Apple just announced a new, 9.7-inch iPad Pro — smaller than theoriginal, gigantic 12.9″ iPad Pro model, but with the same support for the Apple Pencil stylus and with a better camera.
The new iPad Pro starts at $599 for a model with 32GB of storage, and $749 for 128GB. It starts shipping on March 31st, with preorders opening this week.
Apple is doubling down in the iPad Pro’s ability to replace a traditional laptop, in both the bigger and smaller sizes. And the company isn’t shy about using it to steal away Microsoft users.
“You might not know this, but the majority of iPad Pro users are coming from a Windows PC,” says Apple’s Phil Schiller.
At 9.7 inches, the new iPad Pro has the same screen size as Apple’s very first iPad, released in 2010. But just like its bigger cousin, the new iPad Pro is designed around productivity and high-end graphics and audio. And it supports a smaller version of the Apple Smart Keyboard cover for the iPad Pro.
Schiller hypes up the new iPad Pro’s specs, including an A9X chip, which he bills as the company’s fastest processor ever. It also has “pro audio” speakers, and tons of graphical juice under the hood for gaming.
“That’s more than an [Microsoft] Xbox 360, in a device you hold in your hand,” Schiller says.
The new iPad Pro also boasts a retina screen, including a new technology that adjusts the screen’s reflectivity based on the level of light, to make it more like working with a sheet of real, actual paper.
It also sports a 12 megapixel camera that also lets you take 4K super-high resolution video, which is better than the original iPad Pro.
The iPad Air 2, which used to be Apple’s flagship 9.7-inch iPad, is sticking around — but it’s getting a price drop to $399. The iPad Air 2 hasn’t gotten a refresh since late 2014, so the new iPad Pro is going to be the prime choice for the performance-conscious.
That means the iPad line starts at $269 with the smaller iPad mini, goes up to $399 with the iPad Air 2, $599 for the new, smaller iPad Pro, and $799 for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The original, gigantic iPad Pro is also getting a 256 gigabyte model that starts at $1099.
Launching a new iPad Pro is a bold move, given that the original model failed to set the tablet market on fire since its late-fall release.
Still, given that one of the biggest criticisms of the iPad Pro was its huge size — and given that Apple’s Phil Schiller says that the 9.7″ screen size is the best-selling iPad screen to date— Apple is clearly hoping a new form factor will kickstart a boom.