Head-To-Head: Apple's New iPad Vs. iPad Pro

iPad Showdown

The iPad is back. For a few years, Apple's tablet line seemed to be floundering, with sales slipping as many users felt unsure that they really needed a device in that form factor. But now, Apple has carved out a niche for the iOS tablet by splitting it between an affordably priced, entry-level model for consumers and education (the iPad) and a model aimed at creatives and other professionals (the iPad Pro). Apple launched a refresh to the entry-level iPad this week, following updates to the iPad Pro last June.

Which is the better fit for you? What follows is the CRN Test Center's comparison of the new Apple iPad vs. the iPad Pro on specs and price.


While the new iPad features a 9.7-inch display, the iPad Pro actually comes in two sizes that are larger than the entry-level model -- 10.5 inches and 12.9 inches. All of the iPad options come with Apple's colorful and bright Retina display technology. But they each have a different resolution, and the number of pixels increases based on the size of the tablet. The entry-level iPad has a resolution of 2,048 x 1,536, while the 10.5-inch iPad Pro is a bit higher-res at 2,224 x 1,668. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro features the highest resolution of all, at 2,732 x 2,048.


For the first time, the 9.7-inch iPad will work with the Apple Pencil digital stylus. With the latest refresh, Apple said the iPad will feature the same support for Apple Pencil as the iPad Pro -- thus erasing one of the key advantages for the iPad Pro over the entry-level iPad. Apple also announced it would be building support for the Apple Pencil into new versions of the company's productivity apps -- Pages, Numbers and Keynote. Apple hasn't announced any updates for the Apple Pencil, which is sold separately for $99.


Apple also narrows the gap on processing power between the iPad and iPad Pro with the new refresh to the 9.7-inch model. The iPad now uses Apple's A10 chip, which has a clock speed of up to 2.34 GHz (and provides a 40-percent leap in CPU performance and a 50-percent boost in graphics speed over the previous entry-level iPad).

The iPad Pro is still likely to be a lot faster, however. While the clock speed of 2.39 GHz for the iPad Pro's A10X chip is nominally higher than that of the A10, benchmark tests reveal that the iPad Pro models are far speedier than other devices that run the A10 processor -- the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. Thus, performance is one area where the iPad Pro will almost certainly still have the leg-up over the iPad.

Battery Life

Both the new iPad and iPad Pro models come in WiFi-only and WiFi/cellular versions -- and Apple says that expected battery life will depend on whether WiFi or cellular service is in use. Apple actually promises the same battery life for all of the models, however. When you're on WiFi, the iPad and iPad Pros promise up to 10 hours of battery life on a charge. For those using the iPads over cellular, the estimate drops to a maximum of nine hours of battery life.

Weight & Thickness

The new iPad and the 10.5-inch iPad Pro each weigh a pound. Even with the larger display size, though, the 10.5-inch iPad Pro is thinner at 0.24 of an inch thick, versus 0.29 of an inch for the iPad. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro weighs 1.5 pounds but is still thinner than the 9.7-inch iPad, at 0.27 of an inch thick.


Among the big differences with the iPad Pro (which professionals will no doubt appreciate) is that the tablets have more to offer in terms of internal storage. While the 9.7-inch iPad comes in 32 GB and 128 GB models, the iPad Pro models both start at 64 GB of storage and can go up to 256 GB or 512 GB of internal storage.

Ports And Keyboard

The iPad and iPad Pro models don't offer any USB connectivity. The iPad Pro does have a "Smart Connector" port, which can connect to Apple's Smart Keyboard and third-party accessories. That's a key differentiator from the iPad, which doesn't have a Smart Connector. (Getting the Smart Keyboard will add $169 for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and $159 for the 10.5-inch model.)

Both the iPad Pro and 9.7-inch iPad do feature a Nano-SIM tray that supports Apple SIM, as well as a Lightning connector for charging. Thankfully, all of the iPad models retain the standard 3.5mm headphone jack, as well.

Price And Availability

As mentioned, the 9.7-inch iPad is geared toward affordability, and Apple is sticking with the pricing for last year's model with the 2018 refresh. The starting price is $329 for the WiFi-only iPad model with 32 GB of storage. By contrast, the 10.5-inch iPad Pro (WiFi-only, with 64 GB of storage) costs nearly twice as much at the starting level, at $649. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $799.

You'll pay a premium for the versions with cellular connectivity. The starting price for the new iPad with WiFi/cellular is $459. The iPad Pro with WiFi/cellular starts at $779 for the 10.5-inch model, and $929 for the 12.9-inch model.

The new iPad is available to order now in the U.S. and Canada. Apple hasn't disclosed an exact shipping date, but as of this writing, Apple was promising delivery by April 4-5.