Review: Updated: iPad Pro 9.7

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Update: iPad Pro 9.7 will soon get its first major software upgrade with iOS 10, which Apple announced at WWDC 2016. Here’s our updated review.

The iPad Pro is ambitiously touted as Apple’s new tablet that has the guts to replace your laptop, and it now comes in an ideal size that perfectly demonstrates bigger isn’t always better for everyone.

Even though I was thoroughly impressed with the grunt behind the powerful iPad Pro 12.9, I longed for that standard 9.7-inch display and form factor with the same pro-level features.

It’s taken Apple a year and a half to launch a proper iPad Air 2 successor and, in that time, it fit almost everything from the giant iPad into a smaller frame. It’s way more than an iPad Air 3 upgrade.

iPad Pro 9 7 review

It’s way more than an iPad Air 3 upgrade.

I can now listen to amped up music through its four loud stereo speakers, doodle away with the Apple Pencil and seamlessly attach a keyboard without fumbling with Bluetooth. Its Smart Connector port may be my favorite new feature inherited from the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

It’s not all hand-me-downs. The iPad Pro 9.7 actually strikes out on its own with a few advancements. Its True Tone display technology adapts to my environment by subtly adjusting the white balance, and there’s a much wider color gamut behind its anti-reflective coated glass.

Its camera is 12MP and shoots 4K video, taking cues from the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus camera specs. That’s incredibly rare for a tablet of any size. So is the rose gold color option and debut of a 256GB configuration.

iPad Pro 9 7 review

It’s a tablet juggernaut – not in size, but the asking price.

What we have ended up with is a tablet juggernaut – but without looking like a juggernaut. On the other hand it also has a serious asking price to match its power, and several easy-to-spot software limitations.

The iPad Air 9.7 costs $599 (£499, AU$899), higher than the iPad Air 2 launch price of $499, (£399, $699) and even higher than the current iPad Air 2 price of $399 (£349, AU$599).

Is there enough here for Apple to retain its best tablet status? Let’s explore the current iPad that wants to be your laptop-replacement of the future.

Be sure to watch our video review of the iPad Pro 9.7