It has evolved from the bigger iPad Pro, but the 9.7-inch version is doing some things differently. A look at the top features, and why they may be relevant.
The theme of Apple’s latest iPhone and the iPad Pro is simple—reintroduce form factors that we have previously seen, and bring them up to current standards in terms of performance and user experience. The iPhone SE is an evolution of the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s, and at first glance, you won’t be able to tell which is which. The iPad Pro, with the 9.7-inch screen, walks the same lines.
Familiarity may not necessarily be a bad thing, more so because a lot of users crave for that sort of a comfort zone. Here are some ways in which it’s been improved.
Display: Even better
The 12.9-inch LED (2,732×2,048 pixels) display in the bigger iPad Pro is still the highest resolution ever in a tablet, and the perfect foundation to build the experience on. For the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, the display has a resolution of 2,048×1,536 pixels. This is, in fact, the same as the iPad Air 2. But don’t go just by the numbers. Like the bigger iPad Pro, the smaller sibling also gets the advantage, borrowing certain features from the 5K iMac (Rs.1,48,900) desktop, including the oxide thin-film transistor which retains charge longer and more brightness across the screen and the variable refresh rate feature using which the iPad Pro detects when you are using apps that offer static content and cuts down the refresh rate.
Both features are designed to save the battery. What the iPad Pro 9.7 also gets is the ability to reproduce even more colours, and something known as the True Tone display—it uses four ambient light sensors to automatically adapt the colour and intensity of the screen, in accordance with the ambient lighting at that time. For example, if you are in a room with warm white lights switched on, the colour tone on the iPad’s screen switches to a slightly warmer colour tone as well, to make it easier for the eyes to adjust.
Camera: First taste of optical goodness
The iPad range has never been entirely competent when it comes to camera capabilities. But the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is in a different league altogether. What it gets is the same camera hardware as the iPhone SE and iPhone 6s (both latest generation devices in their own ecosystem)—a 12-megapixel sensor with an ƒ/2.2 aperture. In fact, this is a major improvement over the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and iPad Air 2’s 8-megapixel sensor which has the ƒ/2.4 aperture. We aren’t entirely sure if anyone will still use such a huge device for clicking photos on a regular basis, but this does open up some genuine new use cases, such as scanning documents. There is the ScanBot app (Free on the App Store; optional in-app purchases from Rs.190) which lets you scan documents in perfect form, do text recognition, add virtual signatures and share.
Power: More is always better
While the iPad Air 2’s A8X chip never felt sluggish even during intense gaming or multi-tasking sessions, the A9X chip that the iPad Pro packs in is more powerful. There is no harm at all in having more processing power under the hood, and makes the iPad Pro series genuine laptop replacement devices for some users. There is also the 256GB storage variant, which should be enticing for power users.
Sound: Clarity in action
Just like the bigger iPad Pro, this also gets four speakers that automatically adjust the sound output in terms of bass and vocals based on the screen orientation. They are clearly louder than the iPad Air 2, and can retain much more clarity even at higher volumes—but a lot of the real world performance will depend on content being played back. If audio is important for you, this might be hitting the right notes.
Design: Colourful living
It does not look very different from the iPad Air 2, and it even weighs the same (437g for the Wi-Fi version and 444g for the Wi-Fi + cellular version). But there is now the Rose Gold colour option as well. If the iPhone is anything to go by (and keeping the “pink” haters aside for a moment), it looks genuinely attractive.