Tech Guide

Here's a first look at Apple's new iPad, and five key takeaways

Key Points
  • The screen is fantastic, the best on any iPad to date
  • The speed bumps are noticeable, but they'll be more important with iOS 11 this fall
  • The new Smart Keyboard is much easier to type on
Todd Haselton | CNBC

There are five things to take away from Apple's newest iPad.

I picked up our review unit of Apple's newest tablet, the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, on Tuesday afternoon. I'm working on the full review now, but I wanted to highlight five immediate takeaways, in case you're in the market for a new iPad and are tempted to run out to the Apple Store right now and buy one.

The screen is awesome

Todd Haselton | CNBC

The screen is the highlight of the new iPad. It's brighter than last year's models, sports the same True Tone technology that adjusts the white balance in realtime as you move from different lighting situations, and feels less sticky — which is good when you're writing on it with the Apple Pencil.

The biggest change, however, is what Apple calls "ProMotion." To geek out just a hair, it adjusts the refresh rate of the screen between 24Hz and 120Hz on the fly. So when you're scrolling quickly through websites, everything looks super smooth thanks to the higher refresh rate. When you're just reading static text on the screen, it refreshes at a lower rate to save battery life. It's noticeable, even if it sounds like it might not be.

It works with Apple's best iPad keyboard to date

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Apple improved the keyboard of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro by spacing out the keys ever so slightly. Just while working at my desk this morning I noticed how much easier it is to type on. Apple's far from perfecting this — I'd love a backlight, after all — but I'm certainly able to work just fine with the Smart Keyboard.

You might want to wait until iOS 11 is out to buy one

Todd Haselton | CNBC

I'm still working on a full review of the iPad Pro 10.5, but keep in mind that it was designed with performance in mind. The A10X processor is 30 percent faster than last year's model. This means little right now, since new apps that take advantage of the speed are still rolling out. With iOS 11, which rolls out in the fall, however, you should notice that the iPad Pro 10.5 performs much better than earlier models. That's because iOS 11 enables more multitasking with multiple windows on the display at once, the ability to flip between open apps quicker and more.

A very familiar design

Todd Haselton | CNBC

Don't expect a drastic change in industrial design. The iPad Pro 10.5 could easily be mistaken for a 9.7-inch iPad Pro. It's only a hair larger, because Apple was able to cram a bigger screen into a similarly sized body by decreasing the bezels that surround the display. This allows for a screen that feels more immersive. The home button is still in the same place, just below the screen, and Apple still hasn't included Force Touch, the 3D-touch experience that's available on its latest iPhones.

The Pencil is a must-have

Todd Haselton | CNBC

If you don't plan on buying the keyboard or Apple Pencil, then you might as well just buy Apple's entry-level iPad. The Apple Pencil is a must have if you like sketching or drawing out notes, as I still do. Thanks to the increased refresh rate of the display, the Apple Pencil appears to have no lag at all, as if I was drawing with a regular pen. The experience is nearly identical on the iPad Pro 9.7, though the improved screen on the newer iPad certainly made the experience more fluid.