Apple had a busy March 21 event. Not only did it announce a new 4 inch iPhone (the small and powerful iPhone SE) and an iOS 9.3 update (the latest version of its iOS mobile operating system), the company also unveiled a smaller variant to the iPad Pro tablet it released in November of last year.
While 2015’s iPad Pro measured a gargantuan 12.9 inches, this year’s newest iPad Pro offering comes with a more manageable 9.7 inches size. The tablet device is expected to start at $600 for the 32 gigabyte edition, and up to $900 for the 256 gigabyte edition. The 9.7 inch iPad Pro will officially launch in the US market on March 31st of this year (just like the iPhone SE). It will be made available in color options of gold, silver, space gray, and rose gold.
The 9.7 inch iPad Pro is equipped with a new Retina display screen that makes use of True Tone technology, and is paired with a 12 megapixel iSight camera (with support for Live Photos and shooting 4K video) on the rear side as well as a 5 megapixel FaceTime HD camera on the front side. For those not familiar with True Tone, it is a new piece of display tech that has the ability to adjust white balance.
Inside its 9.7 inch frame, the latest iPad Pro sports a 64 bit A9X processor, which means that it should give certain portable desktop computers a run for their money in terms of processing prowess. The device also features a four speaker audio system, which offers more than double the audio output. The newest iPad Pro also supports video playback encoded with Dolby Digital Plus audio streams with support for multiple channels of output via Apple’s Lightning Digital AV Adapter. As for accessories, like last year’s iPad Pro, this year’s variant offers support for the Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard (each made available for separate purchase).
With the announcement of a 4 inch iPhone and a 9.7 inch iPad Pro, some would think that Apple may be going small in 2016. But they should remember that this year’s flagship devices -- the upcoming iPhone 7 and the iPhone 7 Plus -- might not employ the same size reduction strategy. Apple’s decision to introduce a smaller iPad Pro variant may have more to do with offering a more accessible version of last year’s 12.9 inch tablet offering. The 2015 iPad Pro was an impressive device, but it did not do well enough in sales to improve Apple’s tablet division (sales dropped 25 percent to 16.1 million units during the final quarter of 2015). Will this year’s iPad Pro be able to rejuvenate sales numbers? It remains to be seen, for now.
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