An iPad for all: Apple’s 9.7 inch iPad Pro reviewed


Over in pricing, the iPad Pro isn’t necessarily the cheapest tablet on the block, appearing alongside the Air 2, which is still a great option, even if it doesn’t support all of the same features.

With pricing starting at $899 for a 32GB WiFi only 9.7 inch iPad Pro, this can make the Pro feel like a very expensive purchase, and since it can hit as high as $1399 for a WiFi only 256GB model, we can see why. Alternatively, the most expensive model is $1599 for a 256GB variant with both WiFi and 4G, which was also the model we reviewed.

On the other side of things, Apple’s iPad Air 2 now starts at $599 for 16GB hitting as high as $729 for the 64GB with WiFi only or $889 for the 64GB with WiFi and 4G.

And if we’re honest, this is a confusing place to be, making it difficult to find the right price point for your purchase.

Not helping this is the sizing differences, with the Pro arriving in 32GB, 128GB, and 256GB, while the Air 2 only comes in 16GB and 64GB.

Essentially, choosing works like this: if you want the best iPad you can get today, you go for the Pro. If you don’t need the extra features, you can for the Air 2.

We’re not sure if the Pro is necessarily worth the extra, but if you want the best of the best from Apple, you’ll have it, even if it’s only “the best” for another year or so. Ish.

The new covers are not included in the cost, needing an extra $75 for this Smart Cover, and $109 for the Silicone Case that wraps around the back. That's some expensive protection.
The new covers are not included in the cost, needing an extra $75 for this Smart Cover, and $109 for the Silicone Case that wraps around the back. That’s some expensive protection.

What needs work

Little on the iPad Pro needs work, and it’s tremendous to see an update to the 9.7 inch tablet, even if it was slightly later than we expected.

What is interesting about this release could come into play with the first iPad Pro owners, specifically that of the 12.9 inch model. There’s no doubting that this larger variant has its niches, and artists definitely play into that, but with the combination of a better camera, the lighting sensors for the screen, and a higher quantity of storage, they may end up feeling a little cheated by the technological differences.

Indeed, we found this 9.7 inch iPad Pro a better product simply because it is the complete package, offering a more portable form-factor with the support of the Pencil stylus and keyboard docking port at the bottom that the bigger model has.

That being said, the new camera design means some of your older accessories won’t work.

STM's Atlas has no problems with the 9.7 inch iPad Pro.
STM’s Atlas has no problems with the 9.7 inch iPad Pro.

Many will, and some of the cases made for the iPad Air and Air 2 should be fine provided there’s enough of a groove left out for the camera, but if there isn’t and the casing is tight, you’ll find the case doesn’t quite fit, causing the 9.7 inch iPad Pro to go jutting out and not fitting nicely or in a remarkably stable way.

As a point, we found an STM case that worked perfectly while our favourite Bluetooth keyboard case from Incipio wouldn’t touch the top left corner, something we can attribute to the new camera which extrudes just a little too far.

Beyond this, however, Apple’s smaller iPad Pro is a gem because it delivers what many wanted in an iPad update — more speed, better camera, and a couple of new features — while also lowering the point of entry for a “pro” device with Apple Pencil support.

That makes it harder to say “what needs work” because outside of a slightly faster processor and perhaps a better screen, there isn’t much Apple needs to do.

Overall, it’s a pretty well thought out tablet, and ideal for anyone who was considering buying an iPad Air 2 just a few days ago.

Incipio's ClamCase Pro doesn't fit perfectly thanks to the hole for the camera being different.
Incipio’s ClamCase Pro doesn’t fit perfectly thanks to the hole for the camera being different.


Steve Jobs once proclaimed that the “post-PC era” was here, with tablets ushering in a new feature with one where work and play could be carried around in a device that wasn’t really all that computer-like, so to speak.

Five years on from that comment, it’s hard to see that we’re totally “post-PC”, especially as tablet computers start to take on the appearance of PCs. We still need keyboards — we don’t just need them, we want them — and we still like mice, and so while we’re moving beyond the frame of what constitutes a PC, we’re still also there.

Apple’s iPad Pro shows this off quite well, joining the fray of tablets on this reviewer’s desk and proving that it has the capability to be different, even if it looks like practically everything. It even looks like Apple’s own iPad Air 2, and it can be very hard to tell the difference between the two 9.7 inch devices.

Good luck telling the difference between the iPad Pro (left) and the iPad Air 2 (right).
Good luck telling the difference between the iPad Pro (left) and the iPad Air 2 (right).

The question of whether the 9.7 inch iPad Pro is “post-PC” can therefore be a little difficult to answer, especially as it feels like a merging of form-factors, offering the content consumption of the previous generation as well as a bit of the content creation Apple was going for with its bigger “Pro” edition.

But we think answering whether something is “post-PC” is also irrelevant, because it’s really about what you do with it, rather than the form-factor it takes.

So is Apple’s iPad Pro part of this new generation? The answer is it doesn’t matter, because the next generation of the iPad is so capable, it could be both next-gen and current-gen, and you could make and consume all on the same device; it’s dealer’s choice.

What Apple’s smaller iPad Pro does bring to the table is flexibility, because now if you want to be a writer, an artist, a mobile videographer, or anything else, the option is there with the best technology in a slim and light computer, even if it’s still not really a computer.

In many ways, the iPad Pro is an iPad made for all. Highly recommended.


Value for money
Ease of Use
Reader Rating0 Votes
Beautifully built aluminium casing; Still just as thin and light as the iPad Air 2; Lovely screen; Display supports “True Tone” light detection to change the colour of the screen to better accommodate the human eye; Performance increases are welcome; Supports the Apple Pencil stylus; Includes the Apple magnetic dock connector for keyboard cases; Camera has been vastly improved; More speakers means better sound; Battery life is still great;
Expensive, and with so many options in the 9.7 inch line-up to thoroughly confuse on which option you should go for; Won’t support all iPad Air 2 cases due to the camera extrusion;