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iPad Pro 9.7 vs 10.5 (2020): What’s Improved?

Apple’s 2017 update of the iPad Pro did more than just bump the display size from 9.7″ to 10.5″. In fact, aside from smoother animations, the biggest improvements lie within. We’ve compared each of the specifications of these premium tablets to see how well the upgrades of the newer iPad Pro 10.5-inch stack up with the 2016 release.

iPad Pro 9.7 vs 10.5 Comparison Chart

ModeliPad Pro 9.7-inch 256GB Wi-Fi OnlyiPad Pro 10.5-inch 256GB Wi-Fi Only
Apple iPad Pro Tablet (256GB, Wi-Fi, 9.7in) Silver (Renewed) Apple iPad Pro 10.5in (2017) 256GB, Wi-Fi - Rose Gold (Renewed) 
PriceCheck Price on Amazon Check Price on Amazon 
Rating
1,517 Reviews 

1,156 Reviews 
Display Size9.7″10.5″
Resolution1536 x 2048 pixels1668 x 2224 pixels
Pixel Density264 ppi265 ppi
Screen-to-Body Ratio72.80%78.27%
Refresh Rate60Hz120Hz
Height9.4″9.87″
Width6.66″6.85″
Depth0.24″0.24″
Weight15.66 oz16.83 oz
System ChipA9XA10X Fusion
ProcessorDual-core, 2260 MHzHexa-core, 2380 MHz
GPUPowerVR Series 7XTApple 12-core GPU
RAM2GB4GB
Internal Storage32GB, 128GB, 256GB64GB, 256GB, 512GB
Front Camera5MP7MP
Rear Camera12MP, ƒ/2.2 aperture size12MP, ƒ/1.8 aperture size
ColorsGold, Gray, PinkGold, Gray, Silver, Pink
Battery Capacity7306 mAh8134 mAh
Battery LifeUp to 10 hoursUp to 10 hours
Released20162017

Design

The iPad Pro 9.7-inch and 10.5-inch look virtually identical.

Apple iPad Pro 9.7 vs 10.5 Design
Why change a good thing? Apple stuck with the premium design of the iPad Pro.

The side-by-side comparison above clearly shows there’s not really much of a difference between the designs of the iPad Pro 9.7-inch and 10.5-inch. However, you’ll notice that the bezels of the 10.5-inch are narrower, and the Touch ID sensor is also bigger. By making the bezels slimmer, Apple was able to offer a bigger screen in comparatively similar dimensions. The 10.5-inch sports a 78.27% screen-to-body ratio, compared to the 72.80% of the 9.7-inch. You’ll barely notice the size and weight difference while holding these devices, which makes the newer iPad Pro more impressive considering all the power it packs inside.

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Display

The iPad Pro 10.5-inch has a slightly bigger display with smoother animation.

iPad Pro 10.5 Display
Apple introduced the new ProMotion technology on the 2017 generation of the iPad Pro.

It’s not much, but you do get more pixels on the iPad Pro 10.5-inch compared to its predecessor. But where it makes leaps and bounds is the higher refresh rate made possible with its new ProMotion display technology, which can double the 9.7-inch’s maximum of 60Hz to 120Hz. It makes animations on the screen look super slick and smooth, and it’s the first tablet (along with its 12.9-inch brother) to deliver this capability.

Moreover, ProMotion also virtually removes the lag between the Apple Pencil and the tablet as you move it across the display. Digital artists in particular will be able to sketch on the more responsive touchscreen of the 10.5-inch like they would on actual paper. What’s even better about it is that this improvement is on the iPad Pro itself, so you don’t have to buy a new Apple Pencil if you’re intending to upgrade.

Performance

The iPad Pro 10.5-inch is faster and beefier.

iPad Pro 10.5 Performance
The newer iPad Pro features an upgraded CPU and double the RAM.

Apple upgraded the dual-core A9X processor of the 9.7-inch to the six-core A10X Fusion chip for the 10.5-inch. What’s more, they doubled the RAM to 4GB and gave it a 12-core GPU. What this translates to is 30% faster CPU performance, a 40% speed increase in graphics-related processes, and a whopping 80% improvement on multi-core tasks.

It’s a sizable leap considering the earlier iPad Pro was already offering top end processing power for tablets. It makes the newer 10.5-inch significantly faster and more powerful, as well as better able to handle multitasking. With these upgrades, the iPad Pro is getting closer and closer to being the laptop replacement that Apple wants it to be.

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Cameras and Storage

The iPad Pro 10.5-inch has a better main camera and double the storage.

iPad Pro 10.5 Cameras Storage
You also get a new color choice with the iPad Pro 10.5-inch.

The iPad Pro 10.5-inch received minor camera improvements — its front FaceTime camera is now 7 megapixels (2MP more than the 9.7-inch), and its back camera is now OIS-enabled and sports a ƒ/1.8 aperture size, letting you take brighter photos with more depth.

Apple also addressed internal storage issues, which is a weakness of tablets in general, by simply doubling the sizes they offer the newer iPad Pro in — you can get up to 512GB for various apps, videos and photos. Battery capacity was also bumped up, so even though its more powerful CPU requires more juice, runtime remains the same at 10 hours.

Verdict

The iPad Pro 10.5-inch has enough improvements to be the better recommendation.

Overall, the iPad Pro 10.5-inch offers sufficient upgrades over the 9.7-inch to make it clearly the better tablet. You’ll get more speed and power in nearly the same package, and you’ll be able to store double what you can stuff in the older model.

It’s easy to recommend the 10.5-inch to graphic designers, since it makes the Apple Pencil so much smoother, and professionals who are always on the go, since they can rely on its power and portability. It might be more difficult to convince those who already own the iPad Pro 9.7-inch to upgrade to the newer model though, especially if they use the tablet mostly to watch videos or play games.

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However, if this is the first time you’ll be buying an iPad Pro, the 10.5-inch is definitely well worth the additional cost.

Last update on 2020-08-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Derick Bondoc
Derick Bondoc

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