This is the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro. Or, if we had to guess, the future incarnation of the iPad.
Now, we’re getting our first look at the 12.9-inch iPad Pro‘s downsized sibling. With a diagonal screen size of 9.7-inches, the new iPad Pro matches the screen size already found on the iPad Air 2 (which will remain in the lineup, by the way).
This unit, however, gets a few niceties that were previously reserved for the Big Man on Campus: four speakers instead of two, a brighter True Tone display, a snazzy new connector for a snazzy new keyboard, a high-octane A9X processor, more memory, and of course, support for Apple’s Smart Pencil.
The 9.7-inch iPad Pro is a premium machine, through and through. As with the original iPad Pro, this one feels dense and rigid — almost too nice to just toss in your briefcase sans protection. The anodized aluminum body is cool and comfortable to the touch, and per usual, Apple’s attention to detail on button machining is obvious here.
The True Tone Display is the feature Apple’s most proud of here, and rightfully so. It’s engineered to automatically measure ambient light and tones, and adjust the screen accordingly. The parallel is simple: white paper looks different depending on the room you’re in and depending on the light that’s above and around. Now, your iPad Pro will follow those some real-world cues, which Apple claims will make everything a lot easier on your eyes. It’s no e-ink, but it’s moving in the right direction.
In our humble opinion, a 9.7-inch form factor is far more approachable for a tablet. Lest you believe Tim Cook would go back on his 2012 spiel — which saw him inform financial reporters that Apple had no interest in producing a “converged” laptop/tablet hybrid — the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro runs iOS (and iOS alone). In other words, those praying for an iPad Pro that runs OS X should remain by their bedside, knees firmly planted.
Interestingly, Apple bolstered the optics on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, despite the fact that we would never, ever advise anyone holding up a tablet to take a photo. There’s a 12-megapixel iSight camera, a True Tone flash, a revamped image signal processor, 4K video support, and the ability to capture Live Photos. Around front, there’s a 5-megapixel FaceTime camera for selfies and video chats.
At any rate, it seems a bit silly for Apple to sell both a 9.7-inch iPad Pro and an iPad Air. There’s currently a $100 price difference between the two ($499 vs $599), but we suspect that the Pro will consume the Air in due time.
It’s also worth pointing out that the $599 base unit ships with only 32GB of storage, which is far too small for the target market. The $749 model should be considered the actual base, with 128GB of storage. That said, we’re beyond thrilled that Apple added a 256GB confirmation for both iPad Pro sizes, and we’re love to see this transfer over to the new iPhone range that’s likely on tap for this fall.
Curiously, Apple told us that many iPad Pro owners are coming over from Windows. Somehow, they view the iPad Pro as a legitimate Windows replacement, despite the fact that neither size ships with OS X. It’s tough to see iOS truly replacing a full-fledged copy of Windows, but it also speaks to the changing needs of a customer base.
- We’re live at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino checking out the new devices in the flesh, and will be updating throughout the day with real-time impressions.
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