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9.7-inch iPad Pro unboxing: Meet Apple’s latest laptop replacement

by Brandon Russell | March 31, 2016March 31, 2016 5:36 pm PST



Apple desperately wants you to buy an iPad. Better yet, the company wants you to buy an iPad Pro, a faster, more capable tablet that Apple believes is a bonafide laptop replacement. The Cupertino company’s executives have been spouting this same language for years now, but now it truly believes the iPad, once laughed off as a big iPhone, is all the device you’ll ever need.

When we reviewed the 12.9-inch iPad Pro last year, it didn’t blow us away, nor did it become central to our workflow. Sure, it’s a great iPad, one that supports unparalleled stylus accuracy when used with the Apple Pencil. But its multitasking capabilities are just okay—certainly not good enough to replace a laptop for most working professionals.

Not to mention the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is expensive at $799, ballooning to well over $1,000 with all the accessories and higher storage options. We also found it to be just too big, especially in a confined space like an airplane cabin. In Jon’s review last year, the size was his biggest issue, and really kept him from enjoying the experience.

With the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, it’s still hard to see how Apple’s new tablet can beat out a MacBook Air or even the company’s MacBook, but at least it’s no longer a hulking machine.

With the smaller model, Apple didn’t just shrink the device down into a more manageable form factor. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro actually sports a few features that the larger model does not, such as the True Tone display. Basically, True Tone will adjust the display’s color depending on the ambient light that’s available. Instead of simply shining a bright white light at users, the screen will dynamically adjust its white balance, which Apple says provides a more pleasant experience.

Speaking of the display, Apple says the 9.7-inch iPad Pro’s screen is 25 percent bright and 40 percent less reflective than the iPad Air 2, and uses the same color gamut as the Retina iMac. For designers and illustrators, that alone might be worth the price of admission.

Finally, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro also sports the same 12-megapixel camera you’d find in the iPhone 6s; in other words, the quality of photos and video should be excellent.

At $599 for the 32GB model, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is not cheap, especially when you consider the Apple Pencil ($99) and Smart Keyboard ($149) are extra expenses. If you really want the full experience, you’re looking to spend nearly $900. At that price you’re edging dangerously close into MacBook Air territory.

Check out the video above to see the device in action and stay tuned for our full review.


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell likes to rollerblade while listening to ACDC.

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