Though the iPad Pro has only been available since November, the device designed to occupy the middle ground between tablet and laptop is moving closer to strictly tablet sizing with its new 9.7-inch build—the standard for flagship Apple tablets since the introduction of the iPad in 2010. According to the company, over 200 million 9.7-inch iPads have been sold.
Much of the internals on the refreshed iPad Pro are the same as its larger predecessor—the A9X processor remains in tact. Apple claimed the chip provides the tablet with more graphical power than an Xbox 360 game console.
The screen on the new iPad Pro was showcased extensively during Apple’s event. The new Retina display offers 40 percent less reflectiveness than the iPad Air 2, and is the brightest screen available on a tablet. According to Apple’s senior vice president Phil Schiller, it’s the “best display we’ve ever built for an iPad.”
A new feature making its debut on the smaller iPad Pro is TrueTone display, which will reflect in the display the color of the environment it’s in to create a more natural lighting effect. Schiller compared the feature, which uses four-channel ambient light sensors, to how paper reflects light.
Apple also included what it calls its “pro audio system” consisting of four speakers that pump out twice the audio volume than the iPad Air 2 can manage.
As for the cameras, a 12MP iSight camera capable of recording video in 4K quality graces the back of the device while a 5MP FaceTime HD camera is found above the display. The iPad Pro makes uses of Retina Flash, which turns the screen itself into an impromptu flash function to add brightness to photos.
One of the more interesting developments with the smaller iPad Pro is continued support for the Apple Pencil—Apple’s stylus built specifically for the iPad Pro. The accessory, which was introduced to improve responsiveness and precision on the massive screen, will work with the smaller iPad Pro.
Apple is also introducing a new Smart Keyboard that will fit the smaller screen, as well as rolling out additional accessories like a Lightning-connected SD card reader.
It appears Apple’s aim with the new iPad Pro is to continue pulling users away form Windows devices. Schiller called the tablet the “ultimate PC replacement,” and pointed to the over 1 million apps designed specifically for iPad as a reason to make the jump.
The 9.7-inch iPad Pro will be available starting March 31, 2016—pre-orders can be placed starting March 24—and will come in four finishes: silver, gold, space gray, or rose gold—a first for iPads. It will start at $599 for the 32GB model, with a 128GB version available for $749 and a 256GB version for $899.
Screengrab via Apple