Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch

Smaller and More Affordable Tablet With Same Features as Larger iPad Pro

Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch Productivity Tablet

The Bottom Line

Apr 15 2016 - Apple made a fairly big mistake by not upgrading the iPad Air 2 last year but the new iPad Pro 9.7-inch is very much the successor to their premium tablet. It is far more affordable and portable than the full 12.9-inch model while even getting some better features such as the camera. The problem is that it still can't replace a laptop and is priced nearly as much making this more of a niche product.


  • Very Thin and Light Compared to Other Productivity Tablets
  • Excellent Display
  • Pressure Sensitive Pencil Accessory Opens New Possibilities


  • Battery Life Less Than iPad Air 2
  • Still Does Not Replace a Laptop
  • Priced as Much as Full Laptop With Accessories


  • Apple A9X Dual-Core (Cortex-A53) 64-bit Processor/li>
  • 2GB Memory
  • 32, 128 or 256 GB Storage
  • 9.7" WQXGA (2048x1536) Multitouch Display With Digitizer
  • 1.2MP Front Camera and 12MP with Flash Rear Camera
  • Power VR 7XT graphics
  • 802.11ac Wireless, Bluetooth
  • Lightning Port, 3.5mm Audio Jack
  • 9.6" X 6.6" X .24" @ .96 pounds
  • iOS 9.3

Review - Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch

Apr 15 2016 - Take many of the features introduced by the iPad Pro and put them into the body of the iPad Air 2 and that is essentially what you get with the iPad Pro 9.7-inch. It features the same overall dimensions and general appearance as the iPad Air expect for an additional set of speakers holes on the top of the tablet. It also has a camera lens that juts out somewhat from the back of the tablet similar to the camera for the iPhone 6S. With all of this, many might consider this to be he iPad Air 3 but it really does set itself apart with the new features.

First off, it shares the same A9X processor as the iPad Pro. This gives it additional performance to deal with the professional level apps for graphics and productivity. Now it isn't exactly identical as it has just 2GB of memory for the processor compared to 4GB for the full 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Performance for the most part does not lag behind though as much of the extra memory is to handle to higher resolution display of the 12.9-inch display compared to the 9.7-inch.

The other major difference is the inclusion of the digitizer layer in the 9.7-inch display to be used with the Pencil accessory. For an extra $99, users can get a full pressure sensitive stylus to use with the tablet that is quick and responsive which is great for artists. It should be noted that this feature only works with compatible applications. The display uses the same 2048x1536 display resolution which offers great detail but is not the highest resolution density available. It offers a great level of brightness and color which is important for professional graphics work.

Previously I mentioned that the camera juts out from the back of the iPad Pro 9.7-inch back similar to the iPhone 6S. This is because it uses the same sensor as the iPhone 6S Plus. This provides it with a very high 12 megapixel resolution for high resolution images and 4K video recording. This is easily one of the best cameras to be found on any tablet on the market. Of course, using a tablet for video and photography can be quite difficult due to the larger size.

One important change is the battery life though. The extra features do require additional power. While the iPad Pro 9.7-inch has a 27.5WHr capacity battery that is similar to the iPad Air 2, it actually has less running time. Apple still claims up to 10 hours of usage just as with the iPad Air 2. In actually digital video playback though, it falls a bit short at nine and three quarter hours. This is almost two hours less than what the equivalent iPad Air 2 provides. It is probably enough for most but something to consider.

Storage on the tablet has improved but not as much as would be desired. The tablet now starts with 32GB. This is fairly small for a professional class tablet if you intend to be working on many high resolution images or video work. It would have been nice to see it start at 64GB. There are options for either 128GB or 256GB but it adds significantly to the price at $150 and $300 more respectively. As with all of the iPads, this version does not feature any slot for an SD card to add any extra storage so you only have as much as when you first purchase it.

In addition to the Pencil accessory, Apple also offers the Smart Keyboard. For $149, consumers can add a cover with a built in keyboard. This mimics what many other professional class tablets have been doing. Sadly, the small size of the tablet means that the keys on the keyboard are very small with some such as the return key significantly reduced making typing more difficult. It may be useful for some light typing but anyone doing a large amount of writing would do better with a large Bluetooth keyboard to carry with the tablet.

Pricing is interesting for the iPad Pro 9.7-inch. At $599, the entry model is much more affordable than the larger 12.9 that starts at $799. It is also several hundred more than the 16GB iPad Air 2 model as well though. Prices quickly climb when you add in the Pencil, Smart Keyboard Cover or want additional storage capacity.

The best comparison in terms of tablets would be with the Microsoft Surface Pro 4. Sure it has a higher starting price of $899 and is larger and heavier than the iPad Pro but it is also far more functional for use as a productivity platform thanks to the full Windows software library. Sadly, this is one way the iPad Pro can't complete replace even an Apple laptop. The Samsung Galaxy TabPro S is more similar in size but once again has the ability to run the full Windows software library but it lacks the same digitizer capabilities as either the Surface Pro or iPad Pro.