Apple announced a new 9.7-inch iPad during a special event in March 2018, and it pitched the device squarely at the education market.

Last year's 9.7-inch iPad replaced the iPad Air 2. But the new iPad 9.7 (2018) has succeeded that model and is now the cheapest way to get your hands on an Apple tablet. But how does it compare to the iPad Pro 10.5, which took the place of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro from 2016? Well, to help you figure it out, we've broken down all the specs and pitted the two devices against each other.

  • 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 iPad 9.7 (2018) 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 Touch ID 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 iPad 9.7 in terms of design. The iPad Pro 10.5 is slightly larger measuring 250.6 x 174.1mm in terms of width and height, while the iPad 9.7 measures 240 x 169.5mm. The iPadPro 10.5 is slimmer at 6.1mm compared to the iPad's 7.5mm, though.

The iPad Pro and the 9.7-inch iPad weigh the same at 469g or 477g, depending on the whether you opt for Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi and Cellular. And finally, the 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.

  • 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, and a higher refresh rate

The iPad 9.7 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. 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.

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 iPadPro offers the world's most advanced display. It is said to be brighter at 600nits and supports a 120Hz refresh rate.

So, the iPad Pro likely offers a better experience than the cheaper model.

  • 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

The iPad 9.7 (2018) 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 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, and more.

  • 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 iPad 9.7 (2018) comes with the A10 fusion chip and embedded M10 coprocessor, which is said offer 2x faster CPU and 1.7x faster GPU compared to the A8 chip, used in the 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.

Both the iPad 9.7 and iPad Pro 10.5 support Apple Pencil, though Smart Keyboard compatibility is limited to the iPad Pro 10.5, as it has a Smart Connector, 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. And both models offer up to 10 hours of battery.

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.

  • Both run on iOS 11
  • Both support Apple's ARKit
  • iPad 9.7 has education apps

Both the iPad 9.7 (2018) and the iPad Pro 10.5 run on iOS 11, meaning you'll get an almost identical experience across both devices, aside from a few features. 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.

Schools and students can order the new iPad with new education apps, such as School Manager, which enables schools to manage multiple users - and Apple IDs - on a single device and Schoolwork. While unveiling the tablet, Apple also spent time showcasing Schoolwork, an app that helps teachers create assignments and view student progress. It features Handouts, a way to create and send assignments.

  • iPad (2018) starting price is £200 cheaper
  • See current price iPad Pro 10.5 on Amazon UK - Amazon US
  • See current price iPad 9.7 (2018)

The iPad 9.7 (2018) starts at £319. for the 32GB Wi-Fi only option, stretching up to £449 for the 128GB Wi-Fi and Cellular model.

The 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

The decision between the iPad 9.7 (2018) 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.

The iPad Pro also offers better audio. But the iPad 9.7 (2018) 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 also supports Apple Pencil and can be outfitted with educations apps. The question you really have to ask yourself is whether you need that and whether the iPad Pro is worth the £300 more?