The 2018 iPad Pro deserves a place in Apple’s hardware hall of fame. No other product from Apple has remained so functional for so long without appearing for a long time in the tooth. The 11-inch iPad Pro, in particular, held up extraordinarily well for a product nearly five years ago.
The thing about the 2018 iPad Pro is that it’s been replaced three times so far, but it still delivers what might be mistaken for the cutting edge user experience. Most computers from five years ago just didn’t hold up the same way.
The original HomePod may be the best exception, and it is a product that has left the market and has a reputation for failing over time. Although still premium, an iPhone XR or iPhone XS from 2018 has changed much more drastically over the same period.
Most 2018 Macs lag even further behind current machines, which is especially true given the transition from Intel to Apple Silicon. Perhaps Macs running on M2 chips will similarly retain their modern feel over time.
In the case of the iPad Pro, you could say it has aged so well because the tablet category hasn’t grown as quickly as other iPhones and Macs. This may be true without admitting that the iPad Pro looks outdated and dated.
It doesn’t hurt that the most exciting android tablet teased last year looks like a decent competitor to the iPad in 2014.
There’s something else special about the 2018 iPad Pro: new features for a given year are often likely to make their way to cheaper versions of the same product given enough time. The 2018 iPad Pro didn’t have to deal with that.
The last two generations of iPad Air are the closest thing to that in terms of looks, but features like Face ID and ProMotion remain exclusive to the Pro line.
The aging iPad Pro 2018 creates a limited upgrade path. Reasons for replace a 2018 iPad Pro might include finding more storage, adding a cell phone, or changing display sizes.
Other differences between the 2018 iPad Pro and the new models add up, but the new iPad Pro features are far less compelling than the new iPhone features over the same period.
Upgrading from a 2018 iPad Pro would net you a LiDAR sensor, an ultra-wide camera, 5G over LTE, and a modest new Apple Pencil feature with hover. Newer chips have better benchmarks, but performance for most tasks is still satisfactory.
However, the biggest upgrades to the iPad Pro experience have been compatible with the 2018 iPad Pro. This includes the Magic Keyboard accessory which brought trackpad integration and heart Stage Manager multitasking without second screen support.
Of course, we all know the awkward state of the iPad lineup that started with the 10th generation iPad. Its FaceTime camera moves to the center of landscape versus portrait orientation, and its external keyboard has a row of features not yet available for the Pro line.
Hopefully these changes will make their way to the next big overhaul of the iPad Pro lineup. For now, they only reinforce the 2018 iPad Pro’s place in history as a product that has stood the test of time. If you’re looking for an iPad Pro, you go for the newer model. If you’re still using the 2018 iPad Pro, you’ve got the longest-lasting iPad ever.
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