9.7-inch iPad Pro Review: The hybrid device conundrum continues

The same question surrounding the 12.9-inch iPad’s release last year, clouds the 9.7-inch iPad: who is it really for?

If only the 9.7-inch iPad Pro was capable of dual-booting iOS and OS X, then it would likely be one of the best laptop/tablet hybrid devices available, but unfortunately this is not the case with Apple’s latest tablet.

Make no mistake, even in this smaller, more manageable form factor, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is not a worthy laptop replacement. What the tablet is though, is a capable upgrade to the aging iPad Air 2, as well as a decent enterprise device, depending on what tasks you need to accomplish.

ipadpro-7

Technical specs

  • iOS 9.3
  • 9.7-inch Retina 2048×1536 pixel resolution display, 264 pixels per inch (ppi)
  • 2GB RAM
  • 64-bit A9X processor w/ M9 motion co-processor
  • 32GB WiFi, 128GB WiFi, 256GB WiFi and 32GB, 128GB and 256GB WiFi + Cell versions
  • 4 speaker audio system (stereo)
  • 12-megapixel iSight camera, F2.2 lens
  • 4K video recording (3840 x 2160)
  • 5-megalpixel FaceTime camera, 720p HD videos
  • Touch ID
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • Dual microphones for calls, video recording and audio recording
  • Wi‑Fi (802.11a/b/g/n/ac) MIMO; dual channel (2.4GHz and 5GHz)
  • Nano SIM
  • Three-axis gyro, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor
  • 6.1mm thick
  • 0.96 pounds for WiFi version, 0.96 pounds for WiFi + cellular connectivity
  • 27.5 Whr battery, 10-hour battery life (cellular is 9-hour battery life)
  • Available in Silver, Gold, Space Grey and Rose Gold

Probably not a laptop replacement 

ipadpro-6

Editing simple Word documents, browsing the internet or creating a basic spreadsheet? Then the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, similar to its larger and more unwieldy 12.9-inch brother, is the perfect device for you. This is in part due to its more manageable size and Smart Keyboard/Apple Pencil compatibility. Microsoft’s support for iPad Pro-specific app when it comes to Office, is also an added bonus for those looking to work on basic enterprise activities.

For all other tasks, however, most people will likely find a standard laptop – or perhaps if their mind is set on a two-in-one hybrid, Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 or Surface Book, which utilize a full-fledged version of Windows 10 – to suit their needs better. For me, using an iPad Pro as my daily work device is nearly impossible given the nature of my job.

ipadprodemo-1

I often need a number of tabs open at one time and programs to run simultaneously. It’s worth noting that thanks to the power of iOS 9, the iPad is capable of basic multitasking, though having two apps open at once often isn’t enough for me.

I also frequently use Photoshop for resizing images and basic photography editing. While it’s true there are a number of mobile photo editing iOS apps available, many even from Adobe, I’ve never found any of them as functional as the standard desktop version of Photoshop.

Will it convince aging PC users to jump ship?

ipadpro-4

During the 9.7-inch Pro’s reveal press conference at the company’s Cupertino, California-based campus, Apple CEO Tim Cook stated there are nearly 600 million aging Windows PCs in the world that are more than five years old.

Cook cited the 9.7-inch iPad Pro as the perfect device for those looking to upgrade to modern hardware. While an ambitious statement, most PC users switching to an iPad Pro will find Apple’s mobile operating system limiting.

iOS is great at simplifying a number of basic tasks, but the operating system is far from a desktop replacement, whether the intention is to move from OS X, Windows 10, or even an earlier version of Windows, to using the iPad Pro. There’s also a substantial price difference between the Pro and a mid-range regular Windows laptop, especially with the addition of the sold-separately Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil.

ipadpro-10

With all that said though, while preparing to write this review, I handed the 9.7-inch iPad Pro to a number of older family members who currently use some form of older Windows-based computer. With little instruction, most were able to accomplish simple tasks like checking their email, browsing the web and taking notes with the Smart Cover. Despite my skepticism regarding Cook’s bold claim, perhaps there is some truth to Apple’s ambitions.

Though, it is worth noting every person who tested out the 9.7-inch Pro felt that while the Apple Pencil made navigating the tablet’s more accurate, the accessory wasn’t necessary, stating that if they were to jump from their older Windows device to a Pro – and this is something some people said they’d consider – it’s unlikely they’d purchase the stylus.

Hardware powerhouse

ipadair-3

So now that we’ve covered the Pro’s strengths as well as its weaknesses, let’s delve into the actual tablet. It’s taken Apple roughly a year and a half to launch a successor to the iPad Air 2, and during this period, the company has managed to fit most of the 12.9-inch Pro’s upgrades into a smaller form factor (the 9.7-inch Pro features 2GB of RAM instead of 4GB), resulting in a worthy successor to one of the tech giant’s most well-received 9.7-inch tablets.

Just like the 12.9-inch Pro, its smaller 9.7-inch brother features four impressive stereo speakers on the side of its base that produce excellent sound, making listening to podcasts or watching YouTube videos a great experience (I rarely hooked the Pro up to my UE Boom Bluetooth speaker). The Apple Pencil, while not as sensitive as Microsoft’s Surface Stylus Digital Ink technology, is great for making simple sketches, taking notes and creating doodles. I’ve also found the Apple Pencil useful for playing specific video games that require accuracy — like FTL and Clash of Clans, for example.

The 9.7-inch Pro’s Smart Keyboard is efficient for inputting passwords and typing up quick notes, though its too small to be useful for extended periods of typing, and just like the 12.9-inch Pro, doesn’t balance well when being used on your lap. It’s also strange so few third-party manufacturers have taken advantage of the iPad Pro line’s magnetic Smart Connector.

ipadpro-2

The only notable change between the 9.7-inch iPad Pro and the 12.9 inch edition, beyond its smaller form factor, as well as processor and camera upgrades, is its True Tone technology, a feature many poked fun at during Apple’s press conference that revealed the smaller pro and iPhone SE. In reality, True Tone actually makes a significant difference in display quality, though admittedly it’s difficult to notice the difference at first. True Tone adapts to the ambient light in the environment, subtly adjusting its white balance. The screen also displays a wider colour gamut thanks to its anti-reflective coated glass.

Then there’s the 9.7-inch Pro’s excellent 12 megapixel camera with 4K video shooting capabilities, matching the photography capabilities of the iPhone 6s. Despite what some might think – as well as how ridiculous it seems at times – a lot of people take pictures with the iPad. Seriously, go to your city’s local Zoo and I guarantee you’ll see at least one person snapping photos of a lion with an iPad. At least with the 9.7-inch Pro, their images won’t be horrendous.

9.7-inch iPad Pro vs. iPad Air 2

ipadpro-1

So if the 9.7-inch iPad Pro isn’t for Windows users looking to jump ship, or an alternative for those using OS X, then who is its target demographic? It’s those looking to upgrade from the iPad Air 2, or an even earlier iPad release.

The iPad Pro 9.7-inch’s display features the same resolution as the iPad Air 2, though it does offer a brighter and less reflective surface, as well as a wider colour gamut. The main improvement, however, is the inclusion of the A9X processor in the Pro, a significant jump from the A8X chip featured in the aging iPad Air 2.

ipadpro-8

Whether or not the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is for you will depend on a variety of factors and what you’re actually looking for in a tablet. If you’re in the market for a new tablet the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, which starts at a pricey $799 CAD for the 32GB iteration, is a solid option. If you’re hoping to ditch your laptop, however, and use the Pro full-time, this definitely isn’t the device for you.

Pros

  • Sleek and small
  • More manageable than the 12.9-inch iPad
  • Worthy upgrade over the iPad Air 2

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Runs iOS
  • Not a laptop replacement for most

Comments

  • rick

    tick tock apple. Not converging your OS platforms is hurting you. MS is gaining traction with the Surface and BB demonstrated people don’t necessarily want to be tied to different ecosystems.

    • I don’t think time is running out, but the two platform strategy is increasingly making less sense for Apple. I’m hoping things change, but I don’t that’s going to happen any time soon.

    • rick

      If Apple isn’t working on this in the background…….the clock is indeed ticking.

    • Smanny

      Both Apple and Microsoft have the same problems. They are not agnostic platforms, nor do they have agnostic ecosystems. They are trying, but it really relys on the developers. Microsoft came out with Universal apps for their platforms, and Apple came out with Swift for theirs. It’s only this year that Apples developers can now pay one fee to submit apps on either iOS or OS/X apps. Swift is suppose to help bridge that gap. A 100% Swift app can run on either of Apples platforms x86 or Arm based. Look at Android and how well their agnostic platform worked for them. Now everyone is trying to make an agnostic ecostem that will not be tied to any specific hardware (CPUs).

    • gommer strike

      No iOS and OSX should rightfully be kept separate, or else we’ll end up with another Microsoft Surface scenario…and we all know how well that turned out.

    • Graham Fluet

      How do you think it turned out? Because from what I’ve seen the Surface line is now a perfectly viable alternative to a laptop and can be used 100% as a laptop when needed. Having Windows 10 the same for both devices is a smart move as developers can make full-fledged apps that work for both – and even additional devices. The Xbox One will soon be able to run standard Windows 10 apps, and even the upcoming Hololens can use existing apps without further development. On the Apple side, developers have to maintain completely different versions for macOS, iOS, tvOS – each with their own App Store. I don’t even know what will happen if Apple ever takes on the Hololens, which anyone with half a brain can immediately realize at least one killer app use for it.

    • gommer strike

      I’d say we revisit this in 2 years time and let’s see if universal apps on Windows 10 truly pans out and if everyone suddenly goes OMG I gotta get a surface.

      And get those idiotic NFL announcers to stop saying “oh hey they’re using an iPad-like device”. NO you i****s. It’s a SURFACE. A MICROSOFT SURFACE for god sake.

    • I couldn’t agree more. The Surface line features the top laptop/tablet hybrid devices around and despite a horribly rocky start, has been a resounding success for Microsoft, both financially and critically. I think the iPad Pro literally exists because of the Surface.

    • demigod79

      You mean the same Surface tablets that surged in revenue 61% YoY in the recent quarter? You mean the device that is leading the only growing part of the tablet and PC market? You mean the tablets that everyone and their grandma are now trying to copy? 😉

    • gommer strike

      So you’re suggesting that everyone on the street now has a surface and Google and Apple and madly scrambling for cover? And that businesses are going omg I can totally replace all those PC’s with surfaces?

      Maybe that’s your reality and if so, I’m so happy for you *handshake*. As for my neck in the woods, that doesn’t hold true, but you have a good day sir.

    • demigod79

      The data is very clear – sales of the Surface are shooting up (+61%) while sales of the iPad are sliding down (-19%). The Surface is also getting very high marks for customer satisfaction (virtually tied with Apple, which is remarkable considering that they do not have the brand advantage that Apple enjoys). Companies that traditionally only produced Android phones and tablets are now producing Windows hybrids (Samsung, Huawei) and products like the iPad Pro and Pixel C are also attempts to make a Surface-like device. As far as tablets go, Microsoft is on a roll.

      Apple is desperate to save the iPad business but nothing has been working for them. Despite releasing the iPad Pro 12.9″ sales have continued to slide and the newer 9.7″ hasn’t generated much buzz. Frankly, I think they would love to have their own version of the Surface but don’t want to give up on the traditional iPad just yet. My guess it that they will continue on with the iPad Pro until it’s crystal clear that it isn’t working, and then they will begrudgingly put a touchscreen on the Macbook and make an OS X hybrid. Of course by that time the Surface will probably be well-established and it’ll be very difficult to challenge it (as the guy said above, the clock is ticking).

    • gommer strike

      My take on it is, Apple already has an answer to the Surface – the Macbook line. They don’t need to make a tablet/notebook hybrid. Have you picked up the latest Macbook and felt how incredibly light it is? And it’s an actual laptop, that you can sit on your lap without having how prop your knees like a college student so that the Surface won’t slide off.

      Granted it’s not a Windows device, which in some ways is a disadvantage(sorry Mac heads, I had to say it). And OK before you jump down my throat, yes I know all about bootcamp.

    • Homer J. Simpson

      Even laptops are not comfortable on your laps. Surface solves that by being a touch device and a holdable tablet. I actually see tablets sitting on laps more than laptops.

    • gommer strike

      The only proper and fully comfortable position is a computer on a desk, with a properly heighted chair and correspondingly elevated screen. A tablet in your lap in bed, forces your neck to bend forward, which causes unnecessary strain on your neck.

      That said tablets have their uses as short-term consumption devices but by no means are you going to spend 4+ hours at a time with a tablet – barring using from a desk or something to elevate the screen upward, with a keyboard attached.

    • Don’t get me wrong, I really like Apple’s MacBook products. In fact, I’d say the air remains my favourite laptop of all time (I can’t wait for the refresh). I do, however, don’t think that the regular Surface Pro is designed to compete with the Macbook, but the Surface Book definitely is. As for Apple, I think if the company felt it didn’t need to create a laptop/tablet hybrid then the iPad Pro wouldn’t exist, because whether people want to believe it or not, that’s exactly what the device is.

    • demigod79

      The Macbook is not a hybrid. You cannot use it as a tablet like you can with the Surface; I usually use my Surface Pro 4 with the keyboard folded back and touch my way around (the touchscreen makes all the difference for casual use). This is the beauty of hybrid devices – they can be used for both touch-based casual consumption as well as keyboard and mouse productivity. This is what differentiates hybrids like the Surface from traditional tablets like the iPad Pro (does not have laptop functionality) and traditional laptops (cannot use like a tablet).

      Personally, I see hybrid devices like the Surface as an evolution of the laptop (not really sure if they should actually be a separate category to be honest). The Surface is basically a touchscreen laptop that’s built like a tablet with an optional keyboard attachment (laptops like the Lenovo Yoga can also be considered hybrids but do not have a detachable keyboard). The Surface Book makes this even more obvious, bridging the gap between a traditional laptop and the Surface Pro. They basically improve the casual consumption capabilities of the laptop, allowing them to take on the role that traditional tablets are known for.

    • Smanny

      The thing is Apple already addressed this issue with Apple Swift. If developers make a 100% Swift app, then it can work on either OS/X or iOS devices. Look at Android has been that way since day one, and now has 2 million agnostic apps to prove it. That is why you see Android devices running with any CPU you can throw at it. The ecosystem doesn’t care if you use x86, MIPS, or a multitude of different Arm processors. Remember Swift has a runtime that can run the same Swift app on x86 or Arm. This is very similar to Android and it’s runtime.

    • gommer strike

      One thing that I wish Android would address is how their permissions system is handled, in terms of enforcing it on the developers.

      We have Marshmellow available to us, which introduces a granular permissions system similar to iOS, which is fantastic(you can deny the app permission to view your contacts for example…why would a flashlight app need your contact info?).

      But apparently the developers can choose not to code for Marshmellow’s permissions support. They can say “screw it” and insist on coding for Lollipop and below, so that their apps won’t be subject to the user denying them the data harvesting that they want. That’s not cool.

      It should be more enforced by Google somehow.

    • Smanny

      Clearly you never used Android Marshmallow, because if you did, then you would have known that users can also manually revoke permissions from any app — even ones designed for old versions of Android.

    • gommer strike

      Clearly you didn’t read carefully what I just wrote. Marshmellow states very clearly that if you revoke permissions from old apps(written for Lollipop and under) – it can cause instability and even cases where the app will outright force close and/or refuse to run.

      Nice try.

    • Smanny

      I did. Its that 1) doesn’t know what they are talking about. 2) when a user Denys a certain permission from an app, period.

      Now using your example above where a flashlight app uses contact info, then on Marshmallow it will not allow that app access to the users contact data, period. Regardless of which version of Android this app was made for.

      Remember what you also said above, which BTW is not correct.

      “But apparently the developers can choose not to code for Marshmellow’s permissions support. They can say “screw it” and insist on coding for Lollipop and below, so that their apps won’t be subject to the user denying them the data harvesting that they want. That’s not cool.”

      That is so not true, period. There is no nice try. These are the facts. Now Marshmallow is doing its job, and if an app crashes because it doesn’t have the necessary access, then it’s a crap app, or asking for something that it doesn’t need. Which the user has denied. So Marshmallow is doing its job, period.

    • It’s Me

      Yeah, look how well shoehorning a desktop OS onto a tablet did for Microsoft. They are really killing it and leading the market. BB too. Definitely success from two companies that Apple should envy.
      /s

    • rick

      Yes I completely agree that Surface has pretty much become the defining standard for a mobile tablet with full functionality. And that its been successful and the success will continue to grow. Particularly with no strategy from Apple on this front other than to throw more gimmick functionality at the ipad. And as for BB – again I completely agree that BB totally dropped the ball on the Playbook. Further that they ignored what was trending and what consumers were wanting. No one is denying that. Unfortunately Apple doesn’t seem to be learning from any of that. Thanks for agreeing with all of that. I guess the saving grace for Apple is the ignorant ipologists that will insist everything is ok. BB consumers were actually a little more savvy in that they were wanting BB to change things. Thanks for further demonstrating the ipologist aspect so accurately. Great demo of blind ignorance!

    • It’s Me

      Yup. Everyone that is number one should aspire to distant 3rd and 4th place. Market failure is definitely the goal for any we’ll run business.

      You disagree with Apple’s strategy. That’s fine. But to say it’s hurt them? That’s a bit dense.

    • rick

      Apple is on track to move into second. Third isn’t far after.

    • It’s Me

      Second to MS or BB? Or to another tablet with a mobile OS?

    • Maestro Karajan

      Second or third to who? Android? BB? lol! Wishful thinking on your part.

    • Maestro Karajan

      Blackberry has always been a supremely arrogant company and while a lot of tech operations can be the same, it seemed to have a particularly nasty effect on their ability to introduce products that people wanted and in fact many of their own engineers were trying to persuade management to pursue. One has to wonder what Apple engineers are coming up with that is perhaps being resisted by management there as well and that could be costing them business going forward.

    • How do you figure? Windows 10 on the Surface is a relatively solid experience (I’m far from alone in this thought process). Sure, it has its quirks, but it has certainly come a long way from where Windows/Surface device integration was only a few years ago.

    • It’s Me

      Win98 on tablet: market failure.
      WinME on tablet: market failure.
      WinXP on tablet: market failure.
      WinVista on tablet: market failure.
      Win7 on tablet: market failure.
      Win8 on tablet: not quite a complete failure.

      Saying a tablet needs a desktop OS is ignorant. With Windows 10 one can say that some one finally made a desktop/Mobile OS that (a) isn’t a complete crap experience full of compromise and (b) the fact that it’s actually usable this time seems to be helping sales.

      Given that track record, does one one think Apple would be wear they are now if they didn’t diverge their OS years ago?

  • justd80010

    You should have asked them if they’d still switch knowing they can’t use a USB drive or SD card or connect a mouse or HDMI or even adjust the angle of the screen. A few days or months with a device is one thing, but the longer you have a consumption only device the more likely you are to feel how constrained it is.

    • Most of the people I let take the Pro for a spin wouldn’t care about extra ports and stuff like that. They just want something that lets them watch the odd video, browse the internet and play the occasional game. Personally, I feel that the Pro is very constrained.

    • justd80010

      Right, but I think that’s largely why tablets have lost their luster. They are good enough until they aren’t, in that moment they are the most frustrating pieces of hardware in the industry.

    • Definitely. I could never get by with just a tablet. I guess all I’m saying is that for some, that moment when they aren’t good enough, never really comes, simply because some people only use their devices for very limited and specific use cases.

    • Can’t Fix Stupid

      If they just want something like that for the odd video, surfing and simple games….the Air 1 or 2 will more than suffice. The price upgrade to Pro was merely a cash grab. In the past this would have merely been the Air 3 with the pricing constant in US$.

      Their tablet sales will continue to fall.

    • demigod79

      Yup. Hell, even a cheap Android tablet can suffice for their needs – why get a $500 iPad when you can get by with a $50 Fire?

    • Gary Nixon

      No pen with the fire and the APP support is better on the ipad.

    • I don’t think I could ever recommend an Android tablet lol. Not until Google takes the scaled tablet version of Android seriously again at least.

    • rick

      So you think its worth dropping 2 to 3 times what a chrome book or a laptop that would let you watch a video, browse the internet, and play an odd game? If that’s all the Pro is good for, clearly overpriced and over marketed garbage.

    • No, I don’t. Did you read the review? I think the Pro is a viable option for a very specific audience.

    • rick

      So what did you mean when you said “they just want something that lets them watch the odd video, browse the internet and play the occasional game. ” As you can do that with a device 2 to 3 times cheaper than the pro.

    • “Viable option,” is the key word in that sentence.

    • Francois Roy

      I am SO fed up with your reposts.
      No other media/blog I can think of does that.
      Unsubscribing from both your Twitter and G+ feeds.

    • By reposts are you referring to our stories going back out on social? Every publication does this. We do our best to space out pushing out our features and often save the second social push for the weekend.

    • Francois Roy

      I assume you don’t consider Android Central, Android Police, Droid Life, Android Authority, Ars Technica, Engadget and The Verge to be publications, then.

    • Every one of those publications you’ve mentioned reposts their stories to social media multiple times. I know this for a fact. Perhaps because we push out less content (we’re still a small but rapidly growing team) it’s more noticeable.

  • demigod79

    What’s the confusion? The iPad Pro is the latest iPad and it is for tablet users. It is not a hybrid (attaching a keyboard doesn’t magically transform the iPad into a laptop) and Apple has yet to create a hybrid device. The only hybrids so far are Windows tablets.

    • While this is true, it’s a hybrid because that’s how Apple is marketing the device. The company has repeatedly stated that they see the pro as an all-in-one light productivity device.

    • demigod79

      Apple could market it as a car but that wouldn’t make it a car. The only pertinent question is, is it also able to function as a laptop? If so then it’s a hybrid. If not then it isn’t.

      The same could be said of the Pixel C. Is it a hybrid or is it just an Android tablet with a keyboard case?

    • thomas nguyen

      This right here is the main problem. There is no clear definition of a tablet, hybrid, etc. so it’s hard to really compare apple to orange.
      what all of them are, or are trying to be is a “laptop replacement”, meaning doing a majority of things people do on a day to day basis on the device. IE, email, word documents, browsing, facebook, media, etc.

    • Cook clearly has a specific market he’s going after with the Pro and in marketing materials, as well as during the keynote, made it clear that this is an all-in-one laptop replacement hybrid. Whether you want to believe it, or disagree with that statement, it’s not even my opinion, it’s a fact pushed out by Apple.

      And yes, the Pixel C is a hybrid device. Google has positioned it in the same way Apple markets its Pro line.

    • Mo Dabbas

      Ya they did advertise it as a laptop replacement because to be honest the tablet doesn’t have a place in the iPad lineup. Apple should have just made it the successor of the iPad Air 2 and kept the pricing formula as the Air 2 (like they usually do when they drop a new product). But instead they decided to make a new line of iPad that is pretty much the Air 2 but with the stylus support and the magnetic accessory ports (with the added hardware upgrades that are expected of course). That just ads confusion to the customer who will probably end up buying the cheaper option in the end.

      By the way, I read a couple of days ago that B&H photo is doing a 200 off the iPad air 2 128GB. That makes it at 499 with free shipping to canada (I think the price is in USD but still a great deal).

    • rick

      Apple would want you to believe and market their devices otherwise

  • Ken Wiebe

    This product is a very good example of why tablet sales are falling into the stink-hole. Why buy a tablet if all you need is something that your phone can handle very well. If you require your mobile device to be productive…a laptop or hybrid is the only way to go.

    • rick

      personally I think a low priced companion tablet is a great idea. It should only need enough processor and memory capability to connect to you high power phone. Its the screen real estate that people are actually after.

    • thomas nguyen

      We had that in the early days, 7inch ipad and tablets, and I found as the phones got bigger, it made the smaller tablets kind of useless.

    • rick

      Agree given phones are 5+ inches that a 7 inch companion tablet does not make sense. But that doesn’t mean a 10 inch one does not. Biggest drain on your phone battery – screen, biggest reason for a tablet when you already have a powerful phone – screen. A 300 dollar 9 or 10 inch screen paired with a powerful phone would be great imo. You don’t need a powerful processor or bunch of ram or storage. The only thing driving the cost would be a high quality display. Done right and it would see you through 2 generations of phones as well.

    • thomas nguyen

      but by having a 9/10 inch tablet as a companion is too unwieldy to take around, I have found if i keep a tablet at home, i find i use it from time to time, but still it becomes an issue that it’s too big… i dunno, I just don’t feel the benefit of paying another $500+ for a companion device when my phone does everything, and my laptop / hybrid does anything else.

    • robinottawa

      Good point.

  • gommer strike

    I’m not sure I get what’s wrong with the iPad Air 2? This form factor of the iPad Pro just seems awfully confusing. Why do you need a 9.7″ form factor of the Pro?

    • Mo Dabbas

      couldn’t agree more. I think apple should have made this as the successor of the iPad 2 and keeping that same price.
      Btw, the 128Gb iPad air 2 is at 499 discount (at B&H Photo, price in USD I think) why would people go for the pro.

    • Gary Nixon

      Pen for production and the 3 connectors for future products.

  • ciderrules

    You put iOS in the “cons” section when iOS trounces Android for the number and quality of tablet optimized Apps? Hilarious.

    • Graham Fluet

      the iPad Pro is being compared to a Surface tablet with a keyboard and a hypothetical Mac OS X tablet. Not Android, which has it’s own problems and hurdles. In fact, Android will soon be getting a proper windowing environment – which is a necessity for decent multitasking.

    • In the context of a 2-1 device iOS isn’t exactly the best operating system around.

    • It’s Me

      Mostly because in the context of a 2-1 device there are no iOS devices.

  • Brad Fortin

    “So now that we’ve covered the Pro’s strengths as well as its weaknesses, let’s delve into the actual tablet.”

    About 1% of the text before this was about the strengths, 99% about its weaknesses, and we’re already half-way through the review.

    “The screen also displays a wider colour gamut thanks to its anti-reflective coated glass.”

    The screen has a wider colour gamut, and it has an anti-reflective coating, but the coating is not responsible for the wider colour gamut. This is as bad as the reviews that try to attribute the wider colour gamut to the True Tone technology.

    “So if the 9.7-inch iPad Pro isn’t for Windows users looking to jump ship, or an alternative for those using OS X, then who is its target demographic?”

    Well, it could be for both those demographics, it just depends on the individual’s usage. If it’s a Windows or OS X user who just checks email and browses the web, even an iPad Air would suffice, although they would enjoy the better screen and speakers on the Pro if they watch videos or listen to music.

    “If you’re hoping to ditch your laptop, however, and use the Pro full-time, this definitely isn’t the device for you.”

    Tell that to Federico Viticci, or CGP Grey, or Mike Hurley. There’s plenty of people who are already doing what you’re describing.

    It seems to me like Patrick went into this review already knowing what he wanted to write before he even used the device.

    • Maestro Karajan

      And there are just as many stories out there of people telling you that the iPad Pro has come nowhere close to replacing laptops so I don’t think Hurley, Viticci or CGP have any monopoly on an opinion on the usefulness of the device.

    • Brad Fortin

      At no point did I suggest they have a monopoly on an opinion on a device. I suggested against making a definitive statement about something not being doable when many people already doing it. Saying “X isn’t possible” when people are already doing it is just non-sensical.

    • Maestro Karajan

      Their statements are laughable and not least because of the inherent limitations of the iPad that a laptop has as strengths. The lack of connectivity via USB, extra storage via microSD, and the limitations of the app store to use programs on the device make the idea of this as a laptop replacement a total joke. Sometimes you have to wonder if those that make these claims are being paid to say so but let’s face it, in no way shape or form is an iPad a reasonable replacement for a laptop if content creation is your main task.

    • Brad Fortin

      “but let’s face it, in no way shape or form is an iPad a reasonable replacement for a laptop if content creation is your main task”

      Again, there are people, right now, who actually use iPads as laptop replacements and actually prefer the workflow of the iPad over the workflow of their old laptops. You think it’s laughable because it doesn’t fit *your* use case, but for others it fits their use case perfectly. You’re laughing at people for using the tool that suits them best. That’s just asinine.

    • Maestro Karajan

      You work for Apple Brad? Sure sounds like it as you don’t address any of the deficiencies of the device I listed
      What’s asinine are people like you posting as a ploy while referring to three other cases as the basis of this being a laptop replacement Most likely paid shills
      I’ve yet to see one person using these iPad as a replacement with the keyboard and all

    • Brad Fortin

      Yes, everyone who uses an iPad as a full-time computer is an Apple employee, as is anyone explaining that it’s possible. /s

      Or, you know, people other than yourself will have different use cases than yours, and for many people the iPad *is* a suitable laptop replacement.

      You can either accept that people will use technology differently than you, or you can live in a fantasy land where no use case except your own is possible.

      “Deficiencies”? Some people don’t need USB ports because they’ll never plug anything into a USB port. If you get the proper amount of storage when you buy the device you won’t have to expand it later with an SD card. The App Store has limitations and benefits.

      It’s just a different use case than your own, but that doesn’t make it any less valid.

    • Sunny Lee

      The irony of criticizing an argument due to being subjective and having a small sample size while also using the exact same argument (i.e. “I’ve yet to see one person”).

    • Again Brad, a review is never a “definitive statement.” It’s the writers opinion on a product, perhaps with some insight from other included for good measure in some cases. I think this is a fact you seem to forget or are unaware of.

    • Brad Fortin

      “this definitely isn’t the device for you” is a pretty definitive statement.

      “this probably isn’t the device for you” is not a definitive statement.

      Saying the use of the word “definitely” isn’t definitive is nonsense.

    • Sounds like semantics to me, Brad. See my above post if you’re interested in understanding what a product review actually is.

    • Brad Fortin

      Use of the word “definitely” is, by definition, definitive. It’s not semantics.

    • thomas nguyen

      a lot of good examples, you noted, and it’s tough to review any device where it is black and white (in reponse to demographics, laptop replacements). I think for the people you listed, emails and browsing are primary focus, so yes they could get away with, for techs like myself or some of my colleagues, they could be limited due to the application limitations. but to each their own, and there is always a device for each person

    • Brad Fortin

      “I think for the people you listed, emails and browsing are primary focus”

      Federico runs his business/website, Macstories, entirely from his iPad.

      Myke runs his podcasting business, Relay FM, mostly from his iPads.

      CGP Grey runs his YouTube channel and podcast mostly from his 3 iPads.

      A lot of people are too quick to dismiss iPads and their potential.

    • thomas nguyen

      the potential is in the eye of the beholder, yes it’s capable but how does it compare to dedicated devices? I understand there is useability with the hundred of thousands of apps, and that it can be as simple as pressing a few virtual buttons to do what you can do on the computer. there is definitely pros to have apps to do anything and everything, but I still find it terrible to create a youtube video with an ipad, edit it the way you want and upload it to youtube, or whatever video you want.

      I’m not saying it can’t do anything a computer can, it’s just how versatile is it compared to a dedicated full software on a machine?

    • Maestro Karajan

      It’s not hard to see how podcasting or youtubing can be done from an iPad in fact that would make perfect sense On the flip side running an entire business website from one is highly doubtful

    • Brad Fortin

      Federico has 10,000+ word articles fully detailing how he controls every part of his business from his iPad. Look up his article titled “Working on the iPad: One Year Later, Still My Favorite Computer”, it might surprise you.

    • I’m not super familiar with the work of any of these content creators, but again, I’d take anything Federico says with caution, as I do with anyone who works at a site dedicated to one specific brand.

      As for podcast editing and YouTube editing solely on an iPad? I know a fair amount of content creators that primarily work in those formats, and while basic editing is possible on an iPad, it’s far from ideal.

      I honestly doubt that both the people you mention only use the iPad as their editing rig…

      ,

    • Brad Fortin

      So, because Federico has decided to focus on a certain area of news, we shouldn’t trust him when it comes to that area of news? When he’s taken the time and effort to use iPads as his primary computers for several years we should take what he says with a grain of salt and put our trust in other reviewers with less experience than him? That seems kind of counter-intuitive.

    • You nailed it. Everything on any brand dedicated site, especially from a brand dedicated writer, should be taken with more than a grain of salt.

    • Brad Fortin

      So, when your tap is leaking, you call a woodworker because you can’t trust a plumber? Sounds like a fantastic idea.

    • Columbo

      My certainty that you’re an Apple employee increases with every post you make.

    • Brad Fortin

      Congratulations on reinforcing your own misconceptions by not being able to look at anything to do with Apple in an objective way.

    • “About 1% of the text before this was about the strengths, 99% about its weaknesses, and we’re already half-way through the review.”

      Regardless, the statement remains true. I discuss both the 9.7-inch Pro’s strengths and its weaknesses in this portion of the review.

      “The screen has a wider colour gamut, and it has an anti-reflective coating, but the coating is not responsible for the wider colour gamut. This is as bad as the reviews that try to attribute the wider colour gamut to the True Tone technology.”

      My information regarding this statement comes directly from Apple.

      “Well, it could be for both those demographics, it just depends on the individual’s usage. If it’s a Windows or OS X user who just checks email and browses the web, even an iPad Air would suffice, although they would enjoy the better screen and speakers on the Pro if they watch videos or listen to music.”

      It certainly could be, but like I say in the review, I think there are better devices out there for those specific types of users. We just have differing opinions and that doesn’t result in this statement being incorrect.

      “If you’re hoping to ditch your laptop, however, and use the Pro full-time, this definitely isn’t the device for you.”

      That’s great that the Pro is working as a laptop replacement for them. It doesn’t work for me. This is a review. A review is inherently opinion based and consists of my experience with the device, though in this case, I did hand off the 9.7-inch Pro for a second opinion from friends and family.

      I’d also take the fact that Viticci works for a Apple and Mac focused website into account when it comes to his “unbiased” opinion on products.

      “It seems to me like Patrick went into this review already knowing what he wanted to write before he even used the device.”

      I’m not sure how you can come to that conclusion when most of the review is based on hands-on experience. However, it’s difficult to not have already formed an opinion on the 9.7-inch Pro with you’ve already had extensive hands-on time with the 12.9-inch version….

    • Brad Fortin

      “Regardless, the statement remains true. I discuss both the 9.7-inch Pro’s strengths and its weaknesses in this portion of the review.”

      There are only 2 sentences that passive-aggressively describe anything as strengths. Most of the first half of the review is spend talking about what the iPad *isn’t* and what it *can’t* do, rather than what it *is* and *can* do.

      “My information regarding this statement comes directly from Apple.”

      So you got a press release, or a reply from an email to Apple’s PR department, that explicitly said “the screen also displays a wider colour gamut thanks to its anti-reflective coated glass”, directly attributing the wider colour gamut to the anti-reflective coating?

      “It certainly could be, but like I say in the review, I think there are better devices out there for those specific types of users.”

      Except you went with the definitive statement of “this isn’t for people in category X or Y” (even though it could be), instead of going for wording that acknowledged it could be for those people like “it might not be for most people in X or Y”.

      “That’s great that the Pro is working as a laptop replacement for them. It doesn’t work for me. This is a review. A review is inherently opinion based and consists of my experience with the device.”

      Then express it as your opinion and clarify that your opinion applies to your use case, instead of making a definitive blanket statement about all users and use cases. You could simply say “if I were hoping to ditch my laptop, however, and use the Pro full-time, this definitely isn’t the device for me”, rather than tell any and all readers that what applies to your use case will “definitely” apply to theirs.

      “I’d also take the fact that Viticci works for a Apple and Mac focused website into account when it comes to his “unbiased” opinion on products.”

      I’m not talking about his opinion on a product, which is mixed, I’m talking about his ability to use a device as his primary tool. Someone’s ability to use and experience using a tool isn’t the same as their opinion on that tool. Despite how experience can affect opinion, the two are not the same and should not be conflated. I invite you to read his article titled “Working on the iPad: One Year Later, Still My Favourite Computer” as a report on the utility of the iPad as a primary computer, without trying to paint it as some sort of love letter to Apple.

      “However, it’s difficult to not have already formed an opinion on the 9.7-inch Pro with you’ve already had extensive hands-on time with the 12.9-inch version…”

      That hands-on time with the 12.9-inch version should only serve to *inform* your opinion on the 9.7-inch Pro, not to completely form it, but your opening line, with the question “who is it really for?”, already tells the readers that you don’t understand the product’s potential value or utility to prospective buyers.

  • Maestro Karajan

    Why is this such a worthy upgrade to iPad Air 2? Fact is I use that model still after a couple years and frankly I’m more than satisfied with what it’s intended for. The consumption of information and media. That’s really the bottom line with these tablets in that they are not ideal for content creation, or at least not exclusively so to drop another several hundred on a newer model makes very little sense.
    I have connected a bluetooth keyboard to my iPad and am capable of the same typing capabilities as the ‘Pro’ model and I can even use a $5.00 pair of Bick pens/stylus that I bought from Shoppers Drug Mart to navigate in the same fashion versus the $99 Apple Pen.
    Bottom line is that there is nothing new or compelling here but the review is correct that if this was running OS X or a dual booting we’d have a very different situation here. Otherwise…meh

    • thomas nguyen

      I think there is a big different between the apple pen, and the bick pen/stylus. though they both do the same thing, one gives a much more refine feel for the device. Similar to the ms surface and it’s pen vs a standard bick/stylus pen off the shelf.

    • Maestro Karajan

      Really? I don’t think so. If you’re into fine drawing using Adobe Sketch for example then you may have a point. I’ve used the Bick stylus on that app and really I have no complaint but on the other hand if you’re just navigating around the device with the pen then $99 is a clear ripoff and that’s the bottom line.

    • thomas nguyen

      I tried writing with a bick stylus vs the one on my surface. it’s night and day, drawing, and anything that requires that bit more finer detail, you won’t get that with the blunt soft top of the bick stylus. but if you are navigating around, heck your finger is just as good as any stylus you buy for <$10

    • Maestro Karajan

      Finer detail yes but unless you’re an artist who needs that it’s overpriced garbage

    • thomas nguyen

      i dunno, I can attest to the fact that writing on the actual stylist is much better in terms of feel vs the bick pen (though my experience is with the Microsoft Surface Pen and Surface device, not ipad pro)

  • Columbo

    $800 for the 32GB version AND the keyboard is sold separately? You’ve got to be kidding me. What market does this serve? Rich people with money to burn on extra devices that do less than their laptop and about the same as their phone?

    • Maestro Karajan

      I know it’s a total ripoff At these prices you’re getting into laptop territory No one in their right minds pays this for a tablet unless you’re dumb

  • Mike Wort

    $300 more than the iPad Air2 at entry level for a few gimmicky features ? No OLED display, slightly better camera (like you actually take pictures with your tablet), stereo speakers (who cares, I listen via bluetooth or serious headphones) and a tick faster processor. The jump from iPad 4 -> Air1 -> Air2 were bigger and Apple kept the same price level. Now with declining iPad sales they jack up the entry price by 60% !! Way to go Tim.

  • Pigs Can Fly

    Go on Apple… stay classy, only existing diehard Apple fans will buy these, you’re not going to get new customers out of this.

  • A-thought

    Cons: Runs iOS.

    ROFL.

    When is Apple going to stop trying to save face on the fridge-toaster and similar comments, just admit they were wrong, and put out a touch full-OS tablet? I predict all the Apple fans who defend Apple’s default of iPad and OS X laptops as separate devices would suddenly go quiet and buy them out of stock, and Apple just might get others like me to buy it too. Until then, no thanks on the handcuffed “pro” tablet.

  • Lil’ Cryin’ Loser Cowar-Boi

    Well this certainly brought all the whining lil’ beeyatches out of the woodwork…

    • Mister Kim in Shitty Wok!

      Where is Meesah Cowar…?

    • Lil’ Cryin’ Loser Cowar-Boi

      He too scared for come longtime, yeah?

    • Mister Ho!

      Oooooh!

  • makeittalk

    “Who is it for?” The same question can be asked for many Apple devices. Phil Schiller has said that Apple almost builds in canibalisation of its own devices – by design. It’s not surprising therefore that we end up asking this question – and feeding the trolls who argue self-righteously that their opinions are the only relevant ones and all others are KRAP. Fact is, we buy devices for different use cases. We all have different needs and we buy what works best for us. For me, a device is for me if it works for ME. Don’t much care if my choices work for someone else or not.

    Agreed, IOS will never be a true replacement for OSX. Agreed also that it’s limitations are far too restrictive for effective workflows for many of us. I too often need multiple apps open and a full, real file system. Can’t have that in an iPad. I wished Apple would make an OSX tablet. Tim said they would never make one. Then of course they did! It’s called the 12 inch Retina MacBook! It’s not much larger. Looks pretty much the same with a Smart Keyboard (well ok, it looks a LOT nicer). One USB port is no more limiting than one Lightening port. But it runs OSX and full apps. Hell, it can even run Windows if you must. So it’s MY “iPad replacement”. Agreed, the iPad Pro is not a laptop replacement. Not for me, but it is for those who can live and work with the limits of IOS whomever they are. Period.

  • Sunny Lee

    Holy moly, this comments section. Ironic how Apple fans are always criticized for being shortsighted.

    Seriously, this is the Rolls Royce of portable tablets for artwork/handwriting. For those who think a stylus with an active digitizer is a “gimmick”, this is clearly not for you. J**********t, the fact that this is not clear to people is ridiculous. Try to look beyond your own needs, people.

    • jones19876

      Perhaps you missed the part where Apple is toting this as the laptop replacement we’ve all been waiting for – not exactly “here’s a new tool for limited professional uses”.

  • jones19876

    I wish we’d stop playing Apple’s game that the iPad Pro is a desktop replacement, and look at the cold hard facts.

    Can you handle all your professional tasks with just an iPhone? There are probably folks out there who only need email, IM and access to mobile-friendly web tools to do their jobs, but for most the answer is “no way”.

    I put iPhone there because of iOS, the size of the iPad is irrelevant if the system and apps aren’t adequate for work, yet we keep playing Apple’s game that the iPad’s hardware is so good it can replace a laptop.

    The hardware is not and was never the issue, the iPad Pro is no further ahead than the previous iPad Air 2 in terms of productivity, it’s the OS and apps that are the major issue to making the iPad a true professional platform.

    Apple needs to be called out on it rather than praised by only judging the iPad Pro for its hardware (because it’s the only thing that really shines) – iOS needs a major overhaul to become a true professional platform.

    • Lil’ Cryin’ Loser Cowar-Boi

      Gee, thanks…er…so, how’s things…?

  • Pingback: ‘True Tone’ display technology is reportedly headed to Apple’s next iPhone | Daily Update()