Apple iPad Pro 9.7 inch Review

Big Ambitions in a Smaller Body

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Posted: Apr 16th, 2016

Executive Summary

Put simply, the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro is a bit of its 12.9-inch bigger brother made to fit into the slim iPad Air 2. Similar to the case of the new iPhone SE, Apple has taken out most of the guts of a bigger product and squeezed them into a smaller, but still familiar body. 

The use of the same name on a newer, smaller product might be a tad confusing, but while the new iPad Pro and iPad Air 2 share the same aluminum chassis, the iPad Pro is definitely built for work. Features and hardware improvements are aimed at increasing productivity and positioning the new iPad Pro as a worthwhile contender to replace your laptop. 

Newer and Smaller iPad Pro

If you thought last year’s 12.9” whopper of a Pro was too big, too clunky, and too unwieldy, then the more familiar 9.7” size might be more up your alley. It still has the same excellent build quality that Apple is known for and is still as slim as ever. 

While it sports the same A9X chipset as its bigger brother, Apple curiously opted to go with only 2GB RAM on the new iPad Pro. While not as powerful, the 2GB RAM is still more than enough for everyday applications like word processing and multi-tasking. The smaller profile also means a smaller battery at 7,306 mAh, though it still gives you real-world use time of almost 10 hours on a single charge. 

Apple was also able to squeeze in four speakers – two on each side – to give you a significant boost in sound quality which is almost on par with that of the bigger Pro. 

In line with its positioning as a laptop replacement, it comes in bigger storage options of 32GB, 128GB, or 256GB. It supports the Apple Pencil, which is considered the best stylus to use with iPad Pros. You can also get the optional Smart Keyboard for it, though the smaller size means keyboard travel will be quite cramped. But the Smart Connector on the iPad Pro means that you can also use your preferred keyboard if you wish. 

If you want your iPad Pro to stand out, get it in the Rose Gold version. Otherwise, it also comes in the older color schemes of gold, silver, and space grey.

Brighter and More Colorful

 One of the bigger selling points of the new iPad Pro is its display. It still has the same 2048 x 1536 pixels as the iPad Air 2, but is 25% brighter and 40% less reflective, with 25% greater saturation that means colors pop out of the screen. 

It also boasts the True Tone display, which has sensors that actively measure and adjust the brightness and ambient light temperature to always show you the most accurate colors under any lighting condition. 

The camera also received a significant upgrade, with a 12-megapixel camera on the back capable of taking crisp photos and 4K video, even if it means holding up a large screen for everyone to see your snaps. The front-facing camera is smaller at 5 megapixels, but is still perfectly capable of taking good-looking selfies and FaceTime videos. 

Updated iOS for Productivity

The new iPad Pro ships with iOS 9.3, which has made great strides in multi-tasking support with features like Picture-in-Picture, Split View and Slide Over that allow side-by-side multi-tasking for better work flow productivity. 

However, the lack of file sharing support might turn off users looking for a complete computer replacement, especially those who like to transfer content to and from other systems than Apple’s.

Touch ID is present here, and even though it’s not the second generation as on the iPhone 6s, any differences are completely negligible and it works just as well to secure the iPad and for use with the Wallet. 

Bottom Line

If you’ve got the money to burn, the new iPad Pro is a serious contender to replace your laptop for office tasks during the day and entertainment consumption on your downtime. However, the closed system of Apple’s iOS might turn off those who need it for heavier tasks like programming. 

If you’re big on graphics and photos, though, the excellent Pencil support and cameras give ample reason to switch.

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Technical Specifications

Apple iPad Pro 9.7
 Tablet  Apple iPad Pro 9.7
 Rating  Ratings
 OS  iOS 9.3
 CPU  Apple A9X - 2.16 GHz
 Storage  256 GB
 RAM  2 GB
 Display  IPS LCD - 9.7 inch
 Resolution  2048 x 1536 px - 264 ppi
 Camera  Front 5.0 / Back 12.0 MP
 Weight  0.44 kg / 0.96 lbs
 Battery life  10.0 hours
 Released  2016-04

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Battery life comparison

Battery life of selected tablet

 Tablet   (h)   Battery life 
Apple iPad Pro 9.710.0Apple iPad Pro 9.7 tablet autonomy comparison

Compared to 5 tablets with largest battery life

Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro 1018.0Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro 10 tablet autonomy comparison
Sony Xperia Z415.0Sony Xperia Z4 tablet autonomy comparison
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.115.0Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 tablet autonomy comparison
Microsoft Surface 214.0Microsoft Surface 2 tablet autonomy comparison
Apple iPad Air13.5Apple iPad Air tablet autonomy comparison

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Weight comparison

Weight of selected tablet

 Tablet   kg   lbs   Weight 
Apple iPad Pro 9.70.440.96Apple iPad Pro 9.7 weight comparison

Compared to 5 lightest tablets - 8 and 9 inch

Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.00.260.58Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 8.0 weight comparison
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact0.270.59Sony Xperia Z3 Compact weight comparison
Dell Venue 80.290.64Dell Venue 8 weight comparison
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.40.290.65Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 weight comparison
Samsung Galaxy Tab3 8.00.300.66Samsung Galaxy Tab3 8.0 weight comparison