The differences between the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro

By , Mar 21, 2016

iPad Pro 9.7-inch smaller than old model

Apple on Monday announced a new 9.7-inch iPad that it’s calling the iPad Pro. Instead of continuing on with its ‘Air’ branding, the company decided that the performance and feature set of its newest tablet called for more prestigious ‘Professional’ labeling.

The move makes sense, given how much the smaller iPad Pro has in common with its larger sibling, but there are also several differences between the two tablets. In fact, we felt that there were enough differences that it was worth compiling a list of them.


Both the 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pros come in Silver, Gold and Space Gray, the smaller version that Apple just announced today is the only one that comes in Rose Gold.


While you get the storage options of 32GB, 128GB and 256GB for both the 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro Wi-Fi only models, you are limited to just 128GB and 256GB for the Wi-Fi + Cellular version of the larger Pro. So if you want an iPad Pro with Cellular and 32GB of storage, you’ll have to go with the 9.7-inch.

Size and Weight

As you’d imagine the dimensions of the two tablets vary quite a bit. The 9.7-inch Pro measures 9.4″ x 6.6″ x 0.24″ and weighed 0.96 pound (Cellular models weight 0.98 pound), and the 12.9-inch Pro measures 12″ x 8.68″ x 0.27″ and weighs  1.57 pounds (1.59 Cellular). So the smaller iPad Pro is 0.03 inches thinner and weighs more than half a pound less.


The obvious difference here is screen size and resolution. The 9.7-inch Pro has a resolution 2048×1536 resolution at 265 ppi, and the 12.9-inch model is at 2732×2048 at 264 ppi. The smaller iPad also features a wider color gamut and True Tone display tech, for better color in a variety of settings.


The cameras are very different on the two iPad Pro models. The original 12.9-inch Pro features an 8-megapixel iSight camera that maxes out at 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps. The new 9.7-inch Pro features a 12mp iSight camera that can shoot 4K videos at 30fps. The smaller Pro also has True Tone flash, better Panorama capabilities (63mp vs 43mp), Autofocus with Focus Pixels, improved local tone mapping and improved tone mapping. Long story short, the smaller iPad Pro has a much better iSight camera—and a better FaceTime camera as well (5-megapixels vs 1.2mp).


While both tablets feature Apple’s A9X processor and M9 co-processor, there does appear to be a slight difference in performance. Apple says the CPU in the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is 2.4x faster than the A7, and the graphics are 4.3x faster. But for the 12.9-inch model, the CPU is marked as 2.5x faster and the graphics 5x faster. We imagine there is some under/over-clocking going on here, but we won’t know how it affects real-world performance until we see benchmarks.

Cellular and Wireless

The biggest difference here is that the 9.7-inch iPad Pro Wi-Fi + Cellular features an embedded Apple SIM card, and the larger Pro includes a standard Apple SIM card. Not a huge difference but worth noting.

Power and Battery

Obviously because of their different sizes, the two tablets have different batteries. The 9.7-inch model has a 27.5-watt-hour lithium‐polymer battery, and the 12.9-inch model has a 38.5-watt-hour battery. You can really disregard these numbers though, because the end result for both iPad Pro sizes is “up to 10 hours of usage.”


Another obvious difference between the two iPad Pros is pricing. The newly revealed 9.7-inch tablet starts at $599, for the 32GB Wi-Fi model, while the larger Pro starts at $799 for the 32GB model, and obviously they both go up in price depending on storage and addition of Cellular capabilities.

And that should just about cover it. The main point I picked up while sifting through all of these features and hardware specs is that the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro is better in virtually every way. It has the better display, better cameras, it’s more portable and it’s $200 cheaper. Unless you just really want the larger display of the 12.9-inch Pro, it seems like the smaller one is the way to go.

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  • Jamessmooth

    Pretty annoying for those of us that bought the 12.9″ version 4 months ago.

    • I hear what you’re saying but it’s the same with any tech product you buy. You know that eventually it will be updated and get better. But again, I hear your point.

      • Kubaton

        You’re right but Apple has a knack for making “eventually” a lot sooner than most would seem fair. I have no regrets though. The 12.9″ is still a great device and Apple products have a great resale value.

    • Kubaton

      Or just over a month ago.

    • 9to5Slavery

      why is it annoying? can you explain? i read the content above

  • Rakesh Jain

    I personally always prefer getting second generation of any new product… It is more polished in design and technologically more advanced. Like the 6S vs 6; iPad 2 vs iPad original and so on. that is worth the wait.. even though you always have to wait for a year for it.

  • Terrence A McKelvey

    I really enjoy my 12.9″ iPadPro and even w/ the choice wouldn’t for this new one. I like the 12.9″ because of the size and they could have even removed the back camera because who the heck would use a 13″ tablet to take pictures and video anyway. If you have regrets getting the 12.9″ as this new smaller one came out, then why did you get the larger one to begin with?

  • Jason Sims

    I have the 12.9 Pro. The new 9.7 Pro has an underclocked processor and half the ram. IMO definitely go with the 12.9.