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iPad Pro 10.5 vs 12.9 (2021): Which Size Should You Get?

When Apple released a new generation of the iPad Pro in 2017, they were careful to avoid the mistake they made with the previous one. Those who bought the 1st-generation iPad Pro 12.9-inch during its release in late 2015 were quickly disappointed when the company offered a cheaper 9.7-inch version with an upgraded screen, faster CPU, and better cameras just a few months later.

This time, they’ve made sure that the iPad Pro 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch have identical components inside, so all you’re really choosing is how big an iPad you want. So, how do you determine which tablet size to get? Below we discuss several factors that you should consider to help you select the best size for your iPad Pro.

iPad Pro 10.5 vs 12.9 Comparison Chart

ModeliPad Pro 10.5-inch 256GB Wi-Fi OnlyiPad Pro 12.9-inch 256GB Wi-Fi Only
  
Price  
Rating
 

 
Display Size10.5″12.9″
Resolution1668 x 2224 pixels2048 x 2732 pixels
Pixel Density265 ppi265 ppi
Height9.87″12.04″
Width6.85″8.69″
Depth0.24″0.27″
Weight16.83 oz24.41 oz
ColorsGold, Gray, Silver, PinkGold, Gray, Silver
Battery Capacity8134 mAh10891 mAh
Battery LifeUp to 10 hoursUp to 10 hours

Screen Space

The iPad Pro 12.9-inch has a bigger display.

iPad Pro 10.5 vs 12.9 Screen Size
Here’s a side by side comparison of the two iPad Pro (2017) sizes.

Let’s mention the obvious first — the iPad Pro 12.9-inch has a larger screen. It’s at least 20% bigger than the 10.5-inch, which is a sizable difference. More screen real estate means you get to display more detail and be able to see more while zoomed in or out. You’ll be able to watch videos on a screen bigger than most laptops and enjoy the graphics on mobile games more. Think of any reason why we want bigger monitors, phones or TVs and it should apply here.

Paper-based media in particular can be displayed at nearly their exact size in real life on the 12.9-inch. You can view comics, magazines, music sheets, etc., like they’re actually printed out, whereas you might need to lean closer or strain your eyes on the 10.5-inch. Another feature you’ll get to enjoy more on the higher resolution of the 12.9″ is Split View, as it’ll look like you have two iPad minis open compared to two iPhones on the 10.5″.

Handling

The iPad Pro 10.5-inch is easier to handle and less tiring.

iPad Pro 10.5 Handling
It’s a bit easier to handle the size and weight of the 10.5-inch.

All that additional screen space means the iPad Pro 12.9-inch is bigger and heavier than the 10.5-inch. It’s around 50% heavier, so you’re likely to experience fatigue holding it for extended periods of time. If you have smaller hands, handling the larger iPad Pro might feel awkward and even downright scary, since it might slip from your fingers. As it also has a larger touchscreen, tapping and reaching certain spots will require a bit more arm movement and effort.

On the other hand, a smaller and lighter tablet won’t tire your hands and arms as much. In addition, it’s easier to hold with one hand while you tap with the other, which is perhaps how we use tablets most of the time. If you also enjoy using the iPad while lounging on couches or reclining in bed, you’ll find the smaller 10.5-inch to be more comfortable for relaxed positions.

Portability

The iPad Pro 10.5-inch is lighter and more portable.

iPad Pro 10.5 Portability
The 10.5-inch’s smaller size makes it easier to carry around.

There’s no doubt that the iPad Pro 10.5-inch is the winner here. It’ll be less of a burden to bring walking around or during your daily commute. As already mentioned, the 12.9-inch is considerably bulkier than the 10.5-inch. It will be more difficult and dangerous to pack since it requires longer and wider bags or pockets. The weight difference will matter a lot if you have to carry it around on your person often, such as to and from work.

Portability becomes less of an issue though if you can simply place it on your car seat or if you don’t intend to bring it along often at all. This also applies if you usually just use the iPad Pro while it’s standing in a smart case on your desk, or if it just stays in one area of your house or office.

Intended Purpose

The iPad Pro 12.9-inch is generally better-suited for professional use.

iPad Pro 12.9-inch Intended Purpose
Artists and professionals will likely want a bigger screen.

Artists, designers, and other creative types intending to use an iPad Pro for work will want as much screen space as they can get, making the 12.9-inch definitely more attractive. It’s simply much easier and more productive to work on a bigger display since you’re able to see more detail while reducing the need to zoom in or out, or pan the screen to one side. It should also prove to be the better fit for office use, since everyone will appreciate being able to see presentations and sales pitches from a farther distance. Furthermore, displaying two apps at once using Split View won’t feel as limiting as it might in the smaller 10.5-inch.

As a home entertainment device, both iPad Pro sizes have their pros and cons, since a larger display is nicer to look at, while a lighter tablet is easier to move around and handle. Still, you’re more likely to pick up and bring the 10.5-inch if you’re about to hang around in your living room or in a cafe.

Price and Other Considerations

The iPad Pro 10.5-inch costs less.

iPad Pro 10.5 vs 12.9 Price
The bigger size means a bigger price.

Of course, all that extra screen space costs extra, so if price is a bigger consideration then you can save quite a bit with the iPad Pro 10.5-inch. This is especially true when you factor in storage size as well as the cost of additional accessories, such as the Apple Pencil or a Smart Keyboard case. Just keep in mind that the iPad Pro is still a premium device targeted at the top end of the market, so even at a smaller size it still can’t be considered “affordable” or budget-friendly.

A few other considerations include battery life and case color options. The battery capacity of the 12.9-inch is larger since it needs more power for its bigger screen, but Apple rates battery life for both devices the same at up to 10 hours using Wi-Fi only. Oddly, they also offer the 10.5-inch in Pink in addition to the Gold, Silver, and Space Gray color options.

Verdict

Determine what you’ll mostly be using the iPad Pro for, and choose the best size for it.

The best iPad Pro size for you depends heavily on how you’ll mostly be using it. Figure out how large a display you really need and whether you’ll be carrying it around a lot. If you intend to use it with an Apple Pencil while its propped up on your desk, such as for sketching, photo or video editing, etc., you’ll love the larger display on the 12.9-inch model. If you want a more portable device that you can bring everywhere, you’ll appreciate the relatively more compact 10.5-inch version. Whichever size you choose, you’ll still get the same gloriously beautiful Retina display and lightning-fast processor of the 2017 edition of the iPad Pro.

Last update on 2022-07-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Derick Bondoc

Managing Editor at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, gaming and snacks.