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Apple iPad Pro 9.7 Review: In Depth

The Good

  • Super portable
  • Crazy power
  • Great accessories
  • Sharp, gorgeous screen
  • Strong battery life

The Bad

  • True Tone is a bit pants
  • Expensive accessories
5

iPad Pro 9.7 Review: The new iPad Pro tablet from Apple packs incredible power in a much more impressive portable form, along with Apple Pencil and Keyboard Cover support. Check out our full 9.7-inch iPad Pro review to see if this new Pro really can be the best iPad yet.

While everyone was waiting for the iPad Air 3 to be launched, Apple threw a curve ball by presenting something even better.

This compact version of the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro offers the coolest features of Apple’s massive business tablet (insane performance, solid accessories, quad stereo speakers) but in a much more portable form. Check out our iPad Pro 9.7 vs iPad Pro 12.9 comparison review if you want to see how they stack up.

With this move, Apple has essentially killed off the iPad Air series. But we love the iPad Pro 9.7 so much that we won’ the grieving for long. A few seconds should do it.

iPad Pro 9.7 Review: Design

If you’ve ever owned an iPad, you’ll know what to expect here. A surprisingly slender and light frame, despite what’s packed inside, finished with Apple’s typical brushed metal skin.

The big question is, how does the iPad Pro 9.7 compare with the original? To put it simply, this smaller model is considerably more portable, offering a huge advantage over the 12.9-inch version for travelers. It’s lighter than the first Pro, sure, at 437g vs 713g. But it’s the smaller dimensions that make the Pro 9.7 such a joy.

Finally, we have a Pro that can fit into a small backpack or even a decent-sized handbag. And that slim n’ light frame can now be comfortably clutched one-handed, just like the old Airs, which is great if you’re sketching on the move.

iPad Pro 9.7 Review: Screen and media

The iPad Pro 9.7 doesn’t simply feature a smaller screen than the original Pro tablet. Apple has introduced its ‘True Tone’ tech with this model.

No idea what that means? No worries, just check out our Pro 9.7 True Tone screen review, where we explain the tech and compare with the Pro 12.9 and Air 2 displays.

We’ve also reviewed the iPad Pro 9.7’s quad-speaker setup, comparing against the powerhouse audio of the original Pro. Check out our iPad Pro speaker comparison review for the results.

As usual, there’s no memory card slot to expand the Pro’s storage. Luckily the 32GB model will provide enough space for most users and you’ll only struggle if you do a lot of video editing on the go.

iPad Pro 9.7 Review: Features and accessories

As you’d expect, the smaller Pro supports the same accessories as the larger model. The Apple Pencil is still an impressively accurate sketching tool that now works with a wider variety of apps, including the likes of iBooks. It’s ideal for artistry, but it also works well for jotting notes in office apps.

Personally I’ve had a lot of use out of Apple’s Keyboard Cover, which is like the standard Smart Cover but with a built-in fold-out board. It’s smaller than the original Pro board, obviously, which meant a short period of “adjustment. But after just an hour or so, I found I could touch type with next to no mistakes.

You get all of the usual iPad features built in, such as TouchID for unlocking the tablet and authorising purchases (and now keeping your private files safe too – see our iOS 9.3 tips and tricks for more info). Apple’s software is as secure as ever and the App Store offers a fantastic range of apps and games to keep you productive or entertained on the move.

iPad Pro 9.7 Review: Performance and battery life

Impressively, Apple has packed the original Pro’s A9X chipset into this mini Pro, so you can enjoy the same sweetly smooth performance. Gaming is a breeze, multi-tasking is no sweat and you can even stitch together two 4K video files without the Pro stumbling.

Check out our full iPad Pro 9.7 battery life tests, to see how the Pro 9.7 compares with other iPads in our Pro battery charge and discharge tests.

iPad Pro 9.7 Review: Cameras

Apple’s made some improvements when it comes to the second Pro’s cameras, slotting in the fresh new optics from its iPhone 6s handset. So now you get a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera as well as an 5-megapixel FaceTime lens.

If you’re not adverse to taking photos with a tablet, then you’ll struggle to find a better slate snapper out there. Like the iPhone 6s, the Pro 9.7 can shoot detail-packed photos boasting realistic colours. However, the big deal is that FaceTime cam, which captures your mug in a disturbing amount of detail. Even in a basement bar or some other dingy location, the camera holds up well.

iPad Pro 9.7 Review: Verdict

The iPad Pro 9.7 isn’t just a slightly smaller version of the original Pro tablet. It’s a more portable tab that boasts the same great performance in a much more comfortable-to-use form, at a much lower price. We weren’t kidding when we said that the Pro just killed off the Air series; say hi to the new king of iPads.

You can bag the iPad Pro from O2 for £42.50 monthly.

Specification

Screen size9/7-inch
Screen resolution2048x1536
Weight437g
OSiOS 9.3
Front camera5-megapixel
Rear Camera12-megapixel
ProcessorA9X
MemoryN/A
StorageFrom 32GB
4G LTEYes (in some models)
Bonus featuresApple Pencil/Smart Keyboard support

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