iPad Pro 9.7 vs iPad Pro 12.9: the differences you may have missed
We don't want to be in the shoes of someone torn between the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and the newer, 9.7-inch iPad Pro model. They're both awesome tablets, there's no denying that. They're both packed with a very similar set of features and powered by a very similar hardware setup. They both may take advantage of the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, which Apple is selling as optional productivity-oriented accessories. But identical these two tablets are not, and the more we compare the two side by side, the more differences between the iPad Pro 12.9 and iPad Pro 9.7 we come across.
Size is undoubtedly the main – and most obvious – differentiating factor between Apple's two most powerful tablets. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro dwarfs most other tablets with its large display, while the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is lighter, more familiar, and much more manageable in size. The latter is also more affordable compared to its larger sibling.
These, however, are far from the only differences setting the two iPad Pro tablets apart. Join us as we explore the matter in depth.
The iPad Pro 9.7 is the first tablet by Apple to come with a True Tone display. Basically, this technology adapts the color temperature and brightness of the screen to go in unison with the ambient lighting. As a result, reading on the iPad should feel more natural and comfortable, "almost like looking at a sheet of paper", as Apple puts it.
When reviewing the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, we measured a brightness output of 379 nits, which is below the average for a tablet of this rank. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro, on the other hand, gets a brighter screen with a less reflective surface. On top of that, the new model takes advantage of the same color space used by the digital cinema industry. This should translate to a broader color gamut and greater color saturation.
If you don't need a ton of storage space, but you insist on having cellular data, Apple is offering you a 32GB iPad Pro 9.7 with an Apple SIM. The LTE-capable iPad Pro 12.9 can be had with no less than 128 gigs of storage; a 32GB Wi-Fi + Cellular variant would have been much cheaper for those who might want one. Also, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is technically capable of delivering 300Mbps over LTE Advanced – twice as fast as the 12.9-inch model.
Fan of the fancy Rose Gold option Apple is now offering? Well, you'd be happy to know that the hue is available when picking an iPad Pro 9.7. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro comes only in silver, gray, or gold.
It looks silly from the side, but most folks don't seem to care. Yup, people do take photos with their tablets, and that's why Apple has put its best camera yet on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. We're talking 12 megapixels, True Tone Flash, Focus Pixels, Live Photos, 4K and slow-mo videos – pretty much the whole bag of camera goodies found on the iPhone 6s. And on the front, a 5MP camera shoots selfies. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro relies on a humbler, 1.2MP camera. By the way, the new iPad's back camera does protrude a bit, but it doesn't make the tablet wobble.
As seen in the screenshot above, provided by Matthew Panzarino, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro has 2GB of RAM under the hood. It's a decent amount for an iOS device, but with 4GB of the stuff, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro could be better at multitasking. Also, the new iPad Pro's CPU clock speed appears to be lower, but only very slightly.
Teardowns of the iPad Pro 12.9 revealed that it uses USB 3.0 circuitry, allowing it to move data over USB at rapid rates. With its USB 2.0 connectivity, the iPad Pro 9.7 is slower at transferring data over a cable. At least theoretically. In practice, the jump from USB 2.0 to 3.0 is most noticeable when copying large data files, such as movies.
Even though the iPad Pro 9.7 has a smaller battery, it should deliver battery life identical to that of the 12.9-inch model. In fact, an advantage of it having a smaller cell is that it charges faster. That's certainly good news, knowing that the iPad Pro 12.9 takes a whopping 5 hours to recharge fully.