Apple iPad Pro 12.9 review: The rest is yet to come

There's an Apple promo video on YouTube right called "iPad Pro — Your next computer is not a computer" that's sitting pretty with as I write this. Another video, with more than three million views, features an old-timey voiceover explaining how to , all while showing people flouting those rules with an iPad Pro.

The message is clear: The 2020 iPad Pro doesn't act the way your computer does, but it's just as capable. The company has spent years pushing that message in one form or another, and every time I heard someone invoke it, the notion sort of fell flat for me. Yes, iPads are powerful and clever and user-friendly, but -- and tell me if this sounds familiar -- I've always been able to get more done, and faster, on a proper laptop or PC. Apple sees that, and it's starting to change it.

At the risk of being reductive, Apple took the last version of the iPad Pro, changed a few components and gave it some updated software. Normally, that wouldn't sound like much to get excited over, but taken as a whole, these changes bring the iPad Pro closer than ever to working like a full-blown computer. That doesn't mean I'm ready to give up my MacBook Pro for good, but for the first time, I'm starting to think I actually could.

Just like last time, there are two new iPad Pros: 11-inch and 12.9-inch models and also just like last time we're testing the latter. Now, these premium tablets have a lot going for them, but one of the biggest practical changes Apple made this year was giving the base-level Pros 128GB of storage, up from 64GB in 2018. Here's what the line-up looks like now:

There's a lot going on in this year's iPad Pro, but it might be helpful to run through what hasn't changed first. (It's a pretty long list.) Apart from the big new camera hump high on the backside, which we'll get into later, this iPad Pro is the exact same size, shape and weight as the model it replaces. The front-facing camera and TrueDepth Face ID sensor work as well as they did before, though their placement still feels weird. Most people I know are more prone to holding their tablets horizontally, which means the TrueDepth camera used for Face Unlock frequently gets covered up by hand-meat.

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The three-pin Smart Connector still sits low on the iPad's rear, so the one accessory that uses it -- Apple's magnetic keyboard case -- works just fine here. The second-generation Apple Pencil remains a fantastic tool for digital artists and note-takers, and nothing in the new OS seems to improve on it. And as far as we can tell, this year's iPad Pro uses the exact same screen as the third-generation Pros.

That, in case you didn't read our earlier review, is a good thing. This 12.9-inch display remains a stunner with excellent colors and viewing angles, and it's once again helped by features like True Tone, which adjusts the screen's color temperature automatically. (Trust me, it's more pleasant for your eyes than it might sound.) And just like last time, this display refreshes 120 times per second so on-screen motion looks remarkably smooth compared to earlier iPads -- not to mention most laptops. This is easily the best screen you'll find on a tablet, and it's much easier on my eyes than the one built into my 13-inch MacBook Pro. My only real gripe is that, despite being treated with an oleophobic coating, the screen still picks up fingerprints very easily. If, like me, you have naturally oily hands, it won't take long for it to start looking... well, kind of gross.

This iPad Pro still packs four speakers, one in each of the tablet's corners. They produce some surprisingly immersive audio when you're just sort of lazing around watching movies, but honestly, a tablet like this needs to have its headphone jack reinstated. Yes, they've all but disappeared from premium smartphones, and when Apple axed them from iPhones, it claimed the move required a certain degree of "courage." (

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