Apple announced the original iPad Pro at an event in September 2015. It marked a new territory for the company, with a screen size of 12.9-inches and a range of features on board aimed at productivity. It was the tablet pitched to replace your laptop.

The company has since announced a smaller version of the iPad Pro with a 9.7-inch display. It too is aimed at allowing users to work on their tablet without the need for a laptop. What does that mean for the iPad Air 2 then? Well it still exists, and it is still a great 9.7-inch tablet, it just doesn't do everything the Pro models can do.

If you're trying to work out which iPad is the best model for you, we have you covered. This feature compares the 12.9-inch iPad Pro with the 9.7-inch iPad Air 2, highlighting their similarities and differences. You can also see how the iPad Air 2 compares to the iPad Pro 9.7 in our separate feature, as well as how all the iPad models compare in our big comparison.

Apple iPad Pro 12.9 vs iPad Air 2: Design

The Apple iPad Air 2 is a lovely device. It is thin, light and it delivers a fantastic build quality. It measures 240 x 169.5 x 6.1mm and it hits the scales at just 437g. The iPad Air 2 features Touch ID within the home button and it comes in silver, space grey and gold colour options.

The Lightning port sits at the bottom of the device, flanked by speakers either side and the power button and headphone jack are present at the top. It is a stunning device that is very familiar.

The iPad Pro 12.9 follows a similar design to the iPad Air 2, just on a larger scale and with a few extra additions. It measures 305.7 x 220.6 x 6.9mm and weighs 713g, making it not only significantly larger but almost double the weight of the iPad Air 2.

The iPad Pro is still lovely and slim though and while its size may put some off as it is not as portable as the iPad Air 2, it does have some great extras. There is a Smart Connector positioned on the left shoulder that will power additional accessories, such as the iPad Pro keyboard, which is good for those after a laptop-style tablet. There are also two extra speakers positioned at the top, offering four-directional sound for a more powerful audio experience.

Apple iPad Pro 12.9 vs iPad Air 2: Display

The Apple iPad Air 2 has a 9.7-inch LED-backlit display, while the iPad Pro has a 12.9-inch LED-backlit display so there is a big difference in size between the two models but not in technology.

The Air 2 offers a resolution of 2048 x 1536, which delivers a pixel density of 264ppi. The iPad Pro ups its resolution slightly to 2732 x 2048, which consequently delivers the same pixel density as the iPad Air 2. This means the clarity and sharpness of images will appear the same on both models and from our experience, both displays are great.

There are some differences aside from the size however. The iPad Pro is compatible with the Apple Pencil, which is a pressure-sensitive digital stylus that interacts with the Pro's screen to allow users to draw as if it were pencil on paper. The level of precision is fantastic and the iPad Pro provides single pixel control, as well as zero lag.

Apple iPad Pro 12.9 vs iPad Air 2: Camera

The Apple iPad Air 2 features an 8-megapixel rear camera with a f/2.4 aperture and a 1.2-megapixel front camera. There are numerous features on board, including autofocus, HDR, face detection and burst mode. The rear camera is capable of 1080p HD video recording, as well as 720p at 120fps, while the front-facing camera will record in 720p.

The iPad Pro 12.9 offers the same rear and front cameras as the iPad Air 2, along with the same features. If you're buying a tablet as a photography device, the iPad Air 2 will be the more practical option as it is lighter and easier to hold.  

The cameras are both good, although not quite as good as the newer iPad Pro 9.7 so if photography really is your main aim with your new tablet, it is probably worth checking out the iPad Pro 9.7 before you make that final decision.

Apple iPad Pro 12.9 vs iPad Air 2: Hardware

The Apple iPad Air 2 features the A8X processor with an M8 motion co-processor under its hood. It is available in 16GB and 64GB storage options, in both Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi plus LTE, and it has a battery life around 10 hours. It's a powerful device and one that performs well but it isn't as powerful as the iPad Pro.

The iPad Pro 12.9 features the latest 64-bit A9X processor with built-in M9 motion coprocessor. It comes in storage options of 32GB, 128GB and 256GB in the Wi-Fi only option, or 128GB and 256GB in the Wi-Fi and LTE option. It is claimed to be 1.8 times faster than the iPad Air 2 and we did find the speed noticeable. Apps were quicker to load than ever and video processing was super quick on the Pro. 

Battery life on the iPad Pro is very much dependant on what you are doing with it. We managed to get around 8-hours from it but as soon as you start editing 4K video or something similar, the power does drop.

Apple iPad Pro 12.9 vs iPad Air 2: Software

The Apple iPad Air 2 runs on iOS 9, just as the iPad Pro does, despite the latter being pitched in part as a laptop replacement.

That means there isn't a great deal of difference in terms of user interface between these two tablets. In fact, there is none, except for that the larger display on the iPad Pro makes features like split-screen view easier to work with ad appreciate.

The iPad Pro 12.9 would maybe have been better running on Apple's full OS X, but that would have impacted its battery life. As it stands, the Air 2 and iPad Pro 12.9 will deliver the same user experience in terms of software, except for the additional features that come with Apple Pencil. 

Apple iPad Pro 12.9 vs iPad Air 2: Price

The Apple iPad Air 2 starts at £349 for the 16GB Wi-Fi only model. The most expensive iPad Air 2 model is £529.

The Apple iPad Pro 12.9 starts at £150 more than the most expensive iPad Air 2, at £679. If you want the biggest storage capacity and LTE, you're looking at £1019. That's without the extra costs associated with the Apple Pencil at £79 and the Smart Keyboard at £139.

Apple iPad Pro 12.9 vs iPad Air 2: Conclusion

The Apple iPad Air 2 and the Apple iPad Pro 12.9 are two very different tablets. They both offer a similar design that is solid, well-built and fabulous but they offer different use purposes and very different budgets.

For those after an Apple tablet for playing games, watching films and perhaps doing the odd bit of work here and there, the iPad Air 2 is a great option, especially when it comes to portability. It is also a great price in comparison to the i{ad Pro 12.9.

The iPad Pro 12.9 on the other hand, is a great laptop replacement for around the house. It is fast, quick and easy to use, while also providing improved sound capabilities for movies and extra functions with the Apple Pencil for the times you want to do something a little different. As a portable tablet, it's not quite as practical as the iPad Air 2 and it is also a lot more money so you need to be sure the size is right for you and those extra features are worth the extra pounds.

This decision ultimately comes down to what you want from your Apple tablet and how much cash you have to splash. If you like the idea of the iPad Pro 12.9's features but the iPad Air 2's portability, then it's worth looking at the iPad Pro 9.7 to see if that device ticks all your boxes instead.

READ: Apple iPad Pro 9.7 review: The tablet to beat all tablets