The iPad Pro 11” vs 12.9” (2018) Dilemma
Because Cubasis is not installed on demo iPads in the Apple Stores, I had to buy both Pro models to test them out. Did a project on both (so I won’t be biased) to see them in action and find out their pros and cons.
Color – these iPads come in a newer dark gray color which look stealthy.
Feel – very smooth and slippery.
Rounded corners - Most apps have a black bar around the edges making the apps look like they are shrunk and need updating by devs. These apps may remain so for a foreseeable future until they are optimized. Glad that Cubasis got updated so quickly which is all I need for my music video projects. Steinberg company (that was acquired by Yamaha) could release updates just when they are necessary. Other apps I know that are optimized for the new iPad are Apple apps, Microsoft apps (Outlook, OneNote, etc), Netflix, DirecTV NOW, etc.
Headphone Jack – You’ll feel the pain! You’ll be frustrated for times when you could have just plugged in the phones into the jack and now you have take out the dongle. If you don’t have the dongle around, it gets worse. The Apple dongle had some bad audio quality on 12.9” and the drums sounded weaker/bland without the punch/oomph in a project. Seriously, Apple?? They should have made it sound the same at the very least before taking out the jack! You won’t be able to use the dongle while recharging until you buy a hub with a charging slot and headphone jack. The 4 stereo speakers compensate to some extent while you are not able to dongle the headphones but not fully.
iPad Pro 12.9” – even with its smaller footprint, it’s not convenient, not manageable, not mobile and definitely NOT a one-hander. It keeps slipping/tilting in a few seconds after holding in one hand because of its thinner bezels and weight. I have strong arms but still feel it painful to hold it in one hand even for a few seconds. Hard to use it while laying in the bed due to its weight. However, using it on the lap or at a desk is the best way. Because of its huge size, web pages, videos, etc are easier to browse/watch with larger fonts. Because it is huge, apps “optimized” for its screen size would allow more vertical space and so less vertical scrolling. You can see 5 tracks in Cubasis along with the soft keyboard displayed or more than 8 tracks without the keyboard (full screen) at default track zoom. The optimization done in Cubasis for 12.9” with just 2 horizontal sections (upper and lower half) is not graceful – they should have followed how Apple optimized GarageBand with 3 horizontal sections.
iPad Pro 11” – this is the one I preferred even before it was released and it proved out to be the most ideal size with a “wider-screen” aspect ratio. It is really handy and manageable – still a little bit inconvenient to hold it in one hand for extended duration due to its narrow bezels but not as bad as the 12.9”. It is a significant size boost compared to Air 2 with more than 1.5” horizontally and 0.5” vertically. Plus, it will give wider screen-recorded videos which is what matters more as the end result to me. With Air 2 (and also 12.9”), the screen-recorded videos come out squarish. Its wide screen also allows for less scrolling sideways in Piano Roll editor and Timeline of a video editor with optimized apps. You can see more than 3 tracks in Cubasis along with the soft keyboard displayed or 7 tracks without the keyboard (full screen) at default track zoom. To scroll less vertically, we could pinch out the tracks vertically in Cubasis to see more tracks without losing much functionality (Arm and Freeze controls are rarely used and pinching them out would make more tracks visible). However, the tracks in Cubasis go back to their default zoom factor upon re/opening a project and you have to pinch out again.
@LFS , Steinberg should divide Cubasis layout into 3 horizontal sections (on all iPads) for consistency so it also becomes mobile-ready (like SynthMaster One). We really don't need a soft keyboard that occupies half of the screen. The 3 keyboards in SM1 (when Expanded) are the ideal layout with respect to their heights. You could have an option to zoom a horizontal section into 2/3rd of the screen (2X) and toggle back if desired for taller modules like the Audio Units, Mixer, Equalizer, Drum pads, etc.
Camera – Massive on both Pro models compared to Air 2 (where it looks like a mole). Haven’t tried them yet.
Folio Case – Not leather but good quality and precision-built with magnetic alignment and a different black/charcoal color. Easy to take off quickly to reduce heft without any wear-n-tear. Looks very beautiful and "Pro" with the sides exposed – handle with care! If you are buying these new Pros, you definitely need the Apple Protection Plan for accidental damages!! When folded backwards as a stand, the case offers a slightly raised angle compared to Mini/Air 2 case which I always thought as not high enough. The raised angle in the new case is better but could still have been a bit higher.
FaceID – the Dot camera is on only when the screen is woken up by touching it so there is no battery drain from objects moving in front of the camera while it is idling. If it fails to scan your face upon wake-up, it will retry scanning the face and authenticate when you swipe up when it goes into keypad mode to enter passcode (if it succeeds, no need to enter passcode - just swipe up to unlock). For apps such as Outlook that use TouchID, it seamlessly falls back on FaceID (because there is no TouchID button).
Pencil 2 – works great in Piano Roll, Synth knobs/faders, Timeline, etc. It needs frequent charging and it gets charged in about 30 minutes. However, a Bamboo Stylus is also good enough and needs no recharging or Bluetooth and its soft nylon tip leaves no smudges! If using Pencil 2, make sure you have screen protector as it could wear the coatings/layers on the screen on frequently touched areas because it has a harder tip. For instance, if you are scrubbing an audio track with the play-head in the same areas repeatedly, that could damage the coatings on the screen. I used the Bamboo Stylus with the nylon tip while scrubbing and other repeated touch actions at the same areas. NOTE: Pencil 1 doesn't work on the new iPad Pros and Pencil 2 doesn't work on the old iPad Pros :(
Screen Protector – Tech Armor Ballistic protectors are being re-engineered for the new Pros as the current ones are said to have some touch response issues. Their support is fanatic – if we buy the current one, they agreed to replace it with the newer model for free when it is ready in about a month.
My Preference – 11” Pro hands down. The new 12.9” (2018) is not mobile. If you want to open 12.9" at your workplace or inside your car for instance, it is a hassle every time. If you are into drawing, sketching, illustrations, digital art, this is the BEST - go for it. I did a project on 12.9” but was waiting to finish it so I could return it. Felt so happy when I returned it. I’m happy with the 11”. My old Air 2 now looks like a mini and my old mini 1 looks like an iTouch.
The Future – I speculate the new 4.3:3 widescreen aspect ratio is going to be the future standard for iPads and the 11” is just a precursor to what’s coming. There are rumors Apple is designing iPad 10” which is apparently a replacement for the 9.7” but with widescreen, thin bezels and rounded corners. They may turn the 7.9” mini into 8” mini and make it widescreen with thin bezels and rounded corners too. What would be left is the 12.9” which would also get redesigned into widescreen. And the 10.5" Pro is likely to be discontinued. Design stabilized – for another decade!
Even the Samsung S10 Fold has a 4.2:3 aspect ratio (a bit less wider than iPad 11” which has 4.3:3). Copycats are working hard, LOL :)
I'll post screenshots and photos soon...
What are your thoughts, which one did you prefer and why?
On the 11" Pro, you can see about 4 tracks in Cubasis along with the soft keyboard displayed or 7 tracks without the keyboard (full screen) at the default track zoom factor.
Pencil 1 doesn't work on the new iPad Pros 2018 and Pencil 2 doesn't work on the old iPad Pros :(
If you are buying these new Pros, you definitely need the Apple Protection Plan for accidental damages!!