We compare the new iPad Pro 9.7 and the original iPad Pro 12.9, to see if there’s much difference between these powerful Apple tablets. Check out our full battery, performance, screen, speaker, design and features comparison review.
Apple just launched its new 9.7-inch iPad Pro, a smaller version of the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro that costs almost £200 less than its bigger brother. So how do the two iPad Pros stack up in terms of specs, screen, accessory support, performance, battery life and other features? Here’s our full iPad Pro 9.7 vs iPad Pro 12.9 comparison review.
iPad Pro 9.7 vs iPad Pro 12.9: At a glance
|Device||iPad Pro 9.7||iPad Pro 12.9|
|Size||169 x 240 x 6.1mm||220 x 306 x 6.9mm|
|Screen resolution||2048×1536 (264ppi)||2732×2048 (264ppi)|
|Storage||32 / 128 / 256GB||32 / 128 / 256GB|
|iSight camera||12MP, 4K video||8MP, 1080p video|
|Price||From £499||From £679|
iPad Pro 9.7 vs iPad Pro 12.9: Design
The biggest and most obvious difference between the two iPad Pro models is their size and weight.
That original 12.9-inch iPad Pro is a bit of a beast, rocking a 713g frame that’s difficult to clutch with just one hand. It’s much easier and more comfortable to use the original Pro on your lap or a desktop instead. By comparison, the iPad Pro 9.7 is just 437g, comparable to the iPad Air 2. It’s therefore better suited to anyone who wants a portable tablet, which can be held for long periods.
That said, the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro is impressively slender at just 6.9mm. That’s only a sliver thicker than the 9.7-inch version, which sports a 6.1mm frame – although the dinky Pro does have a sticky-out camera lens.
Besides the size, these two tablets are more or less identical. You get the same range of ports, including a Lightning connector for charging and a Nano SIM tray if you opt for the WiFi and cellular model. Both iPad Pro tablets rock Apple’s standard design, although the 9.7-inch model is available in Rose Gold (pink, in other words) as well as Silver, Gold and Space Grey. The larger model doesn’t have a Rose Gold version.
iPad Pro 9.7 vs iPad Pro 12.9: Screen and media
The iPad Pro 9.7 may sport a smaller screen than the iPad Pro 12.9 but both tablets produce sharp images, with the same number of pixels packed into every square inch.
Apple’s smaller tablet boasts the new ‘True Tone’ screen tech, something missing from the larger original Pro. This is supposed to dynamically adjust the colour warmth depending on your environment, but as you’ll see from our iPad Pro 9.7 True Tone screen review, the difference is actually negligible.
We’re pleased to see Apple’s quad speaker arrangement return on the smaller iPad Pro, and in our side-by-side audio test, the Pro 9.7’s audio output was almost as impressively powerful as the original model’s. Check out our iPad Pro speaker comparison piece for more info.
iPad Pro 9.7 vs iPad Pro 12.9: Features and accessories
Besides the screen and size differences, there are also some smaller feature updates on the new smaller iPad Pro. For a start, it supports the “Hey, Siri” feature, which automatically launches Apple’s virtual assistant without having to touch your tablet. Of course, this is far more useful on an iPhone anyway, especially when you’re driving.
Apple’s new 9.7-inch Pro sports an embedded Apple SIM (known as an ‘e-SIM’), which should make it easier for users to hop between networks. There’s also support for LTE-A connections in the cellular model of the iPad Pro 9.7, something missing in the iPad Pro 12.9.
Both tablets come with a choice of storage, between 32GB, 128GB and a mighty 256GB. However, while the iPad Pro 9.7 has a cellular option for the 32GB model, there’s no such option for the iPad Pro 12.9; you can only get the 32GB original Pro with WiFi connectivity.
Thankfully the smaller iPad Pro supports the Apple Pencil stylus and also comes with the excellent Smart Keyboard cover, so you can smash out emails and documents in double-quick time.
iPad Pro 9.7 vs iPad Pro 12.9: Performance
Both the iPad Pro 9.7 and the old iPad Pro 12.9 sport Apple’s A9X processor and M9 GPU, so there is no difference at all in terms of performance. These are the fastest Apple devices around, capable of 4K video editing on the fly and running the latest games with blistering frame rates.
iPad Pro 9.7 vs iPad Pro 12.9: Battery life
We’ve conducted an in-depth charging and discharge test on the new iPad Pro 9.7 and compared with last year’s iPad Pro 12.9, to see if the Pro 9.7’s smaller battery has an impact on longevity. Check out our iPad Pro battery life tests piece for more info.
iPad Pro 9.7 vs iPad Pro 12.9: Cameras
The final difference between these two tablets is the camera tech.
While the iPad Pro 12.9 uses Apple’s old 8-megapixel iSight camera, previously found on 2014’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the new Pro 9.7 sports the latest 12-megapixel snapper. This shoots more detailed photos and up to 4K video, while the Pro 12.9 maxes out at 1080p. That new 12-meg camera is also better in low light conditions, complete with a True Tone flash and Auto HDR.
Of course, taking photos with the new, more compact Pro is only marginally less annoying and fiddly, as you’re still wielding a large tablet device (and likely blocking people’s view if you’re doing so at a gig).
More importantly, the iPad Pro 9.7 boasts a better FaceTime camera. The 5-megapixel snapper is a big improvement over the 12.9’s 1.2-megapixel camera, offering much crisper detail when chatting online or simply snapping your mug.
iPad Pro 9.7 vs iPad Pro 12.9: Cost
|9.7-inch Model||9.7-inch Cost||12.9-inch Model||12.9-inch Cost|
|9.7-inch iPad Pro 32GB WiFi||£499||12.9-inch iPad Pro 32GB WiFi||£679|
|9.7-inch iPad Pro 32GB WiFi + Cellular||£599||No Cellular 12.9-inch 32GB model available|
|9.7-inch iPad Pro 128GB WiFi||£619||12.9-inch 128GB WiFi||£799|
|9.7-inch iPad Pro 128GB WiFi + Cellular||£719||12.9-inch 128GB WiFi + Cellular||£899|
|9.7-inch iPad Pro 256GB WiFi||£739||12.9-inch iPad Pro 256GB WiFi||£919|
|9.7-inch iPad Pro 256GB WiFi + Cellular||£839||12.9-inch iPad Pro 256GB WiFi + Cellular||£1019|
iPad Pro 9.7 vs iPad Pro 12.9: Verdict
If you already stumped up a wodge of cash for the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro, it’s probably time to get angry. Just a few months on, Apple has released an even better version with a more compact, portable design, improved display and all-new camera tech, at a significant discount. It’s hard to recommend the original model now, so we’d say go for the 9.7-incher unless for some reason you really want that enormous screen.
Read next: iPad Pro 9.7 UK price and release date