Apple's new iPads just took a major leap forward

Key Points
  • Apple announces new 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pros on Tuesday.
  • CNBC’s Todd Haselton checks out both.
  • They’re very nice, but a lot of people might just want to stick with the $329 iPad or buy the new MacBook Air.
Hands on with Apple's new iPad Pro

Apple announced two new iPads during a press event in Brooklyn on Tuesday, including a new 11-inch iPad Pro and a 12.9-inch model. They're both completely redesigned and no longer have Home buttons.

But they're going to be a tough sell to people who just "need an iPad" and can save a bunch of money with Apple's regular $329 iPad, which was refreshed just a couple of months ago.

The new models sure look nice, though, and the new Pros represent a major leap forward for the iPad.

Sharp corners replace the more rounded edges of earlier iPads. The display seems just as good as my year-old iPad Pro, but I love that it runs from the top to bottom, which makes it easy to just pick up the iPad without worrying if you're holding it upside down or not.

Apple unveils a new Apple iPad Pro in Brooklyn, New York, October 30, 2018.
Todd Haselton | CNBC

I prefer the 11-inch model of the two, which feels about the same as last year's 10.5-inch model in my hand, but has a nice extra bit of screen to look at. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro has a noticeably smaller footprint than last year's model but still feels too big to me. Maybe that just takes some getting used to.

There's a new iPad Pencil stylus with support for gestures that let you switch between the different digital brush styles. You won't lose this one as easily as last year, since it clips to the side of the iPad with magnets. It even wirelessly charges when attached to the iPad, an improvement over the silly Lightning plug from last year.

For work, you can attach a keyboard. It felt just like the keyboard Apple launched with last year's iPad Pro 10.5 but can adjust the screen to two different viewing angles, which is a nice touch.

Apple unveiled a new version of the iPad Pro at an event in Brooklyn on Oct. 30, 2018.
Todd Haselton | CNBC

You'll pay more for the iPad Pencil and a keyboard, though, which cost $129 and $179, respectively. That's a lot to swallow considering the 11-inch iPad starts at $799 with 64GB of storage and the 12.9-inch model starts at $999. Most people might want to consider just getting a new MacBook Air, which starts at $1,199.

I own last year's 10.5-inch iPad Pro, and it already feels outdated, which is a bit of a bummer. After some more time with a review unit I'll let you know whether or not it's worth making an upgrade.