The best iPad Apple has ever made, but it’ll cost you.
AT A GLANCE
Apple A9X chip with M9
9.7-inch IPS, 2048 x
1536 pixels resolution
240 x 169.5 x 6.1mm
444g (WiFi + Cellular)
Apple iPad Pro with 9.7-inch display
I was thoroughly impressed by the power, performance and features of the iPad Pro 12.9, but its huge size turned me off. If only you could get all of the same pro-level features, but in a standard 9.7-inch form factor. Well, now you can.
The iPad design has remained pretty much unchanged for the past three years and for the most part, the iPad Pro 9.7 looks exactly like the iPad Air 2. The two tablets have the exact same dimensions of 240 x 168 x 6.1mm, and they even weigh the same: 437g for the Wi-Fi version and 444g for the 4G LTE version. As with the last couple of iPads, you get a lightning fast Touch ID ﬁngerprint scanner below the Retina display. The lightning port is still on the bottom, the headphone jack and power button are still on the top, and the volume rocker remains on the right side.
There are some differences. On the rear, there’s a camera bump now, but the tradeoff is worth it. The new camera is the same 12-megapixel iSight camera found on the iPhone 6s. Unfortunately there’s no optical image stabilization, but for the ﬁrst time on an iPad, you do get a True Tone LED ﬂash. The front camera has been upgraded too. It’s now the same 5-megapixel FaceTime HD camera found on the iPhone 6s.
The antenna on the cellular version has also been redesigned. Gone is the unsightly plastic block, replaced with more discrete antenna lines. Like its bigger brother, the iPad Pro 9.7 also has four speakers, two on the top and two on the bottom, for a true stereo sound setup.The last minor change is a Smart Connector port on the left side, which lets the tablet connect with Apple’s Smart Keyboard accessory.
The iPad Pro 9.7’s display has the same size, resolution and pixel density as the iPad Air 2. But Apple has cranked up the color gamut to give it 25 percent better color reproduction. The tablet also boasts a new True Tone display technology that dynamically adjusts the white balance of the screen to adapt its color and intensity to your environment. There’s a new anti-reﬂective coating too, which makes the tablet more usable under bright lights and sunlight.
The iPad Pro 9.7 is equipped to run the same types of accessories as its bigger brother. The Smart Keyboard is back, but with the smaller display, it’s been shrunk down. It’s not too hard to type on, but with everything so small, it’s pretty easy to make mistakes. The Apple Pencil ($148) is also compatible with the iPad Pro 9.7. It can do everything the original could do, and is pretty much essential for anyone that enjoys drawing and sketching.
The iPad Pro 9.7 and the Apple Pencil both Upon approval Please sign: Name and Date: have sensors to detect the pressure you’re using and the angle you’re holding the stylus at, making it effortless to create lines of different thicknesses. Like the original iPad Pro, you charge the Apple Pencil by plugging it into the Lightning port at the bottom of the iPad.
The iPad Pro 9.7 runs on the same 64-bit A9X SoC that you’ll ﬁnd inside the iPad Pro 12.9. Its bigger brother is marginally faster with a 2.26GHz clockspeed, compared to 2.16GHz on the 9.7, but the 12.9 also has to work harder to drive its larger display. The only big difference is that the 9.7 only has 2GB RAM, compared to 4GB on the 12.9.
Benchmark performance was outstanding, with the iPad Pro 9.7 only narrowly Hardware trailing its bigger brother, and easily beating every other smartphone and tablet out there. The iPad Pro 9.7’s 7,306mAh battery is slightly smaller than the 7,340MAh battery found inside the iPad Air 2. Nevertheless, the new A9X processor proved its power efﬁciency by lasting longer in our video looping benchmark, running for just under six hours in total.
The iPad Pro 9.7 is easily the best tablet Apple has ever made, even besting its bigger brother, the iPad Pro 12.9. The 9.7-inch form factor is more manageable, lighter, thinner, and easier to pack in your backpack or handbag. The problem is, it’s really expensive.
The iPad Pro 9.7 starts at $898, which is $210 more than what the iPad Air 2 launched for. On the other end of the scale, the most expensive iPad Pro costs a whopping $1,618. For $70 more you can get yourself a 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina.
Does the iPad Pro 9.7’s ‘Pro’ features really justify its much higher price? I suspect for many people the answer will be no. The stereo speakers are amazing, but in any public area, you’re going to be using headphones anyway. The performance is unrivaled, but if you’re mainly watching videos and surﬁng the Internet, you just don’t need that kind of power. The camera is fantastic, but when was the last time you actually wanted to use your tablet to take a picture? It’s not any lighter or thinner than the iPad Air 2, and the battery life is only slightly better.
If you can afford it, the iPad Pro 9.7 is in a class of its own; if not, the iPad Air 2 is still a great iPad. And a lot cheaper too.
The iPad Pro 9.7 is the ﬁrst iPad
with an LED ﬂash under the
The rear antenna is more discrete.