Review Roundup: 9.7" iPad Pro is a 'Powerful' Laptop Replacement for Casual Users

Apple last week announced the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro, which marketing chief Phil Schiller described as the "ultimate upgrade" for both existing iPad and Windows PC users. Nearly one week later, a number of in-depth reviews have surfaced that offer a closer look at the new tablet beyond last week's first impressions and hands-on articles.

iPad-Pro-9-7

Apple's new 9.7" iPad Pro, right, next to the 12.9" version (Image: Ars Technica)

The general consensus among early reviews is that the smaller iPad Pro has powerful hardware, but like its 12.9-inch sibling, opinions were mixed about whether the tablet can truly replace your laptop. From $599, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is certainly a more affordable Mac or PC alternative over the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which starts at $799.

Andrew Cunningham for Ars Technica:

When I reviewed the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, I said that I was having trouble envisioning the type of user who would choose it over a “real” computer like a MacBook Air or Pro. I still feel the same way today. The full-size Pro is large enough and expensive enough that you could buy any number of high-end Macs or Windows PCs for the same price, and you wouldn’t have to put up with the potentially frustrating limitations of iOS. […]

The equation is a little different for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, which is both smaller and cheaper. […] At $599 (plus the cost of accessories), this tablet is competing more against midrange Windows PCs, and it’s substantially cheaper than any MacBook that Apple offers. For many active but less-demanding users, the strength of the hardware and the relative simplicity of the software could be enough to recommend it, though for the time being there are things that regular old Windows PCs are just better at than iOS is (including running legacy apps and connecting to just about anything that needs a standard USB port). It really depends on how you work and what you need to do. […]

If you've already got an iPad and are looking for a newer one, the math is a little simpler. If you have an iPad 2, the third- or fourth-generation Retina iPads, or the original iPad Air and you find yourself using your iPad more often than whatever other computer you have in your house, the iPad Pro is a no-brainer upgrade.


Lance Ulanoff for Mashable:

The best flagship iPad you can buy is now the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. […]

It’s kind of mind-blowing how much power there is in this lightweight tablet.

Benchmark numbers are just as good as the ones I saw on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, despite the fact that the 9.7-inch iPad Pro has half as much RAM (2GB versus 4 GB on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro). […]

Did Apple just raise the price of the best iPad? Yes, it did. Is it worth it? When you consider the components and storage in the $599, 9.7-inch iPad Pro, absolutely.

David Phelan for The Independent:

The new Pro also has a keyboard to go with it, attached by the Smart Connector buttons on the tablet's edge. […]

And it turns the iPad Pro into an extremely effective laptop alternative, complete with touchscreen, unlike Apple's own laptops. In fact, the touchscreen works so well with the iPad Pro and keyboard, it's hard to think Apple isn't considering making a MacBook with touch-sensitive display. We’ll see. […]

But the real reason this is the best iPad yet built is because it combines a stunning display, stonking audio and relentless processing power into a tablet that’s supremely portable.


Rene Ritchie for iMore:

This can still be your everyday iPad, and better so than ever, but it can also be your ultra-mobile productivity machine, with little in the way of compromises. Sure, you lose some display and keyboard real estate, but you gain portability and an excellent camera system.

For people who've had a 9.7-inch iPad for a while but haven't seen a need to upgrade, and for those with aging Windows system looking for a modern alternative, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro will be compelling.

The new 9.7-inch iPad Pro has been available to order since March 24, with shipments beginning on March 31.

Related Roundup: iPad Pro
Tag: Reviews
Related Forum: iPad

Top Rated Comments

yaxomoxay Avatar
82 months ago
Hmmm, an iPad "Pro" for "casual" users. Fantastic. So when are we going to get the real iPad Pro, Apple?
WWDC will have the iPad Casual, designed for pro users.
Score: 42 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Zaft Avatar
82 months ago
at this point apple products always get good reviews. If you dont your not invited to any apple events lol.
Score: 41 Votes (Like | Disagree)
imwoblin Avatar
82 months ago
And after adding a pencil and keyboard / cover, costs just as much as a MacBook Air.
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macduke Avatar
82 months ago

9.7" iPad Pro is a 'Powerful' Laptop Replacement for Casual Users
Hmmm, an iPad "Pro" for "casual" users. Fantastic. So when are we going to get the real iPad Pro, Apple?
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bushido Avatar
82 months ago
i am sure lots of 5+ year old PC users will all of the sudden decide to buy a 600+ Tablet :)
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Abazigal Avatar
82 months ago
In a nutshell, it's a laptop replacement if you can do laptop stuff on it, and it's not if you can't.

And I am perfectly fine with that. If anything, I am glad that the iPad doesn't try too hard to replicate laptop functionality, but instead continue to shine in its own way.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

airpods pro 2 1

AirPods Pro 2 No Longer Expected to Feature Built-In Heart Rate or Body Temperature Sensor

Sunday July 3, 2022 8:07 pm PDT by
While past rumors have indicated the upcoming second-generation AirPods Pro will feature a built-in heart rate and body temperature sensor, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has cast doubt on those rumors turning out to be true, saying instead such a feature is unlikely to come anytime soon. "Over the past few months, there have been rumors about this year's model gaining the ability to determine a...
top stories 2jul2022

Top Stories: M2 MacBook Air Release Date, New HomePod Rumor, and More

Saturday July 2, 2022 6:00 am PDT by
The M2 MacBook Pro has started making its way into customers' hands and we're learning more about how it performs in a variety of situations, but all eyes are really on the upcoming M2 MacBook Air which has seen a complete redesign and should be arriving in a couple of weeks. Other top stories this week included a host of product rumors including additional M2 and even M3 Macs, an updated...
Apple Watch 8 Unreleased Feature Thumb

Apple Watch Series 8 Model Rumored to Feature 5% Larger Display

Monday July 4, 2022 5:50 am PDT by
Apple is working on an Apple Watch Series 8 model with a larger display, according to DSCC's Ross Young and Haitong International Securities's Jeff Pu. In October last year, Young suggested that the Apple Watch Series 8 could come in three display sizes. Now, responding to a query about the rumor on Twitter, Young claims that the additional display size joining the Apple Watch lineup will be ...
intel go pc justin long

Windows Laptop Makers 'Worried' About New MacBook Air Impacting Sales

Tuesday July 5, 2022 6:57 am PDT by
The upcoming launch of Apple's redesigned MacBook Air with the M2 chip has some Windows laptop manufacturers "worried" that sales of Intel-based laptops will be negatively affected, according to industry sources cited by DigiTimes. "A Wintel brand vendor pointed out that at a price point of US$1,000-$1,500, the MacBook Air will crowd out other high-end notebooks," the report claims, with...
Apple Watch Series 8 What We Know Feature

Apple Watch Series 8 Might Be Able to Tell If You Have a Fever

Sunday July 3, 2022 6:36 am PDT by
The upcoming Apple Watch Series 8 will be able to tell a wearer if it believes they have a fever due to a higher than normal body temperature thanks to a new built-in sensor, according to Bloomberg's reliable Mark Gurman. Writing in the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Gurman says that the Apple Watch Series 8 will feature a new body temperature sensor, given that the sensor passes ...
macbook air m2

Exclusive: Apple Plans to Launch MacBook Air With M2 Chip on July 15

Wednesday June 29, 2022 5:23 pm PDT by
The redesigned MacBook Air with the all-new M2 Apple silicon chip will be available for customers starting Friday, July 15, MacRumors has learned from a retail source. The new MacBook Air was announced and previewed during WWDC earlier this month, with Apple stating availability will begin in July. The MacBook Air features a redesigned body that is thinner and lighter than the previous...
European Commisssion

EU Approves Landmark Legislation to Regulate Apple and Other Big Tech Firms

Tuesday July 5, 2022 5:53 am PDT by
European Union lawmakers have approved landmark legislation to heavily regulate Apple, Google, Meta, and other big tech firms. The Digital Markets Act (DMA) and Digital Services Act (DSA) were proposed by the European Commission in December 2020. Now, collected in a "Digital Services Package," the legislation has been formally adopted by the European Parliament and seeks to address...