Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch full review

Our iPad Pro 9.7in review continues. On this page we list the iPad's key tech specs, and discuss its UK pricing. Finally, we reveal our definitive verdict.

The next section is:

iPad Pro 9.7in review: Tech specs

  • A9X processor with 64-bit desktop-class architecture, and M9 coprocessor
  • 2GB RAM
  • 32GB, 128GB or 256GB storage
  • Retina display
  • 9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit Multi-Touch display
  • 2048x1536 resolution at 264 pixels per inch (ppi)
  • Wide colour display
  • True Tone display
  • Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating
  • Fully laminated display
  • Anti-reflective coating
  • Rear-facing camera: 12-megapixel photos; f/2.2 aperture; Live Photos; True Tone flash; Autofocus and tap to focus with Focus Pixels; Auto HDR photos; Face detection; Panorama (up to 63 megapixels); Burst mode; Timer mode; 4K HD video recording (3840x2160); Slo-mo video support for 1080p at 120 fps and 720p at 240 fps; Time-lapse video with stabilisation; Cinematic video stabilisation; Continuous autofocus video; 3x video zoom.
  • Front-facing camera: 5-megapixel photos; Retina Flash; 720p HD video recording; Auto HDR photos and videos; Face detection; Burst mode
  • 3.82V 27.91 Wh (7306mAh) rechargeable lithium-polymer battery (according to Wikipedia); claimed battery life of up to 10 hours Wi-Fi web surfing or up to 9 hours of mobile web surfing
  • Four-speaker audio; Touch ID; Apple Pay; Siri; Barometer
  • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.2
  • Embedded Apple SIM

iPad Pro 9.7in review: Dimensions and weight

  • 169.5mm x 240mm x 6.1mm
  • 437g (Wi-Fi model), 444g (cellular model)

(These figures are exactly the same as the iPad Air 2.)

For comparison, the 12.9in iPad Pro measures:

  • 220.6mm x 305.7mm x 6.9mm
  • 713g (Wi-Fi) or 723g (cellular)

iPad Pro 9.7in review: Software

When it launched, the iPad Pro 9.7in came with iOS 9 preinstalled, but iOS 10 was released to the general public in September 2016; if you buy an iPad Pro now, it will come with iOS 10.

If you'd like to know more about the new features in iOS 10, and how they'll affect your user experience with the iPad Pro, read our iOS 10 review and iOS 10 tips.

iPad Pro 9.7in review: iOS 10

iPad Pro 9.7in review: UK pricing

We rather expected this based on the high price tags attached to the 12.9in Pro, but the 9.7in Pro is a really expensive tablet. (The addition of a new 256GB storage option at the top end exaggerates this effect slightly, however.)

In fact, the price of the iPad Pro 9.7in has gone up since it was launched, as have the prices of a number of Apple products in the past few months - it seems to be related to the fall in the pound's value, Brexit and that sort of thing. (For more on this, see: Apple price increases UK.)

Here's what the 9.7in Pro will set you back in the UK, as of November 2016:

  • 32GB (Wi-Fi): £549
  • 128GB (Wi-Fi): £639
  • 256GB (Wi-Fi): £729
  • 32GB (cellular): £669
  • 128GB (cellular): £759
  • 256GB (cellular): £849

For comparison, here's what the iPad cost when it launched seven months back:

  • 32GB (Wi-Fi): £499
  • 128GB (Wi-Fi): £619
  • 256GB (Wi-Fi): £739
  • 32GB (cellular): £599
  • 128GB (cellular): £719
  • 256GB (cellular): £839

In other words, the various models of iPad have gone up by anywhere from £10 to £50 - and it wasn't exactly cheap to start with. (If you think that's steep, wait until you find out that the three-year-old Mac Pro has gone up by £500.)

You can buy the iPad Pro 9.7in direct from Apple, but if you shop around you ought to be able to find the Pro for a little less than this: check our Best cheap iPad Pro deals page for the latest offers.

If you accept, as Apple has encouraged us to accept, that the Pro is an adequate laptop replacement then a top end of £849 - and that for a storage allocation that bears comparison with many laptops - doesn't seem unreasonable. (The 11-inch MacBook Air with 256GB costs £899.) And of course the 9.7in Pro is a neat £180 cheaper than its 12.9in cousin at each tier.

But we were still a little surprised at first to find that this tablet is more expensive than the iPad Air 2 was when it launched back in 2014. The 128GB models of the Air 2 cost £559 and £659 at launch; the equivalents for the 9.7in Pro cost £619 and £719 at launch, and have gone up to £639 and £759. Apple has historically priced its new tablets at the same launch price as their predecessor with the same form factor, which makes it feel like a significant premium has been slapped on to what is really the iPad Air 3 by another name.

This scarcely feels like a bargain to the average user, then, although its superior suitability for work tasks means the likely audience may be willing to stretch the budget. And as we will discuss in the verdict, there's more than enough to like here to justify that higher price.

For full comparison, here are the current prices for the iPad Pro 12.9in:

  • 32GB (Wi-Fi): £729
  • 128GB (Wi-Fi): £819
  • 256GB (Wi-Fi): £909
  • 128GB (cellular): £939
  • 256GB (cellular): £1,029

and for the iPad Air 2:

  • 32GB (Wi-Fi): £379
  • 128GB (Wi-Fi): £469
  • 32GB (cellular): £499
  • 128GB (cellular): £589

Finally, here are the prices for the iPad Air 2 when it launched in 2014:

  • 16GB (Wi-Fi): £399
  • 64GB (Wi-Fi): £479
  • 128GB (Wi-Fi): £559
  • 16GB (cellular): £499
  • 64GB (cellular): £579
  • 128GB (cellular): £659

iPad Pro 9.7in review: Colour options

The 9.7in iPad Pro is available in all the colours offered with the 12.9in Pro, plus the restful, pleasing and genuinely not bling pink of Rose Gold. So that's silver, gold, Rose Gold and Space Grey.

iPad Pro 9.7in review: Colour options

iPad Pro 9.7in review: Future updates

There's one final question to consider when deciding whether or not to buy the iPad Pro 9.7. Will Apple release a new iPad next week, or next month, thus instantly devaluing your brand-new iPad and making you wish you'd waited?

The truth is that, while Apple is a fairly predictable company in terms of its product updates, there will always be some risk of this happening when you buy a tech product, unless you buy it the day it comes out (when it's most difficult to get hold of one, and when some of the initial teething problems may not yet be apparent). It's best not to worry about it too much. Otherwise you'd never buy anything.

Nevertheless, having launched the iPad Pro 12.9 in October 2015 and the Pro 9.7 in March 2016, and with no updates announced as of November 2016, it doesn't take a genius to predict that the next set of iPads are likely to appear in March 2017. If you'd like to read the latest information, clues, hints and rumours about those launches, take a look at our iPad Pro 2 release date rumours and iPad Air 3 release date rumours. (And iPad mini 5 release date rumours too, if you like.)

Macworld poll: Will you buy an iPad Pro 9.7in?

We're almost ready for our verdict on the iPad Pro 9.7, but we'd love to hear your thoughts. Have we convinced you one way or the other? Will you buy an iPad Pro 9.7in? Have you already bought one? If not, what are your reasons?

Have your say in our poll - and remember to tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

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