Apple’s 9.7-inch iPad Pro is a familiar and excellent product. While a smaller version of the large12.9-inch iPad Pro Apple just launched last fall may seem like a quick solution to iPad sales problems (it more or less peaked in 2014 and has been flat-to-falling ever since), it would be foolish to think that the company developed the 9.7 edition quickly. It’s safe to assume that it was on the drawing board when Apple was developing the first iPad Pro.
A little body workAs I mentioned earlier, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro looks almost exactly like the iPad Air 2. The dimensions are identical and both weigh an incredibly light 0.96 pounds. The Touch ID-enabled home button is the same and supports Apple Pay for in-app purchases. Design cues like the chamfered edges on the top (it’s the tiniest bit wider) and curves leading to the flat bottom are the same. The Power/Sleep button and the volume rocker are also unchanged. Apple finally did away with the black (or white) plastic strip on the iPad back and clad the antenna in the same aluminum as the rest of the body. It’s a nice touch. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro is the first iPad with a camera that sticks out about a millimeter from the back of the device. It’s a familiar look, one we’ve seen on the iPhone 6 and 6S devices. In this instance, the extra space accommodates a powerful 12-megapixel iSight camera. There are clear benefits to having this powerful shooter in an iPad, but I do wonder why Apple is getting so comfortable discarding its commitment to smooth lines and clean surfaces. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing about the 9.7-inch iPad Pro that’s sloppy, but it no longer sits perfectly flat on a table. The other difference is the introduction of the Smart Connector (yes, just like the one on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro). Apple has done an excellent job of making these three copper connectors barely noticeable.
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