The iPad Pro is a great device and I’ve been happily using the 12.9 inch model for a good 1.5 years. At times it felt too large though – especially when using it on the couch. So when I got the chance to get a new iPad for work, I decided to give the 10.5 inch model a try. What follows are my observations after a few months of using the 10.5 inch model running iOS 11.

On the screen real estate:

  1. Having two apps in 50/50 split screen mode gives both the iPhone appearance, i.e., you typically just get a single column of content, not two.
  2. However, several apps, such as Safari gets a special mode for when it is in a 50/50 split with another app or you use its own split screen mode: you get a toolbar on the bottom like on an iPad, but you still get the tabs at the top as when using fullsceen.
  3. No more 3-column views when using Apple’s apps full-screen. Say, in Mail you don’t have a view where you can see both the message, the list of messages and the list of folders. I used this a fair bit to quickly drag and drop messages to folders, and this is simply not possible – you never get to see both the list of messages and the list of folders on one screen. The same applies to Notes. However, third-party apps behave differently and, say, Ulysses and Bear still have the three column view.
  4. You only get 13 slots in the Dock, not 15. However, when you cram it full and have the recent apps visible on the right, the tap targets become so small in portrait mode that I had several cases of hitting the wrong app, which is something that never happened on the 12.9. I’m sticking to 11 apps plus the recent ones because of that.

On the software keyboard:

  1. You don’t get the additional keyboard row with numbers, but you do get the swipe down on keys to get to numbers and special characters.
  2. You also don’t get a tab key (nor a caps lock key). Makes filling in forms slower and a disadvantage if you do coding on the iPad.
  3. 10 finger typing on the software keyboard is also possible. Took me less than a day to adjust and I feel like I am making less mistakes on the 10.5 inch screen than in the 12.9 one.
  4. No more oversized old software keyboard for apps that haven’t yet been updated for the 12.9 size - unfortunately that’s still quite a few apps. You still notice those apps as the lack of being optimised for the 10.5 inch screen means they don’t look as sharp as updated apps.

On the pencil:

  1. My primary use case on the pencil is hand-written notes and sketches. The 10.5 works just fine for that.

My summary: I feel less of a need to always use split screen mode as fullscreen apps don’t overwhelm you as easily as on the large iPad. I missed the 3-column views initially, but adopting my workflow for sorting my mails did not take long. I’m very happy with the “tiny” iPad. It’s good for typing, more suitable for the couch and much more portable.