Tag Archives: apple

iPad Pro Review

iPad Pro Review

The iPad Pro is, at first glance, completely crazy. A giant iPad with all the limitations of iOS, coupled with added bulk that makes it harder to tote, and a price tag that starts at Rs. 70,000, all make it a hard sell. That’s only the starting price though, and you’re going to end up paying a lot more for this tablet.

Realistically, you should get the 128GB model, which costs Rs. 79,900, and also the Apple Smart Keyboard, which will set you back by Rs. 14,900. Artists, designers, and others might also need to buy the Apple Pencil, priced at Rs. 8,600 – which means a final price tag between Rs. 94,800 and Rs. 1,03,400. At that price, you can’t really compare it to the iPad Air 2, the last 10-inch model to be released, with an MRP of Rs. 49,900 for the 128GB variant.

(Also see: iPad Air 2 Review: Still the King of Tablets)

But if the iPad Pro is nearly twice the price of the iPad Air 2, then it’s also giving you a lot more, aside from being nearly as big as two iPad Air 2 units held side by side.

ipad_pro_screen_ndtv.jpg

More importantly, the added size and some very useful peripherals make the iPad Pro a real game changer. These, coupled with smart software tweaks that help with multitasking, make this feel like the first iPad which could be the only large screen device you need in your life.

That’s reflected in the specifications of the iPad Pro – this tablet is a powerhouse that powers a stunning 2732×2048 pixel 12.9-inch “Retina” display with the 64-bit “desktop class” A9X chip, which Apple says delivers twice the CPU and twice the graphics performance of the A8X inside the iPad Air 2.

Does all of this add up to a machine that is also worth twice the price of the iPad Air 2? Can the iPad Pro really replace all your large screened devices? We answer these questions in our review.

Design and display
A lot of people laughed at the iPad and joked that it was just a bigger iPhone. A lot of the same people are probably pointing at the iPad Pro right now, and saying that it’s just a bigger iPad. And yes, this is true – the basic design retains the same elements, and you’ll find familiar buttons and ports in all the expected locations.

ipad_pro_two_speakers_ndtv.jpg

Held in portrait mode, the iPad Pro feels a little too big – the 12.9-inch screen maintains the same 4:3 aspect ratio of earlier models, but the relatively thick top and bottom bezels make it feel a little too tall particularly when you’re trying to hold it one handed to, say, type a quick response to a mail.

It measures 12×8.68-inches – to put that in perspective, an A4 page is marginally smaller. With a thickness of 0.27-inches, or 6.9mm, the iPad Pro weighs in at a hefty 723g for the WiFi + Cellular model we tested, and although that’s not too uncomfortable to carry around, it doesn’t feel like something we’d be holding up as often as we do with our 4th gen iPad. For comparison, the iPad Air 2 weighs nearly half at much at 437g, but compared to the 13-inch MacBook Air – which sports similar dimensions and weighs 1.34 kg – the iPad Pro is extremely light.

In portrait mode, with the home button at the bottom part of the device, you’ll find the power button and 3.5mm port on the top side, and the volume buttons and microphone on the right side. The Lightning port is at the bottom, and there are speaker vents for speakers – two each on the top and the bottom. What’s new is the smart connector on the left side of the iPad Pro – this is a new connector that the iPad uses for connecting to – and powering – smart devices such as the Apple Smart Keyboard.

ipad_pro_connector_ndtv.jpg

Whether you’re holding it or merely looking at it, the iPad Pro is also very clearly a premium device and the star of the tablet is clearly the 2732×2048 pixel 12.9-inch retina display. This is, beyond a doubt, one of the nicest tablet displays we have ever seen. The iPad Pro shines in a number of different ways, but nothing highlights the joy of the tablet more than reading digital comics on it – the iPads are great for reading books but always felt just a little small when reading comics. In portrait mode, the iPad Pro is the perfect device for reading a comic or a magazine, and we flipped through Superman: Red Son again and again, just marvelling at the display.

Although the Smart Keyboard and the Pencil are sold separately, Apple loaned us these accessories to use as well, so as to have the full “Pro” experience. The keyboard looks a lot like a regular Smart Cover, but with an extra layer folded over. It’s really thin, but while Apple doesn’t list its weight anywhere on its website, the kitchen scale puts it at 340g. That’s a fairly heavy attachment, and pushes the combined weight of the iPad Pro and the Smart Keyboard to over 1kg.

ipad_pro_pencil_body_ndtv.jpg

As for the Pencil, it’s a fairly ordinary looking design, with a smooth, white finish and a rounded cap at the back, which removes to reveal a Lightning jack that can be connected to your iPad Pro to charge the stylus. The Pencil is a little skinny and we were worried about how comfortable it would be to use for extended periods, but actually it’s fairly comfortable for most tasks. The only downside is that there is no place to stow it or otherwise attach it to the iPad Pro, which means that losing it is a real risk. The cap of the Pencil would be even easier to lose, and worst still, when it’s charging, it sticks straight out from the iPad Pro, which frankly led to some worrying bumps while working – the good news is that it charges quickly, and a 15-second charge can give you a full half hour of usage.

ipad_pro_pencil_plus_cap_ndtv.jpg

Specifications and software
The iPad Pro has a 2732×2048 pixel 12.9-inch retina display, and is powered by an A9X chip with 64-bit architecture. It also has an M9 motion co-processor, and 4GB of RAM. There’s an 8-megapixel camera on the rear, and a 1.2-megapixel front camera for video calls. The home button also includes the Touch ID sensor which you can use to log into the device, or to pay for apps in the App Store. The iPad Pro has a built in 38.5-watt-hour rechargeable battery.

Using the iPad Pro on iOS 9.2, the whole experience was by and large familiar. The basics, from the home screen layout to the long press and gestures that we’re familiar with are all there in the iPad Pro, and if you’ve ever used an iPhone or iPad before, then you’re going to feel right at home. The iPad Pro does not use 3D Touch but it does have a couple of multitasking features other iOS users might not be familiar with.

Split-view and picture-in-picture are available on the iPad Air 2, the iPad Mini 4, and the iPad Pro. Picture-in-picture allows you to pop out a video and watch it even while you’re doing some other work – this also works with FaceTime – and this is triggered automatically by pressing the Home button when you’re watching a video in a supported app. The official YouTube app does not support this feature, but you can get third-party clients that have been updated with this functionality.

ipad_split_view.jpg

Split-view allows you to run two apps side by side on the iPad – this is particularly handy in landscape mode, where you could have Slack running on one side, to coordinate with the rest of your team, while you’ve got Word or Safari open on the other side to keep doing your own work.

(Also see: iOS 9: How to Use Split Screen Multitasking and Picture-in-Picture)

The iPad Pro also has a very useful multitasking feature called Slide Over – here, you just pull the screen in from the left, and you get a small view of the last opened app. You can change the app by swiping in from the top of the screen. This is really handy if you’re doing something on the side which doesn’t need to be open all the time. So for example, if you’re writing something and want a Safari window open on the side for your research, Split-view is useful. But if you’re writing something and want to quickly respond to a tweet and get back to work, Slide Over is great as it quickly shifts the focus without switching completely away from your main window.

ipad_slide_over.jpg

There are some quirks with this system though. For example, if you’re working on an article in Word, and want to open a second .doc file to reference some material, you can’t easily do this. The workaround is to use Pages and Microsoft Word at the same time, so you use one to do your work, and the other to open the second file. Similarly, if you want to view two browser windows side by side – perhaps to check a document or to keep a checklist open on the side – then you can’t run Safari twice. We ended up downloading an app called Sidefari as a workaround.

The layout of the home screen is also something that is getting patently ridiculous. The iPad Pro is huge, even when held in Portrait mode – that means that the individual app icons sit far from each other, and the amount of space that gets wasted on the iPad Pro’s home screen is really annoying. Equally bothersome is the default on-screen keyboard – the keys are just too widely spaced to use comfortably one handed. To comfortably type on the iPad, you need to set it down and work with both hands.

ipad_pro_weird_keyboard.jpg

But if you’re doing that, then why not use the Smart Keyboard? An option to make a smaller keyboard for one-handed use – something that is available in other iPad models as ‘Split Keyboard’ under Settings – would have been great, so that you can use the iPad for reading and quickly reply to a text without resorting to hunting and pecking. There seems to be a workaround of sorts available, but that’s far from an ideal solution. Also, the row of numbers above the alphabets on the keyboard appears to be half the size of regular keys. If Apple had just made the other four rows marginally shorter, the number keys could have been regular sized without taking up more of the screen, and they would have been significantly more useful.

ipad_keyboard_top_view_ndtv.jpg

But perhaps worst of all is that not many apps are properly optimised for the iPad Pro as of now. Some of the apps are using their own keyboards which look even stupider on an iPad Pro, and if you try and run an app such as Zomato, which has not even been optimised for an iPad and runs in what’s commonly called the 2x mode – well, you can get away with it on an iPad, but on the iPad Pro the experience is just disastrous.

That’s not Apple’s fault, of course, as developers have to update their apps. However, until that happens, using some apps on the iPad Pro can be difficult. But beyond that, the iPad Pro will also require developers to rethink how they design apps for the iPad. For example, both Facebook and Twitter don’t make good use of the space of the tablet. In Slide Over or even Split View, these apps work fine, but in full screen mode, they feel quite ridiculous, much like the gaps between icons on the home screen.

ipad_pro_odd_spacing.jpg

These are all problems that can be fixed over time with software updates, and it’s important to note that Apple got the big issue – of multitasking – right. Working on the iPad Pro feels natural, and we’ve been using it for office work, switching between different applications, and getting things done with a lot less difficulty than we had imagined. Still, some of the things we’ve pointed out are fairly in your face, and could have easily been tweaked before the launch of the device.

Performance
Whatever quirks you might find in iOS, there’s no denying that the iPad Pro is a super-powered machine that can handle just about everything we tried to do. In terms of benchmarks, it is definitely a lot more powerful than the iPad Air 2. The GFXbench T-Rex on screen score was 59.4, while the iPad Air 2 was at 52.3 according to our review. 3D Mark Ice Storm and Ice Storm extreme were both maxed out, while the Ice Storm Ultimate score was 33,622, compared to 21,576 on the iPad Air 2. Sunspider and Mozilla Kraken were incredibly fast, at 196.6 and 1620.4 for the iPad Pro compared to 286.3 and 4060 for the iPad Air 2 review results (lower is better for these tests). Browsermark did not run on the iPad Pro, but the iPad Pro also had an excellent Geekbench 3 score of 5526, and Tabletmark v3 of 1401.

ipad_outside_ndtv.jpg

Perhaps more important than the numbers though, is the day to day performance of the iPad Pro, and this is where tablet really shines. If you’re getting the iPad Pro along with the Smart Keyboard – and you should – then you’re spending over Rs. 90,000. This means that you are probably looking to replace all the large screen devices (including laptop) you use – and for the most part, we found the iPad Pro to be capable of doing just that.

Launching apps was delightful; yes, this is a brand new iPad Pro which doesn’t have a year’s worth of junk accumulated as yet, so it’s not really representative of the final experience, but having every app we touch jump to life with alacrity was such fun. Quick switching between visually intense games such as Bastion and XCOM: Enemy Within occurred instantaneously, without any noticeable lag or stutter.

We were able to play through a level of XCOM, using Slide Over intermittently to carry out a conversation with a friend over Twitter, without any issues at all. That said, at the time, these games have not been optimised for the iPad Pro, and the visuals looks jagged and blurry. Gameplay is ridiculously smooth though, and blows away the experience we’ve had with earlier iPads. Games like Blek, which has been optimised for the iPad Pro, show just how amazing that giant display is, and really shine on the tablet.

Aside from gaming, we tried out a lot of things that would typically be more desktop level tasks. Tweaking images using Adobe Photoshop Fix was smooth and worked out really well, and quick resizing was done best using Image Size. Paper by FiftyThree remains one of our favourite drawing apps, and it is an excellent showcase of the Apple Pencil as well.

The default Notes app also allows you to make detailed sketches and drawings, and has improved significantly over the years. Umake is a powerful 3D design tool that allows you to sketch out your ideas. We could play with some incredibly detailed designs, though our best effort was making a Helium atom. It turns out that sketching in 3D is a little difficult if you don’t know what you’re doing.

ipad_pro_pencil_sketching_ndtv.jpg

Slack, MS Office, Safari, and Trello were our go-to apps for day-to-day work, and all performed admirably. The iPad Pro wasn’t just used for one or two stories to prove that it can be used for work – it replaced our work laptop for use 90 percent of the time. The only exception was for when you wanted to work late at night from bed – the Smart Keyboard is amazing on a desk, but kept on your lap, you can’t angle the screen the way you want, there’s a genuine risk of the whole thing falling over, and even if it doesn’t the keys don’t feel solid enough to type comfortably.

Despite this caveat, in our view, the iPad Pro, along with the smart keyboard, proved to be handy enough to actually replace the laptop we use for work. The first couple of days were a little tricky – figuring out the apps to resize images easily, and sorting out workflows to compensate for the new device certainly took a little time. But frankly, that’s no different from when you pick up a new laptop for the first time, and have to sort out all the software you need to get it up and running to your needs, especially when, say, you are switching from Windows to OS X, or any other new platform.

But perhaps the very best thing – in terms of performance – about the iPad Pro is actually the four speaker setup that Apple has fitted into its sleek body. Tablets and laptops both tend to have terrible, tiny speakers. The iPad Pro can’t have particularly huge speakers either, but Apple has done an excellent job in getting the four of them to work together and they sound amazing.

ipad_pro_speaker_ndtv.jpg

Frankly, everyone talks about the iPad Pro as a professional productivity device, but most of us use our tablets and laptops for a mix of work and entertainment, and the iPad Pro is a real star on the entertainment side of things. It’s got the power to run any game you want, and play your movies and music at the highest quality. It’s also got a screen that really does justice to your content, and speakers that make everything sound great.

The iPad Pro sends the mids and high notes to the upper speakers, and the bass to the lower speakers, to keep the sound clean and maintain separation – this doesn’t mean that you have to hold it in a particular way though; it detects the orientation, and changes the “layout” of the speakers accordingly – the actual speakers are the same, but by allowing them to focus on different parts of the audio, Apple accomplishes something truly amazing.

The result is an iPad whose speakers sound rich, clear, and loud, and can go head to head with almost all the mobile devices out there. It’s also the first iPad whose screen is big enough, and whose speakers are good enough, that two people can actually comfortably watch a video together, which is great for when you want to do a session of funny YouTube videos before calling it a night.

ipad_pro_camera_ndtv.jpg

As mentioned, the iPad Pro – like most other tablets these days – comes with front and rear cameras. There is an 8-megapixel camera on the back, which is reliable and works quickly, but the huge size of the tablet itself makes it inconvenient to use. However, we wouldn’t recommend that you use your iPad Air as a camera either, so that’s easily settled. The front camera is the standard FaceTime camera setup, and works perfectly well for that role.

ipad_pro_pencil_colouring_ndtv.jpg

That sums up the iPad Pro, but when talking about it, we also have to consider two accessories, the Apple Smart Keyboard, and the Apple Pencil. The Pencil works wirelessly, and charging it is a design nightmare, as the six inch Pencil sticks right out of the side of the iPad. Charging it in a crowded office or café is a nightmare. There’s also no place to stow or attach the Pencil, so you’re going to be forever terrified of losing it. Worse yet, the cap on the back can’t be stowed anywhere either, so the whole Pencil experience is one where you’re regularly looking for it.

ipad_pro_pencil_charging_angle_ndtv.jpg

On the other hand, actually using it is a delight. Drawing in Paper by Fifty Three is incredibly smooth, the app inks fluidly and responds well to the slightest changes in pressure when you are drawing. Switching between different drawing tools in the app, we could see how effective the Pencil really was – drawing light lines with the pencil and then detailing in with the pens worked perfectly, and although we’re not artists, we kept wanting to draw more with the Pencil.

Paper is a wonderful app that can inspire anyone, but the experience of using the Pencil was significantly better than what we’ve seen with our fingers, or other styli. The palm rejection works really well too, and except for one or two occasions, we never had any problems with the iPad mistaking our hand for the Pencil. The only (minor) issue we had with the Pencil is that there’s no display on the body of the device to show you its battery level. It’s not really a problem, because you can see the battery level when it’s connected to the iPad, and you can get a good amount of work done with just a 15-second charge.

ipad_pro_pencil_battery.jpg

However, while it is a really fine stylus, at the end of the day, the question is whether you need a stylus that costs close to Rs. 10,000. For most of us, the answer is probably no. If you’re an artist or a designer, or someone like that, then you could definitely consider the iPad Pro. The apps are there, and so is the hardware, so you could replace a lot of different gadgets with just one. For typical office workers like us, the Pencil is an unnecessary flourish that is very cool, but not necessary.

The Smart Keyboard on the other hand, is a very different thing, and is, in our opinion, a very necessary accessory. There are plenty of Bluetooth keyboards you could use instead – if you own an iMac you could use that keyboard; and if you’ve previously bought a Bluetooth keyboard for an older iPad, that could be paired with the iPad Pro instead.

However, the result would be a very compromised experience when compared to the Smart Keyboard. It’s not the perfect keyboard – let’s get that out of the way quickly – the keys are ever so slightly irregularly spaced compared to “normal” laptop keyboards, and the layout kept throwing us off at first. The keyboard also lacks special keys to get you to the do something like adjusting the volume, or skipping tracks in the media player. And the decision to have the world’s tiniest up and down arrow keys is frustrating and something we weren’t able to use properly without looking.

ipad_pro_up_down_keys_ndtv.jpg

Another thing about the Smart Keyboard is that it’s incredibly thin – which means that the keys have no travel. You can press them and they do go in slightly, but in comparison, even the terrible keyboards on our laptops feel springy and comfortable. As a result, our typing speed also went down significantly, though we were able to compensate for it in a week or so.

On the other hand, did we mention that it’s so thin that you won’t even remember it’s there half the time? Although the Smart Keyboard adds 300g to the weight of the iPad, that’s significantly less than any third-party keyboards we’ve used with our older iPads. What’s more, it’s spill-proof, which is a definite plus. Since it doubles as a screen cover, that’s one less thing to carry in our bag as well; and although the added weight isn’t insignificant, it’s well balanced and won’t be an issue for the most part, unless you’re used to holding up the iPad and reading on the go or while sitting without a desk.

ipad_pro_keyboard_side_ndtv.jpg

Perhaps the best part of the Smart Keyboard is that it doesn’t require any charging. Unlike a Bluetooth keyboard, which needs to be paired and powered, the Apple’s keyboard connects to the iPad Pro and draws power from the Smart Connector, which means that it is always ready to go when you want, and snaps on and works instantly. The magnets holding it in place are also pretty firm, and despite worrying about it, we’ve luckily not faced any problems when grabbing the Air by the keyboard end, letting the tablet dangle over through carelessness. And at the same time, you can relax, flip the keyboard around and change the cover to the stand mode, and watch videos if you want to, the way you can with the Smart Cover.

ipad_pro_media_fold_ndtv.jpg

Setting up the iPad Pro on a table, adjusting the cover to the right angle, and typing away is incredible and allows you to get a lot of work done without any issues. We were able to log into our VPN, connect to the CMS, and file stories and upload images while on the go. It’s a lot more convenient than the bulky Windows laptop we normally have to lug around, and opens up a lot of possibilities when working on the move.

One thing we’ve liked about our older iPads has been the battery life of the tablet. It’s not something that most people will end up charging on a daily basis. The iPad Pro is however powering a much more powerful system, with a huge, high resolution screen and four speakers compared to two. So how does that measure up on battery usage?

Our standard video loop test saw the iPad run for nearly ten hours (9 hrs 40 mins). That’s impressive, even for day to day use it works out pretty well. When we were using the iPad Pro for work, it needed to be charged every day. We would start at full power in the mornings, and then sit down and work for around 10 hours – that wasn’t non-stop, and there were breaks for calls and interviews, and of course, lunch. For work, the iPad Pro was mostly used for browsing, lots of typing, and apps like Slack and Trello which we use to coordinate our stories.

After a day of work, you need to charge your iPad Pro again, which is pretty reasonable if not particularly groundbreaking for iPads. A little extra battery power would have perhaps been worth the trade-off for a slightly heavier device, but we all know Apple’s preferences on that subject.

Verdict
Does that mean that you should be picking up an iPad Pro right now? Probably – if it wasn’t so painfully expensive. The 32GB model is cheaper, but if you’re thinking of editing high resolution images or saving videos to the tablet, or loading up a few good games or your music collection, then you’re going to run out of space in no time. So you’re going to have to spring for the more expensive model.

We don’t think that you need the cellular model – we never go anywhere without our phones, which can double up as a hotspot. That being said, having a SIM card in the tablet does give you more flexibility, and can be a better solution for some people who are on the go a lot. If you’re mostly working from home or office though, then the Wi-Fi only model is good enough.

And while it’s possible to use the iPad Pro without any accessories, we’d recommend that you buy the Smart Keyboard as well. It adds a lot to the experience, and frankly, the on-screen keyboard on the iPad Pro leaves a lot to be desired. Plus, although this is a great machine for entertainment, putting in that extra money helps to make the jump from being an iPad to being a laptop replacement as well.

ipad_pro_keyboard_folded_ndtv.jpg

So that means that you’re spending around Rs. 95,000; more if you feel you also need the Pencil. But with a few compromises, the iPad Pro can replace an iPad as well as a MacBook Air; combine the cost of both those two devices, and the iPad Pro seems like a great saving – at least that’s what you should tell yourself if you choose to buy this tablet.

It is, beyond a doubt, an excellent iPad. It’s a little too big and bulky, but it’s amazing how quickly you get used to that – just look at the phablet category for proof. Our iPad Air now feels poky, and videos seem disappointingly small on that screen. The multitasking features make it a lot more useful than any older iPad, particularly Slide Over, which allows you to quickly deal with distractions and then get back to the job at hand.

Is it also an excellent computer? That’s a trickier question to answer. For a certain generation, the answer is probably going to be no. There are some things that you just can’t easily do with the iPad Pro, and people will miss their trackpads and their USB ports. There are different accessories you can buy to deal with this – Apple has a Lightning to USB camera adapter, while the likes of Strontium have USB drives that can connect to your iPad’s Lightning port, though these are not without issues and they do come with an extra cost.

For people who see computing as a mobile-first concept, the iPad Pro fills all the gaps. Between the iPad Pro and a smartphone, we found almost no reason to use a laptop except once or twice, in very specific situations like copying data from a pen drive. If you’re accustomed to using your iPad more than your laptop anyway, then there’s definitely a strong case to be made for the iPad Pro.

That said, it’s probably not good value for money to upgrade from an iPad Air 2 to an iPad Pro – the cost is really high. If you’re due to update your laptop and your tablet though, then the iPad Pro could really be an ideal choice, as it replaces all your other large screen devices.

Download the Gadgets 360 app for Android and iOS to stay up to date with the latest tech news, product reviews, and exclusive deals on the popular mobiles.

Apple iPad Pro Wi-Fi

Apple iPad Pro Wi-Fi

4.5

  • Review
  • Key Specs
  • News
  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery life
  • Camera
  • Value for money
  • Good
  • Great performance
  • Brilliant display
  • Multitasking on an iPad
  • Excellent multimedia & gaming device with great speakers
  • Bad
  • Costly, pricey accessories too
  • Software has rough edges
  • Not as portable due to added size and weight
  • No place to stow the Pencil

Read detailed Apple iPad Pro Wi-Fi review

Display

12.90-inch

Processor

Apple A9X

Front Camera

Yes

Resolution

2732×2048 pixels

RAM

4GB

OS

iOS 9

Storage

32GB

Rear Camera

8-megapixel

Battery capacity

See full Apple iPad Pro Wi-Fi specifications

  • iPad Pro Can Update Accessory Firmware, iOS 9.3 Beta Reveals
  • iPad Pro Review
  • iPad Pro Launched in India Starting at Rs. 67,900
  • iPad Pro, New Apple TV Price in India and Availability Details

More Apple tablets Apple iPad Pro Wi-Fi + Cellular

Apple iPad Pro Wi-Fi + Cellular

4.5

  • Review
  • Key Specs
  • News
  • Design
  • Display
  • Software
  • Performance
  • Battery life
  • Camera
  • Value for money
  • Good
  • Great performance
  • Brilliant display
  • Multitasking on an iPad
  • Excellent multimedia & gaming device with great speakers
  • Bad
  • Costly, pricey accessories too
  • Software has rough edges
  • Not as portable due to added size and weight
  • No place to stow the Pencil

Read detailed Apple iPad Pro Wi-Fi + Cellular review

Display

12.90-inch

Processor

Apple A9X

Front Camera

Yes

Resolution

2732×2048 pixels

RAM

4GB

OS

iOS 9

Storage

32GB

Rear Camera

8-megapixel

Battery capacity

See full Apple iPad Pro Wi-Fi + Cellular specifications

  • iPad Pro Review
  • iPad Pro, New Apple TV Price in India and Availability Details
  • iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPad Pro, New Apple TV Fail to Impress Apple Investors
  • To Keep Winning Customers, Apple Breaks Its Own Taboos

Original Article

Amazon Fire Tablet Review: Does a Lot for $50

Amazon Fire Tablet Review: Does a Lot for $50

The thing to remember about Amazon’s new $50 Fire tablet is that it’s a $50 tablet.

It’s not as light or as thin as a tablet that costs five or six times more. The camera isn’t as good, and the screen isn’t as sharp. But it works well as a budget device for the basics – reading, Facebook, video and, of course, shopping on Amazon.

Over the years, Amazon.com Inc. has done a good job of making tablets affordable for the masses. The new Fire tablet is Amazon’s cheapest yet, joining a fall lineup that maxes out at $230 (roughly Rs. 15,000) ($15 more if you want Amazon to remove ads on the lock screen). By contrast, Apple’s iPads start at $269 (roughly Rs. 17,500), ad-free.

Of course, you get less for $50.

Among the trade-offs:

The feel: The 7-inch tablet is bulky, about two-thirds as thick as a deck of cards. This runs counter to a trend of gadgets getting thinner and thinner. But this is reasonable for budget devices, as they use older, larger components to cut costs. At 11 ounces, the tablet also feels heavy for a device that size.

Lower resolution: The screen is just short of displaying video in full high definition, otherwise known as 1080p. As Amazon’s HDX tablets and Apple’s “Retina” iPads tout super-sharp displays, the screen on the new Fire feels retro.

Video displays fine. Where the lower resolution is most noticeable is with small text. When reading, some of the vertical lines in d’s and l’s look fat. It feels like a typewriter with metal type that hasn’t been cleaned of gunk, forming misshaped letters when some of that gunk hits the ink ribbon. (For our younger readers, typewriters are machines that produce letters on paper, rather than a screen. And paper is a sheet of writing material made from trees.)

Taking pictures: The main camera is just 2 megapixels, compared with 5 or 8 megapixels on higher-end Amazon tablets. Photos come out fuzzy, and low-light images have plenty of color distortion. The camera’s lens also isn’t able to capture as much as other gadgets from the same distance. It’s as though the camera has a permanent zoom. That said, most people already have smartphones with decent cameras. There’s no need to pay more to duplicate technology.

fire_1.jpg

Wi-Fi: The Fire has an older, single-band form of Wi-Fi that doesn’t support the highest available speeds, technically known as the 802.11ac standard. In practice, that means signal range and data speed might be lower. But in my limited testing, the new tablet downloaded a video file faster than last year’s HDX 8.9 tablet from Amazon, which has dual-band Wi-Fi, so this is hardly cut-and-dried. Many other factors affect performance, even if you have top-of-the-line technology.

In fact, the inexpensive Fire tablet surprised me in many ways. The display has in-plane switching technology, which means it can be viewed from an angle – twice as wide as standard screens, according to Amazon. The tablet was also fast for Web surfing, email and other common tasks. It seemed to take an extra second or two to launch video on Hulu and Netflix, but playback was smooth once it started.

Unlike iPads, the Fire allows you to set up multiple profiles, including ones for kids, and to establish parental limits on apps and usage time. But the Amazon tablet doesn’t have anti-glare technology found in the latest iPads, nor does it have a fingerprint reader to bypass passcodes.

Promised battery life is seven hours, which is reasonable for $50.

And as with other Amazon devices, the Fire tablet works nicely with other Amazon services, including Kindle e-books, Audible audiobooks, Prime video streaming and e-commerce. Just swipe right from the home screen to scroll through the various services. After signing in with my Amazon account, the shopping page reminded me what type of replacement vacuum bags I need. I also found a mini plunger to deal with that nagging clogged sink in my kitchen.

fire_2.jpg

A swipe to the left gets you recently accessed content and apps, plus recommendations. It’s a good way to get to frequent tasks without spending a lot of time moving around icons on the home screen. Older Amazon devices will get this feature, too, with an upcoming software update.

The Fire is also a good option for kids. They won’t complain about what’s missing, and if they lose the device, it’s only $50 to replace. Amazon will even sell you six for the price of five, so each family member can have one.

I’d be highly disappointed with the Fire if its price tag were $250 or more. But it’s not – not even close.

Download the Gadgets 360 app for Android and iOS to stay up to date with the latest tech news, product reviews, and exclusive deals on the popular mobiles.

Amazon Fire

Amazon Fire

  • Review
  • Key Specs
  • News

Display

7.00-inch

Processor

1.3GHz

Front Camera

0.3-megapixel

Resolution

1024×600 pixels

RAM

1GB

OS

Fire OS

Storage

8GB

Rear Camera

2-megapixel

Battery capacity

See full Amazon Fire specifications

  • Amazon Fire Tablet Review: Does a Lot for $50
  • Amazon Launches $50 Fire Tablet to Hook More Consumers

 

Original Article

No Need to Fret, Apple Is Doing Fine

No Need to Fret, Apple Is Doing Fine

Let’s get this out of the way first: Despite what you may have heard, the iPhone is not dying. Neither, by extension, is Apple.

It’s true that in an earnings report Tuesday, after weeks of speculation by Wall Street that iPhone sales would finally hit a peak, Apple confirmed the news: iPhone sales grew at their lowest-ever rate in the last quarter. And the company projected total sales of as much as $53 billion (roughly Rs. 3,61,532 crores) in the current quarter that ends in March, which would be a decline of 8.6 percent from last year and Apple’s first revenue drop in more than a decade.

But if Apple is now hitting a plateau, it’s important to remember that it’s one of the loftiest plateaus in the history of business. The $18.4 billion (roughly Rs. 1,25,518 crores) profit that Apple reported Tuesday is the most ever earned by any company in a single quarter.

(Also see: This Is the Biggest Threat to Apple’s Business Around the World)

It’s necessary to start with these caveats because people have a tendency to react strongly, almost apoplectically, to any suggestion of weakness on Apple’s part. Like pickles, cilantro and Ted Cruz, Apple inspires extreme opinion. The doubters are now ascendant. Apple’s share price has fallen more than 11 percent over the last year, in stark contrast to gains by the other four American tech giants.

So this column will try to do something tricky: explore what’s ailing Apple without going off the deep end. And after talking to several observers who watch the company closely, here’s my ice-cold take: Apple is doing quite OK.

Could it be doing some things better? Sure. Are any of its problems urgent? Not particularly, and from what one can tell, it’s working to address many of its shortcomings. Does it face existential threats? Yes, but no more than any other tech giant. Will it remain an outsize presence in the tech industry for years to come, generating profits on a scale that no other corporation can match? Almost certainly.

(Also see: Apple’s iPhone Success May Be Reaching Its Peak)

“I’m not worrying about Apple in 2015 or Apple in 2016,” said Ben Thompson, an analyst who runs the site Stratechery, and who questioned Apple’s far-off future in a recent piece. “I’m thinking about the arc of Apple from 1976 to Apple in 2046. The iPhone era has been the pinnacle of everything that Apple does best. Anyone fretting about Apple right now is totally overstating it. But if I look out 10 years, 20 years, each of Apple’s advantages starts to fade.”

I’ll get to those long-run worries in a bit, but let’s start with the present. At the moment, Apple’s biggest problem is its own success. The iPhone turns nine this year. The iPad turns six. These devices have made Apple the world’s most valuable company (until Google’s parent company, Alphabet, overtakes it, which might happen soon).

Apple’s iPhone business is now so huge it sounds almost fantastical – Apple books more revenue from the iPhone (about $154 billion or roughly Rs. 10,50,534 crores in its last fiscal year) than Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard or IBM generate from all of their operations. Two-thirds of the world’s countries have gross domestic products smaller than annual sales of the iPhone.

Yet the very dominance of Apple’s aging mobile empire inspires doubts about its future. The bigger the iPhone gets, the harder Apple has to work to beat its previous milestones, and the more vulnerable it appears to some fatal technological surprise.

The primary criticism of Apple’s recent performance is that it’s doing too much, and as a result, the general quality of its products has slipped. Related to that is the notion that Apple has lost some of its innovative and design magic. It has put out a larger-than-usual number of features and products that have failed to thrill reviewers. As Gizmodo put it in a headline summing up 2015, “Everything Apple Introduced This Year Kinda Sucked.”

Apple still does noteworthy new things, but I can understand Gizmodo’s frustration. The Apple Watch is a work in progress. Apple Music and Apple News feel awkward, far less pleasant than dedicated music-streaming and news apps that have long been available in the app store (like Spotify and Flipboard). The Apple TV offers little I couldn’t get on other devices, and its remote is heroically unfriendly. And 3D Touch and Live Photos, the new features in the latest iPhone, are nice but not groundbreaking.

But there’s something worth keeping in mind about each of these criticisms. They’re the gripes of a technophile, and they don’t necessarily reflect mainstream consumer perceptions about Apple’s products.

“Most of these critics are those who spend most of their time in this world of Apple analysis, so of course they’re hypersensitive to their devices,” said Horace Dediu, a fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute, a think tank, and an analyst who follows Apple at his site, Asymco.

Dediu said customer satisfaction data showed continuing love for everything Apple sold. Almost everyone who has purchased an Apple Watch loves it. The same is true for iPhones and iPads. Apple’s crash logs show that its software isn’t getting buggier, contrary to what heavy users might think. “And people have short memories – they forget that the first iPhone was also full of bugs, that things in the past weren’t perfect,” he said.

Dediu is one of a chorus of analysts who argue the iPhone is far from its peak. With incremental improvements to the device’s interface and capabilities, Apple can add more than enough to keep people hooked to its devices. He calls the current peak in sales a “localized peak” – a blip from which Apple will soon emerge. In a piece last fall, I echoed this theory that the iPhone can’t lose; so has Thompson.

But if continued growth sounds like wishful thinking, there’s another path for Apple to prosper even if iPhone sales do hit a wall: Suck more money out of each phone. In a note to clients last fall, analysts at Goldman Sachs suggested that through a widening number of subscription services baked into the iPhone, Apple could begin to reap a huge monthly fee from its users, which it said constituted “the most lucrative installed base in the world.”

It’s an argument Apple executives are starting to vocalize loudly. On Tuesday’s earnings call, Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, said the popularity of the iPhone provided the company a “long-lasting foundation.”

Apple’s ecosystem is so sticky that people tend to flock to its services even if there are better products out there. Even if I’m not a fan, 10 million people have subscribed to Apple Music in its first six months.

Given all these options for minting bullion from the iPhone, the most alarming worries for Apple aren’t about the present. They are about the future beyond the horizon, and they are necessarily speculative.

The basic question is this: In the future, will physical devices matter less than they do now? If computers are more like the machines in the movie “Her” – ethereal, ambient computers that exist in the cloud, that respond to our voices and our bodies, anticipating our desires – what will happen to Apple then? This is a company whose entire existence hinges on the cultural appreciation of physical things. Can it prosper in an age of ambient computing?

These are interesting questions to pose. I had a long conversation with Thompson about these ideas, and Apple’s apparent weaknesses – how it’s not as good at artificial intelligence and voice recognition as Google, how it lacks the cloud infrastructure that Amazon has built, and how, most important, its entire corporate culture is geared toward making actual stuff, which could limit its capacity to create fantastic online services.

But ultimately the discussion felt academic. It seems obvious that as the tech world changes around it, Apple, over the next decade, will need to reinvent itself. But so will everyone else. That is just what you do in this industry.

© 2016 New York Times News Service

Download the Gadgets 360 app for Android and iOS to stay up to date with the latest tech news, product reviews, and exclusive deals on the popular mobiles.
Original Article

Nokia Settles Patent Dispute With Samsung

Home | Mobiles | Mobiles News Nokia Settles Patent Dispute With Samsung Reuters , 1 February 2016 Nokia Settles Patent Dispute With Samsung

Finland’s Nokia has settled a patent dispute with South Korea’s Samsung which it says will boost its patent sales by hundreds of millions of euros.

Nokia sold its once-dominant phone business to Microsoft in 2014, leaving it focused on telecoms network equipment while retaining a large portfolio of handset patents.

Nokia said the Samsung settlement would lift sales at its patent unit Nokia Technologies to around EUR 1.02 billion ($1.1 billion or roughly Rs. 7,451 crores) in 2015, including catch-up payments from the past two years, from EUR 578 million in 2014.

The annualised run-rate for the patent unit is now about EUR 800 million, Nokia added.

Analysts on average had expected 2016 sales of about EUR 900 million for the unit.

“The settlement is pretty well in line with market forecasts, as the run-rate is 800 million and there will be some one-off payments,” said Mikael Rautanen, analyst at Inderes Equity Research.

Samsung shares rose 1.1 percent following news of the deal.

Nokia and Samsung entered into a binding arbitration in 2013 to settle additional compensations for Nokia’s phone patents for a five-year period starting from early 2014.

Nokia added it expects to receive at least EUR 1.3 billion of cash during 2016-2018 related to its settled and ongoing arbitrations, including the Samsung award. Nokia currently has a similar dispute with LG Electronics.

Rautanen, who has “reduce” rating on Nokia said its patent unit is expected to grow further in the coming years as it will soon start talks over a new contract with Apple.

He noted that Nokia’s patent sales still trail those of its main rival, Sweden’s Ericsson, which has estimated its intellectual property rights (IPR) sales at 13-14 billion crowns ($1.52-1.63 billion or roughly Rs. 10,297 crores – Rs. 11,041 crores) in 2015.

The patent business will become a smaller part of Nokia after its proposed EUR 15.6 billion takeover of French network gear rival Alcatel-Lucent, expected to close this quarter.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

Download the Gadgets 360 app for Android and iOS to stay up to date with the latest tech news, product reviews, and exclusive deals on the popular mobiles.

iPad mini review

iPad mini review

I bet the iPad mini is going to be on a lot of wish lists this holiday season. I also bet that for a lot of people, it’s not going to be the best choice. It’s beautiful and light, but Apple made a big compromise in the design, one that means that buyers should look closely at the competition before deciding.

Starting at $329, the iPad mini is the cheapest iPad. The screen is a third smaller than the regular iPads, and it sits in an exquisitely machined aluminum body. It weighs just 11 ounces half as much as a full-size iPad making it easier to hold in one hand. It’s just under 8 inches long and less than a third of an inch thick, so it fits easily into a handbag.

The issue is the screen quality. Apple has been on the forefront of a move toward sharper, more colorful screens. It calls them “Retina” displays because the pixels the little light-emitting squares that make up the screen are so small that they blend together almost seamlessly in our eyes, removing the impression that we’re watching a grid of discrete elements.

The iPad mini doesn’t have a Retina screen. By the standards of last year, it’s a good screen, with the same number of pixels as the first iPad and the iPad 2. The latest full-size iPad has four times as many pixels, and it really shows. By comparison, the iPad mini’s screen looks coarse. It looks dull, too, because it doesn’t have the same color-boosting technology that the full-size model has.

This is not an entirely fair comparison, as the full-size iPad starts at $499 and weighs twice as much. The real issue is that this year, there are other tablets that are cheaper than the iPad mini, weigh only slightly more and still have better screens.

Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle Fire HD costs $199 and has about the same overall size as the mini. While the Kindle’s screen is somewhat smaller (leaving a bigger frame around the edges), it is also sharper, with 30 percent more pixels than the mini. Colors are slightly brighter, too.

Barnes & Noble Inc.’s Nook HD costs $229 and has a screen that’s even sharper than the Kindle HD’s. It’s got 65 percent more pixels than the iPad mini.

Why do tablets from two companies chiefly known as book stores beat Apple’s latest for screen quality?

Sharper screens are darker, requiring a more powerful backlight to appear bright. That, in turn, would have forced an increase in the battery size. That’s the reason the first iPad with a Retina display was thicker and heavier than the iPad 2. So to keep the iPad mini thin while matching the 10-hour battery life of the bigger iPads, Apple had to compromise on the display.

This can’t last, though. By next year, it will likely be even more obvious that Apple is seriously behind in screen quality on its small tablet, and it will have to upgrade to a Retina display somehow. That means this first-generation iPad mini will look old pretty fast.

The display causes a few other problems, too. One is that when you run iPhone apps on the mini, it uses the coarsest version of the graphics for that app – the version designed for iPhones up to the 2009 model, the 3GS. You can blow the app up to fill more of the screen, but it looks pretty ugly. The full-size iPad uses the higher-quality Retina graphics when running iPhone apps, and it looks much better.

Some apps adapted for the iPad screen don’t display that well on the mini screen, either, because of the smaller size. Buttons can be too small to hit accurately, bringing to mind Steve Jobs’ 2010 comments about smaller tablets. The late Apple founder was of the vociferous opinion that the regular iPad was the smallest size that was also friendly to use.

In some apps, text on the mini is too small to be comfortably read – the section fronts in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal apps are examples of this.

Of course, in some other respects, the iPad mini outdoes the Fire and the Nook, so it isn’t just the tablet for the buyer who needs the prettiest and the thinnest. In particular, the Mini is a $329 entry ticket to the wonderful world of iPad and iPhone apps. For quality and quantity, it beats all the other app stores. (Oddly, there’s an inverse relationship between screen quality and app availability in this category the Nook HD has the best screen and the fewest apps, while the second-best Kindle Fire HD has middling access to apps.)

The Mini also has front- and back-facing cameras, for taking still photos and video and for videoconferencing. The Kindle Fire HD only has a front-facing camera for videoconferencing. The Nook HD doesn’t have a camera at all.

In short, the iPad Mini is more versatile than the competition, and I’m sure it will please a lot of people. But take a look at the competition first, and figure that by next year, we’ll see something from Apple that looks a lot better.

About the iPad Mini
The base model of the iPad mini costs $329 and comes with 16 gigabytes of storage. A 32 GB model goes for $429 and 64 GB for $529. Soon, you’ll be able to get versions that can connect through cellular networks, not just Wi-Fi. Add $130 to the price.

 

Original Article here