For me, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro was an appetizer.
I ordered it on a whim. I chose the base level (though not at all inexpensive) 32GB WiFi model. I never mentally committed to keeping it. I didn’t buy the expensive Smart Keyboard Cover, though I did buy an Apple Pencil. And while I’ve really enjoyed my week with the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, this morning I packed it up to be shipped back to Apple as originally planned, though, admittedly, debated over the last week.
Although I’m not keeping the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, I think it’s a fantastic product. Like nearly everyone else who has reviewed it, I believe the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is a great addition to Apple’s tablet family that will appeal to tons of iPad buyers this year. It’s got a gorgeous screen and True Tone is definitely not a gimmick. It keeps everything on the display looking perfect in different lighting conditions, and the size is much better for reading comic books and Pocket articles than my 7.9-inch iPad mini. The four speakers on each corner of the iPad Pro produce incredible sound for a tablet and I’ve absolutely loved using it to watch Netflix in bed or play Apple Music while doing dishes. I think I’ll miss the speakers most of all. The Apple Pencil is equally amazing; it feels unlike any touch-screen stylus you may have tried before. I had so much fun colouring in Pigment and doodling in Notes. The screen somehow feels “soft” under the tip of the Pencil, even though you’re literally tapping plastic on glass. Aside from being the perfect tool for artists, I firmly believe the Apple Pencil will be a game changer for pro tasks like photo retouching, video editing, and audio editing on the iPad. It’s the precision pointing device that iOS has been missing.
I’ve been coveting the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro for months now, but as I thought more about what I use my iPad mini for – reading comics, checking Twitter, playing games, and occasionally watching videos – I started to wonder if the convenience of a smaller, more portable 9.7-inch iPad might be worth the trade-off in screen real estate. The answer is no. As Apple touted during their media event, the 9.7-inch screen is the most popular iPad screen size (no shocker there since it was the only iPad screen size for most of the product’s lifetime.) Coupled with the Air’s smaller bezels, I think the 9.7-inch iPad remains the best choice for most iPad users thanks to its light weight and portability. For me, though it might be optimal for reading and travel as I had imagined, it doesn’t satisfy the desire I have to do more with an iPad. I expected this would be the case, and should have trusted that instinct before pressing “Buy”.
The small screen feels immediately cramped when using two apps in Split View, which is perhaps the most important new iOS feature for those looking to be productive on an iPad. My dream of building a website with Coda and Transmit side-by-side, writing an article while researching in Safari, or even just checking Twitter and answering iMessages at the same time, simply requires more screen space to feel comfortable. As I’ve learned with my iPhone 6s Plus, sometimes it’s worth putting up with and adapting to life with a larger device to enjoy the benefits of a larger display.
Personally, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for an updated 12.9-inch iPad Pro this fall, with TouchID 2, True Tone, and better quality cameras. I think that could be the iPad to replace my MacBook Pro. If you already use and love a “regular sized” iPad everyday, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is definitely worth a look. There’s so much to love about it, especially if you’re still holding on to your trusty-but-aging iPad 2 or original iPad Air.
I think the 9.7-inch iPad Pro’s greatest achievement is what it represents: Apple’s dedication to making the iPad the future of computing. After years of stagnation, the iPad is moving again and in a very exciting direction. I can’t wait to see where the iPad and iOS go from here.