Apple realises that many people, if not most, prefer the 9.7-inch form factor when picking a tablet. Which is why the Cupertino-based company on Monday unveiled the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, the successor to its 2014's iPad Air 2.
The latest addition to the company's iPad family offers mostly the same innards as the 12.9-inch iPad Pro which it had launched last year. So how do these three tablets compare with each other?
The 9.7-inch iPad Pro, as the name suggests, offers a 9.7-inch display with a screen resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels, same as the iPad Air 2. Last year's iPad Pro model, on the other hand, offers a 12.9-inch display with a screen resolution of 2732 x 2048 pixels.
There are several similarities between the display in all the three iPad models. They all, for instance, offer LED-backlit, fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating, fully laminated display, and antireflective coating features.
The 9.7-inch iPad Pro, in addition, also offers wide-colour and True Tone display features. True Tone display dynamically adjusts the tone and colour balance of the screen in accordance with the surrounding environment.
Both the iPad Pro models are powered by the Apple A9X third-generation SoC with 64-bit "desktop-class architecture," and M9 coprocessor. The SoC on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is a tad more powerful than the SoC on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro however, as seen on Apple's site - probably owing to a faster clock speed. Compared to the A7 SoC, the 1.9-inch iPad Pro's SoC is 2.5 times faster, with graphics 5 times better. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro's A9X is 2.4 times faster than the A7, with 4.3 times faster graphics. The iPad Air 2, on the other hand, is powered by A8X second-generation SoC, which is 1.4 times faster than the A7, and offers 2.5 times faster graphics.
The 9.7-inch iPad Pro beats all the other iPad models on the photography front. Compared to the 8-megapixel iSight camera on the iPad Air 2, and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro sports a 12-megapixel iSight sensor. In addition, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro also offers Live Photos and True Tone flash features, that you wouldn't find on the other two iPad models.
With a 5-megapixel FaceTime HD camera, the front-facing photography on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro outdoes the 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD camera on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and iPad Air 2.
Unlike the iPad Air, which houses a two-speaker audio setup, both the iPad Pro models come with a four-speaker setup. As we noted in our review of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, the sound experience is perhaps the best thing about the new iPad Pro. So, finally with the four-speaker setup, and how the tablet adjusts the audio when you put it from portrait to landscape mode, and vice-versa, the 9.7-inch iPad lineup is getting the enhanced entertainment experience.
Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard accessories
What separates the Pro lineup from Air lineup is the support for productive accessories. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro, much like the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, has a Smart Connector which allows users to attach the Smart Keyboard. The Smart Keyboard connects over Bluetooth and charges from the Smart Connector as well. The iPad Air 2 doesn't have the Smart Connector.
Apple introduced the Apple Pencil last year with the iPad Pro. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro also supports the stylus, which one can utilise to write and scribble on the tablet. The iPad Air 2 doesn't natively support the Apple Pencil.
It is also worth mentioning that Apple is peddling the iPad Pro as a replacement for your PC. The same isn't the case with the iPad Air 2, which coming from the Air family, largely aims to be a great content consumption device. Also worth mentioning is that the iPad Pro models come in 32GB, 128GB, and 256GB storage variants, whereas the iPad Air 2 comes in only two variants: 16GB and 64GB.