iPad Air 2 vs. iPad Pro: Which 9.7-inch Tablet Should You Buy?

iPad Air 2 vs. iPad Pro: Which 9.7-inch Tablet Should You Buy?
iPad Air 2 vs. iPad Pro: Which 9.7-inch Tablet Should You Buy? Apple

Choosing between the iPad Air 2 and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro boils down to one simple question: Is $200 worth double the space, a better camera and processor, an upgraded speaker system and support for official Apple accessories? If so, then go with with the 9.7-inch iPad Pro over the iPad Air 2. If none of those things concern you, then save your money and go with the iPad Air 2.

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro retails for $729 for the 32GB version, $879 for the 128GB version and $1,029 for the 256GB version. The iPad Air 2, however, sells for $529 for the 16GB version and $629 for the 64GB version. As you can see, $200 gives you double the amount of space between the same storage levels.

While both the 9.7-inch iPad Pro and iPad Air 2 are the same in terms of dimensions, thickness and weight wise, the iPad Pro model comes with a 12-megapixel rear-facing camera, capable of shooting 4K video, and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. The iPad Air only has a 8-megapixel rear-facing camera, capable of shooting in 1080p, and a 1.2-megapixel rear-facing camera.

Additionally, 9.7-inch the iPad Pro camera can handle continuous autofocusing and also comes with both Retina Flash and True Tone flash, while the iPad Air 2’s screen needs to be tapped for it to focus. Those screens happen to be the same size and resolution by the way: 9.7-inch diagonally, with a 2048‑by‑1536 resolution and a 264 pixel-per-inch density.

The processor of the 9.7-inch Pro is a generation up from the iPad Air 2, a A9X processor chip compared to the A8X. Compared to the A7, the A9X’s CPU and GPU are 2.4x and 4.3x faster, while the A8X’s CPU and GPU is 1.4x and 2.5x faster respectively.

In recent speed tests by YouTube channel EverythingApplePro, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro was the first to boot up, with the iPad Air 2 coming in second place. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro however come in eighth place, narrowly beating the iPad 4 and the original iPad Mini, which were released in 2013 and 2012 respectively.

However in all other capacities, including geekbench benchmark tests, web page loading, Wi-Fi speeds and even decibel volume, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro took second place to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, with the iPad Air 2 taking third.

Lastly, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro has four speakers compared to the iPad Air 2’s two, partly because it shares design features with its older big brother the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, including a dynamic speaker setup that can tell which the way the device is being held and compensate for it. Another new feature only included on the iPad Pro line is the Smart Connector port, which allows support for official Apple accessories like the Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard. (Wondering what sort of apps you can use with an Apple Pencil? Check out this guide.)

If cost is a concern, the iPad Air 2 is still a solid choice. However, if video and sound quality are important factors for you, then the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is the best option.

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