Samsung and Apple have been more than happy to crank out 9.7-inch tablets, but Asus has been relatively quiet on that front. The Taiwanese firm might soon turn up the noise, though, with FCC documents seemingly revealing the unannounced ZenPad 9.7 (Z500M).
Starting with the display, the ZenPad 9.7 reportedly packs a 9.7-inch, 2,048 x 1,536 resolution display. This is not your typical capacitive display, however — it seems to be a Tianma TM097QDSP panel that supports the Asus Z Stylus. Similar to how the Samsung Galaxy Note 5’s display works with the S Pen, the ZenPad 9.7’s display reportedly detects when the Z Stylus is hovering above it, with the display also supporting palm rejection to prevent any accidental inputs from your hands.
As for the stylus itself, the Z Stylus packs a 1.2mm tip for precise writing, as well as two buttons and dedicated circuits that work in concert with the display.
Under the hood, the ZenPad 9.7 is powered by a 1.7GHz hexa-core MediaTek MT8176V chipset and 4GB RAM, though the FCC tested the processor when it was running at 2.1GHz. The tablet will either include 64GB or 128GB of native storage, with no indication as to whether the storage will be augmented by the inclusion of a MicroSD card slot. Either configuration should be more than enough for most folks, however, and it is rare to see a tablet start with 64GB of storage.
The 5-megapixel camera on the front is backed up by an 8MP rear-facing shooter, with the 5,900mAh battery keeping the lights on. Finally, the ZenPad 9.7 runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box, with Asus’ ZenUI presumably layered above it.
Overall, the ZenPad 9.7 seems like a solid enough option if you side with Android for your tablet needs. Even so, there are plenty of strong contenders in that arena, including the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 9.7. Furthermore, Verizon unveiled the $250 ZenPad Z8, a solid option for those not willing to go big. Finally, the iPad Pro 9.7 stands as the proverbial juggernaut, regardless of its relatively high price point.
In other words, the ZenPad 9.7 already has plenty of competition, and it has not even been announced yet, so Asus will have to come up with some ways to properly position the tablet.
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