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As we were expecting, Apple officially took the wraps off its iPad Air 2 successor, the all-new 9.7-inch iPad Pro, at Monday morning’s “Let us loop you in” media event, which was held at the company’s Cupertino, California headquarters.
While many would argue that the smaller of the two top-shelf iPads currently in Apple’s lineup is essentially just a dwarfed version of its bigger brother, there are a few notable features that differentiate them. We’re going to look further into those subtle, and not-so-subtle, differences today, with our comprehensive iPad Pro comparison.
Insofar as similarities are pertinent — yes, the two iPad Pro models are, at least under the hood, essentially one and the same. Both are powered by Apple’s latest silicon, the 64-bit, 2.26 GHz A9X chip, coupled with the zippy M9 motion co-processor featuring 12-core graphics, a hefty amount of DDR RAM (9.7-inch variant features 2 GB), and similar connectivity options — including Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, and LTE (for the cellular model.) The only difference is that Apple’s 9.7-inch iPad Pro features an all-new ‘embedded’ SIM card, as well as support for LTE Advanced data speeds — delivering content at up to 50% faster than the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
Both devices also feature a 4-speaker audio output, as well as screens that support Apple’s Pencil input — though, needless to say, the smaller device features the hallmark 9.7-inch screen size and smaller, familiar form factor, while the original iPad Pro bumps it up (a considerable notch) to the much larger 12.9-inch screen size.
Another difference on the inside is that, prior to yesterday’s media event, the larger, 12.9-inch iPad only boasted either 32 GB or 128 GB of built-in flash storage. But now, both models feature a whopping 256 GB storage option.
Moving on, we shift our attention to the obvious — (and not so obvious), differences between the two devices on the outside. First and foremost among those would be the camera. While Apple’s larger, 12.9-inch iPad Pro is beholden to the same, ages-old 8 MP camera and 1.2 MP front facing FaceTime video camera, the new 9.7-inch model boasts a dramatic improvement on both fronts — featuring a 12 MP rear camera with dual-tone LED flash, 4K video recording, and a 5 MP front-facing FaceTime/selfie camera bolstered by Apple’s innovative TrueTone flash — (an iPad first) that offers a mixture of both white and amber colored LED flash to help regulate white color balance.
Speaking of “True Tone,” Apple’s new 9.7-inch iPad Pro is the first-of-its-kind to feature a so-called ‘TrueTone’ display technology — which is said to automatically adjust the display’s color temperature depending on your imminent environment. Additionally, Apple is touting that the 9.7-inch iPad Pro’s display is approximately 25% brighter than that of the iPad Air 2.
On the software side, both devices are capable of humming along on Apple’s latest iOS 9.3, which was released just yesterday — though the larger of the two will have to manually be updated, while the new iPad Pro will feature the upgrade out-of-the-box. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro will also feature Apple’s always-on ‘Hey Siri’ functionality, which is perhaps a strange move on Apple’s part considering how both devices are powered by the same internals. For what it’s worth, though, the 12.9-inch iPad also features ‘Hey Siri’ functionality, but only when it is plugged into a power source.
The smaller iPad Pro will also boast support for Apple’s Live Photos — a unique photo enhancing software feature that has been popularized by the company’s iPhone 6s and 6s Plus handsets.
Variants and Pricing
Last but not least, there are some minor, though nonetheless notable differences, on the pricing and storage front between the two devices. Aside from being offered in the company’s coveted Rose Gold color, Apple’s 9.7-inch iPad Pro will also be available in a 32 GB variant with support for LTE connectivity.
A comprehensive breakdown of available models and pricing is outlined below:
9.7-inch iPad Pro (Wi-Fi)
32 GB for $599
128 GB for $749
256 GB for $899
9.7-inch iPad Pro (Wi-Fi-/LTE)
32 GB for $729
128 GB for $879
256 GB for $1,029
12.9-inch iPad Pro (Wi-Fi)
32 GB for $799
128 GB for $949
256 GB for $1,099
12.9-inch iPad Pro (Wi-Fi/LTE)
128 GB for $1,079
256 GB for $1,229
There are clearly some notable, and not so notable, differences between Apple’s two ‘Pro’ iPads. And while, on the inside, they’re not incredibly different from one another, certain features on the surface might lure owners of the now-outdated iPad Air 2 to upgrade to the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro.
After all, with such a robust new display technology, faster LTE Advanced connectivity, an impressive 12 MP rear camera, and a 5 MP FaceTime camera, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is a considerable upgrade over its successor. However, just to be sure, owners of the 12.9-inch model will probably see the same features in an upgrade to that model later on this year.
Apple’s 9.7-inch iPad Pro can be ordered online from the company’s website beginning this Thursday, March 24th; while shipping is expected to begin starting next week.
What do you think about the new iPad Pro? Is it enough of a reason for you to upgrade?