iPad (2017) vs. iPad Pro 9.7
Apple's new iPad marks a new budget-minded strategy for Apple's tablet line. The company still, however, has a high-end iPad that falls in the same 10-inch window. Let's compare the features and specs of the entry-level iPad with the high-end iPad Pro 9.7.
Height and width are identical, as they have been since 2013's iPad Air. That's good news for anyone who owns a snap-on cover or keyboard cover, as there's a good chance they'll fit both of these models. (Cases might be another story, as the iPads have different depths.)
Presumably in the name of keeping the price down, the new iPad gained a little heft over both the iPad Pro 9.7 and its predecessor, the iPad Air 2.
The new model still has Apple's familiar aluminum unibody design.
It isn't included in the box (be ready to pony up an extra US$150), but the iPad Pro plays nice with a snap-on Apple Smart Keyboard that doesn't rely on a Bluetooth connection.
The cheaper iPad only works with third-party Bluetooth keyboards.
The new model also won't work the Apple Pencil stylus.
Apparently Apple decided customers could live without rose gold in the new iPad.
No changes here, it's 9.7 inches both ways.
Fortunately there's no compromise in pixels for the cheaper new model, with the same "Retina" resolution found in all 9.7-in iPads since early 2012.
Until that alleged 10th-anniversary iPhone switches to AMOLED later this year (as it's rumored to), Apple sticks with IPS panels in all its mobile devices.
True Tone display
The iPad Pro 9.7 is still the only Apple device with a True Tone display, which adjusts its color balance in response to your ambience. (It's all in the sensors.)
This is a nice upgrade in the new iPad (compared to the iPad Air 2, not the Pro), in that it gets a same-generation system-on-a-chip as the iPhone 6s and iPad Pro. Not being the A9X variant of the A9, though, it's probably not going to benchmark quite as fast as the Pro.
(Note that we're grabbing the 1.85 GHz from the iPhone 6s version of the A9 chip; it's possible it will be clocked differently in the new iPad.)
We won't know the RAM situation in the new iPad until we run some benchmarks, but we'd be surprised if the didn't use the same 2 GB as the iPad Air 2 and Pro 9.7.
Apple rates the same 10 hours of web-surfing, video or music-listening (while on Wi-Fi) for both models.
You can pay an extra $130 to get an LTE-enabled model of either tablet.
The only difference here is a 256 GB variant of the Pro 9.7.
The iPad Pro has better cameras, though we don't think many shoppers are too worried about that in a large-ish tablet.
Both have Touch ID fingerprint sensors.
The iPad Pro gives you an extra pair of stereo speakers, for a more surround-like experience while watching videos or playing games.
Both run iOS 10.
The 2017 iPad is up for pre-order, and starts shipping next week.
While it's now a year old, it doesn't look like the iPad Pro 9.7 is ready to be replaced by a successor just yet. (Rumors point to a 10.5-in iPad Pro with the same tablet size sometime this year.)
Starting price (full retail)
When the iPad Pro 9.7 launched a year ago, we wished it started at the same $499 as every one of its same-sized predecessors. But that pricey pill may be a little easier to swallow with its affordable new sibling. If you can live with a Bluetooth keyboard instead of an Apple-connected one (or skip the keyboard altogether), then the $329 iPad may be all you need.
We'll have a more definitive take on the new iPad, though, when we run our full review. Until then, you can revisit our review of the iPad Pro 9.7.
Correction: The original version of this article had checks and Xs backwards in the images for Apple Keyboard and Apple Pencil.