This weekend I was finally able to update my iPad to a brand new 9.7″ iPad Pro. I had been wanting to upgrade for a couple of years. However, between my 15″ rMBP and my iPhone 6s Plus, I had been able to limp along using my iPad 3 since I acquired it in April of 2012. When the iPad 3 was first introduced along side iOS 5.1 it was the first version in the iPad family to utilize a retina screen. Originally marketed as “the new iPad” owners like myself soon discovered that the new A5X chip was not adequate to move pixels around the screen without slowing the device down considerably. In addition, this thicker iPad would run much hotter than its predecessor–an issue that was even harder to manage if you chose to put your iPad in a case. Needless to say, this is a big jump for me, so keep that in mind when I seem extra excited about features that many iPad owners have had at their disposal for a couple of years.
Size & Weight
The first thing that was readily apparent was the differences in physical size between my iPad Pro and the iPad 3. Although the actual screen size is identical, the iPad Pro has a considerably smaller footprint, and weighs 50% less. Half a pound might not sound like a lot, but the difference is measurable and definitely feels significant with extended use. Comparing the Wi-Fi + Cellular Models of each iPad you get the following breakdown
iPad3 iPad Pro
9.50 x 7.31 x 0.37 (1.44lbs) 9.40 x 6.60 x 0.24 (0.96lbs)
iPad 3 does not have Touch ID. iPad Pro has the 2nd generation version which is twice as fast as previous.
Buttons / Smart Connector
Same placement of volume and Sleep/Wake button, however, the iPad Pro does not have a screen lock/silent switch. I’m currently going through a little bit of withdrawal with that feature, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it. A simple swipe up from the bottom and you gain quick access to Control Center and the volume controls, as well as out button. The iPad Pro utilizes the Smart Connector which Apple has opened up to third party developers. This allows developers to design devices like keyboards that can power and interact with the iPad while attached.
The 9.7″ iPad Pro has four stereo speakers just like it’s larger sibling, the 12.9″ version. This is a remarkable improvement from the all too familiar singular speaker of the iPad 3 which, depending on how your holding the device, greatly impacts the quality and quantity of sound.
The iPad Pro uses the same Lightning connector introduced with the iPad 4, while the iPad 3 is the last iOS device to use the larger, cumbersome 30-pin connector. Both devices claim up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music, as well as up to 9 hours of surfing the web using cellular data network.
Software & Pencil Support
I’ve been lucky enough to beta test iOS 10 along side macOS Sierra on my iPhone and Mac. However, iOS 10 will not be compatible with the iPad 3. This is probably a good thing for current iPad 3 owners, where even the older iOS 9 has become very challenging to use. Although I currently do not own an Apple Pencil, I can’t wait to purchase one to use with taking notes, sketching and just having fun on my new iPad Pro.
Gestures, Split Screen and Picture in Picture
I’ve only had an afternoon so far to explore the 9.7″ iPad Pro, but with the ability to have split screen apps for the first time as well as 2 open Safari windows simultaneously in iOS 10, I cannot be happier. Every die-hard iPad fan has wanted “true” multi-tasking capabilities in the larger screen of the iPad, and Apple has implemented an elegant and easy to master user-interface that I was quick to adopt into my routine after just a couple of hours of use. In addition, the ability to view an active video screen anywhere in your iPad workspace, makes it so much easier to get work done without the distraction of constantly having to re-focus your attention away from your screen.
I have only begun to experience what the iPad Pro has to offer, and I am very excited to be able to incorporate it into my routine and begin to explore accessories like the Apple Pencil, Smart Keyboard, and all the third-party accessories to follow. Stay tuned for more reviews and my thoughts of how I use iOS 10 on the iPad Pro in the weeks to come.