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Apple Shrinks iPad Pro Down To 9.7 Inches To Target Windows Users

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Apple targets consumers, businesses and Windows users with new flagship iPAd Pro 9.7 tablet

Apple is releasing a 9.7-inch edition of its iPad Pro, claiming the tablet is the “ultimate upgrade” for existing iPad owners and Windows users keen to ditch the desktop.

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro is the largest ever iOS device and was released as part of Apple’s ongoing push into the business market, complete with advanced processing power and graphical capabilities necessary for running work apps, alongside accessories that would allow users to mimic PC functionality.

However the 9.7-inch form factor has been used for all other iPads bar the iPad Mini, with 200 million sold to date. The new 9.7 inch iPad Pro is now the flagship tablet, superseding the iPad Air 2.

“We started iPad with a 9.7 inch display for a very good reason,” said Apple’s Phil Schiller. “It’s large enough to get work done but small enough to carry around.”

iPad Pro

iPad Pro 9.7The iPad Pro’s display is 40 percent less reflective and 25 percent brighter than an iPad Air 2, while the Nighshift feature of iOS 9.3 uses the tablet’s clock and location to adjust the display depending on the time of day. Additionally ‘TruTone’ automatically measures the colour temperature of ambient light using sensors.

“In so many ways, this is the best display we’ve ever built,” added Schiller.

Other multimedia capabilities include four speaker audio, 12 megapixel iSight rear camera and five megapixel front facing camera.

The 64-bit A9X chip “rivals most portable PCs” in terms of power, allowing for multitasking and advanced graphics. In terms of networking, the tablet supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi, LTE-Advanced, the most 4G bands of any tablet ever released and has an embedded Apple SIM.

It is 6mm thin and comes in silver, space grey, gold and rose gold, with process starting at £499 for a 32GB model without cellular connectivity. For the first time ever, a 256GB model of the iPad will also be offered. It will be available to order from 24 March.

“[The iPad Pro 9.7 inch is] a tablet so powerful and capable, it is the future of personal computing,” added Apple CEO Tim Cook, with the company keen to point out that besides finding favour with the creative industries, many iPad Pro adopters were previously Windows users.

Indeed, Schiller said the existence of 600 million Windows PCs older than five years in use was “really sad” and hoped the processing power and multimedia feautres would result on more people seeing the iPad Pro as the “ultimate PC replacement.”

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Tablet future

The tablet market, including that of the iPad, has slowed down considerably in recent years. IDC’s latest tablet forecast predicts that worldwide tablet shipments will drop to 195 million units in 2016, down 5.9 percent from 2015.

To compensate, Apple has turned to the business world, most notably with the iPad Pro and through a partnership with IBM, to maintain growth. There are signs of early success with IDC suggesting the iPad Pro was beating Microsoft’s Windows 10-powered Surface.

However analysts are unsure as to whether the smaller iPad Pro will help reverse slowing sales.

“The iPad Pro launch appears to cater to consumer whims over true innovation – with new colours and sizes the order of the day,” commented Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch. “Reducing the size of their business device but keeping the beefed up specs might suit the business traveller who needs portability.”

“The new iPad Pro is a logical extension of its premium iPad Pro line but a high price point relative to the competition is unlikely to transform prospects in a saturated tablet market,” added Geoff Blaber, Vice President, Americas at CCS Insight.

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