for a household to buy two iPads for roughly the same cost as one iPad Pro.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    "Just on price alone, the cheapest new iPad at $329 is almost half the $649 price for the cheapest 10.5-inch iPad Pro excluding the $99 Apple Pencil, and is greater than half the price of the lowest-cost 12.5-inch second-generation model."

    I'm pretty sure that $329 is also greater than half of $649.  I think I would have gone with "is approximately half the cost of".

    In any case, I appreciate these comparison summaries.  I hope Apple sells a ton of these.
    [Deleted User]watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 24
    irelandireland Posts: 17,617member
    Never knew 13” iPad had 4x41W speakers. Impressive.
    edited March 2018 watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 24
    Also the 9.7 is less than 10.1 required to run office without a full 365 license. That could be a big deal if you need several. 
    crosslad
  • Reply 4 of 24
    Half the price... and half the performance. For casual use, it's a great deal. Much better than a chromebook or Android tablet. Kinda disappointing the performance isn't better.
  • Reply 5 of 24
    xenochron said:
    Also the 9.7 is less than 10.1 required to run office without a full 365 license. That could be a big deal if you need several. 
    What do you mean?
  • Reply 6 of 24
    glee217glee217 Posts: 13member
    12.5”? First few paragraphs should be 12.9”
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 24
    mauijoemauijoe Posts: 77member
    ireland said:
    Never knew 13” iPad had 4x41W speakers. Impressive.
    The 41w is the battery. It is not the power delivered to the speakers or the maximum power the speakers are rated for.  A 41 watt/channel amp will run a decent home stereo I'm sure the IPad speakers are running a small fraction of that. Probably less that 1 watt
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 24
    xenochron said:
    Also the 9.7 is less than 10.1 required to run office without a full 365 license. That could be a big deal if you need several. 
    What do you mean?


    Microsoft has a cut-off on the screen size of a tablet on which you can run Office 365 for free. For devices above the threshold size, you need an Office 365 licence to use Office meaningfully.

    Based on xenochron's post, it appears that any tablet with a screen size greater than 10.1 will need to get a licence to use Office 365 fully.

    Essentially, he's suggesting that the advantage of having the 9.7" over the 10.1" or 12.9" is that Office can be used for free.

    78BanditTomEwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 9 of 24
    This is only tangentially related to the Education Event, but... I hope that Apple is working on a new Pencil with a built-in eraser. It's much more intuitive to flip the stylus around if you want to erase something, than to select the 'erase' tool. That's what I loved about Wacom's styli. Apple could eliminate the lightning connector and have the Pencil be charged via the Smart Connector, or via wireless charging. Or come up with some clever engineering where the Pencil doesn't require any power at all, like Wacom does.
    [Deleted User]pscooter63
  • Reply 10 of 24
    What about GPU performance?

    The article mentions CPU differences but GPU performance is not really touched upon and there is also a marked difference there. The iPad Pro’s GPU / Compute performance is extremely good for a tablet, and much higher than the A10. This is important for VR, graphically intensive applications and some graphically detailed games (probably not Crossy Road though!).

    Part of the overall performance increase of the A10X compared to the A10 was that it was the first A series SoC to use a process size of 10nm; the A10 is built on a 16nm process. Most of the rest of the speed difference comes from increases in cores and I believe having a wider memory bus (128-bit like later X series SoC’s).
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 11 of 24
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,701member
    EXCELLENT Review Malcolm! Good Job! That was very helpful! Two thoughts: 1) It's amazing how stats can take a great product and make it look like crap! The new iPad is a great product that will do a great job (as Malcolm points out repeatedly). But, just looking at the statistical comparison to the iPad Pro, it looks crappy. Thank you Malcolm for being knowledgeable enough and objective enough to interpret those stats for us! 2) One disagreement: Malcolm states: "For most users, the iPad's capacities are probably more than enough". I would disagree: As he points out 128Gb is typically more than enough. But my experience with 32Gb is the exact opposite. My grandson has had a 32Gb Mini2 which he uses for games and for movies (particularly on trips). But, every time he goes on a trip we find ourselves having to delete games so it can hold a movie rental. For an adult using it for FaceBook and web browsing 32Gb may be fine. But not for a kid -- at least the one that I know!
    gatorguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 24
    jkichlinejkichline Posts: 1,336member
    Half the price... and half the performance. For casual use, it's a great deal. Much better than a chromebook or Android tablet. Kinda disappointing the performance isn't better.
    The single core scores is approximately the same.  The multicore score is more than half.  I think in non-professional usage, you're not going to see a big difference and it's still faster than most other tablet devices on the market via tight software/hardware integration.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 24
    wandersowanderso Posts: 104member
    If Apple would make the cost premium of 128 GB only be $50 more, rather than $100, the appeal of the new iPad would further grow.  Better yet, be willing to have a micro SD slot and let users add their own memory.  Space may be the excuse for the reason for not offering this, but competing products show that it is readily possible to support it.  Why doesn't Apple offer this?  Clearly the benefit of profit comes into play as many more users would be content with purchasing the lower GB model if a memory slot was available.   I've owned Apple products since '92 and love their innovation, but this is an item where they could improve.  Upping the camera quality on the $100 model would also be an appeal, but I expect that wouldn't work out cost wise. 
  • Reply 14 of 24
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,635administrator
    wanderso said:
    If Apple would make the cost premium of 128 GB only be $50 more, rather than $100, the appeal of the new iPad would further grow.  Better yet, be willing to have a micro SD slot and let users add their own memory.  Space may be the excuse for the reason for not offering this, but competing products show that it is readily possible to support it.  Why doesn't Apple offer this?  Clearly the benefit of profit comes into play as many more users would be content with purchasing the lower GB model if a memory slot was available.   I've owned Apple products since '92 and love their innovation, but this is an item where they could improve.  Upping the camera quality on the $100 model would also be an appeal, but I expect that wouldn't work out cost wise. 
    Hosing the user isn't the reason the SD card slot isn't included -- security and protection of the installed OS is. There's some user-experience here as well, as inexpensive SD cards are terribly slow.

    If you want to expand video storage and whatnot, then get a Lightning flash drive, or a NAS with Files support.
    edited March 2018 GeorgeBMacthedbaStrangeDayspscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 24
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 4,701member
    wanderso said:
    If Apple would make the cost premium of 128 GB only be $50 more, rather than $100, the appeal of the new iPad would further grow.  Better yet, be willing to have a micro SD slot and let users add their own memory.  Space may be the excuse for the reason for not offering this, but competing products show that it is readily possible to support it.  Why doesn't Apple offer this?  Clearly the benefit of profit comes into play as many more users would be content with purchasing the lower GB model if a memory slot was available.   I've owned Apple products since '92 and love their innovation, but this is an item where they could improve.  Upping the camera quality on the $100 model would also be an appeal, but I expect that wouldn't work out cost wise. 
    Hosing the user isn't the reason the SD card slot isn't included -- security and protection of the installed OS is. There's some user-experience here as well, as inexpensive SD cards are terribly slow.

    If you want to expand video storage and whatnot, then get a Lightning flash drive, or a NAS with Files support.
    Could we assign that to you as a homework assignment to explain and expound on that?   As iOS devices delve further into the arena of traditional computers, that could be most interesting.
  • Reply 16 of 24
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,295member
    xenochron said:
    Also the 9.7 is less than 10.1 required to run office without a full 365 license. That could be a big deal if you need several. 
    What do you mean?


    Microsoft has a cut-off on the screen size of a tablet on which you can run Office 365 for free. For devices above the threshold size, you need an Office 365 licence to use Office meaningfully.

    Based on xenochron's post, it appears that any tablet with a screen size greater than 10.1 will need to get a licence to use Office 365 fully.

    Essentially, he's suggesting that the advantage of having the 9.7" over the 10.1" or 12.9" is that Office can be used for free.

    I did not know about this!
    GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 24
    sandorsandor Posts: 523member
    wanderso said:
    If Apple would make the cost premium of 128 GB only be $50 more, rather than $100, the appeal of the new iPad would further grow.  Better yet, be willing to have a micro SD slot and let users add their own memory.  Space may be the excuse for the reason for not offering this, but competing products show that it is readily possible to support it.  Why doesn't Apple offer this?  Clearly the benefit of profit comes into play as many more users would be content with purchasing the lower GB model if a memory slot was available.   I've owned Apple products since '92 and love their innovation, but this is an item where they could improve.  Upping the camera quality on the $100 model would also be an appeal, but I expect that wouldn't work out cost wise. 
    Hosing the user isn't the reason the SD card slot isn't included -- security and protection of the installed OS is. There's some user-experience here as well, as inexpensive SD cards are terribly slow.

    If you want to expand video storage and whatnot, then get a Lightning flash drive, or a NAS with Files support.
    Could we assign that to you as a homework assignment to explain and expound on that?   As iOS devices delve further into the arena of traditional computers, that could be most interesting.

    https://www.sandisk.com/home/mobile-device-storage/ixpand
    https://www.sandisk.com/home/mobile-device-storage/connect-wireless-stick


    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 18 of 24
    stevehsteveh Posts: 480member
    Half the price... and half the performance. 
    80% of single-core iPad Pro performance, and 63% of multi-core. A bit better than "half".
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 24
    Based on xenochron's post, it appears that any tablet with a screen size greater than 10.1 will need to get a licence to use Office 365 fully.
    I wonder if Microsoft will change that limit now..

  • Reply 20 of 24
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,635administrator
    wanderso said:
    If Apple would make the cost premium of 128 GB only be $50 more, rather than $100, the appeal of the new iPad would further grow.  Better yet, be willing to have a micro SD slot and let users add their own memory.  Space may be the excuse for the reason for not offering this, but competing products show that it is readily possible to support it.  Why doesn't Apple offer this?  Clearly the benefit of profit comes into play as many more users would be content with purchasing the lower GB model if a memory slot was available.   I've owned Apple products since '92 and love their innovation, but this is an item where they could improve.  Upping the camera quality on the $100 model would also be an appeal, but I expect that wouldn't work out cost wise. 
    Hosing the user isn't the reason the SD card slot isn't included -- security and protection of the installed OS is. There's some user-experience here as well, as inexpensive SD cards are terribly slow.

    If you want to expand video storage and whatnot, then get a Lightning flash drive, or a NAS with Files support.
    Could we assign that to you as a homework assignment to explain and expound on that?   As iOS devices delve further into the arena of traditional computers, that could be most interesting.
    Also:

    https://appleinsider.com/articles/18/03/20/review-promise-apollo-cloud-2-duo-an-apple-centric-set-and-forget-network-attached-storage-appliance

    This is also one of the reasons I maintain my home server, even with cloud services. Apps like GoodReader and other media consumption tools can "pull" content from it, rather than keeping it on board constantly.
    edited March 2018 GeorgeBMac
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