New iPad vs iPad Pro: What’s the difference?

new iPad vs iPad Pro
The new iPad comes with support for the Apple Pencil - so should you save money and buy it instead of the iPad Pro?

Apple used an education-themed event to launch the new iPad, but make no mistake: this is still its tablet for the masses. Intriguingly, it’s made a few tweaks that will make many people think twice about paying more than £600 for an iPad Pro – including support for the Apple Pencil. In this “new iPad vs iPad Pro” article, we find out what the difference is and whether you should pay £319 instead of £619.

New iPad vs iPad Pro: Apple Pencil

The new iPad is the cheapest way to take advantage of Apple’s thoroughly excellent Pencil. That means you can use the new iPad to jot down notes, annotate documents, draw mini-masterpieces and double as a graphics tablet – it could make photo edits much simpler.

New iPad vs iPad Pro: The screen

The new iPad only comes in 9.7in versions, while the iPad Pro is available in 10.5in and 12.9in versions. Whichever iPad you choose, it will include a so-called Retina display. In practice, that means excellent colour reproduction and such a high pixel density that you can’t see individual pixels from normal viewing distances.

However, the new iPad misses out on two nice features: ProMotion and True Tone. ProMotion ensures that when you scroll down a page you don’t even notice the transition – it’s almost like a sheet of paper, it’s that solid.

True Tone is a way of dealing with ambient light so that colours don’t change depending on whether you’re inside, outside or working in the dark. But, unless you’re a photographer aiming to get perfect colours, you won’t miss it.

New iPad vs iPad Pro: Performance

new iPad vs iPad Pro
It’s only in more intense tasks that the iPad Pro’s chip (shown in action here) will come into its own

Naturally, Apple puts its best processors into its most expensive models, but we’re still disappointed to see the A10 (coming up to two years’ old) inside the new iPad. It’s still a fast chip, but made its debut in the iPhone 7, so it could feel a tad old within two years.

Right now, though, it can still hold its own both in benchmarks and real life. As a rule of thumb, it’s about 30% slower in tests than the A10X in the iPad Pro.

New iPad vs iPad Pro: Photos and video

new iPad vs iPad Pro
The 8MP camera on the new iPad is great at taking photos – and then you can annotate them with the Pencil!

Few people will be disappointed by the quality of results from the 8-megapixel camera at the rear of the new iPad. In fact, unless you have a flagship Android phone or iPhone, it’s likely to produce superior results.

Apple has hobbled it, though, compared to the iPad Pro. Not so much in resolution – although the Pro tablets do include a 12-megapixel camera – but by limiting the new iPad to 1080p HD video recording rather than the 4K of its more expensive brothers.

New iPad vs iPad Pro: Keyboards

new iPad vs iPad Pro
The Smart Keyboard is only available for the iPad Pro

Want to use Apple’s Smart Keyboard? Well, if you buy the new iPad, you can’t. That’s because the new iPad doesn’t include the Smart Connector to transfer power and data between the tablet and keyboard, which is undoubtedly an easier way to do things than via Bluetooth.

Still, this is hardly a death knell. There are already many excellent Bluetooth keyboards designed to work with the iPad, and I’m sure more will follow this new iPad’s release.

New iPad vs iPad Pro: Cost and storage

Apple has made it impossible to do a straight price comparison between the two through the ingenious means of only providing 64GB, 256GB and 512GB iPad Pro configurations – and only offering the new iPad in 32GB or 128GB.

12.9in iPad Pro with Wi-Fi 10.5in iPad Pro with Wi-Fi new iPad with Wi-Fi
64GB £769 64GB £619 32GB £319
256GB £919 256GB £769 128GB £409
512GB £1,119 512GB £969

Note that you can buy the new iPad and the iPad Pros with 4G (“cellular”, as Apple calls it), which adds £130 to the price.

New iPad vs iPad Pro: Which should you buy?

new iPad vs iPad Pro
We can’t see many compelling reasons to choose an iPad Pro over the new iPad (above)

Let’s assume that you’re going to buy the 128GB version of the iPad. You can get away with 32GB, but with no way to expand the memory, this is likely to feel suffocatingly small within a year. So, you’re paying £409. Let’s also assume you’ll buy the £89 Smart Pencil: that brings the total to near-enough £500.

Assuming you’re willing to slum it with the 64GB iPad Pro, but also buy the Pencil, your total is £698 – £200 more than the new iPad.

That’s a 50% premium, so unless you really do need the super-smooth screen, Smart Keyboard (£159, by the way) and superior speed of the iPad Pro, I’d say most people are better served by the iPad.


About the author

Tim Danton

Tim Danton is editor-in-chief of PC Pro magazine and has written about technology since 1999. He enjoys playing with gadgets, playing with words and playing tennis. Email tim@bigtechquestion.com

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