Apple announced a new 9.7-inch iPad at its March 2017 event, replacing the iPad Air 2 but ditching the Air name, while at WWDC 2017, a new iPad Pro was revealed.

The Apple iPad 9.7 (2017) is the cheapest way to get your hands on an Apple tablet, but how does it compare to the latest iPad Pro 10.5, which takes the place of 2016's 9.7-inch iPad Pro model?

Apple iPad Pro 10.5 vs iPad 9.7 (2017): Design

  • Similar designs, but iPad Pro is slimmer and slightly larger 
  • Smart Connector and raised rear camera lens on iPad Pro
  • iPad Pro comes in additional rose gold colour option

The Apple iPad 9.7 (2017) and the iPad Pro 10.5 feature similar designs with only a few slight differences on the surface. They are both distinctly iPad, offering slim, premium metal constructions with rounded edges and corners and the Touch ID home button on the front beneath the screen.

On the rear, the Apple logo is positioned in the middle, as usual, while the rear camera lens sits in the top left corner. The iPad Pro 10.5 has a raised rear camera lens and a flash module beneath it, while the new iPad has a flat rear camera lens and no flash. Both have a centralised Lightning port at the bottom in between grilles but the iPad Pro has Smart Connector ports on one of its sides, distinguishing it from the new model in terms of design.

The iPad Pro 10.5 is slightly larger measuring 250.6 x 174.1 in terms of width and height, while the iPad 9.7 measures 240 x 169.5mm. The iPad Pro 10.5 is slimmer at 6.1mm compared to 7.5mm though. The Pro and the 9.7-inch model weigh the same at 469g or 477g, depending on the whether you opt for Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi and Cellular.

The Apple iPad 9.7 and the iPad Pro 10.5 both come in silver, space grey and gold colour options, but the iPad Pro is also available in rose gold and it is the only iPad in the family that comes in this colour.

Apple iPad Pro 10.5 vs iPad 9.7 (2017): Display

  • iPad Pro larger screen but both have same 264ppi pixel density
  • iPad Pro has fully laminated display with anti-reflective coating
  • iPad Pro also has wider colour gamut, True Tone technology and support for higher refresh rate 

The Apple iPad 9.7 (2017) has a 9.7-inch Retina display, which means an LED-backlit LCD screen with 2048 x 1536 resolutions for a pixel density of 264ppi. The iPad Pro 10.5 on the other hand, has a slightly larger 10.5-inch Retina display with a slightly higher resolution of 2224 x 1668 pixels, resulting in the same 264ppi pixel density. They both have a fingerprint resistance oleophobic coating, but this is where any similarities conclude.

The iPad Pro 10.5 has a fully laminated display with an anti-reflective coating, while the iPad 9.7 doesn't, meaning there is a small gap between the surface glass and the display panel of the smaller iPad and the reason for the increased thickness. In reality, it doesn't actually make a great deal of difference other than content isn't as close to the surface, but the colours of the iPad 9.7 are still vibrant and natural so the experience is still a great one.

The iPad Pro 10.5 also offers a P3 wide colour gamut and Apple's True Tone technology, the latter of which adjusts the white balance based on ambient lighting conditions. It also offers an antireflection coating and something called ProMotion technology. Apple claims the 10.5-inch iPad Pro offers the world's most advanced display. It is said to be brighter at 600nits, less reflective and more responsive, supporting a 120Hz refresh rate so it is likely to offer a better experience than the cheaper model.

Apple iPad Pro 10.5 vs iPad 9.7 (2017): Camera

  • iPad Pro has 12MP rear, 7MP front cameras
  • iPad 9.7 has 8MP rear, 1.2MP front cameras
  • iPad Pro has rear True Tone Flash, front Retina Flash, 4K video recording and Live Photo feature 

The Apple iPad 9.7 (2017) has an 8-megapixel rear camera with a f/2.4 aperture and 1080p video recording capabilities, while the front-facing camera resolution sits at 1.2-megapixels. There is no flash on either camera.

The iPad Pro 10.5 on the other hand, has a 12-megapixel rear camera with a f/1.8 aperture and 4K video recording, along with a 7-megapixel front-facing snapper, the same as the iPhone 7. It also offers optical image stabilisation, Live Photos with stabilisation, wide colour photo capture, a Quad-LED True Tone flash on its rear camera and a Retina Flash on its front snapper.

Other camera features are the same across both devices though, with both offering Auto HDR photos, exposure control, face detection, burst mode, timer mode and photo geotagging, all of which are also offered on the company's iPhones.

Apple iPad Pro 10.5 vs iPad 9.7 (2017): Hardware

  • iPad Pro has faster chip, but both have 10-hour battery life
  • iPad Pro comes in larger storage options
  • iPad Pro compatible with Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil

The Apple iPad 9.7 (2017) comes with the A9 chip and embedded M9 coprocessor, which is said offer 1.6x faster CPU and 1.8x faster GPU compared to the A8 chip, used in the Apple iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 4. The iPad Pro 10.5 has a more advanced A10X Fusion chip with embedded M10 coprocessor though, said to be 30 per cent faster in performance and 40 per cent faster in graphics to the A9.

The iPad Pro 10.5 also offers Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard compatibility, which the iPad 9.7 doesn't making it less of a working-on-the-go tablet compared to the Pro device. There is also four-speaker audio on the iPad Pro, compared to two-speaker audio on the new iPad. Both the iPad 9.7 and the iPad Pro 10.5 are said to offer up to 10 hours battery life.

In terms of storage options, the iPad 9.7 comes in 32GB and 128GB capacities, while the iPad Pro 10.5 is available in 64GB, 256GB and 512GB capacities. Both come in Wi-Fi and Cellular models.

Apple iPad Pro 10.5 vs iPad 9.7 (2017): Software

  • Both run on iOS 10
  • Both should get iOS 11 update

Both the Apple iPad 9.7 (2017) and the iPad Pro 10.5 run on iOS 10, meaning you'll get an almost identical experience across both devices, aside from a few extra features on the iPad Pro.

Functions such as split-screen multi-tasking, the Home app for any HomeKit-enabled devices you might have, iMessages and of course the richness of the App Store ecosystem will be present on both.

There will also be a whole range of new and exciting features coming to the new iPads in September with iOS 11, such as Drag and Drop, Files, and a new app dock that looks similar to what you'd find on MacOS.

Apple iPad Pro 10.5 vs iPad 9.7 (2017): Price

The Apple iPad 9.7 (2017) starts at £339 for the 32GB Wi-Fi only option, stretching up to £559 for the 128GB Wi-Fi and Cellular model. 

The Apple iPad Pro 10.5 starts at £619 for the 64GB Wi-Fi only option, while the 512GB Wi-Fi and Cellular option will cost you £1019.

Apple iPad Pro 10.5 vs iPad 9.7 (2017): Which should you buy?

The decision between the Apple iPad 9.7 (2017) and the iPad Pro 10.5 will come down to what you want your new iPad for, as well as what you're willing, or what you have, to spend on it. 

The iPad Pro 10.5 offers a better screen, more advanced chipset, the option of more storage, better cameras and it is also compatible with the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil, both of which mean it will be a great tablet for working-on-the-go, whether sketching or typing. The iPad Pro also offers better audio.

The iPad 9.7 (2017) is significantly cheaper though and although it doesn't match the iPad Pro in terms of specs, it's still a brilliant tablet that offers a solid, consistent performance. It will be more than enough for some, while others will want the extra functionality that comes with the iPad Pro. The question you really have to ask yourself is, are those extra functions worth £300 to you?