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Nano Texture & M4 iPad – no thank you

It was a chance worth taking…

Nano texture on M4 iPad Pro

Nano texture was always a risky option, but as I was making a jump into the unknown with this being my first iPad Pro anyway, I figured it was worth taking a look at it.

I’d heard of nano texture before – it was an option when I spec’d up my Studio Display and it’s available on the Pro Display XDR but I’d never seen it in the flesh before. The thought process behind ordering it was that I work in a bright studio environment with large, powerful spotlights – if you knew how much time I spend trying to kill reflections on the glass when I’m shooting B-roll shots, you’d understand my pain!

It was pitched in the Let Loose event for creatives working in bright environments, and to be fair to them, Apple did show it being used outdoors. After I ticked the box for the anti-glare nano texture finish, I heard rumours that the finish killed and flattened the new tandem OLED displays.

I trusted in Apple though, left the order as was, and waited a week for delivery. There is no way that Apple would spend all this money on a new display and then offer an OEM finish that would ruin it…is there?

Surely they are too smart for that, right?

Nano texture – let’s talk about it

To say that Apple got it wrong or ruined the display would be unfair of me and very clickbaity – that said though, it does change the nature of the display and after having used it for just under two weeks, for me, that was enough.

The two weeks were an important marker as that is when the window would close with Apple for swapping it over. It’s the first time I have taken advantage of the 14-day exchange, and as with the trade-in offer I used when I bought the M3 MacBook Air it was super smooth.

There were no showing receipts, no lengthy inspections – they merely wanted to know why I wanted to swap and that was it…a replacement was bought out. I sat at a table with a Genius while we set the new iPad up and in under 45 minutes, I was done and on my way.

When it comes to customer service, Apple honestly has it nailed.

Every day I had been using that original nano texture model there was a nagging doubt at the back of my mind – and I knew that had to be addressed. I think it crystallised for me when I was sitting using it in front of my Studio Display and MacBook Pro while writing on the iPad – the black text wasn’t sharp. There was a furriness to it – and for over £2000 that was not going to cut it.

I switched everything over to dark mode – which improved things. Then I was seeing white text on a dark or black background, but that was the moment I knew it wasn’t for me.

Part of me thought I could live with it and I didn’t relish the thought of setting up a new iPad all over again, but I knew that long term I wasn’t going to get to enjoy this iPad as much as should or wanted to.

Having used it I’d say this – nano texture is for a very specific user group and you need to be honest with yourself if you belong in it.

Who needs it?

If you are an artist I’d say it is probably essential.

If you are going to be using the pencil all the time on the surface, then yes, it’s for you. The textured finish gives a little bit of drag that makes it feel realistic – it feels as if you are writing on paper. There even seemed some ‘give’ to it.

Comparing it to third-party magnetic paper-like screen protectors, the nano texture feels more natural – more organic. But that person is not me – and to be honest with you I hardly use the Pencil Pro.

The durability of the finish is also unknown. Apple said that the finish has been chemically etched into the display specifically for the iPad which may be so, but it is also the first time that this finish has been used on a display that is designed to be touched and written on.

What if a year down the line we start to get stories of micro-scratches and blemishes on the panel? Would Apple happily replace my iPad? It’s all an unknown as these iPads are so new and it’s a risk I don’t want to take.

Make no mistake though – the finish does what it says on the tin. There are virtually no reflections at all and in my time with it the textured display seemed to deal well with fingerprints and smudging. If you are working outdoors the majority of the time or an artist continually using the pencil then check the option box. It’s good – very good for a small demographic of iPad users.

The downsides

There is a lack of clarity, sharpness and contrast – not extreme but enough.

My main uses for this iPad are to write on it, edit photos in Lightroom or Photoshop and possibly do some video editing work in Final Cut Pro for iPad 2. In other words, I will generally be pixel-based and contrast, brightness and sharpness will be what I’m looking for.

The moment I got home and started to work on the replacement iPad – for me it was day and night. Suddenly everything was sharp, defined and bursting with colour and contrast.

It’s so good that I had to reduce the brightness a little – it’s that good. In fact for the first time that I can recall the display on M1 Max MacBook Pro looks second best – and that’s a Liquid Retina XDR Display!

I can’t get over to you just how good this tandem OLED display is on these iPads. Get yourself down to an Apple store and take a look – it is next level.

I could have saved myself some money – quite a lot of money actually and downgraded to 512 GB of memory but in the end, I stayed with the 16 GB unbinned 1 TB options. I have a big thing about future-proofing and with this config no matter what they throw at us in June at WWDC or over the next few years this iPad will be up to it.

As for having to set up a new iPad as being a reason to not change – I’m glad I kicked that into touch. The whole process was so simple and I now have an iPad that I want to use.

My first 10 days living with the iPad were great – but now with the display that suits me and my workflow, well now I can really start to enjoy it – and I intend to!

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