Review: Apple 9.7-inch iPad Pro | iLounge


Review: Apple 9.7-inch iPad Pro

Highly Recommended

Company: Apple

Model: (9.7-inch) iPad Pro

MSRP: $599-$1029

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Phil Dzikiy

Pros: Great form factor is easier to hold than larger Pro. Less expensive than larger Pro. Technology represents a step up from iPad Air 2 at same size. A very fast tablet. Great, bright display with True Tone. The best cameras ever seen on iPad. Very good battery life. Includes multi-touch display and Smart Connector in a smaller package. Untethered Hey Siri is an exclusive on iPad. More LTE bands with LTE Advanced in Wi-Fi + Cellular model. Only iPad Pro with 32GB Cellular edition.

Cons: Expensive compared to current iPad Air 2 price, and extra features may not be worth it to a fair number of prospective users. Smaller screen makes for a slightly diminished drawing/typing experience compared to larger Pro. Audio not as good as larger Pro. Just a tad slower than larger Pro. Not compatible with iPad Air 2 cases despite same tablet size.

iPads aren’t the best devices to use for mobile photography, if only due to their size. It’s just way easier to use and handle an iPhone for photos, not to mention how ridiculous it looks to use an iPad to take photos in public. That being said, if you take a lot of photos around the home, it’s nice to have a decent iPad camera, especially if you don’t happen to have a smartphone with a decent camera. Apple didn’t feel the need to upgrade the 12.9” iPad Pro’s camera — and really, it feels rather absurd to take snapshots with that device — but here in the 9.7” Pro, both cameras get a big upgrade. The rear iSight camera is now a 12MP camera with f/2.2 aperture, Live Photos, True Tone flash, focus pixels, and 63MP panoramic photos, a sizable jump from the older 8MP camera found in the larger Pro, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 4. It’s the same top-notch camera found in the iPhone 6s Plus, though the camera bump on the Pro extends a tad farther from the device’s body.

Video recording also gets a boost to 4K quality. Slo-mo recording now gives iPad users the added option of recording for 1080p at 120 fps, and cinematic video stabilization and continuous autofocus also come to the 9.7” iPad Pro.

As you’d expect, it’s hard to see much of a difference in pictures between the new iPad Pro and iPhone 6s Plus. This fire hydrant picture, captured at nearly the same angle on both devices, looks extremely similar. In all photo comparisons, the Pro photo will come first.

Another longer shot shows little to no difference between the 9.7” iPad Pro and iPhone 6s Plus. It was an obvious trend we saw in a number of pics. Of course, it’s not nearly as convenient to tote your iPad Pro around in public for photos as it is your iPhone, but even around the house, pics should be nearly identical in similar situations.

For those who are steadfast iPad photographers, the 9.7” Pro definitely represents an upgrade from previous iPads. The specs confirm it, and so do comparison photos. The upper Pro shot is sharper, while the lower Air 2 picture falls behind. It becomes even more evident when zooming in. Again, the iPad Air 2 is OK for an iPad camera, but it can’t compete with the Pro.

The FaceTime camera gets an upgrade as well, taking 5MP photos, with the Retina Flash feature also available on the 9.7” Pro. While this aging pug is sadly going a bit gray, she’s not going quite as gray as she seems in the lower Air 2 photo —  the 1.2MP cameras found in all other current iPads just give off a less defined, faded feel, and they’re less forgiving when compared to the solid 9.7” Pro FaceTime camera.


Editors' Note: iLounge only reviews products in "final" form, but many companies now change their offerings - sometimes several times - after our reviews have been published. This iLounge article provides more information on this practice, known as revving.

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