The recent Apple event showed off the newest iPad, the iPad Pro. The name is not the only thing similar to the large iPad Pro launched a few months ago, as the hardware is basically the same in a slightly smaller form. Are there compelling reasons to upgrade from an earlier iPad? For most of us, the answer is: probably not.
The new iPad Pro is physically like the iPad Air 2. It is the same height and width and only slightly thinner than the iPad Air 2. The main difference is the four speakers found on the larger iPad Pro, versus two on the older iPad Air 2.
Inside there is the A9/M9 processor duo while the iPad Air 2 has the A8/M8. The iPad Pro is faster than the older iPad but that won't be a game-changer for most. Even on the older iPad Air the tablet spends far more time waiting for you to do something than you spend waiting for it to perform.
While the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro is definitely an upgrade over the iPad Air 2, it's not a huge improvement worth a higher price. You can plan on paying about $200 more for the iPad Pro than if you bought an iPad Air 2 today. It's impossible to do a direct price comparison as Apple is not offering versions with the same amount of memory, no doubt to prevent the comparison.
I've owned a large iPad Pro since its release and I love it. It has become my daily work system for one reason: The large 12.9-inch display. Accompanied by a keyboard, the iPad Pro becomes a replacement for a full laptop.
That advantage is lost on the new iPad Pro. At 9.7 inches, it is the same size and resolution as the iPad Air 2. The iPad Pro's True Tone feature, which uses ambient light to adjust display's colors, may be an advantage for extended use; only more extensive hands-on use will tell if it's worth the price premium over the iPad Air 2.
While Apple is proud of the Smart Keyboard for the new iPad Pro, it looks to be just like the one released for the big iPad Pro except shrunken to fit the smaller iPad Pro. That's a shame, as I find the larger Smart Keyboard to be one of the worst products ever produced by Apple. The Smart Keyboard falls short of third-party options, which will start hitting the market in big numbers.
The Smart Keyboard for the new iPad Pro has the same shortcomings as its bigger version. The lack of iPad control keys is a big oversight by Apple. The keys are not backlit as on most third-party options. Then there's that awkward Origami-like nature of the case that makes it difficult to use. Getting an iPad Pro because it works with the Smart Keyboard is not a reason to buy one.
Artists wanting to use an iPad with the Apple Pencil may be considering the new iPad Pro. It should be a good sketch pad, but why not get the larger iPad Pro? It makes sense to go big over the smaller model.
Those looking to upgrade an old iPad can consider the new iPad Pro, but an iPad Air 2 is sufficient enough for most. It's a lot cheaper upgrade, too.
The new iPad Pro may appeal to those with a special need for the hardware upgrade over previous iPads. It has a better camera for those who regularly use an iPad camera. Those who regularly perform CPU-intensive tasks such as video editing will benefit from the beefier processors in the new iPad Pro. As always, weigh expected use when considering upgrading to the new tablet.
Otherwise, most owners of the iPad Air 2 can give the iPad Pro a pass. You won't get sufficient benefit from the pricey iPad Pro over what you already have.