As expected, Apple has released a little brother to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Essentially, the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro is just a successor to the iPad Air 2, but support for the Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard accessory seem to have pushed Apple to calling it an iPad Pro. However, if you are in the market for a new iPad, there are some key differences between the two "Pro" iPads you should be aware of.
During the event on Monday, Apple spent quite a bit of time highlighting the camera in the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro. Unlike any other iPad to date, it features the same 12 megapixel camera found in the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus (and now the iPhone SE) which is capable of shooting stunning 4K footage. The rear camera is also accompanied with a dual-tone LED flash. Another iPad first is the 5 megapixel front-facing camera accompanied by True Tone flash. True Tone is the same feature found in the most recent iPhone lineup which lights up the front display while taking a selfie to brighten up the scene and regulate white balance.
Although it can be assumed 9.7-inch iPad users are more apt to shoot photos and videos with the smaller form factor compared to the 12.9-inch iPad, the larger model is nonetheless stuck in 2014 with the same 8 megapixel rear camera and 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera found in older iPhone and iPad models.The upgraded camera in the smaller iPad Pro brings with it support for Live Photos. While you can view Live Photos on other iPads, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro will be the only iPad capable of capturing the motion enhanced photos.
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Despite the camera, there has already been a fair amount of criticism towards Apple for giving the device the "Pro" moniker. There are two primary issues with the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro. According to recent reports, although both iPad Pros feature Apple's powerful A9X chip, the processor in the 9.7-inch model has been clocked at a lower speed than its 12.9-inch big brother. However, both chips are still faster than any other iPad available. More worrisome is the fact that the smaller iPad Pro only includes 2GB of RAM, half of the 4GB found in the 12.9-inch model.
It is likely Apple made the decision to limit the RAM to 2GB on the smaller model to conserve battery life. Since the size is significantly smaller than the 12.9-inch model, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro inevitably has a smaller battery stuffed inside. Nonetheless, it’s still unfortunate and you will likely notice less data being cached on the device which will result in more reloading apps and web pages as you navigate back and forth between them.
True Tone Display
It is interesting that both iPad Pro models feature different specifications and features in different areas. Another place the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro one-ups the larger iPad Pro is the display. Apple introduced a new display technology called “True Tone” exclusively in the smaller iPad Pro.
The so-called “True Tone” display automatically adjusts the color temperature to match the ambient lighting in your environment. For example, if you are sitting next to a fireplace in a dimly lit room, the display will adjust to match the warmer color temperature. Apple pitched the feature as creating a more natural experience similar to looking at paper.
Ultimately, the decision between the two iPad Pro models comes down to which screen size you prefer. However, one of these key differences could push you one way or the other if you are having trouble deciding.