The 9.7-inch iPad, the Apple tablet snuggled between the smaller mini and the big boy Pro, hasn’t been updated since 2014 with the iPad Air 2. So as some kind of mea culpa, Apple just blew up the Air line altogether with a “new” and “improved” 9.7-inch iPad Pro.
Except it’s really not very new or improved. Prior to Phil Schiller’s breakdown at today’s Apple event, there wasn’t much left to the imagination thanks to months worth of leaks and rumors. When compared to the larger iPad Pro that debuted last year, the new iPad Pro is basically different only in size.
Schiller spent time highlighting some of the new Pro’s differences anyway. For one, it has what Apple calls a “True Tone” display that can become warmer and cooler in different kinds of light thanks to ambient sensors. Neat, I guess. But clearly geared toward artists.
Other than its smaller dimensions, there is one noticeable hardware improvement on the new iPad. It will have a better shooter: a 12-megapixel rear camera that can also capture in 4k along with Live Photos. So basically the camera on the iPhone 6s. It makes sense if you view the Pro as a creation machine, but most people will probably never even use it.
But the new iPad Pro has Apple’s same powerful processor, the A9x (and M9x co-processor), and the same four speaker design that last year’s model had. There’s Pencil support and Smart Keyboard support, too. It’s all just packed in a smaller body. That’s good news for some people who found the iPad Pro hand-achingly huge and wanted something a little more traditional.
Apple says the small iPad Pro comes with silver, gold, space gray, and yes, rose gold, too. The new Pro will launch starting at $600 for 32GB and $750 for 128GB and a whopping 256GB for $900 (if that’s something you need/want), making it the most expensive 9.7-inch iPad starting price. Additionally, the 12.9-inch Pro will get the 256GB option. Like the new iPhone SE, the new Pro will be available for pre-order on March 24 and will start shipping a week later.
Now only the big question remains. Will people finally ditch their old tablets to go Pro?
- OS: iOS 9.3
- CPU: A9x (M9x)
- Screen: 9.7-inch 2048x1536 IPS LCD (264 PPI)
- RAM: 2GB
- Storage: 32GB, 128GB, or 256GB
- Camera: 12 megapixel rear camera w/ 4K capture
- Battery: ???
- Dimensions: 9.4 (240) x 6.6 (169.5) x 0.24 in (6.1mm)
- Weight: 0.96 lbs (437 grams)
- Price and Availability: $600 (32GB) and $750 (128GB) $900 (256GB)
- Notable extras: Works with Pencil and Smart Keyboard accessories, 4 corner speakers, True Tone display