iPad Pro 9.7-inch vs iPad Air 2: What's the difference?

Apple is calling its new flagship iPad "the ultimate PC replacement."
Written by Jake Smith, Contributor
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Apple introduced a new iPad to the world, dubbed the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, during its media event on Monday in California.

It's a new "Pro" take on Apple's flagship iPad line, that Apple says will bring in new customers.

"There's a second group of people we'd love to reach with this new iPad Pro," Apple's marketing boss Phil Schiller said. "Windows users."


Both the iPad Air 2 and new iPad Pro have the same screen size of 9.7-inches. This is thought to be Apple's mid-screen size tablet, falling between the 7.9-inch iPad mini 4 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

Apple's Retina display technology has become standard for its iPad line, and the new iPad Pro won't be any different. Apple bragged about its photo alignment and sharp color processing technology during its event on Monday.

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The new iPad Pro will be 40 percent less reflective, 25 percent brighter, and have 25 percent greater color saturation, than the iPad Air 2.

Schiller called it a "breakthrough that has never appeared on any device before. It's incredibly innovative. We call it a true tone display. It measures color temperature of the ambient light and adjusts the display to match."

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"You go into the warm incandescent light of your home and the paper takes on a warm tone. But digital devices emit light, have the same tone no matter where you area," Schiller added.

Camera and audio

One of the most exciting new features on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is its updated camera.

Apple has included a 12-megapixel sensor, capable of shooting in 4K video. Additionally, it brings support for Apple's Live Photos, that enable you to find the best photo taken in a series of shots. The feature was first rolled out with the iPhone 6s in 2015.

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Compared to the iPad Air 2, the camera upgrades are very welcomed. It featured an 8-megapixel sensor with f/2.4 aperture, HDR, and Panorma support.

The front-facing camera on the iPad Pro is a 5-megapixel FaceTime HD camera.

Further, Apple is bragging there is a "pro audio system" on the new iPad Pro with four speakers that can have twice the audio volume of the iPad Air 2. The speaker system is also said to be much clearer.


The 9.7-inch iPad Pro will be available in silver, gold, space gray, and the new rose gold color that hasn't been on an iPad before.

The 32GB will be available for $599 and the 128GB for $749. There's also a 256GB version for $899, the most storage on any iOS device.

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This means the iPad Pro will be $100 more than the baseline 16GB iPad Air 2, which will now be available for $399.

The new iPad Pro is available on March 31, with pre-orders beginning on March 24.


Apple has included its "fastest chip ever" -- the A9X -- within the new iPad Pro. Apple says it has "more than 2x the output" of the iPad Air 2's A9 processor.

Unlike the iPad Air 2, the new iPad Pro includes an embedded M9 co-processor for "Hey Siri" support. You can talk to your iPad.

Apple has also added a line of accessories for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro thanks to its Smart Connector, including a Keyboard and Pencil like on the larger version. The iPad Air 2 didn't support these type of officially supported Apple accessories.

"It's an amazingly precise drawing tool," Schiller said. "It recognizes the pencil as well as your fingertips. You can use both simultaneously."

Apple also introduced a new line of Lightning adapters for the iPad Pro, including a USB Camera adapter and SD Card reader.


Like on the larger iPad Pro, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro features palm recognition technology and support for accessories. There will also be the light dimming technology of the new display.

Apple says the 9.7-inch iPad Pro will feature iOS 9.3, likely coming to the iPad Air 2, as well.

iOS 9.3 also adds support for playing video encoded with Dolby Digital Plus audio streams with support for multichannel output using the Apple Lightning Digital AV Adapter.

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