iPad Pro 9.7 Review Roundup: Small But Compelling

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Apple introduced a slew of new things at its March event including the release of iOS 9.3 (a major update), new Apple Watch bands (blah), and the new 4in iPhone SE (amazing, for those who like smaller phones). But perhaps the biggest announcement was the release of the 9.7in iPad Pro.

At first it seems Apple was just shrinking down the 12.9in iPad Pro into a smaller form factor, but the Cupertino company actually went farther by besting some of the features found in the larger iPad Pro. Specifically the 9.7in iPad Pro has a rear flash (the first for an iPad) and a brand new display that adjust its color temperature to match the color temperature in the room. This makes the 9.7in iPad Pro’s display the most “natural” looking display on any mobile device ever.

The 9.7in iPad Pro doesn’t officially ship until Thursday, but a few sites have gotten their hands on early review units. We’ve rounded up snippets of those reviews here (we’ll also have our own review of the 9.7in iPad Pro coming shortly). Here’s what the pundits are currently saying:

The Independent

“And it turns the iPad Pro into an extremely effective laptop alternative, complete with touchscreen, unlike Apple’s own laptops. In fact, the touchscreen works so well with the iPad Pro and keyboard, it’s hard to think Apple isn’t considering making a MacBook with touch-sensitive display. We’ll see. After all, at the product’s launch, Apple’s Phil Schiller said that the majority of people coming to the bigger iPad Pro had come from Windows PCs. Proof, if of nothing else, that the iPad Pro series are immensely powerful machines and can be taken seriously.”

TechRadar

“The 9.7-inch iPad Pro is probably a look at the future of iPad — it’s a manageable size, has an industry-leading display, and is a joy to create art on. That said, we wonder if it’ll truly attract Windows converts without running a full operating system. iOS only gets you so far […]

That said, it runs iOS like a champ. Performance simply wasn’t an issue as we whisked through apps, loaded up Procreate for iPad, and proceeded to get our doodle on. As you’d expect, given the A9X power plant, speed was right in line with what we saw in the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro.”

Ars Technica

“If you have an iPad 2, the third- or fourth-generation Retina iPads, or the original iPad Air and you find yourself using your iPad more often than whatever other computer you have in your house, the iPad Pro is a no-brainer upgrade.

It’s fast and light, and its Apple Pencil and multitasking support make it a surprisingly capable computer if you don’t have some specific app or use case that demands a PC. If you have an iPad Air 2 and don’t desperately want Apple Pencil support, ignore the Pro for now. Buy a good Bluetooth keyboard case, and you can still enjoy all the multitasking capabilities and hardware keyboard features that the Pro has.

If you’re new to iPad, ask yourself whether you really want Apple Pencil support and make a decision from there.”

Mashable

“The best flagship iPad you can buy is now the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. […]

It’s kind of mind-blowing how much power there is in this lightweight tablet.

Benchmark numbers are just as good as the ones I saw on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, despite the fact that the 9.7-inch iPad Pro has half as much RAM (2GB versus 4 GB on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro). […]

Did Apple just raise the price of the best iPad? Yes, it did. Is it worth it? When you consider the components and storage in the $599, 9.7-inch iPad Pro, absolutely.”

PC Mag

“So it’s a quality tablet with a bunch of upgraded features. But what’s the killer app that will cause people to upgrade their earlier iPads? Unless you’re into the creative pro apps that work with the Pencil, I’m still struggling to answer that question. Against the Microsoft Surface, meanwhile, yes, it has a great browser and runs Office, but so does the less expensive iPad Air 2.”

iMore

“When the 12.9-inch model felt like it was filling a really important niche and growing Apple’s addressable market, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro feels like it’s bringing everything great about that device — the power, the connectability, the Pencil, the speakers and, most importantly, the attitude.

This can still be your everyday iPad, and better so than ever, but it can also be your ultra-mobile productivity machine, with little in the way of compromises. Sure, you lose some display and keyboard real estate, but you gain portability and an excellent camera system.

For people who’ve had a 9.7-inch iPad for a while but haven’t seen a need to upgrade, and for those with aging Windows system looking for a modern alternative, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro will be compelling.”

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