Apple Reveals 12.9-inch iPad Pro With A9X SoC, Smart Keyboard Cover, And ‘Pencil’ Stylus

Apple kicked off its major 2015 iOS hardware push today with the announcement of the long-rumored iPad Pro. The device features a massive 12.9-inch display, which is quite a step up from the 7.9-inch iPad mini and 9.7-inch iPad Air 2. This Retina-class display packs in 5.6 million pixels, which is more than what’s found in the Retina MacBook Pro.

Under the hood is Apple’s third generation 64-bit processor, the A9X. The A9X offers 2x the memory bandwidth and 1.8x the performance of the A8X found in the iPad Air 2 along with 2x faster storage performance. But that’s not all, Apple is also boasting a “console class GPU” that provides a 2x performance boost over the A8X. Considering all of the pixels that the GPU will have to push, that performance increase is much appreciated.

iPad Pro

Of course, Apple had to get a dig in at PCs when announcing the iPad Pro. It claims that the A9X allows the iPad Pro to be faster than 90 percent of PCs that have shipped within the past six months, with graphics that are faster than 90 percent of those same PCs. That’s are some pretty hefty claims, but we’d like to see the iPad Pro in our lab to see if Apple is blowing smoke.

The iPad Pro is a huge device, which allows for a massive internal battery — a battery that provides 10-hour runtimes. Other features include quad-speakers — one at each corner — and a Smart Keyboard accessory that provides physical keys (similar in concept to the keys on the 12-inch MacBook) and doubles as a case for the tablet. The Smart Keyboard its power from a Smart Connector on the side of the iPad Pro (represented by three small circles). The folks from Cupertino also introduced the Apple Pencil which is Apple’s take on the stylus.

ipad pro

In addition to the 12.9-inch display, Apple revealed that the iPad Pro is just 6.9mm thick (compared to 6.1mm for the iPad Air 2) and weight 1.57 pounds (compared to 1.54 pounds for the original iPad).

Like its smaller brethren, the iPad Pro is available in silver, space gray, and gold finishes. Pricing starts at $799 for a 32GB Wi-Fi model and ramps up to $949 for 128GB Wi-Fi model and $1,049 for 128GB Wi-Fi+Cellular. The Smart Keyboard accessory is priced at a hefty $169, while the Apple Pencil is $99. The iPad Pro and its accessories will ship in November.

Interestingly enough, it looks as though Apple is playing catchup to the Microsoft’s Surface Pro line of tablets with the iPad Pro, and nothing that’s we’ve seen is actually all that impressive. But we’re sure that it will at least initially be a big seller for Apple, which has seen its iPad sales freefall as consumers have grown bored of the entire tablet category.