There’s no doubting that Apple’s design-oriented iPad Pro tablet is big, but what if you’re after a small pad for your ideas? Well there’s now an iPad Pro to match a smaller set of hands.
If you loved the idea of an iPad with a pen to let you draw or a wired keyboard for typing mid-flight, but couldn’t justify the massive size or price associated with the iPad Pro tablet, there’s good news this week: a newer, smaller iPad Pro is coming.
Called the 9.7 inch iPad Pro, it is essentially the latest generation of a not-quite-10-inch tablet, as the iPad Air goes another year without an update (at the moment, anyway) and Apple’s “Pro” range of tablets takes centre stage.
For now, don’t think about the iPad Air 2 with its ageing A8X processor, because that is taking a step down from its premium flagship tablet position, with the 9.7 inch iPad Pro now the one to consider if you’re after a large and portable slate computer.
Inside the 9.7 inch iPad Pro, Apple is taking pretty much what went inside the 12 inch first iPad Pro and making it small again, which follows the same sort of theme we saw with the iPhone SE being announced at the same time, with the guts of an iPhone 6S stuffed into the smaller body of the iPhone 5S.
That’s kind of what you can expect here, with an A9X processor, with 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth, and storage amounts of either 32GB, 128GB, and even a 256GB model also popping up.
We’re a little surprised to see some improvements to the camera, though, with a 12 megapixels camera out of the iPhone 6S sitting on the back of the 9.7 inch iPad Pro, while the front-facing camera from the 6S supporting 5 megapixels of selfie-snapping goodness will also be here.
The iPad Pro’s four-speaker sound system is also here, meaning you’ll likely also see audio that can change orientation for the dominant speakers similar to what we saw on the iPad Pro 12 inch, while the fingerprint sensor is also here and support for Apple’s Pencil stylus.
One new thing is appearing, though, and it’s the sort of thing even 12 inch iPad Pro owners may be jealous of: a screen that can change white balance to match the ambient light around you.
Called “True Tone”, this is one of those features that could well be game changing, specifically because it feels like it would be beneficial for people working in all sorts of environments, from the darkened room that is their bedroom in the morning, the open daylight coffee shop, the slightly shady bus, and so on and so on.
True Tone works be pulling information from four-channel sensors to work out what the light is like around you and match the display to a more neutral and natural “paper-white” view, which should be better for your eyes.
While Apple hasn’t said where this research comes from, our expectation is that this comes from the colour-matching flash on the back of the iPhone as well the colorimeter research used with the iMac 5K, all of this likely culminating in a portable screen that can match where you take it.
“iPad Pro is a new generation of iPad that is indispensable and immersive, enabling people to be more productive and more creative,” said Philip Schiller, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing at Apple.
“It’s incredibly fast, extremely portable, and completely natural to use with your fingers, Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard. And now it comes in two sizes.”
Schiller mentions the Pencil which is compatible in the existing version, but he also mentions the Smart Keyboard, and Apple will be making a 9.7 inch variation of this keyboard like it had on the 12 inch model. Other accessories will also be found, including a Lightning to SD card camera reader and a Lightning to USB 3 camera adaptor, both making it possible to get images from a bigger camera back to the iPad Pro.
As for pricing, Australia will find the 9.7 inch variant available in silver, space grey, gold, and rose gold from $899 in a WiFi only model, while the WiFi plus 4G nets 32GB for $1099. Australians can push this all the way up to an astounding 256GB variant, with Apple charging $1399 for WiFi only or $1599 for WiFi with 4G.
If you’re already tempted, you won’t have long to wait, with pre-orders this week and release next. Stay tuned if you’re not, because it shouldn’t take us long for a review.