iPad Pro 10.5 vs. iPad Pro 9.7: Which Apple tablet has the edge?

ipad pro 10 5 vs 9 7 apple
Apple
At this year’s Worldwide Developer Conference, Apple took the wraps off a new tablet — the iPad Pro 10.5 — which is designed to replace the iPad Pro 9.7. It’s filled to the brim with high-end hardware, including a Retina display with a 120Hz refresh rate, a six-core A10X processor, and a camera that’s on par with the iPhone 7. But at $650, it’s also more expensive than its predecessor. So is the iPad Pro 10.5 worth an upgrade if you’re using the older model? We pitted the two against one another to see if Apple’s new slate is really worth the investment.

Specs

iPad Pro 9.7

Small iPad Pro

iPad Pro 10.5

ipad pro 10 5 vs 9 7 105 thumb 2

Size 9.45 x 6.67 x 0.24 inches 9.8 x 6.8 x 0.24 inches
Weight 0.96 pounds 1.03 pounds
Display 9.7-inch IPS LCD Retina display with True Tone 10.5-inch, 120Hz IPS LCD Retina display with True Tone
Resolution 2,048 x 1,536 (264 ppi) 2,224 x 1,668 (265 ppi)
Operating System iOS 10 iOS 10
Storage 32, 128, or 256GB 64, 256, or 512GB
Processor A9X A10X Fusion
RAM 2GB TBA
Camera 5 megapixel (front), 12 megapixel (rear) 7 megapixel (front), 12 megapixel (rear)
Video 4k video at 30 frames per second 4K video at 30 frames per second
Connectivity Wi-fi, Bluetooth 4.3, LTE Advanced Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LTE Advanced
Sensors Touch ID, Three-axis gyro, accelerometer, abrometer, ambient light sensor Touch ID, Three-axis gyro, accelerometer, abrometer, ambient light sensor
Battery Up to 10 hours Up to 10 hours
Marketplace  iTunes iTunes
Price $600+ $650+
Colors Silver, Gold, Space Gray, Rose Gold Silver, Gold, Space Gray, Rose Gold
DT Review 4 out of 5 stars Coming soon

Speakers

The iPad Pro 10.5 boasts the same speaker setup as the iPad Pro 9.7. Both models have a hybrid stereo arrangement: One left-hand tweeter and one right-hand tweeter, both facing forward. The iPad Pro 10.5 and iPad Pro 9.7 have four total — two on the top edge and two on the bottom edge — which allow them to blast crisp, AKG-tuned, stereo sound when propped up in landscape orientation.

Winner: Tie

Processor

Under the iPad Pro 10.5’s hood is a Apple’s A10X Fusion processor, which is quicker than the A9X chip in the iPad Pro 9.7. Compared to the A9X, the A10X Fusion is up to 30-percent faster when it comes to handling day-to-day tasks and 40-percent faster in the graphics department. In benchmarks, the A10X blows the A9X out of the water, achieving an average Geekbench score of 6,588 compared to the A9X’s 4,990. That’s about a 28-percent difference.

Moreover, A10X’s embedded M10 co-processor — compared to the M9 in the A9 — boosts performance even further by tackling low-intensity tasks such as activity tracking, recording sensor data (from the iPad’s accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, and barometer), and recognizing Siri commands.

Winner: iPad Pro 10.5

Storage

The iPad 10.5 ships with more room for pictures, apps, and files. Apple boosted the tablet’s base storage configuration to 64GB, up from the iPad 9.7’s 32GB. The iPad 10.5 is also available in more configurations, including 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB capacities. The iPad 9.7 is only available as either a 32GB and 128GB model.

Winner: iPad Pro 10.5

Design

ipad pro short supply apple 9 7 bestof

From an aesthetic standpoint, it’s tough to tell the iPad Pro 10.5 and iPad Pro 9.7 apart.

The most obvious difference between them is size. The iPad Pro 10.5 is about as thick as the iPad Pro 9.7 at 0.24 inches, but slightly longer (9.8 inches versus 9.4 inches). It’s also wider at 6.8 inches, compared to the 6.67-inch iPad Pro 9.7. But you won’t notice any difference in heft — the two tablets weigh roughly the same. The iPad Pro 9.7 clocks in at 0.96 pounds and the iPad Pro 10.5 at 1.03 pounds.

Little else has changed. They both have a physical home button and Touch ID sensor, a Lightning connector, and physical power and volume buttons. On the rear of both the iPad Pro 10.5 and iPad 9.7, the Apple logo is positioned in the center. and the rear camera in the upper-left corner is recessed.

The iPad Pro 10.5 comes in the same colors as the iPad Pro 9.7 — both ship in silver, space grey, and gold.

Despite all those similarities, we’re going to give the nod to the iPad Pro 10.5. It packs a larger, higher-resolution screen without sacrificing thinness.

Winner: iPad Pro 10.5

Display

The iPad Pro 10.5’s screen is a subtle improvement over the iPad Pro 9.7’s. It’s an LED-backlit Retina screen that has the same pixel density (264 pixels per inch) and roughly the same resolution (2,048 x 1,536 pixels on the iPad Pro 9.7 versus 2,224 x 1,668 pixels), but that’s where the similarities end.

The iPad Pro 10.5’s display, unlike the iPad Pro 9.7’s, is fully laminated, meaning there’s practically no gap between the surface of the glass and the touch-sensitive panel. In real-world terms, that means its brighter — up to 600 nits, according to Apple.

The iPad Pro 10.5 and iPad Pro 9.7’s screen also boast Apple’s innovative True Tone, which automatically boosts color gamut and adjusts the temperature based on surrounding lighting conditions. But the iPad Pro 10.5 has Pro Motion, too, which uses a combination of software and hardware to boost the screen refresh rate from 60Hz to 120Hz.

Winner: iPad Pro 10.5

Accessories

ipad pro 10 5 vs 9 7 cover

The iPad Pro 10.5 and iPad Pro 9.7 have a Smart Connector port, which provides a power and data connection to plugged-in devices and supports a range of first and third-party accessories. One of the most popular is Apple’s Smart Keyboard, a tactile keyboard ($150) that’s made of durable, water-resistant silicon and boasts water-resistant keys. With a Smart Keyboard attached, the both iPad Pro models could conceivably replace a laptop. The inclusion of the Smart Connector port is a plus, even if you don’t utilize it.

Winner: Tie

Battery life and charging

Despite the iPad Pro 10.5’s faster processor, brighter screen, and quad-speaker array, Apple’s newest tablet is actually more efficient when it comes to battery life than older models. Apple claims the Pro 10.5 can last up to 10 hours on a single charge, which is the same as the iPad Pro 9.7.

If the iPad Pro 10.5 charges as quickly as the iPad Pro 12.9, it won’t take long to recharge. When plugged into Apple’s 29-watt power adapter, the iPad Pro 12.9 charges from zero to 80 percent in 93 minutes. The iPad Pro 9.7, in contrast, doesn’t support rapid charging.

We’re crowning the iPad Pro 10.5 the winner here. The tablet’s fast-charging feature and 10-day battery life are impressive feats of tablet engineering.

Winner: iPad Pro 10.5

Camera

The iPad Pro 10.5 inherits the iPhone 7’s camera. The wide-angle camera on the rear has the same megapixel count as the iPad Pro 9.7 (12 megapixel), and features a Quad-LED True Tone flash, a f/1.8 aperture (compared to the iPad Pro 9.7’s f/2.2), optical image stabilization, and high dynamic range (HDR).

The camera on the front has been beefed up, too. The iPad Pro 10.5 has a 7-megapixel camera compared to the iPad Pro 9.7’s 5-megapixel sensor, with a f/2.2 aperture, HDR capabilities, and support for 1080p recording. The iPad Pro 9.7, on the other hand, only supports a maximum resolution of 720p.

There’s no question that in terms of raw specs: The iPad 10.5 has a better set of cameras. We’ll have to put it to the test to see if they translate to real-world performance, but for now, we’re giving the win to the iPad Pro 10.5.

Winner: iPad Pro 10.5

Software

flickr redesigns profiles 64568015 ml
Prykhodov / 123RF

Both the iPad Pro 9.7 and iPad Pro 10.5 ship running iOS 10, Apple’s mobile operating system. But they’ll both benefit from the forthcoming, free upgrade to iOS 11, which is expected to be released in the fall. With it comes a slew of new features and refinements, many of which capitalize on the best parts of iOS 10.

In iOS 11, you’ll have access to full-size keyboard called the Flick keyboard, which supports more than 30 languages. A new predictive area in the iOS dock will also allow you to switch between apps, and a new drag-and-drop feature lets you move images, text, and URLs between split-screen apps by tapping and holding.

Those aren’t the only improvements in iOS 11, though. Infinity Photo, an editing tool, lets you mock up photos in real time. Notes will have a built-in document scanner that the Apple Pencil can launch directly from the lock screen. And a new app — Files — provides access to the iPad’s on-device storage. You can even search tags across third-party storage providers, and dive into nested folders, recent documents, and various iCloud content.

Finally, Apple has revamped some of the Apple Pencil’s tools for use with iOS 11. Once released, you’ll be able to mark up any document that prints using AirPrint, and create a PDF — or handwritten email via iOS’s Mail app — on the fly. What’s more, handwriting is searchable across apps.

Winner: Tie

Price and availability

The iPad Pro 10.5’s numerous upgrades don’t come free. At $650, the iPad Pro 10.5 is a little more expensive than the iPad Pro 9.7. Unfortunately, Apple has discontinued the iPad Pro 9.7, but you can still pick one up from retailers like Amazon. Here’s how the pricing currently breaks down:

32GB (Wi-Fi) 32GB (Wi-Fi + Cellular) 64GB (Wi-Fi) 64GB (Wi-Fi + Cellular) 128GB (Wi-Fi) 128GB (Wi-Fi + Cellular) 256GB (Wi-Fi) 256GB (Wi-Fi + Cellular) 512GB (Wi-Fi) 512GB (Wi-Fi + Cellular)
iPad Pro 10.5 N/A N/A $650 $780 N/A N/A $750 $880 $950 $1,080
iPad Pro 9.7 $600 $630 N/A N/A $700 $730 $800 $830 N/A N/A

Some carriers and retailers are even throwing in a few bonuses with the purchase of an iPad Pro 10.5 (Wi-Fi + Cellular). T-Mobile, for instance, is offering the iPad Pro 10.5 on a payment plan, as are AT&T and Verizon. Starting this week, new and existing T-Mobile One customers can even pick up a tablet with an unlimited 4G LTE data plan for as little as $20 a month (with AutoPay). Prices vary slightly from carrier to carrier, and you’ll often receive a discount if you opt for a two-year contract. Below is a more detailed breakdown.

  64GB 256GB 512GB
T-Mobile $60 down and $30 a month for 24 months $160 down and $30 a month for 24 months $360 down and $30 a month for 24 months
AT&T $39 a month for 24 months $44 a month for 24 months $54 a month for 20 months
Verizon $32 a month for 24 months $37 a month for 24 months $45 a month for 24 months

Best Buy, on the other hand, is throwing in a gift card when you purchase one of the latest iPad Pro models. Those who opt for the 10.5-inch model will get a $25 gift card.

Some carriers and traditional retailers have deals and discounts on the iPad Pro 10.5, but even so, the tablet’s base pricing is higher than the iPad Pro 9.7 at every tier.

Winner: iPad Pro 9.7

Overall winner: iPad Pro 10.5

The iPad 10.5 is a step up from the iPad Pro 9.7 in almost every way. It has a larger screen and a faster processor. It’s slimmer, too, and lasts just as long on a charge as the iPad Pro 9.7.

The only downside? Apple’s charging a premium for all those upgrades — the iPad Pro 10.5 is a little pricier than the iPad Pro 9.7. But if you’re looking for an iPad that’ll stretch your dollar the furthest, it’s tough to do better than the iPad Pro 10.5.

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