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.

If you’ve got your heart set on a new iPad, the 9.7” Pro isn’t as clear a choice as you’d imagine, despite being the latest iPad. There’s a lot to consider, from a number of angles. The new, standard-sized Pro does have the best cameras in any iPad, but to some, these upgrades may not matter much, if at all. Most iPhone users aren’t going to turn to an iPad Pro for photography. Even if it’s better than their current iPhone camera, an iPhone camera is far more convenient. So what does that leave us with?

A price comparison between the new 9.7” iPad Pro and the iPad Air 2 can’t be made directly, as the models have different capacities. However: the Air 2’s 16GB Wi-Fi base model launched at $499, and it’s now $399. You can get a 64GB Air 2 now for that same $499 price, which is $100 cheaper than the Pro’s 32GB base model. Outside of the improved cameras, the Pro is faster than the Air. It also plays nicely with Apple Pencil and Smart Connector accessories. It has better audio, a better display, and slightly better battery life, too. We’d say if you’re interested in any of the distinct “Pro” features — Apple Pencil, Smart Connector support, or four speaker audio — pony up the extra cash for the Pro. Otherwise, the Air 2 is still a great iPad, and it may do enough for you. (As for the mini: the Air 2 and the mini 4 are the same price now, and we prefer the Air 2.)

If you’re sure you want an iPad Pro, you’ve got to consider how much you’ll really use an Apple Pencil or a Smart Connector keyboard. If the answer is “a lot,” it may still be worth it to go for the larger 12.9” Pro, as it will offer a more comfortable drawing and typing experience, not to mention the best audio of any iPad. It has a higher resolution display, too, but it lacks True Tone. The big Pro is also a tad faster than its smaller sibling.

The smaller 9.7” Pro is obviously cheaper and much easier to tote around, which is important. It’s a more accessible tablet with better cameras. It can mostly do what the bigger Pro does — and in a few cases, it offers better features — and it represents a step up from the iPad Air 2.

Which iPad you choose at this point is based on how you’ll use it. But on its own, the 9.7” iPad Pro is another top-notch addition to the lineup. There are really few reasons to knock it directly — it’s a fun, fast, enjoyable tablet with a great display and plenty of versatility. If you ultimately decide it’s the iPad for you, you won’t regret it.


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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