I’ve been using a 128GB WiFi iPad Mini 2 for the past 2 years, and it’s been very convenient for me to bring along on business trips, both for taking notes during meetings, answering emails on the go, and as an entertainment center for music, videos, ebooks, and audiobooks. I got a Zagg Cover with a backlit keyboard for it, as well as Adonit’s Jot touch 4 stylus so I could write notes on my iPad. It is from that perspective that I am writing this review of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro which I got last month.
For clarity, this Gadgetslab is about my experience using the new Apple 9.7-inch iPad Pro 256GB WiFi with the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil accessories.
Design-wise, the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro is almost identical in dimension as the iPad Air 2 except for a few, very dramatic improvements: there are now 4 speakers for better audio quality, and the rear camera juts out like the one in the new iPhones.
Unlike the similar sized iPad Air 2, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro also comes with the left-side smart port that allows it to connect seamlessly with the Smart Keyboard accessory. And just like the earlier 12.7-inch iPad Pro,
it pairs perfectly with the Apple Pencil.
As the newest iPad, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro comes with the latest A9X, same as the bigger 12.7-inch iPad Pro. The one improvement of this iPad over its bigger predecessor is that the retina display comes with True Tone technology – a new feature which automatically adjusts the screen color intensity to the ambient lighting, making the display look better in all lighting conditions.
The rear camera in this iPad is now 12MP and comes with a True Tone flash, the first Apple gadget to have this feature while the front camera is now 5MP and comes with a Retina flash just like the one featured in iPhone 6S.
Storage has been upgraded and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro now comes with storage up to 256GB for both the Wi-Fi and cellular models.
User Experience: 4/5
After being quite happy with my iPad mini 2 and the third-party accessories I bought to use with it for the past 2 years, I have to honestly say that the 9.7-inch iPad Pro and the native Apple accessories are a cut and a half above my previous satisfaction threshold: the new iPad is noticeably more responsive and faster, the display has improved a lot, the new tablet adjusts better to all lighting conditions and the 4-speaker setup makes the sound quality the most dramatic improvement.
In addition to the native features, new iPad works with the Pro-series accessories – the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil – making the new iPad a much lighter near-replacement for laptops.
The Smart Keyboard snaps securely to the iPad just like any Smart cover; the keyboard is so thin, it is barely discernible under the cover, but it folds out to a really comfortable, very responsive keyboard that does not require any charging or pairing via Bluetooth. The only downside is that the keyboard is not backlit.
Taking down notes, drawing diagrams and signing documents has never been easier with the Apple Pencil. What I really like about this accessory is that there is no need to press any button to turn on palm rejection, and pairing the pencil to the iPad is as easy as inserting the connector into the lightning port.
The 9.7-inch iPad Pro is quite pricey for a tablet: the price of a 256GB Wi-Fi model together with the Smart Cover, pencil and back cover is just a few thousand pesos less than the starting price of the new Macbook.
If you’re someone who attends a lot of meetings that require you to take down notes, draw diagrams during discussions, as well as make audio and video presentations and if you’re one who needs a powerful device that can fit into your handbag, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is the perfect laptop alternate.
- A very lightweight laptop alternate
- Better battery life and efficiency
- Great audio quality with the 4-speaker setup
- Up to 256GB storage capacity
- Smart keyboard and pencil
Admittedly, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is quite pricey for a tablet, but the Pro features more than just a glorified gaming and entertainment gadget.
- Operating System: iOS 9.3.2
- Processor: 2.16 GHz Apple A9X 64-bit dual-core processor
- GPU: PowerVR Series 7
- Internal Memory: 2 GB RAM, 32/128/256 GB internal storage
- Display: 9.7 inch Retina, Wide Color, True Tone, fully laminated display with fingerprint-resistant oleophobic and anti-reflective coating; 2048 x 1536 resolution @ 264 ppi
- Cameras: 12 MP f/2.2 iSight rear camera with True Tone flash, five-element lens, hybrid IR filter, backside illumination, sapphire crystal lens cover, and auto image stabilization; 5 MP f/2.2 front camera with Retina flash
- Connectivity: nanoSIM, LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, NFC
- Battery: 27.5 Wh
- Dimensions: 240 x 169.5 x 6.1 mm (L x W x D)
- Weight: 437 g (Wi-Fi) / 444 g (LTE)
Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE July 2016 Issue.
Words by Presy Alba