WHEN the 12-inch iPad Pro was released last year, Apple pitched it as the best computing combination of productivity and portability.
Today it launched a smaller iPad Pro that is just as productive but even more portable.
Apple faces a major problem with the tablet market. The problem is that people really like the tablet they already have.
That’s good news from a customer satisfaction viewpoint, but when you’re in the business of selling tablets it’s a significant hurdle.
When the 12-inch iPad Pro came out, it offered a several points of difference to previous tablets and, hence, considerable reasons why people might finally upgrade their tablet. The 12-inch iPad Pro lets you split your screen to work on multiple apps at once and it has the Smart Connector magnetic attachment for a keyboard.
Now with the new iPad Pro released today, those motivational factors to upgrade are still there but in a 9.7-inch (24.6cm) display that is more convenient for carrying around. Apple has managed to get the features of the Pro into the smaller tablet that is still the same physical size as the iPad Air 2.
The 9.7-inch iPad Pro has four speakers just like the bigger model and you can run split screen apps.
Despite the drop in size, the Smart Keyboard that attaches to the 9.7-inch tablet is still comfortable to type on. Sure, the keyboard has dropped nearly 6cm in width but nearly half of that space was “wasted” borders on the 12-inch Smart Keyboard that won’t be missed.
One gripe we have with the new tablet form is when you turn it over. Unlike the 12-inch iPad Pro, the new 9.7-inch model has a camera lens that extrudes similarly to the way the lens extrudes on the back of the iPhone 6s.
The pay-off for the extra bump is that this is the best camera in any iPad. You might look like a dork, but this iPad Pro has a 12 megapixel camera, an f/2.2 aperture and you can shoot 63 megapixel panoramas.
The 12-inch iPad Pro, in comparison, has an 8 megapixel camera with a f/2.4 aperture and you can only shoot 43 megapixel panoramas. The new 9.7-inch tablet has an improved flash.
Significantly, the new iPad Pro will let you shoot images with Live Photo, the Harry Potteresque embedded videos that animated still photos which Apple launched last year.
The new iPad Pro has a few other advantages, including True Tone display that adjust the screen’s colour temperature base on the lighting in the room.
When it comes to connectivity, the smaller Pro has another advantage.
It has LTE Advanced which means it can potentially download data from a mobile network at up to 50 per cent faster.
This is also the first iPad to come with an Apple SIM built in. Sure, you can pop in your existing SIM from Telstra, Optus, Vodafone or whoever, but when you travel overseas you will only need to access the services of an international carrier and not buy an international SIM.
That is likely to result in both a convenience and cost advantage for people who travel internationally with their tablet.
I am someone who only travels with an iPad. I previously used an iPad with a third-party keyboard case but now use the iPad Pro with the Apple Smart Keyboard. Apple talks about the iPad Pro as a productivity option — that is the option I choose.
But there remains a downside in this. Not everyone is convinced that an iPad Pro, a device without a USB drive, is enough of a productivity tool for them.
The new, smaller iPad Pro may still not convince that group from trading in their notebooks and switching to a tablet-only life. But for those who want the simplicity and convenience of a device that is just 6.1mm thick and weighs less than 500g, then this is the tablet
The 12-inch iPad Pro started a new story in the story of the iPad.
This 9.7-inch iPad Pro is an exciting new chapter.
The 9.7-inch iPad Pro starts at A$899 for 32GB Wi-Fi only. Pre-orders start Thursday 24 March and will go on sale from Thursday 31 March.