Size means everything when it comes to the iPad. Which one is right for you?

The iPad Pro come in two sizes, 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch. Both run on Apple's most advanced mobile operating system and have the powerful A9X processor. Both support Apple Pencil and both come in four beautiful colors. For all of their similarities, they are very different in terms of usability. So, which one is right for you?

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Models and pricing

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro starts at $599, comes in silver, gold, space gray, and rose gold. Storage capacity options are 32, 128 or 256GB and you can get either the Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi plus Cellular model. It supports the $99 Apple Pencil and $149 Smart Keyboard.

9.7-inch iPad Pro review

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $799, comes in silver, gold, space gray, and rose gold. Storage capacity options are 32, 128 or 256GB for the Wi-Fi model and 128 or 256GB for the Wi-Fi plus Cellular model (starting at $1,029).It supports the $99 Apple Pencil and $169 Smart Keyboard.

12.9-inch iPad Pro review

Screen sizes and display density

The 9.7-inch version has a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels with 264 pixels per inch (ppi) and a 4:3 aspect ratio. It has a DCI-P3 color space, the same as digital theater projectors and the late 2015 iMac with Retina 5K display. According to Apple, it allows for 25% greater saturation, is 25% brighter, and has a new, custom anti-glare coating that makes it 40% less reflective than the already impressive iPad Air 2.

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro also features True Tone, which uses two ambient light sensors to detect the color temperature of the environment, and adjusts the display to match the temperature, making whites look a little more natural - less blue-white.

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro has a resolution of 2732 x 2048 pixels with 264 pixels per inch (ppi) and a 4:3 aspect ratio. It does not have a DCI-P3 color space, but it does have an oxide thin film transistor, which makes for faster and more uniform pixel changes, which allows for a variable refresh rate to provide excellent battery life, while still keeping the screen bright and brilliant.

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro does not include True Tone, though if you believe the rumors of an upcoming iPad Pro update, we may see the ambient light adjustor on the larger screen in the very near future.

Performance

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro has a third-generation 64-bit A9X processor and M9 coprocessor. It also has a dual-core processor and a 12-core graphics processor. It runs on 2GB of internal memory and connects to power-charging with a USB 2 Lightning port.

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro also has a third-generation 64-bit A9X processor and M9 coprocessor. It has a dual-core processor and a 12-core graphics processor. In contrast to the 9.7-inch model, it runs on double the internal memory at 4GB. It also connects to power-charging with a faster USB 3 Lightning port.

Both are comparable in terms of performance, though the 12.9-inch model has a slight advantage with double the internal memory and the faster charging USB-3 Lighting port. It's been clocked at faster CPU speeds than it's smaller counterpart.

Cameras, keyboards, and speakers (oh my!)

The camera

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro has the most advanced iSight camera on any iPad with 12 megapixels and 4K video capability. It is capable of taking Live Photos. It also comes with a rear-camera True Tone flash. The FaceTime HD camera supports 5-megapixel photos and has a Retina Flash.

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro has weaker camera specs with only 8 megapixels and no rear-camera flash. The FaceTime HD camera only supports 1.2-megapixel photos and doesn't have a front-camera flash. It's as if Apple still wasn't ready to believe that people actually use their iPad to take pictures with when it launched. Thankfully, they made changes in the 9.7-inch model.

The keyboard

While both virtual keyboards look exactly the same, there is no denying that the 12.9-inch iPad Pro offers a little more room to type, simply by nature of its size. This carries over to physical keyboard cases, as well. Though there are some fantastic keyboard cases for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, having a case that is pretty much the same size as a laptop really helps.

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro does have one advantage, as far as the virtual keyboard; It has split keyboard support. Which means you can split it in half, with one side to the right and the other to the left so you can type with just your thumbs if you're holding it in Portrait mode.

The speakers

Both the 12.9-inch and 9.7-inch iPad Pro have four booming speakers, one in each corner, that deliver three times as much volume and a significantly wider frequency range than the non Pro models. They both have the best internal audio system of any iPad model so far.

The important differences

Many of the features of both sizes of iPad Pro are the same, or at least very similar. Here are the main, most important differences between the two.

  • Screen size - The most obvious difference is the size. One is about the size of a laptop, measuring in at 12.9-inches diagonally. It's big. It's almost too big for a tablet, but just the right size for a laptop replacement. The smaller iPad Pro measures 9.7-inches diagonally and sort of feels like holding a standard notebook in your hand. It's the perfect size for a tablet, but seems a little cramped for the purposes of computer work.

  • Weight - The 9.7-inch iPad Pro weighs less than a pound (0.96 - 0.98 pound, to be exact). It is extremely lightweight, even though it has the most advanced power and technology for its size. It feels like it could be carried all day without stressing your muscles. The larger model iPad Pro weighs more than a half-pound more at 1.57 - 1.59 pounds. It's still lightweight relative to its size, but that extra half-pound will really be noticeable after carrying it around for eight hours.

  • Screen technology - The 9.7-inch iPad Pro wins, hands down, for screen technology. It has the rich wide color P3 display and unique, natural True Tone ambient adaptation. It also has a more advanced screen reflective reduction coating, making it better for outdoor use than its larger counterpart. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro has none of these features.

  • CPU speed - The larger iPad Pro is clearly more advanced than its smaller sibling when it comes to processing power and speed. Though the numbers are close, the double gigabytes of internal memory really push the 12.9-inch model into super speeds.

  • USB speed - the 12.9-inch iPad Pro also wins out when it comes to USB connectivity. It supports USB 3, which provides faster transfer speeds for such content as photos, and, with a 29W USB-C charger and USB-C-to-Lighting cable, you can charge it more than twice as fast as the smaller iPad Pro.

  • Price - Obviously, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is more expensive than the 9.7-inch model. It starts at $200 more. You definitely get more bang for your buck in terms of screen size, processing speed, and connectivity. But, if price is important, the $599 starting price of the smaller iPad Pro is certainly more appealing.

Who should get the 9.7-inch iPad Pro

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro is best for people looking to get or replace a tablet. That is, it is the perfect device for getting everything you want out of a portable computing machine, but is more generally useable as a broad-stroking tablet.

Because of its smaller size, it is too cramped to be comfortable as a laptop replacement and the lack of USB 3 support means data transfer will be slower than the larger model.

Because of its smaller size, it is also ideal for portability, more so than the 12,9-inch iPad Pro. It's lighter, fits better into smaller travel bags, and can be carried in your hands for hours at a time without stressing your muscles.

If you're looking for a tablet, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is the best one on the market. If you're looking for something with a little more computing power, you should check out the 12.9-inch iPad Pro instead.

An argument for buying the 9.7-inch over the 12.9-inch iPad Pro

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Who should get the 12.9-inch iPad Pro

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is best for people looking to replace their laptop, but want something lighter and more portable. It is the perfect device for most computer activities and fills a niche market for artists looking for a computer that is powerful, but portable.

Because of it's larger size, it doesn't really fit comfortably into the tablet genre. It is thin, but massive in size and can really only fit into travel bags that are designed for laptops. It is heavy, as far as tablets are concerned, and its large size makes it difficult to carry around for long periods of time.

Because of its larger size, it is also ideal for computing activities, like typing and viewing two windows on one screen (thanks to Split Screen mode). It has a powerful CPU, 4GB of internal memory, and the fastest data transfer connectivity of any iPad via the USB 3 Lightning port.

If you're looking for a tablet that acts more like a laptop and makes things like creating art, producing music, and editing photos feel like it's always meant to be this way, you're looking for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. If you're looking for something with more portability and don't need quite as much processing power, check out the 9.7-inch iPad Pro instead.

An argument for buying the 12.9-inch over the 9.7-inch iPad Pro

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Still on the fence?

When it comes to the iPad Pro, it's a difficult decision, which mostly comes down to size, cost, and processing power. If you're still not sure which version is going to suit you perfectly, join our iPad discussion forums and talk to our community. They're experienced and love to talk about their gadgets.