Apple has now unveiled a raft of updates to some of its most popular product ranges, including the iPad, iMac and MacBook. But can the improvements under the bonnet justify the eye-popping prices?
At Apple’s conference this week, Apple announced sweeping changes to macOS and the coming of iOS 11. But away from the software, it also previewed its new line of tablets and computers for 2017.
Most of the products announced by Apple have been pitched squarely at the professional end of the market. The word ‘Pro’ features heavily, so consumers looking for a ‘value’ product may find little of relevance among the latest additions to the Apple stable.
iPad Pro 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch
While Apple has refreshed its standard iPad with the 9.7-inch iPad model earlier in the year, the iPad Pro line hasn’t seen an update for some time. This all changes with the announcement of two new models, the 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch model. The 9.7-inch model has now been removed from the Apple Store.
But what do the new iPad Pros offer? The processor has had a power boost, with Apple replacing the previous A9X chip with the snappier A10X Fusion, which it claims is 30% faster. The previous Pro was no slouch, but this could be a considerable improvement for high-end users.
Apple has also been working on the design of the iPad Pro, and there’s a reason that the 9.7-inch model is now obsolete. While the new 10.5 version offers a larger screen, it’s the same dimensions as the 9.7, thanks to a smaller bezel in the 2017 model.
The 10.5 model starts at £619 for the 64GB version.
MacBook and MacBook Pro
Like the iPad Pro, the 12-inch MacBook lineup has had a polish of its specs, though we’d say there’s nothing game-changing. This is the slimmest computer Apple sells, aimed at users on the go.
The entry-level 12-inch MacBook starts with a 1.2GHz Intel Core m3 processor and 8GB of memory, with a 256GB solid state drive. It’s a small power bump from last year’s MacBook, which quite modestly endowed for a £1,000+ laptop. Those after more power might want to consider upgrading to the 1.3GHz Intel Core i5 processor, and twice the storage with a 512GB solid state drive. Apple’s stunning Retina display screen remains on both models.
Read our thoughts on the 12-inch Apple MacBook, which starts at £1,249.
For power-users, the MacBook Pro range has also had a facelift and a slight specs bump. It’s good news for anyone who didn’t rush out and buy the last iterations, as the price has dropped for the entry-level Pro, compared to 2016’s equivalent. You’ll even get more power for your money. £1,249 will get you a 2.3GHz processor and 128GB of storage, with a 2.5GHz i7 processor also available for those who need some serious grunt from their laptop.
There’s also an update to the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. This feature gives you a narrow touchscreen above the keyboard. Used to select context sensitive keys, emojis, or scrub through video, it remains the same as previous the Touch Bar on last year’s range, but you must pay extra for a Pro with this feature.
iMac and iMac Pro
Without doubt the stunner of the show, the Apple iMac Pro is a beast of a machine that is stuffed with the latest hardware, including up to an 18-core processor at the top-end. Not a computer for the average user, it’s clearly aimed at design professionals, and this is made clear by the $5,000 price tag. No UK price has been revealed yet, although we wouldn’t expect you’d get much change out of £5,000.
The iMac Pro comes with a 5K display, previously seen on the ‘iMac with Retina display’ and follows the same design, albeit with a lot more power under the hood.
Read our first impressions of the iMac Pro.
The cheaper iMac range, available in 21.5-inch and 27-inch versions, starts at £1,049 for the entry-level model. Even so, with a 2.3GHz dual core i5 processor, it’s anything but basic. The 1920×1080 screen on the cheapest model isn’t top-of-the-range, but the 4K Retina display available on more expensive models should prove stunning. The price for the top-end iMac comes in at a not insignificant £2,799.
Updates to iOS and MacOS
It wasn’t just products that took the centre-stage. Apple’s software is also getting a revision, with iOS 11 coming to iPads and iPhones, and MacOS ‘High Sierra’ available for MacBooks and iMacs.
iOS 11 will be coming in the Autumn, and Apple CEO Tim Cook tells us that this update is ‘turned up to 11’. He might just be right too, with several high profile changes, such as the introduction of an onscreen dock to the iPad, just like the Mac, making it easier to switch between apps on the fly. Then there’s Drag and Drop, which automatically opens two apps on the screen when swiped to opposite sides.
Not all iPad and iPhones will be brought along for the ride, however, with older models – including the iPhone 5s and 5c – missing out on the iOS 11 update.
High Sierra promises several new features, including a heavy emphasis on virtual and augmented reality tools. But, there are also some more everyday updates included, such as the ability to stop videos auto-playing in Safari, and a new video codec (HVEC) promises the ability to record HD video that takes up less precious hard drive space.