Apple’s New 11” iPad Pro Has One Huge Design Flaw…

…and several minor ones too!

This man is making a big mistake with his iPad that will prevent it from working properly. Can you spot what it is?

Photo by Daniel Cañibano on Unsplash

Introduction

If You’re Buying the New 11″ iPad Pro You Need to Know About this Design Flaw!

There are a lot of things to love about the new 11” iPad Pro, which I won’t get into here. Be assured that I do love my new iPad. That isn’t the focus of this post however.

The focus here is on several design choices that Apple has made in the overall design of their newest iPad Pros. And how those choices impact users today, in 2019.

My Reasons for Writing This

A Little About Me

I’m an extremely heavy user of iPads (truthfully I’m a heavy user of all ios devices in general.)

Whenever a new one comes out I get it. Primarily so that I can stay on top of Apple’s newest mobile technology for writing vsatips. That’s why it’s not a bad idea to consider my opinion when it comes to reviewing Apple’s newest smaller of their 2 iPad Pros…the 11″ version.

This design flaw may also impact the 12″ version, but I can’t speak about that fact knowledgeably since I don’t own one.

Without question, almost every review that you’ll encounter is glowing or über positive in almost every regard about Apple’s new Pro iPads (and about most new Apple products that are released.)

An artsy picture of my new iPad Pro.

I’m not sure why that is, but I have my theories. It is clear to most people that things couldn’t possibly be as positive as they seem…always. That’s the primary reason I decided to write this review.

Many of the biggest review institutions in the US rely upon Apple and the other large manufacturers to give them models of their new products as soon as they come out (or oftentimes before they come out!) specifically for review purposes. It’s hard to look a gift horse in the mouth too closely! It’s also quite possible that in their haste to get their reviews out early (to beat other reviewers) they don’t test out new products as thoroughly as they could or as thoroughly as a real full-time user like myself would.

Whatever the reason, I buy (at full price,) almost every new Apple ios device that’s released and I write reviews or in-depth pieces like this one on single aspects when I think they are important enough to warrant it. Because I don’t rely upon Apple to give me this hardware I can be 100% authentic in my review.

In addition, I truly do use ios devices to conduct all my work. I write, photograph, video tape, edit videos and produce movies, create and use multiple notes archives and keep all my important documents and files for both work and personal life accessible in some manner to ios. Literally everything that I do in my life is recorded in some manner on some ios device! It would be a great tool for a stalker if anyone cared that much about my life…although Apple’s commitment to people’s privacy might make that somewhat difficult!

Phil Schiller introduces the new iPad Pros.

Both of the New iPad Pros are Without Question Apple’s Best Yet

But then that’s almost always the case. Apple doesn’t usually bother releasing new products just for the sake of pushing out new products alone. There has to be some compelling improvements for them to do so.

Consequently, there are a lot of great things to say about these new iPads! Without exception all of these positives have been written about or vlogged about numerous times already…so I won’t repeat all that here.

I watched and read a lot of reviews before making the decision to buy the 11″ model. I was extra diligent because I knew my husband was interested in replacing his iPad too. We ended up getting 2 of the 1 TB cellular models. I’ll include links at the end of the post to articles and videos that I found most helpful when making my buying decision.

Finally…Let’s Discuss The One Huge Design Flaw…

I have to temper my enthusiasm for my new iPad Pro somewhat by our somewhat marred user experiences. Both my husband and I are continually frustrated by one major flaw that appears to have been easily avoided, as well as a couple of minor ones which are daily reminders that Apple makes mistakes too.

Most Reviewers Don’t Mention This Pretty Significant Problem at All!

It seems like this problem has been missed by almost all of the reviewers! All except one that is.

The only reviewer who DIDN’T miss it is DetroitBORG. I took a tiny portion of his great video and added it here for a brief overview. Further down, (in the reviews section where I provide links, there’s also a link to his complete video as well as some additional insight about his reviews.)

Below: A Brief Clip from DetroitBORG’S Youtube Video Review of the New iPad Pros

A short clip from DetroitBORG’S video review.

Overview of the Problem

The main problem is this:

Poor placement of the ‘selfie’ camera (or the camera that faces you as you’re using the iPad,) which interferes with the functioning of Face ID.

This camera is the same one that you’d use for selfies, or for making video calls using FaceTime, Skype, Alexa Calling or you name it….virtually every video communication app currently available utilizes this camera.

The problem is that oftentimes when users need to utilize Face ID it doesn’t function at all because the camera is covered up by their left hand hand…or really their left thumb, because of the way that most people hold their iPads.

This is where the Face ID camera is located.
Above: The photo above shows where the Face ID camera is located on the 11″ iPad Pro.

Analysis of Why Face ID Doesn’t Work Well on the New 11″ iPad Pro

The problem emanates from another (poor?) design decision Apple made. Just in case you’re unaware, Apple removed the Home Button on their newly released iPad Pros.

With the Home button gone Touch ID is impossible. Therefore Face ID becomes the only method available for unlocking a device.

An additional aspect to note is that there is a bit of a learning curve for users who haven’t used one of Apple’s recent new iPhones which also no longer have a Home button. Really, the learning curved isn’t all that bad. And, almost everyone agrees that once they’ve tackled learning the new gestures, they like them better than having the old Home Button (except when it comes to taking screenshots on iPads…which is another design flaw that I mention further down!)

What isn’t necessarily loved is how Face ID performs on the new iPad Pros.

Another view of the new iPad Pros
Another view of the new iPad Pros

It’s quite obvious that Apple has devoted a lot of resources towards perfecting Face ID. Which is why it’s even more puzzling how they could have ignored such a blatant problem. But that’s not entirely unusual behavior for Apple. The company does seem to have a history of creating unique features that are less than perfect because of similar oversights. For an example please refer to the section a little further down the page that starts out ‘A 2nd Major Design Flaw….

The Worst Part About the Face ID Problem on Apple’s New iPad Pros May Be What That Really Means for All Apple Customers

When Apple removed the Home button, they also removed Touch ID completely as a method for securing your devices. Touch ID has been replaced 100% by Face ID.

That by itself wouldn’t be such a bad thing. The bad part is that Apple released Face ID before it was ready for Prime time! Apple does appear committed to making the necessary improvements to make Face ID work in the long run. In fact, their second iteration of Face ID does work much better than their first one did. The first iteration was really spotty for people who wear glasses (like moi!) and for a few other outlying exceptions. While Apple states that in general, most people have been pleased with the new Face ID feature…I suspect that may not necessarily be the case.

All Face ID Camera Specs at a Glance
All Face ID Camera Specs at a Glance

This whole situation seems to be one that is representative of a new kind of pattern I’ve been seeing lately. Where Apple releases a product or feature that has some pretty significant problems and they state that the problems don’t really exist. Or they may minimize the degree of the problems or suggest that they don’t really impact very many people. Then, behind the scenes, they work like crazy to get the problems solved!

The volume and severity of the problems that are impacting brand new products seem to me to be increasing at a fairly significant pace. So much so that it appears to me that Apple went from only allowing developers to beta test their software, to allowing anyone who wanted to, and then progressed beyond that to what we have now. Which seems to be a situation in which Apple appears to be beta testing all of their new software (and maybe even some of their hardware) on their entire user base!

•••••••••••••••••••••

Has Apple’s entire customer base become their beta testers?

•••••••••••••••••••••

A Recent Experience with My iPhone X & Face ID Uncovered Yet Another Problem with Version 2

We’ve Just Arrived Home From a Family Vacation for the 2018 Christmas & New Year’s Holidays

I was OK with the improvements to FACE ID version 2, up until our very recent holiday trip to Cuba. While we were there I discovered that Face ID caused me to repeatedly miss one great photograph after another, either because it was too slow or because it wouldn’t work at all. If my phone was upside down, or if my hand covered the camera, or who knows what other little aberration would arise when I’d quickly pull my phone out of my pocket or purse to capture something.

If Apple could improve battery performance enough to allow me to do so I’d leave my iPhone awake all day long. But right now that’s impossible without my battery completely draining. The rate of drain still seemed to be faster than that of my Android using companions. This was despite the fact that my iPhone X wasn’t using any kind of networking at all…be it cellular or WiFi or possibly even something else. My main point is that background tasks weren’t ever running. Just to make certain that I didn’t accidentally incur huge roaming charges I turned cellular off completely as well as individually for every single service on my phone.

So did the rest of my family. Oddly, we all experienced a few weird occurrences like receiving a text or in my case a phone call…even with everything off!

•••••••••••••••••••••

I mention my iPhone X problem here for a reason. Because the newest iPad Pro Face ID problem occurs for the same kinds of reason as those with my iPhone X.

The Problem?

The Face ID camera can’t find my face!

In the case of the iPad Pro, the location or placement of the Face ID camera is the main problem. In situations where I’m repeatedly missing out on tons of great photos with my iPhone X I think the problem lies more with Apple’s software not working fast enough to orient the Face ID system to the correct scenario that applies to that specific situation.

If you hold your iPad in the landscape orientation position like the images a little further down depict (and like most iPad users do,) your left hand completely covers this little camera.

A Few Examples of iPad ‘Grips’ that Will Cause This Problem

A few examples of problem grips
Some examples of some problem grips.
Another examples of a problem grip.
Even more examples of problem grips.

Why Is This Such a Big Problem?

Along with securing your device Face ID is also used for many other functions. Buying an app from the App Store (even if it’s a free one!) requires the use of Face ID. Using a password from either your Apple Keychain or from another password manager such as Dashlane also requires the use of Face ID. Using Apple Pay is one more tool that requires the use of face ID. Accessing your account in the App Store changing many settings in the Settings App are 2 more examples of situations where Face ID usage is necessary.

My main point then is that most users end up using Face ID a lot more than they initially realize! When Face ID doesn’t work very well, everything that you do becomes more cumbersome. Don’t even get me started again on how many potentially incredible Cuban photos I missed because of Face ID on my iPhone X! I’m still not quite over it.

One more example of someone who's going to have a problem with Face ID.
One more example of someone who’s going to have a problem with Face ID.
Photo by Patrick Schneider on Unsplash

Above: Even one-handed holders will most likely cover the camera.

I disagree with DetroitBORG on One Important Aspect of the Face ID Problem

This other aspect makes the problem a little more serious for brand new owners of the iPad Pro. He suggests that when this Face ID problem occurs it’s a simple and quick fix. While the fix may be simple…it’s far from quick. Worse yet is that the problem completely confounds new users. Because, initially new users don’t even know why their iPads aren’t unlocking correctly!

No error message is provided initially and you’re left to just random, often futile attempts at unlocking your iPad. It’s definitely odd how both my husband and myself experienced the problem initially with no assistance for ios on how to resolve it.

Then around day 3 or 4 of our ownership we both began receiving error messages like the one shown below.

An error message telling you that the camera is covered.
This is the error message telling you that the camera is covered.

Unless it was some odd coincidence, once we began receiving error messages, we began receiving many different forms of this message depending upon the circumstances.

This is a true design flaw just like the design flaw that Apple made when designing iPhone X.

A 2nd Major iPad Pro Design Flaw Involves Placement of the Buttons Used to Take Screenshots

It used to be that if iPad users wanted to take a screenshot they would hold down the Power button and the Home button at the same time. This was pretty easy to do because you could hold down one button with each hand. But with no Home Button, Apple had to come up with an alternative option for screenshots.

The option they chose to go with is sort of a standardized one in the industry for Android users…which makes sense on some levels. It makes it easier for people using both platforms or for those who switch, to remember the correct procedure. The problem is that the way the buttons are pushed so closely to the edge of the rim…closer than on most Android tablets, combined with the different work flow that people now need to get used to, makes for very awkward maneuverings with lots of accidental ‘Power Off’ incidents too. Naturally powering back on requires Face ID which takes you full circle back to Problem number 1!

Some days I seem to find myself caught in this endless loop of failed Face ID’s, failed screenshots and very little work accomplished!

Popular YouTuber & Reviewer Rene Ritchie Published a Video Recently Speculating about the Return of Touch ID on iPhones…but its not what you think.

A 3rd Unrelated Design Flaw Which Also Occurred in 2018 Involves Apple’s iPhone X Button Placement

This problem with Apple’s wildly popular iPhone X is their placement of the Power Off button directly opposite from the button that’s used for screenshots. This lousy button placement causes most users to take a lot to of random screenshots of their device’s lock screen when they really intended on just turning their iPhones off (rather, they are really placing it into sleep mode.)

That’s 3 Major Design Flaws Involving Apple’s 2 Most Popular New Devices Which Introduced Brand New Problems in 2018!

I wonder how many people have really heard about these flaws? It seems to me, given the magnitude of these flaws, that the vast majority of reviewers who write about Apple mobile devices have a definite tendency to just talk about the positives and to ignore any negatives.

Apple really needs to test these things out before setting them loose upon the public.

A 4th Less Worrisome Flaw for the 11″ iPad Pro is it’s Tendency to Bend Easily

You can watch YouTuber JerryRigEverything’s brutal iPad Pro review below.

The reason I didn’t initially find this potential flaw all that worrisome is because I had the original ‘bendgate’ iPhone. I never had a problem with it. So either it’s tendency to bend was over-hyped or I don’t engage in the kinds of activities that can bring about the problem. In any event this wasn’t a flaw that I was seriously worried about.

Until I ran across this PC Magazine Article.

PC Magazine's article about bend gate 2 for iPad Pros
PC Magazine’s article about bend gate 2 for iPad Pros

The tally for Apple’s poor design decisions is growing! Which makes this next image I found on Unsplash very appropriate!

An ironic image I found at Unsplash while writing this post!
An ironic image I found at Unsplash while writing this post!

Photo by Jens Kreuter on Unsplash

Best iPad Pro Reviews

AnandTech’s review will primarily appeal to geekier readers because it includes a lot of benchmark kinds of stats.

Marques Brownlee is one of my favorite YouTuber reviewers and I hope you’ll enjoy his review as much as I did.

The Verge’s review is actually a bunch of reviews rolled into one. A great video in which they say a ton of positives but ultimately aren’t very positive at all about the new Pros. Reason being, what I’ve said for years…despite the huge amount of raw processing power that these tablets have, Apple will never allow users enough control to actually use them the way a laptop is used. There’s also an extensive written review and a great video review of Pencil.

Cult of Mac is another favorite reviewer of mine. This review is interesting in that the reviewer obviously uses iPads as much as I do…yet he has very different takes on many aspects. I suspect it’s because he uses, as his iPad of choice, the larger Pro with a keyboard whereas I use the smaller Pro with no keyboard. But regardless of our agreement he presents many valid points in a sea of over-gushing reviews!

DetroitBORG’S Unboxing Video of both iPads is probably the best handed on overview for serious buyers.

In fact he’s the only reviewer I found who even noticed the design flaw! Sadly, what he states was not true for our experiences…both for my husband and myself. Initially when Face ID didn’t work we didn’t know why…or even that it wasn’t working. Our iPads just froze. But after a while we started to get the increasingly loathed…’Camera is Blocked‘ error message.

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About vsajewel

Hi...I'm the author of 2 main blogs on WordPress...vsatips...where I write tech tips for mobile devices...primarily ios...2nd is vsatrends...where I write less about tech things and more about everything else. I also host a YouTube channel which I use to better illustrate some of the 'how to's' in my posts. I love everything about technology. Currently, my main interests/platforms are ios, Windows and Amazon Echo. Recently I decided we were spending way too much money with our local cable provider. So I decided to cut the cord. There is a definite learning curve, especially the antennae part, but we successfully did that and are now saving a boatload of money, so I write some about that. I also am extremely conscientious about security because of an event my family endured , so I write a lot about that too. Two sub-categories of security I tend to focus on are the password manager Dashlane and Hardware Firewalls. Last, I take a lot of notes and have been a beta tester for Evernote for many years. I love Evernote! In recent years Apple has beefed up Apple Notes a lot...so it’s become a fairly serious note contender...as long as its OK if you lose or mess up all your Apple note data. I write about those 2 note platforms primarily.
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