Apple is a name that people from all over the world will recognize. Founded in 1976, the company has been dedicated to creating and releasing high end, top quality electronics for a very long time. The first iPad was released in 2010, and quickly became an iconic product. It wasn’t the first tablet, but it truly was the tablet to launch the craze still alive today. People began expecting a bigger and better iPad to be released each year.
The first iPad Pro was released in 2015. It came after the iPad Air 2 and featured a more powerful CPU, better cameras, improved performance and more storage. At 12.9 inches, it was a drastic change from the Air 2. It was heavier and not as portable, but it was incredibly fast and really showed off in terms of performance. Apple iPad fans loved the upgraded performance of the Pro but complained about the lack of portability. Apple heard the people, and in 2016 released the iPad Pro 9.7. It features a much slimmer design than the 12.9, making it a much more portable tablet option. While a lot of the aspects are the same between the two, there are some differences that make the 9.7 an all-around great tablet to suit every type of need.
When Apple released the iPad Pro 12.9 inch, it was a powerhouse. Then they decided to release the iPad Pro 9.7, which attempts to combine the Pro 12.9 and the iPad Air 2, giving you iPad Pro power in an iPad Air slim frame. For the most part, it turned out great.
The iPad Pro 9.7 comes in 32 GB, 128 GB, and 256 GB options. The 12.9 Pro didn’t support 4G, but the 9.7 supports it on all three options. It comes in silver, space gray, gold, and rose gold and has the same classic, Apple quality aluminum design that users have come to know and trust.
It has the same A9X chip as the 12.9, but because of the 9.7’s slimmer design, Apple had to cut back on a few hardware aspects. First, it only has half of the RAM of the 12.9. The speed also was slightly decreased from 2.26 GHz to 2.16 GHz. This may sound like the performance of the 9.7 is lesser than the 12.9, and it may be slightly, but it isn’t noticeable to most people.
There are some new things with the 9.7 that the 12.9 doesn’t have. The screen is better because of the True Tone technology. This means the white balance adjusts to the environment it is in to provide a colorful, crisp display at all times. The cameras have also been upgraded to a 12 MP rear camera and a 5 MP front camera. Apple has also added 4K recording capability.
Watching videos on the device sounds natural with the four speakers around the iPad. With the True Tone technology, high resolution, and retina display, the screen truly is amazing to look at. It is incredibly bright and has anti-reflective coating to be just as bright when you’re outside as it is when you’re inside.
The iPad Pro 9.7 sees its true potential when paired with the smart keyboard and Apple pencil. For the longest time, the iPad has supported Bluetooth keyboard connectivity, but finally Apple has released a keyboard designed specifically for the iPad. Apple has offered Bluetooth keyboard portfolios in the past, but it hasn’t really created a true iPad keyboard before. Until now.
The Apple iPad smart keyboard is not connected via Bluetooth like other third-party keyboards. It uses a small magnetic flap that fastens to three small dots on the side of the iPad, which Apple has deemed the smart connector. This means connection is never lost and you don’t have to wait for the keyboard to pair with the iPad.
For those who own a new Mac or iMac, the smart keyboard will feel very comfortable. For those who are PC owners or don’t have a lot of experience with Mac keyboards, the smart keyboard may take some getting used to. After typing on it for a bit, it’s easy to pick up. However, it’s all about personal preference.
The smart keyboard is made out of fabric. There aren’t a whole lot of fabric keyboards out there on the market currently, but it adds to comfort, and with it being a tablet and not a computer, comfort is essential. You don’t have to worry about debris getting into large spaces between the keys, and it feels very durable. However, it sits best on a flat surface. If you’re attempting to type on your lap, it isn’t that comfortable and sometimes falls over.
Since it’s Apple’s first iPad keyboard, there were bound to be a few mistakes. The fact that there aren’t any function keys won’t bother most people, but some may be frustrated by it. There are the usual keyboard shortcuts, but they mostly work with Apple only apps. When it comes to third party apps, the shortcuts are a little more restricted.
One of the biggest drawbacks of the keyboard is no backlight. For how much the smart keyboard costs, you would think Apple would put a backlight on it. With it being a fabric keyboard, Apple may not ever release a backlit option.
The Apple Pencil is a great stylus for the iPad. There are, of course, drawing and entertainment options. It also features the ability to edit and mark up PDFs, scanned documents, screenshots, pictures, and more. However, most of these annotation abilities are only available with iOS 10 or later, so you will have to upgrade the software through the settings if you want to take advantage of the full potential of the Apple Pencil, which lasts up to 12 hours with a single charge.
The battery life of the iPad Pro 9.7 is excellent. It can be used all day with constant use. The Pro 12.9 features a fast charging mode, which would have been great on the 9.7, but Apple chose to leave it out for some reason. Therefore, it can take up to four hours to gain a full charge. The 12.9 obviously has superior battery life because of the bigger size and therefore more hardware capabilities.
The iPad Pro 9.7 can almost replace your laptop. Almost. Apple never really attempted to make hybrid laptops and tablets, but the 9.7 comes pretty close. With the smart keyboard, the 9.7 Pro quickly turns into a fully capable little laptop. It’s incredibly portable to take with you on the go so you can do work and type anything with ease no matter where you are. Include the Apple Pencil on top of that, and the iPad Pro 9.7 becomes a highly workable tablet.
While it still can’t fully replace your laptop at the moment, it’s getting there. If Apple were to make some changes to the keyboard, mainly its ability to be used on a soft surface, add in a backlight, and increase software compatibility, you could possibly throw out your laptop if you want and make this your go to tablet-computer hybrid.
- 9.7 inch Retina Display, 2048 x 1536 Resolution, Wide Color and True Tone Display
- Apple iOS 9, A9X chip with 64‑bit architecture, M9 coprocessor
- 12 MP iSight Camera, True Tone Flash, Panorama (up to 63MP), Four-Speaker Audio
- Up to 10 Hours of Battery Life
- iPad Pro Supports Apple Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil
- Retina Display
- ATX chip
- iOS 9
- Apps for iPad
- Slim and light design
- Apple iOS 8; 9.7-Inch Retina Display; 2048x1536 Resolution
- A8X Chip with 64-bit Architecture; M8 Motion Coprocessor
- Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n/ac); 64 GB Capacity
- 8 MP iSight Camera; FaceTime HD Camera
- Up to 10 Hours of Battery Life. Not 4G Compatible.
The iPad Pro 9.7 is a merging of the iPad Air 2 and the iPad Pro 12.9. With a sturdy aluminum design and high-quality glass screen, it feels nice in your hands. The screen is beautiful, and the cameras are better than that of the 12.9 Pro. It doesn’t feature the 3D Touch that the 6s does, however, which is a disappointment. The battery is great, though not on-par with the 12.9 Pro.
If you buy a certified refurbished iPad Pro 9.7 directly from Apple, you’ll be paying at least $460, with larger storage options and LTE models costing more. You can grab an open box from Best Buy starting at $400. Your best bet will be to look on Amazon where it is currently starting at $350 . Be careful as you search, however, because there’s an iPad Pro and an iPad 9.7. What you’re wanting is the iPad Pro 9.7. The Pencil is from $99 from Apple and the smart keyboard is around $150 to $160. All together, you’re looking at spending at least $650. However, if you get refurbished accessories, you can save a chunk of cash.
How It Compares
Since the 9.7 is was made as an Air 2 and 12.9 hybrid, it only seems fitting to compare it to both while looking at various aspects.
The iPad Air 2 is the least expensive of the three. However, it doesn’t support the smart keyboard or Apple Pencil. The 9.7 is about $150 more than the Air 2, and the 12.9 costs over $500.
Ease of Use
iPad Pro 9.7
iPad Pro 12.9
iPad Air 2
Since they all have the same operating system, this hasn’t changed much across the board. However, there are notable differences in performance, particularly between the Air 2 and the 12.9 Pro.
iPad Pro 9.7
iPad Pro 12.9
iPad Air 2
The hardware build is similar with all three iPads. However, with the large RAM of the 12.9, it outperforms the 9.7 just slightly. The screen of the 9.7, though the pixel count is the same as the Air 2, is absolutely gorgeous because of the addition of the True Tone technology.
iPad Pro 9.7
iPad Pro 12.9
iPad Air 2
If bought from Apple, refurbished options have less of a warranty than new iPads. The 12.9 will likely have a longer warranty, though warranties are always available to purchase at an extra cost. The 9.7 has since been discontinued, so warranties aren’t going to be continuous. The Air 2 is also older, so it’s probably smart to buy a longer warranty.
The Apple iPad Pro 9.7 truly is a great tablet, and it was possibly the best Apple iPad to date at its release. Sometimes deemed the iPad Air 3, the Pro 9.7 packs a lot of the things people loved about the 12.9 Pro while making it lightweight and slim. The 9.7 takes a lot of hand-me-downs from the 12.9, but the cameras are upgraded and Apple has added a beautiful True Tone display. When you include the accessories, the Pro really outperforms, getting awfully close to being a true tablet-laptop hybrid. The keyboard has a few kinks and there are a few software compatibility issues, but overall, it is a solid start to what will hopefully become a better smart keyboard over time.
Even though Apple has released the 10.5 iPad since the release of the 9.7 Pro, this tablet is still in the running to be the best tablet Apple has to offer. Apple has turned its focus on the newer 10.5, which means you can grab the 9.7 at a more affordable price. With the ever-increasing app compatibility list and iOS updates, the iPad Pro 9.7 is not only a great tablet, but it has potential to be an even better one in the future.