Finally we have an all new iPad Pro range. This week Apple AAPL +0.60% announced upgrades for both its (2016) 9.7-inch iPad Pro and (2015) 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Both have received substantial upgrades, but it is the former which is likely to get more attention.
Why? Let’s break down the differences between them…
Design – Bigger But Smaller
The most obvious starting point is size. Following 2017’s smartphone trend, Apple has made both its new iPad Pros more compact. The scene stealer is the enlarged 10.5-inch iPad Pro which fits into virtually the same footprint as its 9.7-inch predecessor, despite a 20% increase in display size:
- iPad Pro 10.5 (2017) – 250.6 x 174.1 x 6.1mm (9.87 x 6.85 x 0.24 inches) and 469 / 477g (1.034 / 1.05lbs) for cellular/non-cellular
- iPad Pro 12.9 (2017) – 305.7 x 220.6 x 6.9 mm (12.04 x 8.69 x 0.27 inches) and 677 / 692g (1.49 / 1.53 lbs) for cellular/non-cellular
- iPad Pro 9.7 (2016): 240 x 169.5 x 6.1mm (9.4 x 6.6 x 0.24 inches) and 444 / 437g (0.98 / 0.96lbs) for cellular/non-cellular
- iPad Pro 12.9 (2015): 305.7 x 220.6 x 6.9mm (12 x 8.86 x 0.27 inches) and 713 / 729g (1.57 / 1.59lbs) for cellular/non-cellular
This isn’t a transformation on par with Samsung’s Galaxy S8, Essential phone or what will come with the redesigned iPhone 8, but it is welcome.
Also welcome is the iPad Pro 10.5 now shares the same quad array speakers as the larger iPad Pro 12.9 while retaining the familiar durable aluminium chassis and there is a headphone jack (I know!). Lightning is still the connector of choice (no switch to USB Type-C) but that was always likely to be the case.
Displays – Sharper, Brighter, Smarter
Later this year the iPhone 8 is expected to move from LCD to OLED. The new iPad Pros haven’t made the same move, but they have upped the bar for what we can expect from LCD.
Key to this is both models support a higher 120Hz refresh rate – double that of standard LCDs. It’s dynamic too, so it cranks up for things like movies, gaming and web browsing but reduces to save battery life for more static experiences like viewing photos and writing emails.
On top of this is a 600 nits peak brightness (that’s good!) and support for the P3 wide colour gamut and ‘True Tone’ technology which means the models deliver class leading colour accuracy.
Apple also says its custom anti-reflective coating has just “1.8% reflectivity” – or, in English: it should be great to use outdoors and under bright lights. One nice bonus for the iPad Pro 10.5 is that its size increase means it can also support a full sized keyboard like the iPad Pro 12.9.
Here are the raw specs:
- iPad Pro 10.5 (2017) – 10.5‑inch 120Hz LED‑backlit wide color, True Tone Multi‑Touch display, 2224 x 1668 resolution (264 ppi), oleophobic and anti-reflective coating
- iPad Pro 12.9 (2017): 12.9‑inch 120Hz LED‑backlit wide color, True Tone Multi‑Touch display, 2732 x 2048 (264 ppi), oleophobic and anti-reflective coating
One disappointment: 3D Touch is left out again. Some won’t care, but given its potential as a productivity tool, I can only assume Apple is struggling to scale the technology to a larger display. As 3D Touch launched back in 2015 with the iPhone 6S, this is a concern.
Performance – New Speed Champs
Apple remains cagey about the specifications of the iPad Pro 10.5 and iPad Pro 12.9 (we don’t even know the RAM, let alone clock speeds), but it was keen to stress no iOS device has ever been faster.