Tuesday, June 13, 2017

ProMotion and the 2017 iPad Pros

Federico Viticci:

To my surprise, while I still prefer longform writing and heavy Split View-driven research on the 12.9” iPad Pro, I’ve enjoyed everything else more on the 10.5” version. A big reason for that, I believe, is the improved display technology and expanded screen size.


The first time I swiped on the 10.5” iPad Pro’s 120Hz display last week, I thought it looked fake – like a CGI software sequence. It was incredibly, utterly crisp and fast. It didn’t look like iOS belonged on the screen: after years of iPad usage, my brain was telling me that something didn’t seem normal about the way iOS was animating. Except it’s all real, and it simply takes a couple of days to get used to the new display and the work Apple has put into ProMotion for smoother scrolling and fluid animations throughout the system.

A good way to think about the iPad’s new display with ProMotion is not the difference between low-res and Retina screens, but the jump from 30fps to 60fps. You see more of every animation. Text is more legible when you scroll and doesn’t judder. It’s hard to explain and it has to be seen and experienced to be fully understood.

John Gruber:

new iPad Pros have the best displays of any computer I’ve ever seen. True Tone plus ProMotion is simply terrific. (The first generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro didn’t have True Tone; with these new models, the only noticeable difference between the 12.9- and 10.5-inch models is the size.) You really do have to see the 120 Hz refresh rate in person — and play with it while scrolling content on screen — to get it. You can actually read text as it’s moving during a scroll. It’s not as significant as the jump from non-retina to retina, but it’s in that ballpark.


The astounding thing is that the new iPad Pro holds its own against the MacBook Pro in single-core performance — around 3,900 on the Geekbench 4 benchmark for the iPad Pro vs. around 4,200–4,400 for the various configurations of 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros. Multi-core performance has effectively doubled from the first generation of iPad Pro.


But if you are reckless enough to install the iOS 11 beta on the new iPad Pro? Holy smokes is this better. I used the iPad Pro for a full week with iOS 10.3.2 because that’s the product that’s shipping, but after upgrading to iOS 11 beta 1 this morning and using it to write this entire review, I’m just blown away by how much more useful this machine is, and how much easier it is to work with 5 or 6 apps at a time.

Serenity Caldwell:

If I had to pick the WWDC announcement that made my week, it’d have to be Apple’s newest display technology, ProMotion. Essentially, it makes the new iPad Pro feel faster without compromising on battery life. But simply saying “faster” doesn’t do justice to how ProMotion is going to not only improve the iPad Pro experience — or the experience of Apple’s other computing platforms in the future.

James Thomson:

Controversial hot take. While the 120Hz screen on the new iPad is nice, if you hadn’t told me, I might not have noticed. Not like retina.

See also: 9to5Mac’s list of reviews.

Update (2017-06-14): See also: John Gruber’s list.

2 Comments RSS · Twitter

Friedrich Markgraf

I'm with James Thompson here. After having used my iPad Pro 10" for half a day or so, I haven't really noticed the 120 Hz refresh rate, even though I've been clamoring for it since at least 2015.
I know there are people like my partner who are very perceptive to frame rate (when we watched The Hobbit in HFR 3D, she remarked in the theater how different it looked; I hardly noticed). And I do suspect it makes working with the screen nicer even for those who don't really seem to notice it much without having a direct comparison. But it's nowhere near as obvious and mind-blowing as Retina was for me.

Of course, besides just being a nice display, it is also a necessary step for more temporally precise tracking/writing/drawing feedback, which may well be its more important aspect.

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