It was only a matter of time before Apple created a 9.7-inch iPad Pro. Why? Apple needed a smaller form-factor iPad that would work with its Apple Pencil, as well as have its own Smart Keyboard cover . . . both of which are “pro” sorts of features.

So what’s in the new iPad Pro?

Let’s start with the 64-bit A9X chip — it’s the same PC-thumping processor from the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but it has 2GB of memory instead of 4GB that is found in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (though Apple doesn’t publish this). The clock speed on the smaller Pro is also slightly slower. Will this result in any appreciable difference in performance? For most people, not at all.

Moving on, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro has a better Retina display than in its predecessor, the iPad Air 2. The new 9.7-inch display is 25 percent brighter and 40 percent less reflective, and it delivers the same sweet color gamut found in the massive iMac with Retina 5K display. Color saturation capabilities get a 25 percent boost, too.

ipad pro storage

The new 9.7-inch iPad Pro now comes in four colors, with storage options ranging from 32GB to a whopping 256GB.

Apple also introduced a new True Tone display, which senses and automatically adjusts the white balance of the display to match the ambient light around you. What is this good for? It gives you a more realistic paper-white viewing experience.

But there is even more to using this new display. A new feature called Night Shift in iOS 9.3 uses the iPad Pro’s clock and geolocation to automatically change the colors of the display to the warmer end of the spectrum, which — no promises here — might help you fall asleep better.

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro Cameras

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro gets a great camera boost — it uses a 12-megapixel iSight camera (the one on the back) and 5-megapixel front-facing FaceTime HD camera.

The rear iSight camera is the cool one, though. It will shoot 4K video, uses Focus Pixels for fast focusing, and it creates Apple’s cool new Live Photos, which basically connect a tiny bit of video to each photo, making them “come alive” when viewed on Apple’s newest devices.

The audio gets a boost, too, from four speakers that deliver stereo sound.

For on-the-go connectivity, the iPad Pro uses fast 802.11ac WiFi with MIMO, and in cellular-capable versions, supports LTE Advanced and the most LTE bands supported by any tablet. The Apple SIM is embedded in the device, and you can connect to wireless data plans while traveling in more than 100 countries and territories.

iPad Pro Accessories

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro supports the Apple Pencil, of course, but Apple had to create a new Smart Keyboard to fit the smaller iPad Pro’s form factor.

In addition, Apple has a new Lightning to SD Card Camera Reader and Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter, which will make it easier to download photos and videos from a digital camera to the new iPad Pro.

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro comes in silver, space gray, gold, and rose gold. Pricing starts at $599 for a 32GB WiFi model and $729 for WiFi + Cellular. Storage options jump up to 128GB, including a new 256GB option. It starts shipping March 31.

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About the author

Chris Maxcer

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I've been writing about the tech industry since the birth of the email newsletter, and I still remember the clacking Mac keyboards from high school -- Apple's seed-planting strategy at work. I'm a big fan of elegant gear and great tech, but there's something to be said for turning it all off -- or most of it -- to go outside. Online I like to call out cool stuff on Wicked Cool Bite and blog with my buddies at Man Makes Fire. To catch me, take a "firstnamelastname" guess at the url of this site.