iPad 2017 vs iPad Pro 9.7
Apple recently replaced the iPad Air 2 with a cheaper 9.7-inch iPad. This model will no doubt be of great interest to those looking to pick up a new device in the coming months, but how much difference is there between this and the more expensive iPad Pro 9.7? We take a look.
To see how the new iPad compares to the device it replaced you can also read our iPad 2017 vs iPad Air 2 comparison review.
Design & build quality
The new iPad 9.7 (or iPad 2017 as it's also known) looks just like any other iPad from the past few years. In fact the chassis is pretty much lifted from the iPad Air 1.
The height and width are the same as the Pro, but the more expensive model is both slimmer and lighter.
- iPad 2017: 240mm x 169.5mm x 7.5mm; 469g/478g (Wi-Fi/cellular
- iPad Pro: 240mm x 169.5mm x 6.1mm; 437/444g (Wi-Fi/cellular)
Where the iPad 2017 has two speakers, the iPad Pro has four, and the new addition also arrives without the Smart Connector which means it won't be able to use Apple's Smart Keyboard. Bluetooth alternatives are available though, so that's not necessarily a disaster.
The Pro also has support for the Apple Pencil, something the 2017 model can't match, but both have Touch ID and Apple Pay which could be more useful on a day-to-day basis. The Pro and 2017 models are available in Silver, Space Grey, and Gold, with the Pro also offering a Rose Gold edition.
One of the major differences between the two models is the display. The iPad 2017 has a decent enough panel, with the standard 9.7-inch display, 2048 x 1536 resolution, and 264 PPI arrangement that appears on both devices.
In fact it's almost identical to the version used on the iPad Air 1. The problem with this is that the 'air-gapped' design can feel a little less premium when pressed.
It's not exactly unashamedly plastic, but the tactile sensation can certainly be reminiscent of the cheaper, more flexible substance.
The Pro suffers no such budgetary choices. The panel on the Pro is fully laminated and includes an anti-reflective coating - just like the iPad mini 4. Colours are also more plentiful and vivid thanks to its DCI-P3 Wide colour gamut, and the True Tone display will make details clearer in a range of environments. Read next: iPad 2017 vs iPad mini 4
While there's no doubt that the Pro is more powerful device, the iPad 2017 is actually a solid performer thanks to Apple's choice of fitting it with an A9 processor. It might not be the top of the shop A9X found in the Pro, but's it's none too shabby.
Both units feature 2GB of RAM, which proves a potent combination with the CPUs.
In our benchmark tests the iPad Pro always came out on top, but the iPad 2017 consistently prove itself to be a fast and capable unit.
In Geekbench 3 the Pro scored 3076, while the 2017 achieved 2359, and using GFXBench OpenGL the Pro put up 33.8 but was closely pursued by the 2017's 28.6.
These numbers don't always mean much in terms of real world use, but the bottom line is that the Pro is a fast iPad, and the 2017 is a very competent device for day-to-day browsing, gaming, and social media tasks.
Storage options include 32GB and 128GB for both, with the Pro adding a 256GB variant.
The optical capabilities of these siblings are night and day. Apple obviously saw this as an area to cut costs on the 2017 iPad as it comes fitted with an 8-megapixel, f/2.4 aperture main camera with 1080p HD video capabilities.
That's not bad for an iPad, but the Pro boasts a 12-megapixel f/2.2 main unit with a wider colour gamut, focus pixels, True Tone flash, Auto HDR, 4K video recording with superior stabilisation, and advanced levels of Slo-Mo.
The front facing cameras are also different, with the Pro bearing a 5-megapixel unit, while the iPad 2017 offers a less than stellar 1.2 megapixel alternative.
Apple claims that both units will deliver up to 10 hours of browsing, watching videos, or listening to music (a figure that drops by an hour if you're using a mobile network).
In our testing these figures are in the right ballpark. The iPad 2017 regularly lasted for over the 10 hour mark, but the Pro bested this again by extending into an eleventh hour on multiple occasions.
You'd rightly expect the Pro to be a more powerful, feature packed, premium device, but the question to ask before spending any money is how much do you really need those extra touches?
At the moment you can pick up the iPad 2017 for as low as £339, which in iPad terms is cheap.
The whole range looks like this;
iPad 2017: 32GB (£339), 128GB (£429), 32GB+Cellular (£469), and 128GB+Cellular (£559).
Now compare those prices to the current lineup of the iPad Pro 9.7;
iPad Pro 9.7: 32GB (£549), 128GB (£639), 256GB (£729), 32GB+Cellular (£669), 128GB+Cellular (£759), and 256GB+Cellular (£849).
So for each directly comparable model you're paying around £200 more for the Pro. That's not an inconsiderable amount.
Obviously the Pro is a better device. The display is much nicer under the fingers and features a higher-quality panel. It's faster, has superior cameras, advanced features such as Apple Pencil compatibility, lasts longer on a single charge, and you can get it in pink. (You're not fooling anyone, Apple, with your "Rose Gold" nomenclature!)
It's also much, much more expensive.
So the classic mantra of technology purchasing needs to be applied: what do you want to do with the device?
If you're after a simple, internet-browsing sofa companion to watch YouTube, Netflix, do some shopping, occasional gaming, and keep up on Facebook, then the iPad 2017 is a sensible choice. That holds true if it's going to be a family device shared between you and the little ones too.
Those seeking best-in-class performance, artistic apps that can utilise the Apple Pencil, or a work device that's as future-proof as iPads get, then the Pro is the one that should be at the top of your list. That is of course unless you've seen the iPad Pro 12.9. Decisions, decisions.