Welcome to Macworld’s iPad Pro 9.7in review for UK iPad buyers. Apple has launched new iPad models since this came out; read our
iPad Pro 10.5in (2017) review for more details, or
iPad Pro 10.5in (2017) vs iPad Pro 9.7in (2016). If you’d prefer a larger-screen iPad, read our
iPad Pro 12.9in (2017) review; for a cheaper alternative, consider the
Apple announced a new mid-size iPad at its
‘Let us loop you in’ March 2016 press event, as expected, but what we didn’t expect was for this to be an iPad Pro. Rather than calling this the
iPad Air 3, Apple is presenting it as a shrunk-down version of the
12.9in iPad Pro – and thereby attempting to position the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro as a work device suitable for replacing a laptop, and targeted particularly at designers and illustrators on the go.
But does it succeed? In our iPad Pro 9.7in review, updated after nine months of regular use, we evaluate the latest iPad’s design and build quality, weigh up the pros and cons of its new features, put the device through the Macworld labs’ most rigorous speed benchmark and battery tests, and compare the value for money the iPad Pro 9.7in offers compared to the other iPads, and the other tablets on the market.
Our iPad Pro 9.7in review is aimed at the average tablet buyer, including mobile gamers, entertainment consumers and business users. If you’re a digital artist or illustrator, however, take a look at the review by our colleagues at
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iPad Pro 9.7in review: Summary
Design: Physically the iPad Pro 9.7 is a close match for the
iPad Air 2: weight and dimensions are identical, as is the general design (which remains sumptuous, of course). You now get four speakers – two at the top, two at the bottom – and the bottom speakers are spaced slightly further apart. This results in a much fuller, richer sound – not exactly surround sound, but a far more immersive audio experience than we’ve come to expect from a tablet.
Read more about the iPad Pro 9.7in’s design
Cameras: One other noticeable physical change is the rear-facing camera, which now sticks out and will scratch on the desk if you lay the iPad flat on its back. Slightly annoying, that, although any sort of case will remove this issue, and you do get the payoff of a heavily enhanced camera setup. The rear-facing camera now has a flash, and has been pushed from 8 megapixels (on the Air 2 and the Pro 12.9in) to 12Mp; there are also numerous smaller improvements to this component.
The front-facing camera is even more dramatically boosted, going from 1.2Mp to 5Mp and gaining the Retina flash feature. We look at all this in more detail, and present a selection of test shots and comparisons, in the camera testing section, but suffice it to say that in some conditions you won’t notice the difference from the Air 2’s cameras, in others you’ll notice small improvements, and in others it’s in a whole different class.
Read more about the iPad Pro 9.7in’s camera performance
Screen: The 9.7-inch touchscreen Retina-class display is in most respects the same as that on the Air 2: same size, same resolution and pixel density, same sharply responsive multitouch functionality. But it adds a new (and optional) feature called True Tone, designed to subtly adjust the screen’s colour output to account for environmental light conditions. And we do mean subtly – it’s a similar kind of idea to Night Shift, producing a warmer, yellower colour palette under electric lighting, but to a far less noticeable degree.
We imagine most users will only be dimly aware that the screen seems to have good colour output without being sure why; we saw a clear difference only by sitting it next to the (non-True Tone) iPad Air 2 in various conditions.
Read more about the iPad Pro 9.7in’s screen
Speed: Thanks to its A9X processor chip, the Pro 9.7 is significantly faster – at least on paper – than the Air 2, and in most tests very nearly as quick as the iPad Pro 12.9 despite having half as much RAM. Even seven months on we’re still not seeing much difference between the Pros and Air 2, but the older device is sure to get left behind as more and more processor-intensive apps and games are released with the newest generation of hardware in mind.
Read more about the iPad Pro 9.7in’s speed benchmark tests
Battery: Battery testing is also impressive, with the Pro 9.7 lasting, surprisingly, an average of 11hrs, 2m in GeekBench 3’s highly demanding benchmark despite having slightly lower battery capacity than the Air 2 (which managed just 7hrs 40m). Both devices should last longer than that in general use.
Read more about the iPad Pro 9.7in’s battery performance
Accessories: Crucially for its credibility as a laptop replacement, the Pro 9.7 has launched alongside a new keyboard case, a
9.7in version of the Smart Keyboard, and like the Pro 12.9 it features a port on its lefthand edge for connecting to and powering this accessory. It’s about as good as an ultraportable keyboard of its size could be, but nowhere near as accurate to type on as a conventional keyboard (and some way behind the larger 12.9 version of the Smart Keyboard, too). It does a job, but you’ll need to rely on either a solid autocorrect (like the one in Pages), frequent manual corrections, or just lots of practice.
You can also now use the
Apple Pencil stylus, which is pretty wonderful, but expensive.
Read more about the iPad Pro 9.7in’s accessories
UK pricing: The Pro 9.7in starts at £549 in the UK, with prices rising to £849 for the 256GB cellular model. (Those prices have actually gone up since launch, due seemingly to currency fluctuations and Brexit stuff – see
Apple price rises UK for more info. The Pro’s base price has gone up by £50: it started at £499 on launch day.) You’re paying a premium, then, and many Apple fans will baulk at the asking price. But we think there are enough enhancements here to justify it, and business users – if they can live with the smaller and harder-to-use keyboard attachment – will get a lot out of this device. It’s still a cool £180 cheaper than the Pro 12.9, remember, and that device doesn’t get the True Tone display or most of the camera upgrades.
Read more about the iPad Pro 9.7in’s UK pricing
That’s the summary of our iPad Pro 9.7 review, but let’s look again at each of those areas in more detail – before finally giving our definitive verdict.
Sections in our iPad Pro 9.7in review:
iPad Pro 9.7in review: Intro and summary
iPad Pro 9.7in review: Design & build quality
iPad Pro 9.7in review: Screen
iPad Pro 9.7in review: Speed benchmark testing
iPad Pro 9.7in review: Battery life testing
iPad Pro 9.7in review: Camera performance
iPad Pro 9.7in review: Speakers and audio quality
iPad Pro 9.7in review: Apple Pencil & Smart Keyboard
iPad Pro 9.7in review: Tech specs
iPad Pro 9.7in review: UK pricing & verdict
iPad Pro 9.7in review: Design & build quality
If you’ve seen the iPad Air 2 then you’ve pretty much seen the iPad Pro 9.7in too. They’re virtually identical; the physical dimensions match up, down to the nearest gram or tenth of a millimetre, and the positioning of almost all the buttons, slots, apertures and so on is the same.
Spot the difference: iPad Pro 9.7in (left) and iPad Air 2 (right)
Yet some minor and a couple of significant differences can be discerned by the eagle-eyed.
Minor: the cellular antenna section at the top of the back of the (cellular-capable) iPad is now mostly the same metallic finish as the rest of the back, with just its edge picked out in white or black plastic, and therefore looks nicer than the entirely plastic section on the iPad Air 2 (and on the cellular 12.9in Pro, for that matter); the word ‘iPad’ on the back is now picked out in the thinner and to our eye better-looking San Francisco font; the SIM card slot has migrated fractionally higher up on the side of the device; and there’s a pink (sorry, Rose Gold) colour option.
Significant: the speakers at the bottom of the iPad are now spaced further apart (which is sensible; they used to be crammed so close to the Lightning port that you had no chance of making out a stereo effect) and a third and fourth speaker sit on the top edge, giving an altogether more formidable audio setup; there’s a discreet Smart Connector on the lefthand edge, for attaching and powering a keyboard case; and the rear-facing camera is now accompanied by a flash (and sticks out a bit, like the camera on the iPhone 6 and 6s generations).
The protuberant camera lens is quite annoying: if you lay the iPad flat on its back, particularly on a hard surface, then one corner is raised up awkwardly, and it scratches against the desk if you push it around. If you equip your iPad with a case or cover, however, this will be far less of a problem: we habitually use the Smart Cover, which means the iPad almost always has the cover tucked underneath when it lies on a table.
For those who don’t know the iPad range in general, it’s worth stating for the record that the iPad Pro 9.7in, like all of its stablemates, is beautifully designed and engineered.
There are many lovely touches, from the charming contrast between the brushed-metal sides and the narrow gloss chamfer (which we think looks particularly nice in the new pink finish) to the subtle rounding on the back edges, toned down from the original iPad but still present all these years later, which makes the iPad easier and more inviting to pick up. But Apple has been turning out such delights for many years, so we had better move on and look at the new features.
iPad Pro vs Samsung Galaxy Book
iPad Pro 9.7in review: Screen
The Pro 9.7in comes, as the name makes clear, with a 9.7-inch touchscreen
Retina-class display: one that matches in size, resolution and (mostly) functionality the screen on its predecessor.
The 2048 x 1536 resolution produces a pixel density of 264 pixels per inch (ppi), which is standard issue for Apple’s tablets, and pleasingly sharp to the eye – but given that Apple routinely sells iPhones with a pixel density of over 400ppi, it can scarcely argue any more that Retina resolutions are the best that the human eye can discern. You can get a tablet with a pixel density above 350ppi if you’re willing to
go over to the Dark Side and buy from Samsung.
Our subjective experience of the screen is that it is merely excellent, and we weren’t immediately struck by any differences from the iPad Air 2. But Dr Raymond M Soneira, from DisplayMate, has
run detailed specialist tests on the two screens’ performance and concludes that the Pro is a measurable step forward in a number of areas: colour output, reflectivity, brightness. The Pro’s display, he goes on to conclude, “is visually indistinguishable from perfect, and very likely considerably better than any mobile display, monitor, TV or UHD TV that you have.”
After reading the expert’s rave reviews on the iPad Pro’s reduced screen reflectivity, we looked again at its performance in bright sunshine, next to windows, under electric lights and so on. Several members of the Macworld team were convinced that reflections were indeed less of an issue than with the Air 2, and that screen legibility would be better outdoors. But this was subjective: others struggled to spot the difference. Your mileage may vary.
The most intriguing difference between the screens on this iPad and the Air 2 is a new feature called True Tone. (A feature so new that it is denied to those who buy the 12.9in Pro.) This is designed to subtly adjust the screen’s colour output to account for environmental light conditions.
Having only recently got used to the shocking colour adjustment imposed by Night Shift on default settings (we’d strongly recommend toning it down), we struggled to notice True Tone’s far more subtle changes at first. But sitting at a desk under electric light in late afternoon with the iPad Pro 9.7 and the iPad Air 2, it’s fairly clear that True Tone is gently warming things up – a kind of watered-down version of Night Shift. This should carry on doing its thing in the background throughout your day, and the nice thing is that you don’t need to worry about it, just getting a slightly better and more context-appropriate screen performance.
Again, we turn to the expertise of Dr Soneira for a technical examination of this feature. He points out first of all that while True Tone automatically changes both the White Point and colour balance of the display, Night Shift changes colour balance only. But he also sounds an alarm about True Tone’s affect on colour fidelity in some circumstances:
“When we turned on True Tone under incandescent lighting with a Colour Temperature of about 3,000K, the Colour Temperature of the iPad Pro 9.7 White Point shifted from 6,945K to 5,500K, which is quite noticeable and visually significant, but it doesn’t come close to matching the colour of reflected light from white paper. The colour change with ambient light may be better for reading text on the screen’s white background.
“And most users might not want such a drastic colour change with ambient light anyway, which would affect and significantly reduce the Absolute Colour Accuracy of all image content (including photos and videos), one of the iPad Pro’s strongest features. My recommendation is that True Tone needs a Slider adjustment so that each person can vary the magnitude of the effect, from very little to a lot.”
There isn’t yet a slider – as there is for Night Shift – but if you don’t like the effect, you can turn off True Tone completely: which is also good for evaluating the effect you’re getting if you haven’t got a non-True Tone iPad to compare it to.
iPad Pro 9.7in review: Processor power, speed benchmarks and graphics testing
The iPad Pro 9.7 is equipped with Apple’s proprietary A9X processor and M9 motion co-processor – the same components used in the Pro 12.9 and the most powerful mobile chipset that Apple currently uses. (For comparison, Apple claims that the A9X chip, as used in the Pro 9.7, is 2.5x faster at general processing than the iPad mini 2’s A7, and 5x faster at graphics processing.)
It’s searingly fast, and comfortably powerful enough to handle anything on the App Store now and for the next couple of years. Indeed, unless you’re keen to run the most
graphically intensive games or demanding creative or work apps, it’s hard not to regard this as spec overkill.
We continue to use the office iPad Air 2 for a range of new and demanding games and work tasks and haven’t observed any slowdown yet – but in terms of future-proofing the Pro 9.7 is clearly a better long-term bet. The Air 2, particularly if you plan to regularly update iOS, won’t stay fast forever.
In our speed tests the Pro 9.7 was streets ahead of the Air 2 (that’s a theoretical advantage, though – the real-world experience for the two is similar at present) and in most tests only slightly behind the iPad Pro 12.9. The Pro 12.9 remains a faster machine overall because of its extra RAM – 4GB compared to the 9.7’s 2GB – but the greater demands of that device’s larger, higher-res screen mean that in onscreen tests the gap is fairly small. The gap was more noticeable in the offscreen sections of the GFXBench tests.
GeekBench 3 processor benchmarks:
iPad Pro 9.7in review: Battery life testing
The 9.7in Pro comes with a 7,306 mAh rechargeable lithium-polymer battery. That’s pretty much the same capacity as the one in the iPad Air 2 (7,340 mAh), but coming 18 months down the tech-development line we would expect it to exhibit slightly improved power efficiency.
In fact, the Pro 9.7 exceeded expectations in its first battery test, achieving a score in GeekBench 3’s battery component of 6,711; that’s only a little lower than the 6,865 scored at launch by the iPad Pro 12.9 (which has a far larger battery – 10,307 mAh – albeit one that has to power a far larger screen), and well ahead of the iPad Air 2’s 4,601.
This seemed impossibly good, so we repeated the test a week later. This time the 9.7in Pro laid down a score of 6,535 – slightly lower, but still extremely impressive. That’s a terrific average score of 6,623.
To put that into the context of actual times, those three iPads lasted 11hrs 11m (Pro 9.7), 11hrs 26m (Pro 12.9) and 7hrs 40m (Air 2) respectively. Bear in mind that this is a demanding test and real-world battery life is likely to be significantly higher. In its second test, the Pro 9.7 lasted 10hrs 53m.
Predicting battery life, for that matter, is never an exact science. But we’re satisfied that the Pro 9.7 is easily capable of matching the “up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video or listening to music” or “up to 9 hours of surfing the web using a mobile data network” that Apple claims for all five of its current iPad offerings.
iPad Pro 9.7in: 11:02:20 (100%-1%; average score). Battery score 6623 (average)
(This compares to the following older scores:
iPad Pro (12.9in): 6865 (11:26:30, 100%-1%)
iPad Air 2: 4601 (07:40:10, 100%-1%)
iPad mini 4: 3975 (06:37:30, 100%-1%)
iPad mini 2: 3990 (06:39:00, 100%-1%)
iPad Pro 9.7in review: Cameras
The Pro 9.7 has the best rear-facing camera of any current iPad – and that, annoyingly for last September’s early adopters, includes the Pro 12.9.
The 9.7’s back camera is rated at 12 megapixels with an f/2.2 aperture, compared to the 8Mp/f/2.4 offered by the larger Pro, the Air 2 and the mini 4, and the 5Mp/f/2.4 model on the mini 2, and it’s been equipped for the first time with a flash.
It also gets the
Live Photos feature, where short snatches of video are captured before and after still photos so they can be animated, that we’ve previously seen on iPhones only; 4K video recording (up from 1080p); a sort of ‘super slow-mo’ option (240fps, up from 120fps) as well as the option to shoot 120fps slow-mo at 1080p, up from 720p; larger panoramas (63Mp, up from 43Mp); auto HDR; and a focusing feature that Apple calls Focus Pixels.
And the front-facing camera is much improved, too, although in fewer ways: the megapixel rating has gone up from 1.2Mp (across the board) to 5Mp, and the Pro 9.7 gains the Retina flash feature – which lights up the screen as an improvised front-facing flash – that we know and love from the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. It also gains auto HDR on the front-facing camera, which the Air 2 and mini models don’t get, but unlike the rest of the improvements I’ve listed here the Pro 12.9 does get this one.
iPad Pro 9.7in review: Camera tests
We took the two sizes of iPad Pro, together with the iPad Air 2, out into the north London sunshine for a series of photo tests. In sunny weather most of our shots were of a broadly similar standard – despite the Pro 9.7 in theory having a substantially more capable sensor.
We couldn’t detect any difference in detail when shooting flowers and plants; if anything the Air 2’s shot seemed to handle a heavy zoom into the individual petals better than the Pro 9.7’s, but it could go either way. The 9.7’s colours seemed truer to life, but only slightly.
Our shot of St Pancras Hotel in moderately overcast conditions was a better demo of the Pro 9.7’s camera chops. There’s much more ‘pop’ to the Pro 9.7 image, better contrast; the Air 2’s shot looks muddy and subdued in comparison (although bear in mind that both are decent shots which we’ve zoomed into quite heavily to seek out weaknesses).
If you can bear it, take a look at these selfies (or rather, zoomed-in details of selfies), taken by the author with the front-facing cameras. (Bear in mind that the photo taken by the 1.2Mp camera in the Air 2 is of course much smaller than that taken by the 5Mp iPad Pro, and we’ve blown the former up even more for a comparison of how well each shot stands up to a heavy zoom.) You can clearly see more pixellation in the Air 2’s selfie, as you’d expect.
We gave the Retina flash a quick try-out too. A direct comparison wasn’t really possible here, since none of the other iPads have any kind of flash on their front-facing camera, but we took an unflashed shot with the iPad Air 2 just so you can see what you’d be stuck with if taking a selfie in the dark.
The Retina flash does a surprisingly decent job of lighting the subject, with colours holding up fairly well and no noticeable overexposure, although there’s a bit of blurring around the bottom of the picture.
iPad Pro 9.7in review: Speakers and audio quality
The 9.7, like the larger Pro model, comes with four speakers: the two speakers at the bottom of all currently available iPad models (albeit spaced more widely than on the iPad Air 2 and minis), and two more on the top edge. The speakers are still very slightly backward-tilted, however, sitting as they do on the iPad’s gently curved edges.
It’s a huge step forward sonically. The iPad Air 2 has always had mediocre audio output, but this is particularly cruelly exposed when playing songs and films at top volume alongside the iPad Pro 9.7, which has a much fuller, richer sound: it fills our small test centre with clear, warm audio. The Air 2, by contrast, provides essentially no stereo effect whatsoever, since its speakers are so close together, and sounds desperately thin (and lopsided) after listening to the Pro.
Screen space is still a compromise, but in terms of sound the Pro 9.7 now feels like a legitimate choice for spare-room film nights – no longer do you need to plug in headphones for the proper experience. It’s also a far more appealing option as a portable music device for the kitchen or picnic table.
The Pro 12.9 is still ahead in this department, however. It’s possible that the speakers themselves are beefier, although Apple doesn’t release specs for these and may have just used the same audio setup in both models; more likely the slightly better audio simply reflects the larger separation between speaker units.
iPad Pro 9.7in review: Accessories
The iPad Pro 9.7 is equipped to run the same types of accessories as its larger cousin. Its screen works with the Apple Pencil, and there’s a Smart Connector port on the lefthand edge for attaching a (smaller version of the)
Smart Keyboard cover.
looked at the Apple Pencil in more depth elsewhere, but suffice it to say that it’s an attractive and well-balanced stylus that makes for extremely smooth, accurate and lag-free drawing, digital ‘painting’ and note-taking. Having this option takes the Pro 9.7 to the next level as an artistic tool – although like most Apple kit the Pencil is among the costliest options in its field. It isn’t bundled with the tablet and will
cost you a further £99. (Before those Brexit price rises the Apple Pencil cost £79, by the way. If you’d like to read about Apple’s next version of its stylus, read our
Apple Pencil 2 rumour roundup.)
The Smart Keyboard too has a separate review on this site and in general we view it as a solid accessory, albeit one that represents a compromise compared to conventional keyboards.
Smart Keyboard for 9.7-inch iPad Pro review |
Smart Keyboard for 12.9-inch iPad Pro review
The 12.9 version of the Smart Keyboard is essentially full-size. For reasons of weight and slimness, the keys have a shallower action than those on a standalone keyboard for a desktop Mac – instead of a pleasing butterfly or scissor mechanism, the keys are kept in position by the tension in their covering fabric – and this makes them less satisfying to use. (It’s useful for stopping crumbs getting into annoying places, though, that fabric.)
But the familiar layout and size of the keys (if not shape – they’re more rounded than you’ll be used to) makes it surprisingly accurate. Not as accurate as a conventional keyboard, but accurate enough once you get used to it.
The 9.7in Smart Keyboard is a different matter. Its keys still feel a bit cheap, as a result of the shallow, weightless action, but because of their size (fractionally smaller than the pad at the end of my fingers, whereas the 12.9’s keys are slightly larger, which feels like a significant difference) they’re pretty hard to use accurately too: switching from the 12.9’s keyboard, or certainly from a conventional keyboard, is painful. It looks and to an extent feels like a toy.
As with the 12.9, however, practice will be rewarded, and this certainly isn’t a disaster: indeed, for a keyboard of its size it’s pretty usable. But of the many aspects of the Pro 9.7’s quest to be taken seriously as a work tool, its keyboard is the most glaring weakness.
(An extremely small side complaint: the lower weight of the 9.7in keyboard accessory means it doesn’t sit completely flat on the table – the front often lifts up slightly as the tablet pulls down on the back of the setup. We’ve tried two separate review samples here and both suffered from this – very minor – issue. Yet Apple assures us this is not a widespread problem.)
The 9.7in Smart Keyboard lifting up at the front (left), and the 12.9in equivalent lying nice and flat (right)
This won’t be the only keyboard for the Pro 9.7, of course. Many of Macworld’s iPad Pro 12.9 owners prefer the
Logitech Create Backlit Keyboard Case to Apple’s offering, and we assume that a version of this for the Pro 9.7 will appear before long. But if you do give Apple’s own iPad keyboard a go, prepare your wallet for a battering: the 9.7-inch version of the Smart Keyboard will set you back
an eye-watering £129.
Best iPad keyboards
iPad Pro 9.7in review: Tech specs
- A9X processor with 64-bit desktop-class architecture, and M9 coprocessor
- 2GB RAM
- 32GB, 128GB or 256GB storage
- Retina display
- 9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit Multi-Touch display
- 2048×1536 resolution at 264 pixels per inch (ppi)
- Wide colour display
- True Tone display
- Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating
- Fully laminated display
- Anti-reflective coating
- Rear-facing camera: 12-megapixel photos; f/2.2 aperture; Live Photos; True Tone flash; Autofocus and tap to focus with Focus Pixels; Auto HDR photos; Face detection; Panorama (up to 63 megapixels); Burst mode; Timer mode; 4K HD video recording (3840×2160); Slo-mo video support for 1080p at 120 fps and 720p at 240 fps; Time-lapse video with stabilisation; Cinematic video stabilisation; Continuous autofocus video; 3x video zoom.
- Front-facing camera: 5-megapixel photos; Retina Flash; 720p HD video recording; Auto HDR photos and videos; Face detection; Burst mode
- 3.82V 27.91 Wh (7306mAh) rechargeable lithium-polymer battery (according to Wikipedia); claimed battery life of up to 10 hours Wi-Fi web surfing or up to 9 hours of mobile web surfing
- Four-speaker audio; Touch ID; Apple Pay; Siri; Barometer
- 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.2
- Embedded Apple SIM
iPad Pro 9.7in review: Dimensions and weight
- 169.5mm x 240mm x 6.1mm
- 437g (Wi-Fi model), 444g (cellular model)
(These figures are exactly the same as the iPad Air 2.)
For comparison, the 12.9in iPad Pro measures:
- 220.6mm x 305.7mm x 6.9mm
- 713g (Wi-Fi) or 723g (cellular)
iPad Pro 9.7in review: Software
When it launched, the iPad Pro 9.7in came with iOS 9 preinstalled, but iOS 10 was released to the general public in September 2016; if you buy an iPad Pro now, it will come with iOS 10.
If you’d like to know more about the new features in iOS 10, and how they’ll affect your user experience with the iPad Pro, read our
iOS 10 review and
iOS 10 tips.
iPad Pro 9.7in review: UK pricing
We rather expected this based on the high price tags attached to the 12.9in Pro, but the 9.7in Pro is a really expensive tablet. (The addition of a new 256GB storage option at the top end exaggerates this effect slightly, however.)
In fact, the price of the iPad Pro 9.7in has gone up since it was launched, as have the prices of a number of Apple products in the past few months – it seems to be related to the fall in the pound’s value, Brexit and that sort of thing. (For more on this, see:
Apple price increases UK.)
Here’s what the 9.7in Pro will set you back in the UK, as of November 2016:
- 32GB (Wi-Fi): £549
- 128GB (Wi-Fi): £639
- 256GB (Wi-Fi): £729
- 32GB (cellular): £669
- 128GB (cellular): £759
- 256GB (cellular): £849
For comparison, here’s what the iPad cost when it launched seven months back:
- 32GB (Wi-Fi): £499
- 128GB (Wi-Fi): £619
- 256GB (Wi-Fi): £739
- 32GB (cellular): £599
- 128GB (cellular): £719
- 256GB (cellular): £839
In other words, the various models of iPad have gone up by anywhere from £10 to £50 – and it wasn’t exactly cheap to start with. (If you think that’s steep, wait until you find out that the three-year-old Mac Pro
has gone up by £500.)
buy the iPad Pro 9.7in direct from Apple, but if you shop around you ought to be able to find the Pro for a little less than this: check our
Best cheap iPad Pro deals page for the latest offers.
If you accept, as Apple has encouraged us to accept, that the Pro is an adequate laptop replacement then a top end of £849 – and that for a storage allocation that bears comparison with many laptops – doesn’t seem unreasonable. (The 11-inch MacBook Air with 256GB costs £899.) And of course the 9.7in Pro is a neat £180 cheaper than its 12.9in cousin at each tier.
But we were still a little surprised at first to find that this tablet is more expensive than the iPad Air 2 was when it launched back in 2014. The 128GB models of the Air 2 cost £559 and £659 at launch; the equivalents for the 9.7in Pro cost £619 and £719 at launch, and have gone up to £639 and £759. Apple has historically priced its new tablets at the same launch price as their predecessor with the same form factor, which makes it feel like a significant premium has been slapped on to what is really the iPad Air 3 by another name.
This scarcely feels like a bargain to the average user, then, although its superior suitability for work tasks means the likely audience may be willing to stretch the budget. And as we will discuss in the verdict, there’s more than enough to like here to justify that higher price.
For full comparison, here are the current prices for the iPad Pro 12.9in:
- 32GB (Wi-Fi): £729
- 128GB (Wi-Fi): £819
- 256GB (Wi-Fi): £909
- 128GB (cellular): £939
- 256GB (cellular): £1,029
and for the iPad Air 2:
- 32GB (Wi-Fi): £379
- 128GB (Wi-Fi): £469
- 32GB (cellular): £499
- 128GB (cellular): £589
Finally, here are the prices for the iPad Air 2 when it launched in 2014:
- 16GB (Wi-Fi): £399
- 64GB (Wi-Fi): £479
- 128GB (Wi-Fi): £559
- 16GB (cellular): £499
- 64GB (cellular): £579
- 128GB (cellular): £659
iPad Pro 9.7in review: Colour options
The 9.7in iPad Pro is available in all the colours offered with the 12.9in Pro, plus the restful, pleasing and genuinely not bling pink of Rose Gold. So that’s silver, gold, Rose Gold and Space Grey.
iPad Pro 9.7in review: Future updates
There’s one final question to consider when deciding whether or not to buy the iPad Pro 9.7. Will Apple release a new iPad next week, or next month, thus instantly devaluing your brand-new iPad and making you wish you’d waited?
The truth is that, while Apple is a fairly predictable company in terms of its product updates, there will always be some risk of this happening when you buy a tech product, unless you buy it the day it comes out (when it’s most difficult to get hold of one, and when some of the initial teething problems may not yet be apparent). It’s best not to worry about it too much. Otherwise you’d never buy anything.
Nevertheless, having launched the iPad Pro 12.9 in October 2015 and the Pro 9.7 in March 2016, and with no updates announced as of November 2016, it doesn’t take a genius to predict that the next set of iPads are likely to appear in March 2017. If you’d like to read the latest information, clues, hints and rumours about those launches, take a look at our
iPad Pro 2 release date rumours and
iPad Air 3 release date rumours. (And
iPad mini 5 release date rumours too, if you like.)
Macworld poll: Will you buy an iPad Pro 9.7in?
We’re almost ready for our verdict on the iPad Pro 9.7, but we’d love to hear your thoughts. Have we convinced you one way or the other? Will you buy an iPad Pro 9.7in? Have you already bought one? If not, what are your reasons?
Have your say in our poll – and remember to tell us your thoughts in the comments below.