This is not a review.

This is not a review.

Bigger is not always better. And one size really doesn't fit all. I believe Apple was tossing around all of these cliches when they came up with the iPad Pro 9.7. I don't believe it is a reaction to iPad Pro sales. Even remix products take time to develop and execute.

I believe they had this one in the works for a while. They just know that size is an important factor in a device as personal as a tablet. The same is true for laptops and smartphones. It wouldn't surprise me if they were not done with size options. There are four sizes of laptop, and three sizes of smartphone. It makes sense for the iPad Pro to come in multiple sizes.

For many people, the iPad Pro 13 is just too big. It is a fairly small laptop, but a huge tablet. It all depends on how you plan to use it. For those who want a laptop with tablet functionality, the 13 is a good choice. For a tablet with laptop functionality, the 9.7 is where it's at.

The Real iPad

The tech community likes to have a clear idea of what is supposed to be the best, the high-end, the "real" product. Apple has blurred the lines. It is hard to know what the flagship Apple product is. Is it the Mac Pro, or the iMac 5K? Is it the 15" MacBook Pro or the 13"? Is it the iPhone 6S Plus, or the 6S?

Now, that confusion has been brought to the iPad line. Is it the iPad Pro 13, or the iPad Pro 9.7? The size and features do not make it clear. If you really want the top of the line device just for bragging rights, there is no easy way to decide which it is. Will the "real" iPad Pro please stand up.

Feature Un-parity

The decision would still be complicated if size was the only factor. But it's not. There are only a few differences. But they are meaningful. Here are some of the standouts:

  • The smaller iPad Pro has new screen tech with better color and that automatically adjusts the white balance to the surroundings. Whether or not it's useful, it's really cool.
  • The smaller iPad has much better cameras on both sides. It has all the features of the top of the line iPhone. The larger iPad is hobbled by comparison.
  • The larger iPad Pro has more ram and a higher clocked processor. It also accommodates a larger keyboard.

Size offers practical advantages and disadvantages to both. The smaller iPad is more portable and easier to hold for more comfortable inking sessions. The bigger iPad has a roomier canvas for inking, videos, and productivity. Make no mistake about it: This is not an easy decision.

The two iPads do not have feature parity. The smaller iPad is slightly under clocked and has less ram. But the performance may not be hurt because it has fewer pixels to push. That said, apps and webpages will have to be reloaded more often. In every other way, the smaller iPad has more advanced features.

Conclusion: Professional Grade

A lot of people have expressed dissatisfaction in the naming of this new iPad. They say that it confuses the line. They are not wrong if the only focus is the device. But I contend that the "Pro"in iPad Pro, is not about the device, and more about the user. Devices are not professional. Users are.

To me, and iPad Pro is a professional that uses an iPad as a part of their profession. At that point, it just becomes a matter of choosing the device that is the best tool for the job for which you need it.

If you want to replace the clipboard with which you walk around all day, the smaller machines makes more sense. The same is true if you scan a lot of documents using the camera. Any situation where you want to edit video and images on the same device use to capture, calls for the iPad Pro 9.7.

If you want a laptop-sized screen attached to a laptop-sized keyboard to do laptop-sized things, but running iOS, the original iPad Pro is still the one for you. If you want to have it all, you will just have to wait and see what Apple comes up with next, presumably, in about six months from the time of this writing.

David Johnson