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.

The 9.7” iPad Pro is an upgrade from the iPad Air 2 in the audio department. The four stereo speakers simply have more power and provide for a better overall listening experience when compared to the two-speaker setup in the Air. Interestingly enough though, while the 9.7” iPad Pro has the same speaker setup as the larger Pro, we found that sound performance was obviously different between the two tablets. We’re not positive the speakers are different between the two Pros, but we do at least know based on teardowns of the devices that the larger Pro has much larger speaker enclosures. Whatever the case, the larger Pro has better sound than its smaller brother. Peak volume reveals a stronger, fuller sound in the 12.9” Pro, making the 9.7” Pro seem a bit hollow and weak in comparison.

Like the larger Pro, the new Pro is compatible with the tremendous Apple Pencil. We found it works in much the same way, but we did miss the larger surface when drawing. We think digital artists and creatives will still want to pony up for the larger Pro to use with Apple Pencil, but those who just want to doodle and dabble should be perfectly happy with the 9.7” iPad Pro + Apple Pencil combination.

As we alluded to earlier in the review, since the new Pro shares the same dimensions as iPad Air 2, you could use an iPad Air 2 case on the device in a pinch…but you should buy a true 9.7” iPad Pro case eventually, as it should — at the very least — have proper cutouts for the speakers and camera. As we’ve seen with the larger Pro, some cases will also come with an Apple Pencil holder and/or gap to link an accessory to the Smart Connector. Speaking of the Smart Connector, Apple has already released its own 9.7” version of its Smart Keyboard — but since the Smart Connector is the same size on both devices, the smaller Pro does indeed work with the larger 12.9” Smart Keyboard. (Even though it won’t cover the smaller Pro properly.) So if a company does eventually release a standalone Smart Connector keyboard — sans cover/case — you might want to opt for the bigger version for more comfortable typing.


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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