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IPad Pro 9.7 True Tone screen review

Apple iPad Pro screen review: We test the new True Tone display of the iPad Pro 9.7 and see how it compares to the original iPad Pro, as well as the iPad Air 2.

The new iPad Pro has shrunk down to the same size as the iPad Air 2, which also features a 9.7-inch display - but there are a few key differences between the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro, the Pro 9.7 and the iPad Air 2 when it comes to the screen.

For one, the Pro 9.7 is Apple’s first iPad to feature a ‘True Tone’ display.

What is Apple’s True Tone display?

The True Tone display found on the iPad Pro 9.7 can actually adapt depending on your working environment, making things easier on your eyeballs - or so says Apple.

Basically, the iPad judges how well-lit your environment is using the FaceTime camera and then tweaks the colour warmth to match. So in low light environments, the True Tone screen will produce warm colours (whites will appear more yellow, for instance) for a less shocking contrast.

Does Apple’s True Tone display actually work?

Well, kind of.

In our tests we found that the iPad Pro 9.7’s screen did appear to match the softer ambient light in our studio. With little to no surrounding light, the Pro 9.7 panel is much warmer than the Pro 12.9 and Air 2 displays, so your eyes don’t struggle to adjust when moving to and from the display.

However, with the studio lighting turned right up to 'retina searing', the iPad Pro 9.7's screen was still producing warmer colours, rather than the cool whites we expected. It wasn't until we actually turned off True Tone in the Pro's display settings that it matched our expectations.

Of course, Apple’s new Night Shift feature, found in iOS 9.3, does much the same thing as True Tone. You’ll have to manually turn it on outside of the scheduled hours, but flicking Night Shift on when you’re in a dark room will warm up the screen and make for a more comfortable viewing experience.

Read next: iPad Pro 9.7 battery tests vs iPad Pro 12.9, iPad Air 2

IPad Pro 12.9 screen vs iPad Pro 9.7 screen vs iPad Air 2 screen

In terms of image sharpness, there’s no difference between these three iPad screens (264 pixels-per-inch in each case). Photos and HD videos appear crisp, with no visibility of individual pixels. We found that our colour tests gave near identical results also, with all three panels boasting accurate colour representation.

Apple bigged up the Pro 9.7's improved screen brightness and its anti-reflective finish at the launch, but we once again struggled to tell the difference between the two Pro tablets and the Air 2. With a 105W bulb beaming directly onto each screen in turn, we were still able to read a page of text at maximum brightness. Our outdoor test was just as successful, with each iPad happily handling the glare of the suddenly-reincarnated British sun.

So in summary, no matter which iPad you choose, you're getting a best-in-class display. And while we like the idea behind True Tone, you can get much the same experience with the original iPad Pro and the Air 2 by using Night Shift.

Read next: iPad Pro 12.9 vs iPad Pro 9.7 in-depth comparison

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