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Initial thoughts on the iPad Pro 9.7″: the wonders of True Tone

So, I now have a smaller iPad Pro. The ‘diddy’ Pro, if you like. This followed a colossal amount of bad luck with its big brother and, for as much as I miss the larger one’s gargantuan screen, boy am I glad I made the switch.

Principally, this is for two reasons:


There is no getting away from it – the 12.9″ iPad Pro’s screen is a wonder to behold. That is, after you’ve got over the initial ‘Oh, good lord – this thing is huge‘. It is, as many reviewers have pointed out, almost comically big, but that soon subsides; it soon becomes normal.

During my short time with the massive Pro, I was struck by just how big a talking point it proved to be. As an early adopter of the first generation iPad, I remember the wonder with which that device was greeted at any meeting or social encounter at which it happened to make an appearance. Subsequent generations of Apple’s tablet became less impressive and more an every day sighting.

The 12.9″ iPad Pro was, without fail, always commented on. And positively, too. There were no jibes, no ‘shit – why is it so big?’ gasps, just good, old fashioned wonder at what is, essentially, just a huge slab of touch screen with a particularly powerful computer behind it.

Unfortunately, that size comes at a cost. Which is its size. As a couch device, it isn’t a bad companion when it comes to content consumption; websites sing on that big screen and multitasking is a joy (you essentially possess two iPad Airs side by side when used in landscape).

It always felt a bit too big when leaving the house, though. Although it was essentially the same size as a pad of A4 paper, the big Pro still felt a bit unwieldy when clasped under the arm. And it did, no matter which way you spin it, look a little bit daft in certain circumstances.

The 9.7″ version is a size most of us are familiar with. Moving back to it after a few weeks with the big guy feels a bit disconcerting at first, as though Apple have done what Nestle do to their chocolate bars by gradually reducing their size over time. But it’s an optical illusion – this Pro is exactly the same size as the iPad Air 2 it replaced.

Once the brain readjusts and the size becomes normal again, it is immediately evident how convenient such dimensions are, no matter where you are. This post, for example, started its life on the somewhat squashed confines of a train seat tray, and will no doubt be finished off on my lap tomorrow morning when I’m sat on the couch enjoying my first coffee of the day. It slots into the smallest of bags and Apple has pulled off something of a miracle with the Smart Keyboard cover which, despite it’s compact dimensions, is an absolute joy to type on (I even love the clackity-clack key clicks).

So, in this case, small most definitely wins.

True Tone

Now we’re getting serious in the battle of the iPad Pros.

When the True Tone feature was announced by Apple during the launch event for the 9.7″ Pro, I, along with plenty of others, briefly looked up from whatever I was doing at the time, muttered something along the lines of “mmm? Right, OK. Nice.” before getting on with something else seemingly more interesting.

Strip back all the technical gubbins, and True Tone, simply, makes your iPad’s screen look normal, no matter the lighting conditions. And that’s a very hard thing to convey, until you see it.

As I type now, my iPad screen looks normal. It’s all white, as I’d expect. However, if I take a glance at my iPhone…

Woah! It’s so blue.

It is precisely at moments like this that you realise just how utterly fantastic some of Apple’s engineering is. And, like so many things in life, it is at its best when it is simple and non-intrusive.

If you used an iPad Pro 9.7″ as your only screen-sporting tech device and never looked at another screen ever again, you’d never know any difference. But as soon as you look at a non-True Tone enabled device, the difference is incredible.

LCD screens, it seems, are very, very blue. We’ve just all become accustomed to them. True Tone genuinely makes the iPad’s look like a piece of paper – there’s no better way to describe it.

In summary

So, there you have it. If you’re stuck in that Neverland decision making process of whether to go big or little with the iPad Pro, I strongly recommend the latter. Size does matter, and I genuinely believe True Tone to be one of those game-changing technologies.

I now want True Tone on everything*.

*I’ve just checked my Apple Watch. That’s blue too! God, this is never ending…

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