Review: 9.7inch Apple iPad Pro
Price: €499 Euro from apple.com/uk
The 9.7in iPad Pro, Apple’s appealing new mid‑ size tablet, proves that while laptops might still be the best tool for working on the go, they’re no longer necessary. We evaluate its build quality and new features, put the device through our rigorous speed benchmarks and battery‑life tests, and compare the value for money it oﬀers compared to other iPads (and rival tablets) on the market.
If you’ve seen the iPad Air 2 then you’ve pretty much seen the 9.7in iPad Pro too. They’re virtually identical; the physical dimensions match up, down to the nearest gram or tenth of a millimeter, and the positioning of almost all the buttons, slots, apertures and so on is the same.
The 9.7in iPad Pro comes, as the name makes clear, with a 9.7in touchscreen Retina‑class display: one that matches in size, resolution and (mostly) functionality the screen on its predecessor.
The 2048×1536 resolution produces a pixel density of 264 pixels per inch (ppi), which is standard issue for Apple’s tablets, and pleasingly sharp to the eye, but given that Apple routinely sells iPhones with a pixel density of over 400ppi, it can scarcely argue any more that Retina resolutions are the best that the human eye can discern. You can get a tablet with a pixel density above 350ppi if you’re willing to go over to the Dark Side and buy from Samsung.
Having only recently got used to the shocking colour adjustment imposed by Night Shift on default settings (we’d strongly recommend toning it down), we struggled to notice True Tone’s far more subtle changes at ﬁrst. But sitting at a desk under electric light in late afternoon with the 9.7in iPad Pro and the iPad Air 2, it’s fairly clear that True Tone is gently warming things up – a kind of watered‑down version of Night Shift. This should carry on doing its thing
in the background throughout your day, and the nice thing is that you don’t need to worry about it, just getting a slightly better and more context‑ appropriate screen performance.
There isn’t yet a slider – as there is for Night Shift – but if you don’t like the eﬀect, you can turn oﬀ True Tone completely: which is also good for evaluating the eﬀect you’re getting if you haven’t got a non‑True Tone iPad to compare it to.
The 9.7in Pro is equipped with Apple’s proprietary A9X processor and M9 motion co‑processor – the same components used in the 12.9in Pro and the most powerful mobile chipset that Apple currently uses. (For comparison, Apple claims that the A9X chip, as used in the 9.7in Pro, is 2.5x faster at general processing than the iPad mini 2’s A7, and 5x faster at graphics processing.)
It’s searingly fast, and comfortably powerful enough to handle anything on the App Store now and for the next couple of years. Indeed, unless you’re keen to run the most graphically intensive games or demanding creative or work apps, it’s hard not to regard this as spec overkill.
The 9.7in Pro comes with a 7306mAh rechargeable lithium‑polymer battery. That’s pretty much the same capacity as the one in the iPad Air 2 (7340mAh), but coming 18 months further down the tech‑development line it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect slightly improved power eﬃciency.
The 9.7in Pro has the best rear‑facing camera of any current iPad – and that, annoyingly for last September’s early adopters, includes the 12.9in Pro.
The 9.7in model’s back camera is rated at 12Mp with an f/2.2 aperture, compared to the 8Mp/f/2.4 oﬀered by the larger Pro, the Air 2 and the mini 4, and the 5Mp/f/2.4 model on the mini 2, and it’s been equipped for the ﬁrst time with a ﬂash.
- iOS 9.3
- 9.7in (2048×1536, 264ppi)
- A9X with 64‑bit architecture. M9 coprocessor
- Dual‑core PowerVR Series 7XT
- 4GB LPDDR4 RAM
- 32‑, 128‑, 256GB
- 12Mp iSight with Focus Pixel and True Tone ﬂash, full‑HD recording at 60fps and 4K at 30fps
- 5Mp with Retina ﬂash, support for HD video recording
- Wi‑Fi: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi‑Fi
- Dual channel support (2.4‑ and 5GHz) and HT80 with MIM
- Bluetooth 4.2
- LTE, HSDPA+ and CDMA UK bands
- Nano‑SIM (supports Apple SIM)
- 27.5Wh lithium‑polymer battery
- GPS and GLONASS, Touch ID, Apple Pencil
- 437g (Wi‑Fi model), 444g (cellular model)