Apple’s newest iPad arrived without any of the fanfare that usually accompanies updates to the company’s lineup, but that doesn’t make it entirely unexpected. With iPad sales dropping, Apple’s new tablet—which will go by the simple moniker iPad—displaces the 9.7-inch iPad Air 2 and positions itself as an affordable alternative to the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.
Starting at $329, the 32GB iPad is Apple’s most affordable tablet. It’s priced lower than the 7.9-inch iPad mini 4 ($399), previously the lowest priced iPad you could buy. It’s also $270 less than the starting configuration of the iPad Pro ($599), making it a better option if you’re on a budget. But before you buy, there are some compromises Apple made to hit that lower price point. Read on to see how to two slates compare.
|Name||Apple iPad (2017)||Apple iPad Pro (9.7 inch)|
|Lowest Price|| %displayPrice% %seller%
| %displayPrice% %seller%
|Dimensions||9.4 by 6.6 by 0.29 inches||9.4 by 6.6 by 0.24 inches|
|Screen Size||9.7 inches||9.7 inches|
|Weight||1.03 lbs||0.96 lb|
|Screen Resolution||2,048 by 1,536 pixels||2,048 by 1,536 pixels|
|CPU||Apple A9||Apple A9X|
|Operating System||Apple iOS 10||Apple iOS 10|
|Screen Pixels Per Inch||264 ppi||264 ppi|
|Camera Resolution||8MP Rear, 1.2MP Front-Facing||12 MP Rear, 5 MP Front-Facing|
|Read the Review||Read the Review|
Design and Display
In terms of design, you’re looking at two similar-looking devices. On both slates, you get Apple’s high-quality aluminum unibody build, a Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the front, and the usual buttons and ports along the sides. However, there is a difference in dimensions. Measuring 9.40 by 6.60 by 0.29 inches (HWD) and weighing 1.03 pounds, the iPad is a tiny bit thicker and heavier than the Pro (9.40 by 6.60 by 0.24 inches, 0.96 pounds), but most people probably won’t notice.
The big compromise here is display. Though both slates have a 9.7-inch Retina panel with a 2,048-by-1,536 resolution and a crisp 264 pixels per inch, you’ll notice that the iPad display looks different. That’s because it’s not laminated, it doesn’t have an anti-reflective coating, and it doesn’t support a wide color gamut. There’s also no True Tone, meaning the screen won’t use the ambient light sensor to dynamically adjust the screen’s white color balance to make text more readable.
What this means in practical terms is that compared with the Pro, the iPad display will be less visible outdoors, will likely wash out in direct sunlight, and will generally have duller, less vibrant colors. If outdoor usability is important to you, the Pro is the clear winner here.
Processor, Battery, and Camera
Under the hood, the iPad has a 64-bit A9 processor and embedded M9 coprocessor, making it faster than the A8 on the iPad mini 4, but not quite as powerful as the A9X chipset on the Pro. In practical terms, the performance difference shouldn’t be too big. The A9 is still a perfectly good chipset that’s also found on the iPhone 6s. In our experience, it still handles iOS 10 without any trouble and doesn’t suffer from any stuttering, lag, or performance issues. That said, if future-proofing is your concern, you’ll get a bit more mileage out of the Pro’s A9X.
The iPad is expected to have a 10-hour battery when browsing or watching videos on Wi-Fi, but we’ll have to reserve judgment until we put it to the test. For reference, the iPad Pro clocked 5 hours, 38 minutes when streaming full-screen video over Wi-Fi at maximum brightness; the old iPad Air 2 logged a bit less at 5 hours, 15 minutes. We expect the iPad to fall somewhere in this range.
The iPad has a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera that’s capable of recording 1080p video. The pictures it takes likely won’t be as sharp or colorful as the 12-megapixel camera on the Pro, which also supports Live Photos, True Tone flash, and 4K video recording. The Pro’s front sensor is also better. It boasts a 5-megapixel front camera compared with the iPad’s 1.2-megapixel sensor, giving it better quality for selfies and video chat.
Software and Comparisons
Both slates run iOS 10, so you won’t encounter any difference there. Where features come into play is with the add-on accessories you can get with the Pro, like the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard. The iPad isn’t compatible with either of these, so if your main usage is going to be productivity rather than multimedia you may want to pick the Pro. It has the best specs you can get, though it comes at a premium. Of course, the iPad will still work with any standard Bluetooth keyboard and at $329, it’s the far more affordable option, making it a good choice for any buyer on a budget.
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