All the advanced features of the 13-inch iPad Pro, itty-bitty hardware.
Apple unveiled the smaller form 9.7-inch iPad Pro today. No, it's not the same thing as an iPad Air: It's like the 13-inch iPad Pro in all the right places, but smaller in screen size. Here, we've got everything you need to know about Apple's newest tablet.
What's this new iPad called?
While we're fond of "baby Pro," the official designation is "the smaller iPad Pro" or the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.
Isn't a 9.7-inch iPad Pro just an iPad Air with better specs?
Sort of: The 9.7-inch iPad Pro runs nearly identical to the 12.9-inch model, and is stacked with such features as a super-low reflective screen — one that runs 25 percent brighter than the iPad Air. Plus, the 9.7-inch model features a new True Tone display, which measures ambient light color temperatures and then changes the screen to match your surroundings. It's currently only available on this model, and a huge improvement over the iPad Air if you tend to read in many varied environments.
Is the iPad Air going away?
Not quite yet. Apple is keeping the iPad Air 2 in the tablet lineup, which means you can choose the iPad right for your budget: the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, which starts at $599, or stick with the older, less expensive (but still amazingly good) iPad Air 2 for only $399.
What's under the hood?
We'd heard about most of the specs for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro already, thanks to its bigger brother: The display, processor, camera, speakers, and accessories look identical to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The display is 40 percent less reflective and 25 percent brighter than the iPad Air 2 and has the same refresh rate as the bigger Pro.
Exclusive to the 9.7-inch Pro is its camera improvements: The smaller model sports the same 12 megapixel iSight camera with Focus Pixels and 5 megapixel FaceTime camera as the iPhone 6s. It also features a True Tone flash with the newest image signal processor technology, and lets you take and view Live Photos and shoot panorama pictures up to 63 megapixels. You'll additionally be able to shoot and edit dual-stream 4K video.
The biggest announcement for the new Pro, however, is its True Tone display, which uses two four-channel sensors, color and temperature, to measure ambient light and color temperature and adjusts screen lighting accordingly. No matter what type of lighting you are under, the display will match it. This feature, along with the DCI-P3 color space, is also only available on the smaller iPad Pro — the 12.9-inch model doesn't yet support either option.
What about battery life?
Apple didn't talk about battery life for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro at the event, but we've confirmed with representatives at the event that it remains the same old 10-hour battery life as every other iPad model.
Does the 9.7-inch iPad Pro come in different colors?
The 9.7-inch iPad Pro comes in Silver, Gold, Space Gray, and — a 9.7-inch exclusive — Rose Gold.
Will there be an LTE option?
Apple didn't mention anything about an LTE model at the March event, though the company did say that LTE Advanced would be supported. On its website, however, the LTE models do appear to be available, and you'll be able to pre-order them starting March 24.
What is an embedded SIM?
Apple is using an embedded SIM in its Wi-Fi + Cellular model of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. While there are a lot of complicated parts to an embedded SIM, what it basically comes down to is this; you will be able to choose a carrier right on your "Baby Pro" without having to sign up for a long-term commitment plan. You can easily switch from domestic to international cellular data without having to exchange SIM cards.
Even though the Apple SIM is embedded in the smaller iPad Pro, you will still have the ability to insert another carrier's SIM into the physical SIM tray. So, you can switch between, say, T-Mobile and AT&T. One carrier would be accessed on the embedded SIM, while the other would be accessed on the secondary card.
There are a few restrictions on the embedded Apple SIM. TechCrunch goes into some additional details about what different carriers do with the embedded SIM.
Can I get the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil with the 9.7-inch iPad Pro?
Yes! The smaller iPad Pro has a Smart Connector built in, and Apple has created a 9.7-inch version of its Smart Keyboard cover. It will soon be available in charcoal gray for $149.
Thrilling artists around the globe, the "greatest accessory Apple ever made," the Pencil, also works on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. Like the bigger model, the iPad Pro's display supports both fingers and the Pencil, so you can use either. You can pick up the Pencil now for $99.
Apple also announced a new Lightning to USB 3 reader, which can be used for more than just camera connection: Thanks to its powered hub, you can use any USB device, like digital mics, MIDI instruments, and more.
How much is this bad boy going to set me back?
The 9.7-inch iPad Pro is priced $100 above the traditional iPad Air baseline pricing, in part because of its support for the Smart Connector, True Tone display, speakers, and A9X processor. Here's what it'll run you in the United States:
- $599 for 32GB with Wi-Fi
- $729 for the 32GB Wi-Fi + Cellular
- $749 for 128GB with Wi-Fi
- $879 for 128GB Wi-Fi + Cellular
- $899 for 256GB with Wi-Fi
- $1029 for 256GB Wi-FI + Cellular
When can I get my hands on one?
Pre-orders start March 24; shipping begins March 31.
When will it be available in my country?
The 9.7-inch iPad Pro will launch on March 31 in:
- China (Wi-Fi models only)
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- Puerto Rico
- United Kingdom
- US Virgin Islands
- United States
It will be available in early April in:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Bosnia, Bulgaria
- Cayman Islands
- Czech Republic
- El Salvador
- Isle of Man
- Macau (Wi-Fi models only)
- Switzerland -Thailand (Wi-Fi models only)
Still not sure you want to buy the 9.7-inch iPad Pro? Want to know a little more before you make the plunge? Let us know your questions and concerns in the comments below and we'll fill you in with our wealth of knowledge.