Apple’s Latest iPad And Mac Releases (Disclaimer: You’ll Go Broke)
It’s official. Apple has clearly cemented itself within the top 3 gifts on everyone’s Christmas wishlist with its latest iPad Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac Mini. The products look fantastic and they’re very clearly targeted at students and creative professionals. In fact, after seeing them in person, you’ll probably go:
Before you do that, we sat down and asked ourselves a couple of important questions to help you figure out how to best spend your money on the Cupertino-based tech giant’s latest toys. And what we discovered might surprise you…
If you just want to know what’s new, here’s a quick overview of what was recently announced:
- The iPad Pro received a heavy makeover and now features a slimmer bezel, Face ID instead of Touch ID (Yes, the home button is gone. Just accept it people.), as well as a “Liquid Retina” display (similar to the one in the iPhone XR). The second generation of the Apple Pencil and a brand new Smart Keyboard Folio also made their debut.
- Apple’s outdated but widely loved MacBook Air finally received an update and now boasts a high-resolution Retina display, USB-C, and Touch ID.
- Ardent fans of the Mac Mini were finally blessed with a new version in a space grey finish, with quad-core CPU configuration (with the choice to go up to six-core) and up to 64 GB RAM. Also, all models will now feature solid-state memory drives.
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The Biggest Change To The iPad Since The iPad
As corny as the heading sounds (Apple came up with that, by the way), they’re basically saying that they haven’t reinvented the wheel. And that’s a good thing because the 2017 10.5-inch iPad Pro was already a pretty solid device. The 2018 model just took it one step further by giving customers exactly what they asked for.
The most important changes come in the form of:
- Edge-to-edge display: meaning the 2018 11-inch iPad Pro is about the same size as the 2017 10.5-inch iPad Pro but has a larger screen and thinner bezels)
- Face ID support: the removal of Touch ID and the home button (we were kind of expecting that)
- “Liquid Retina” display instead of the standard Retina display
- Charging via USB-C instead of a Lightning port
|What Is A "Liquid Retina" Display?|
A "Liquid Retina" display is, according to Apple, the "most colour-accurate" LCD panel currently in the industry. The display uses Apple proprietary "True Tone" technology, which makes colours look and appear more natural. Its 120Hz touch sensing feature also means that you can expect ultra
You also get to choose from two different sizes, the 11-inch as well as the 12.9-inch:
Apple Pencil (2nd Generation)
The good news is that the Apple Pencil (2nd Generation) has been completely redesigned. It now includes tap gestures which allow you to easily switch between different tools without having to set the Pencil down. You can even customise which tools you’d like to map to the gestures.
Sketching something? Press harder for thicker lines, and lighter for thinner ones. Want to shade? Simply tilt your Apple Pencil 2.
But the coolest improvement is the fact that the Apple Pencil 2 now charges wirelessly via magnetic attachment to the side of the new iPad Pro. This is probably necessary because the 2018 iPad Pro switched from charging via Lightning port to USB-C. This improvement also solves the problem of the original Apple Pencil’s easily losable cap (pictured below), whenever it had to be charged via a Lightning port.
So what’s the bad news?
While the redesign is great, the Apple Pencil 2 can only work with the iPad Pro 2018, and it won’t work with older iPads. It also means that the Apple Pencil 1 is not compatible with the new tablet either.
Apple doesn’t outrightly tell you this, but we can take a hint. Either way, you’re going to have to spend a little if you want the latest iPad Pro or Apple Pencil.
Smart Keyboard Folio
The Smart Keyboard Folio ($269 for the 11-inch, $299 for the 12.9-inch) is a full-sized keyboard as well as a durable, lightweight cover that protects both the front and back of your new iPad Pro 2018.
The Folio pairs automatically with the iPad and attaches magnetically. Best of all, you won’t need to charge it because your iPad Pro keeps it powered via a smart connector located on the back of the tablet.
With the new Smart Keyboard Folio, your iPad Pro 2018 actually becomes a strong contender for being your next portable workstation.
Important Questions About The iPad Pro
- Is There A Difference Between The 11-Inch And The 12.9-Inch Option?
No. In terms of internals and features, they’re basically the same device. Except one is obviously larger than the other. Go for the larger variant if you feel that you need more real estate for drawing, sketching, or whatever you do on your tablet.
- Should I Buy The iPad Pro 2018?
If you currently have the really old iPad (6th Generation) and are thinking of finally upgrading to an iPad Pro model, then yes. It totally makes sense.
But remember how we talked about the Pencils not being backwards or forward compatible? For users of the previous iPad and Apple Pencil, who decide to upgrade. You now have to buy the newest Apple Pencil even if you already have the Apple Pencil 1 at home.
Yeah… That’s not a very wallet-friendly move as the Pencil 2 will set you back $189 after you already spent $138 for the first Apple Pencil.
To give you a better idea of how much you’ll be shelling out for your iPad Pro 2018, we did the math for you:
Assuming you choose to max out the specs of the latest iPad Pro with 1TB storage and WiFi + Cellular Connectivity. The 12.9-inch tablet costs $2839, while the 11-inch option will make your wallet $2539 lighter.
Should you choose to fully kit out the abovementioned 12.9-inch tablet with the Smart Keyboard Folio and Apple Pencil 2, that would cost you a cool $3327.
Lightness Strikes Again
(This is Apple again. We swear that we’re not coming up with these headings.)
We’re not sure how Apple managed this, but the new Retina MacBook Air 2018 is thinner and lighter than the previous-generation model. To put it into perspective: the 2018 13-inch model is a svelte 1.56cm and weighs just 1.25kg; whereas the earlier version is 1.7cm thick, and weighs a hefty 1.35kg.
Apple also listened to their customers and finally put a high-resolution Retina display in its latest MacBook Air. Pictured below is an Air in the latest colour option: Gold.
They’ve also (kind of) acknowledged that the Touch Bar isn’t a popular option and have opted to just keep the Touch ID function via a small sensor on the top right-hand corner of the keyboard (circled in red).
The MacBook Air also has 2 USB-C ports, as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack (something that’s worth mentioning because, with Apple, you never know when they might decide to remove it).
Important Questions About The MacBook Air
- Should I Buy The New Retina MacBook Air?
If you currently own any of the earlier variants of the MacBook Air, this is the upgrade you’ve been waiting for. And if you don’t own a Mac laptop and would like to finally get one, it’s currently the most value-for-money option in the entire Mac laptop line-up.
An entry-level MacBook Air 2018 with 3.6GHz boosted dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, and 128GB SSD storage will cost you $1789. And although you can get more computer for that price if you look at other brands, you really can’t deny the appeal of the slim full aluminium body and that gorgeous Retina screen.
We’re also well aware that the Air has the same (unproven) 3rd generation butterfly keyboard as the MacBook Pro 2018. But hey, the improved Air is still definitely worth the upgrade.
- Which Is Better? The New iPad Pro Or The Retina MacBook Air?
It’s still a little too early to say considering that tests in the real world have yet to be conducted to really decide which Apple product is better. (Writer’s note: Based on my experience with laptops and 2-in-1 tablets, the Air would definitely be more stable in one’s lap and would offer a better overall typing/user experience.)
However, we can look at the cost.
We’ve established earlier that a 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2018 (1TB storage and WiFi + Cellular Connectivity) with a Smart Keyboard Folio and Apple Pencil 2, costs $3327. In contrast, a fully specced out 13-inch Retina MacBook Air 2018 with a 3.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor, 16GB RAM, and 1.5TB SSD storage will cost you $3809.
The MacBook Air is $482 more expensive.
Other than that, things get a little tricky.
If you go with the iPad Pro 2018, you’ll face issues like:
- A lack of ports for peripherals (on all Apple mobile devices really)
- The new USB-C port doesn’t support external storage
- No 3.5mm headphone jack for your favourite headphones
Choosing the Retina MacBook Air means:
- No access to Cellular Connectivity (or LTE)
- Face ID is not an option
- Your Retina display, while brilliant, does not have touchscreen capability
Re-engineered In No Small Way
The 4-year-old Mac Mini is FINALLY updated. Besides coming in a new space grey finish like so:
There aren’t any perceivable changes to the design of the device. On the back is a slew of ports which include:
- A 10-Gigabit Ethernet port
- 4 Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) ports (users can connect an external GPU or run up to two 4K displays at once)
- 1 HDMI 2.0 port
- 2 USB 3.0 ports
- 3.5 mm headphone jack
In terms of processors, you can go up to a 4.6GHz 6-core Intel Core i7. For memory, the Mini is configurable up to 64GB RAM. Storage wise, you can push it all the way to a 2TB SSD. There is also a new cooling system which allows the Mac Mini to run at maximum sustained power (70% higher than before). This coupled with the new chips used in the Mini equals massive performance gains.
Important Questions About The Mac Mini
- Should I Get The New Mac Mini?
If you’re one of the rare few who are still using the 2014 version of the Mini, an upgrade is waaaaaay overdue.
The Mac Mini is also possibly one of the cheapest ways to get a Mac besides buying a refurbished one. All you really need is a keyboard, monitor, and mouse, and you’re good to go. Or you can buy the official Apple ones (which look amazing by the way)…
- Sounds Good. How Much Does It Cost?
The last we checked, the Mac Mini is not available for order in Singapore yet. But if the prices on the US site are any indication, a Mini that is maxed out with a 4.6Ghz 6-core Intel Core i7 processor, 64GB RAM, 2TB SSD storage, and 10 Gigabit Ethernet will cost you USD$4199 (almost $5800). An entry level Mac Mini (3.6Ghz quad-core Intel Core i3, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD storage) costs a mere USD$799 (slightly above $1100).
Which latest Apple product are you most likely to get? Let us know in the comments below!