back to article Apple's revamped iPad beams a workhorse in from Planet Ludicrous

Apple's stealthy, unexpected refresh of its iPad range means it's serious about bringing professional features to a wider market. And so it jolly well should be. The sub-£500 mobile productivity part of the market is now very hotly contested, with Microsoft's well-received Surface Go ramping up the pressure. That initiative …

  1. John Robson Silver badge

    Still waiting...

    For the single device that sits in my pocket/bag, with various remote interfaces (phone, watch, tablet) and a nice easy docking port (looks like that's easy with USB type C and thunderbolt) to hook it up to monitors/peripherals when I get to a desk.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: Still waiting...

      Yeah, but you see, that's a nightmare scenario for vendors. Where will they be able to differentiate and, most importantly, how will they be able to lock customers in ? They won't, so they don't.

    2. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: Still waiting...

      It was called the Microsoft Lumia 950 XL. With or without a docking port, worked just as you're asking. My MS Band received notifications from it too. Even had USB C.

      Now it's gone, everyone thinks it's a great idea. At the time, not so much.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Still waiting...

        Except that it suffered from Windows Mobile/Phone's Achilles' heel of not being able to run most Windows software, and Microsoft's chronic lack of commitment to its platform.

        1. 0laf Silver badge

          Re: Still waiting...

          Dissapointingly the former problem could have been solved by having the latter.

          Now eveything MS does looks like it could be built on sand. WinPho burnt a lot of big buyers.

          1. tin 2

            Re: Still waiting...

            I'm surprised that it took WinPho to burn buyers. Those buyers have been buying the MS "hey shiny shiny", "oh unsupported, buy the newer better one" literally forever. The "first" Windows Phone itself was actually clearly labelled as their 7th attempt.

      2. Bobolicious

        Re: Still waiting...

        I had one too until about a month ago - boy do I miss it....

    3. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Still waiting...

      Haven't used one but I understand Samsung's Dex is pretty close?

      1. flingback

        Re: Still waiting...

        DEX is pretty damn good actually. Still no substitute for a laptop, but pretty close with the MS Office suite loaded.

  2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Waiting for a bus

    and surely a very long time – before the £2,000 models Samsung and Huawei displayed at Mobile World Congress yield anything in the £500 range

    Not so sure about this. First of all, like the proverbial bus, we've been waiting for the foldables for a while and suddenly three show up, which immediately increases the competitive pressure. Secondly, the mobile phone market already has massive scale and we regularly see it in action: features that were reserved for the high-end a few years ago (fingerprint scanner, face recognition) are cropping up in mid-range and entry-level phones within a couple of years, largely because so much of the process has been industrialised. Sure, getting screen-folding right isn't easy but, assumng it's more about process than yield, once the process is there, it's easy to ramp up volume, the caveat would probably be yields on larger OLED screens, which have proved difficult to make in numbers. But thirdly, there is a huge opportunity to go after all of what's left of the notebook market. Apple seems happy enough with its premium and even more premium and as you note, Microsoft isn't there yet. Still a lot to get right / go wrong, but the potential is there.

    1. 0laf Silver badge

      Re: Waiting for a bus

      There is probably no profit in the market for £2k folding phones. But down at £1k there probably is. I expect there will be a rapid push to that sort of pricing for 2nd/3rd gen devices. Lower than that probably not but I'm sure the Chinese Gearbest type suppliers will start pushing out cheapish clones soon enough.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Waiting for a bus

        It might be waiting on Corning to make a glass that can be bent through a small radius - near essential for a 'fold on the outside' design. Corning are working on it, but it's looking like 2020 and not this year. Samsung's the inside' design results in a tight crease that this week's photos show is still visible when fully open.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Waiting for a bus

          To clarify: it's more important for outside screens to be scratch resistant and thus glass than it is for inside screens which, like traditional laptop displays, are protected in transit by being folded up.

          For productivity applications a single large seamless display isn't always necessary- for working between two documents two separate displays work as well as a single big display. Of course it's rubbish for watching video, and many users might use a work device for entertainment purposes. Sony have made tablets with two side by side screens, Nintendo have made a mobile game console with two screens, and Microsoft researched but never made a productivity-focused clamshell tablet called Courier with two screens.

        2. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Waiting for a bus

          Aaaand, one more thing. I never understood why Apple didn't play to their advantages and make iPads work as secondary Mac (book) monitors from the get go.

          However, I understand that Adobe have an iOS app that places tool palettes from a MacOS instance of Photoshop onto iPads and phones, so there's that.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Waiting for a bus

        There is probably no profit in the market for £2k folding phones. But down at £1k there probably is.

        I think that depends a bit on how you do accounting. I suspect the marginal cost is a lot less than GBP 2000, so, as with I-Pad Pros, there is profit to be made but volumes might be too low to make it worthwhile. Dropping the price will reduce margins, but the boost in volume could make the difference.

        Unlikely with version 1, which is probably as much about testing the market and working out the whole system as anything else. Samsung probably has the advantage here due to its work on DeX and producing so many components in house.

  3. Red Ted

    The Pencil needs charging?

    and costs £89!

    It puts the NASA Space Pen in to perspective.

    1. JRW

      Re: The Pencil needs charging?

      And the Russian answer to the NASA space pen - a pencil. Some people do overcomplicate things ...

      1. Mike Moyle Silver badge

        Re: The Pencil needs charging?


        1 -- Russians use the Fisher space pen, as well, and have -- like NASA -- since the late 1960s, since they had the same worries as NASA had about bits of physically-irritating, flammable, and electrically-conductive graphite floating around in their capsules.

        2 -- While not DESIGNED as a multifunction tool, the pen can do things that a pencil, arguably, can't -- like firing your take-off rockets after removing your EVA pack in a cramped capsule breaks off the necessary control-panel toggle switch (Ask Buzz Aldrin, if you don''t believe me!).

        3 -- As a side-note: Paul Fisher developed the pen unrequested by NASA and on his own dime, submitted samples to NASA for testing and NASA ended up buying them from Fisher at the, at the time, market price of $2.95 each.

        This has been debunked so friction' many times and people STILL use this horsehockey as the go-to example of government inefficiency and waste. (grumblegrumblemutterdamnfoolkids...! AN' GIT OFFA MY LAWN!!)

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: The Pencil needs charging?

          Good, factual comment - so it’ll probably get downvoted.

          I take mild issue with your conclusion, though. I’ve never heard the NASA Space Pen being used as an example of government waste and inefficiency; rather, whenever it’s referred to, it’s as an example of the (supposed) NASA/US/Western tendency to overthink and overcomplicate things.

          Brings to mind Boris-the-Blade* selling Tommy a gun in Snatch... “Heavy is good, heavy is reliable... if it doesn’t work you can always hit people with it.”

          *”You mean Boris-the-Sneaky-F*cking-Russian?”

          1. Mike Moyle Silver badge

            Re: The Pencil needs charging?

            @ David 132

            Well, usually, I've seen it prefaced with "NASA spent umpteen-million dollars designing a pen that yada yada...". IIRC, the Fisher pen was even the target of one of Senator William Proxmire's "Golden Fleece Awards" -- which he gave out for what he considered government overspending and waste -- based on that very idea. (On a side-note, it's curious that I don't recall any federal money spent in his home state of Wisconsin, ever receiving a Golden Fleece... Funny, that...!)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Pencil needs charging?

        Standard pencils shed graphite dust, which is conductive, in addition to being another source of air pollution in a very small vessel; I'm reasonably certain they were aware of this.

      3. Ian Joyner Bronze badge

        Re: The Pencil needs charging?

        "And the Russian answer to the NASA space pen - a pencil"

        I remember Rick Wakeman pointing this out on his radio show. "NASA spent $1 million on developing a ball-point pen that works in space – the Russians took pencils".

        I sent an email to Rick "I'm looking for a pen that will just work here on Earth". He immediately read it out after the next song had finished!

        Another time he gave a great answer to my "Ask Rick" question about the organ on Close to the Edge, which was done at St Giles Cripplegate.

    2. Montreal Sean

      Re: The Pencil needs charging?

      I love my Fisher Space Pen, and I've owned a few of them.

      The mini and standard versions, only replaced because they got lost at some client site.

      I don't remember them costing much either.

  4. Korev Silver badge


    Confusingly, Apple has added Pencil support to both new models, but only 2017's Pencil, the one that awkwardly charges by being inserted into the iPad's Lightning orifice.

    I have one for my iPad Pro, when charging it I'm paranoid that if the iPad falls onto it then it'll trash the innards of the iPad and/or snap the end of the "pencil" off.

    1. djstardust

      Re: Pencil

      And if you don't use the pencil it drains power because you can't turn it off.

      Next time you go to use it the thing is dead.

      Someone at Product design should get a boot in the balls for that.

      1. the Jim bloke Silver badge

        Re: Pencil

        Someone at Product design should get a boot in the balls for that.


        Unconscious gender Bias detected !!

        Roll out the rationalisations and defenses

    2. Peter X

      Re: Pencil

      That always looked like the least Apple-like bit of design Apple has ever done. Pretty sure Steve Jobs wouldn't have let that get to market like that either (ignoring the whole, SJ being against "styluses" because that was different!).

    3. AndyMulhearn

      Re: Pencil

      Why not use the adaptor that comes with the pencil? The one that allows you to plug one end onto the normal lighting connector and the pencil into the other. Charges the pencil in no time and doesn't risk damage to either the iPad or pencil.

      I'm not suggesting buying one from eBay but this shows how it works -

      IMHO plugging the pencil into the lighting ports only really meant for a quick top up to get you working, the adaptor is for charging the pencil fully.

  5. chucklepie

    Don't forget lads (and lasses), due to the unique role Apple plays in the IT market (no, it's not a vendor lock-in, user choice or security worries) you cannot under any circumstances change browser to be anything other than Safari. You think you've downloaded Chrome or Firefox? think again, you've just downloaded a little skin on top of Webkit and whatever inferior javascript engine they're using nowadays).

    Oh, for this to be Windows then they could be done for restricting the market.

    1. attackcat

      My iPad has Firefox and Brave. There are others. Get it right.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        RTFC: As noted, "you've just downloaded a little skin on top of Webkit".

        What you think is Firefox for iOS isn't really Firefox as such (but I still quite like it nevertheless).

  6. Ralph the Wonder Llama


    Please don't.

    1. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: "pholdables"

      Let’s play “Would You Rather”...

      A) “pholdables” enters into popular usage, or

      B) there’s never any end to the “Super Cali” increasingly-tortured headline “puns”.

      Or bonus option:

      C) All stories on this site from now on are written by the substandard Markov-chain generator known as amanfrommars1.

      Choose wisely, mortal, your torment for the rest of eternity.... muhahahahaha...

      1. ThomH Silver badge

        Re: "pholdables"

        It's 2019 and I'm Still Playing Would You Rather.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "pholdables"

          The only winning move is not to play.

    2. DJV Silver badge

      @Ralph the Wonder Llama

      Agreed. If they insist then tell them to phuck off!

  7. Jason Hindle

    “The inclusion of Microsoft's Office and an LTE option”

    Good luck getting hold of the LTE option.

    1. Diogenes

      Re: “The inclusion of Microsoft's Office and an LTE option”

      Love my Surface Go (with LTE)) - perfect form factor for my classroom & I can use it (wirelessly) with the data projector & gets to draw/do answers on it without the embarrassment of getting up in front of the whole class

      When this has posted I will give myself the first downvote just to get you guys started

      1. Jason Hindle

        Re: “The inclusion of Microsoft's Office and an LTE option”

        Sorry, I gave you an upvote for actually getting one.

  8. Aquatyger

    Why would you bother with an iPad?

    I have just managed to wean my wife away from her iPad. I bought her an Android Lenovo P10 tablet for $404AUD for her birthday. It has a 10" screen, weighs 440g and looks very spiffy with its glass facade. Added a 256GB microSD for $80AUD. Space is no longer a limitation. Bluetooth keyboard cost $20AUD. Downloaded Word for free and a few apps she will need. She can now download all her Audible and Amazon books to listen to in the car or read in the plane or ship. She can now watch all of her videos that can be downloaded from her computer. She can write using the keyboard. She can send and receive her emails. The camera is fine. She no longer needs to worry about space and all the other limitations of an iPad. The iPad is being left at home while we go on a cruise to HongKong. Hopefully, I can sell the iPad on Gumtree when we get back.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Why would you bother with an iPad?

      > Why would you bother with an iPad?

      Horses for courses. It sounds like your wife's primary uses are doing some office work and watching video when travelling, and that's fine. Other people find benefit from the greater range of iPad software compared to Android tablet software (even Google is a bit luke warm about Android tablet software, focusing its efforts on Chrome OS tablets and possibly Fuschia for the future). iPads are updated for a longer period of time than competing Android tablets, and are well supported in various niche areas, such as Point of Sale, music production and education.

      But for sure, if your wife just needs a portable screen for watching things on, a cheap n cheerful Androud tablet fits the bill.

      You might note that the only Android tablets that are trying to compete with iPads, Samsung's recent offerings, are roughly the same price as iPads.

  9. jobst


    I bought a few Ipads since some of our sales people wanted to have them for presentations.

    The first question was "Where's the USB?"

    They have been lying in a corner ever since.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: USB

      Bizarre. iPads are more or less big iPhones when it comes to USB functionality. I'm left assuming then that the sales team didn't use iPhones. But if the sales team didn't use iPhones, it seems odd they stated a preference for iPads. And then it seems weird that nobody asked them what they wanted them for before buying them, strange that just one iPad wasn't bought to test before buying a batch of them, and daft that they weren't returned when they didn't mean the users' needs. And wouldn't buying a 15 quid camera connection dongle be better than wasting a 300 quid tablet?

      I've heard of unused piles of IT gear in offices, but it's usually to do with protecting the department's budget allocation.

    2. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: USB

      What did they want the USB for?

      If it was for mass storage, HID devices, ethernet adaptors or audio/MIDI devices then the dongle providing a USB socket was a $29 extra purchase, very misleading sold as the camera adaptor. Yet another dongle, but it might have been cheaper than junking the devices?

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: USB

        >What did they want the USB for?

        Probably didn't have a sensibly configured WiFi network in the office and so couldn't really move content from phone/tablet to desktop/printer, so those with Android devices had got used to using USB...

    3. Marcus Fil

      Re: USB

      There will be a school or charity nearby that will gladly accept them as a donation. Better than storing them until they are obsolete.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: USB

        I know an East Midlands based charity that is looking, for a bundle of iPads to satisfy their clear use case, if you are having problems locating one near by.

  10. RobDog

    2017 pencil charging

    Just for clarification, it doesn’t only charge by plugging in to the iPad lightning socket, which does make it bizarrely stick out. You get a little dongle (free!) with the pencil with female both sides, so you can charge from a standard lightning cable. Looks like a large paracetamol or mint and easily loseable.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 2017 pencil charging

      I guess if the male lighting connector on the pencil had been placed through 90 degrees, people would have been tempted to use it to store the pencil against the side of the iPad, potentially exposing the iPad's female Lightning socket to a bending moment it wasn't designed for.

      At least the awkward straight-in design communicates that it is only meant for a quick top up that it isn't meant to be carried around like that.

  11. tcmonkey

    What's that you say? Windows on ARM hasn't been doing so well? Well, I do so hate to say "I told you so!", but this time I will make an exception.

    In fairness to all involved, iPads are equally worthless for most people in a technical role.

    1. Cavehomme_

      “iPads are equally worthless for most people in a technical role.”

      iPads are used across many technical disciplines and especially popular with aircraft pilots and other related jobs. Flight plans, aircraft manuals, maintenance checks, navigation...all massively simplified due to the iPad. The iPad has even been certified for aviation use by several aviation authorities.

      It would be nice if some Android/Linux users were somewhat more open minded to the possibility that iStuff is typically very well built, long lasting, well supported and provides great utility.

      By the way, I have owned numerous Android phones and tablets. Horses for courses.

      1. tcmonkey

        I have an iPhone, I'm aware of the value, and I hate the Android ecosystem with the burning passion of a thousand suns. Nice assumption you made there.

        I also work in IT, and I am acutely aware that I cannot do my job on anything less than a PC. You try writing software on a phone.

        1. Cavehomme_

          Well, it’s an incorrect assumption of yours that “technical role“ only extends to the IT sector and writing code in your experience.

          Engineering and flying aircraft are technical roles. The fact is that iPads are heavily used and indeed certified for such use, whether you know about that or not.

          And no, I wouldn’t try and write code on an iPad or other device designed for minimal inputs. A PC or Mac is of course perfect for that.

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