Apple announced its next-generation of 9.7-inch iPad, along with a new 4-inch iPhone and a few new straps for the Apple Watch at an event in March.
The latest 9.7-inch iPad doesn't sit in the Air range like the previous medium-sized slabs though. Several refinements were made to the new tablet to justify the Pro name instead.
How does the smaller iPad Pro compare to the bigger iPad Pro? We have put the 12.9-inch tablet against the specs for the 9.7-inch device to see what the differences are, what features they share and how the new iPad Pro 9.7 compares to the iPad Pro 12.9.
Apple iPad Pro 9.7 vs iPad Pro 12.9: Design
The Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch measures 305.7 x 220.6 x 6.9mm and weighs 713g for the Wi-Fi only model or 723g for the Wi-Fi and Cellular model. It offers the same elegant aluminium design as the iPad Air 2 with the Lightning connector centralised at the bottom and Touch ID built into the home button on the front.
The iPad Pro adds four built-in stereo speakers to the iPad party though, as well as a Smart Connector. Despite the size increase, the iPad Pro 12.9 maintains the slender, solid design, although it is pretty weighty. It comes in silver, gold and space grey colour options.
The Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch measures 240 x 169.5 x 6.1mm and weighs 437g, making it much lighter than its bigger brother. It is of course significantly smaller than the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, as well as slightly slimmer, but the design is the same, just on a smaller scale so you still get the elegance and solidness associated with the larger device.
The 9.7-inch iPad Pro comes with the four built-in speakers like the Pro, as well as the Smart Connector. Touch ID is also on board but it comes in rose gold, as well as the same gold, silver and space grey colours of the larger iPad Pro.
Apple iPad Pro 9.7 vs iPad Pro 12.9: Display
The Apple iPad Pro is the largest iPad available in the company's line up, with a 12.9-inch display. The LED-backlit Retina display has a 2732 x 2048 resolution for a pixel density of 264ppi. Everything looks nice and share, whether you're watching movies or sketching with the Apple Pencil.
The smaller iPad Pro features a 9.7-inch display with a 2048 x 1536 pixel resolution, which results in the same pixel density as the 12.9-inch model at 264ppi. The new model has what Apple is calling a True Tone display however, as well as a wide colour display.
The True Tone display means the iPad Pro 9.7 automatically adapts the colour and intensity of the display to match the light in your surroundings and it's a great addition. The P3 colour gamut it offers is the same as on the 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K display, but while it makes photos and videos look quite vivid, you have to look quite hard to see a real difference so it's not something you miss a huge amount from the larger device.
The larger iPad Pro's display can measure pressure, allowing it to work with the Apple Pencil and the smaller iPad Pro has the same technology. This enables users to draw and design as they would on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro but on a smaller, more portable device.
Apple iPad Pro 9.7 vs iPad Pro 12.9: Camera
The Apple iPad Pro has an 8-megapixel iSight camera with an f/2.4 aperture, coupled with a 1.2-megapixel front camera with an f/2.2 aperture. The rear camera is capable of 1080p video recording, while the front-facing camera will manage 720p. It performs well but if you're buying an iPad purely for taking photos, the iPad Pro 12.9 might be a little too large and too heavy for that purpose alone.
The Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch not only adds a True Tone flash to the mix, making it the first iPad to offer this feature, but it also bumps up the resolution. The new 9.7-inch iPad offers a 12-megapixel snapper with a f/2.2 aperture and 4K video recording capabilities, as well as a 5-megapixel front facing camera with Retina Flash. It's basally the iPhone 6S but in tablet format and it delivers excellent results.
The iPad Pro 9.7-inch is the most capable Apple tablet available in terms of camera and there you'll notice a nice improvement over the larger iPad Pro, not to mention its smaller size and lighter weight will make taking images much easier.
Apple iPad Pro 9.7 vs iPad Pro 12.9: Hardware and specs
The Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch comes with the A9X processor and M9 motion co-processor and it will last around eight hours with mixed use. The Wi-Fi only model comes in 32GB, 128GB and 256GB options, while the Wi-Fi and Cellular model is only available with 128GB or 256GB of internal storage.
The Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch comes with the same A9X chip as the iPad Pro. We were able to get around 10-hours of life from the smaller model but it depended on what we were doing. In terms of storage, the iPad Pro 9.7-inch comes in 32GB, 128GB and 256GB options, for both the Wi-Fi and Cellular models so there is the option of a smaller storage capacity with the smaller cellular model.
Both tablets are very powerful and they both perform well no matter what you throw at them. The speed and performance improvements over the iPad Air 2 are noticeable and apps are quicker to load than ever on both models so whichever you pick, you're getting the fastest and most powerful iPad out there.
Apple iPad Pro 9.7 vs iPad Pro 12.9: Software
The Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch comes with iOS 9, offering all the features you'd expect including Apple Pay support, AirDrop, AirPlay, Spotlight Search, Apple Music and Family Sharing among others as standard. It also comes complete with Pages, Numbers and Keynote, offering users the company's productivity apps.
The Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch also comes with iOS 9 so you'll get the same software experience as the larger Pro, although features like split-screen view are a little more useful on the larger device.
Apple iPad Pro 9.7 vs iPad Pro 12.9: Price
The Apple iPad Pro 12.9 has a starting price of £679. This price creeps up to £1019 for the 256GB Wi-Fi and Cellular model.
The iPad Pro 9.7 starts at £499, making it quite a bit cheaper than its bigger brother. The price jumps to £839 for the 256GB Wi-Fi and Cellular model but still a saving of around £200.
Apple iPad Pro 9.7 vs iPad Pro 12.9: Conclusion
It is easy to see why the new 9.7-inch iPad falls into the Pro range rather than the Air. It not only comes with the same design as the larger iPad Pro, but it brings in the same performance power too.
The iPad Pro 9.7-inch is for those who like the idea of the iPad Pro and all the features it offers, but want it in a smaller and cheaper format, with better camera capabilities.
For everything you need to know regarding the smaller iPad Pro you can read our review. We have also done a separate feature on how the smaller iPad Pro compares to the iPad Air 2.