Smaller iPad Pro is even bigger on features

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iPad Pro prices
Prices aren't the only major difference between iPad Pros.
Photo: Apple

Size isn’t the only thing that counts when you’re weighing your iPad Pro options.

Sure, it’s a major consideration. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro that Apple showed off earlier this week has the same dimensions of the less sprawling iPad Air 2, and it weighs just under a pound. That’s about two-thirds the weight of the original Pro, and people trading up from an iPad Air won’t need to look at new cases or bags to carry the thing around in.

But that’s all surface stuff, and the two iPad Pros have a lot of differences behind — and even inside — their screens.

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro comes in Rose Gold

Okay, so one more surface thing: You’ll be able to get the new one in pink. It’s the first iPad of any kind to sport the new color, which we’ve already seen on iPhones and Apple Watches. So now if you have two pink Apple things, you can complete the rose-gold trifecta.

And that might be super important to some people, so we’re happy for them.

Storage, data, and pricing

This is what it all comes down to for a lot of people, and interestingly, the new iPad Pro is going to offer one more configuration option.

The price difference between sizes is $200 across the board, but the 9.7-inch version will have one configuration its predecessor doesn’t. While Wi-Fi varieties come in 32GB ($599), 128GB ($749), and 256GB ($899) versions like the original, you’ll have an option to get a Wi-Fi/cellular data version of the new iPad Pro with 32GB of storage for $729. The first edition has no such configuration, so if you want the extra data option but not all that storage, the 9.7-inch model is the way to go.

One other important thing, though: At 2GB, the smaller Pro is only going to have half the RAM of the current one. We don’t know yet how effectively the new version is going to use its memory, however, so this may or may not have a noticeable effect on performance. We’ll just have to wait and see.

iPad Pro prices
The smaller iPad Pro starts at $599.
Photo: Apple

Screen specs

Both iPad Pros have LED-backlit, multitouch displays, just like every other iPad currently available. And the new one’s smaller screen size means that it has a slightly smaller resolution that also happens to be the same as the iPad Air 2’s (go figure). That’s 2048 pixels by 1536, versus the first Pro’s 2732 by 2048, which also means that the new tablet is only pushing about 56 percent of the pixels that the larger one is.

But the new guy has a few extra tricks to show off in its screen, including Wide Color and True Tone.

Wide Color is basically what it sounds like: The display is simply capable of showing a wider range of colors. In fact, it can run the same color gamut as the latest iMac’s 5K monitor, Apple says.

iPad Pro True Tone Display
Why are we so happy?
Photo: Apple

True Tone is even cooler; the new iPad Pro contains sensors that read the temperature of ambient light, and the screen adjusts to match. You can see it in action above, and what it basically means is that you’ll have less of a light contrast between your screen and your environment, and that may help with eye strain.

What’s in the guts?

While both iPad Pros run with Apple’s A9X chip, we’ve heard that the new one is going to run a bit slower. That’s because Apple’s underclocking the processor in the new one, which means that with the same hardware, the new iPad Pro is going to see a four-percent drop in its CPU speed and a 14 percent decrease in graphics-rendering.

And maybe that sounds like a lot, but if you’re trading up to the smaller iPad Pro from an iPad Air 2, you’re going to see over 70 percent improvement in both CPU and graphics speeds over that model. So it’ll still be plenty fast for you.

Check out those peepers

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro is going to have more powerful cameras than the older one, and it’ll adopt some features that we’ve already seen on the latest iPhones.

iPhone Camera
The specs on the new iPad Pro’s cameras might sound a little familiar.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

While the original iPad Pro had an 8-megapixel iSight camera, the new one is bumping that up to 12. It will also support Live Photos and the True Tone flash that iPhone 6s owners are currently enjoying. It also has Focus Pixels, a feature that’s been around since the iPhone 6 but interestingly wasn’t part of the first version of the Pro. And that’s fine because we aren’t entirely clear what Focus Pixels does. Apple’s people say it’s a faster autofocus, and we believe them.

The new iPad will also be the first with an ƒ/2.2 aperture iSight camera like current iPhone models. Other ones have an ƒ/2.4 aperture, so this is a slight improvement. This opening will let a little more light in when you’re taking photos. This tablet will also allow panoramic pictures of up to 63 megapixels, which is up from the original Pro’s 43.

If you’re looking to shoot video with your iPad Pro, you’ll have an easier time getting some great footage with the new one, and not just because it’s only half the size of the old one. It can shoot 4K video and also capture slow-motion in resolutions up to 1080p. It’ll also focus automatically while you’re shooting, so you can just pay attention to getting the shot without having to tap the screen.

iPad Pro
Look at this terrible garbage.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

The selfie camera is also getting an upgrade to the 5-megapixel resolution iPhone 6S and 6S Plus owners have, and it also has the cool Retina Flash feature that lights up the screen to provide lighting for front-facing shots.

So basically, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro has an iPhone 6S camera. That’s the short version.

If you want to fully compare every iPad currently or soon-to-be available, you can check out this huge comparison chart over on Apple’s website. It’ll tell you everything else you need to know about the new iPad Pro and its ancestors.