The iPads Pro tell an interesting story, and I am very happy to see that Apple doesn’t think of the 12.9–inch Pro as the only iPad capable of doing “serious work”. As an owner of the first 12.9–inch model, I have to say that even I was tempted when I heard about this new smaller version of the iPad Pro. As amazing as it is to have this gigantic display to read off and create with, it can also be quite an imposing figure on a desk.
The 9.7–inch iPad Pro is more in line with the iPad Air 2 in terms of size and weight, and that device was had a form factor I really really enjoyed. It was just light enough to hold with one hand for reading and browsing, but it was still large enough to enjoy comics and movies on.
There are definitely some things I miss about that display size. Surfing in bed was a little easier because I still had the thumb keyboard. I can still type while lying down on the larger iPad Pro, but there’s a massive difference in how far my finger has to travel to type a simple URL out. A thumb keyboard on the Air 2 was definitely way easier, and I’m hoping it makes a return on the smaller iPad Pro.
I can also see this 9.7–inch iPad Pro making a superb replacement for a notebook. It’s a great size to write on, and it’s small enough to quickly and easily whip out of a bag so that you’ll actually have it at-the-ready. The larger iPad Pro just isn’t that kind of machine any more. I could cradle it on my lap and write at a cafe, but its larger size means it’s no longer the public transit-friendly device. I genuinely believe that the Apple Pencil and smaller iPad Pro will unlock a whole new use case for tablets. It looks like great combo of size and utility.
Super Size Me
I also recognize that some of this excitement is simply due to the fact that the smaller iPad Pro is the newest gadget on the block. There are some really great use cases for the smaller iPad Pro that don’t really apply to the larger iPad, but I still have a very clear picture of why I decided to go for a larger tablet.
My iPhone 6S Plus is still quite ginormous, and I’m enjoying having a gargantuan phone. It’s really great for viewing and editing pictures while standing in line, and it calls a lot less attention to itself than pulling out an iPad in public. With the iPhone 6S Plus around, I have fewer instances where I feel the need to have a tablet while I’m moving around. That means that my tablet use-cases are looking a little more like a traditional laptop’s: stationary work with some sort of flat surface.
This is where the larger Pro shines. The larger screen is more comfortable to spend longer periods of time with. I don’t need to crane my neck as low to view sites, and I can see more content on-screen. These little conveniences add up and make the larger iPad Pro a much more comfortable device to use, when I make the time and space to use it.
I’m also happy to have a device with 4 GB of RAM. I will always want to jump to the newest device with the most amount of RAM where iOS is concerned. I’ve been sitting happily at 8 GB of RAM on my Mac for years now, and feel no real need to upgrade. But that’s because OS X apps and browser tabs will stay reliably loaded until I go and close them down. iOS is more aggressive in this regard, and this is why the extra RAM always feels like it comes in handy. The overhead just helps provide more consistency
in the experience.
More Pencil Users!
The thing I’m most excited about is that the larger 12.9–inch iPad Pro will no longer be the only Pencil-compatible iPad on the market. I do think a lot of people will be curious about this 9.7–inch version, and I hope to see the Pencil become a little more mainstream. Not to the extent of the Galaxy Note, perhaps, but at enough that more developers will consider making Pencil-specific integrations…and so that Apple has more reasons to add more Pencil features to iOS.