12.9" iPad Pro remains Apple's fastest tablet, as 9.7" model's A9X chip is underclocked

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Though the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro features the same A9X processor as its 12.9-inch variant, the two chips don't actually run at the same speed, resulting in slightly more horsepower for Apple's largest tablet.




Apple doesn't like to promote the geekier technical specifications of its devices, particularly the memory and clock speed found in its custom A-series chips. And in unveiling the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro, the company simply said that it features the same A9X-branded chip as the 12.9-inch model.

But in a comparison of the two devices, Apple has quietly revealed that the A9X processor found in the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is actually underclocked to slower speeds.

Specifically, Apple compared the performance of its A9X chips to that of a two-generations-old A7 processor. While the A9X in the 12.9-inch iPro is 2.5 times faster than the A7, the A9X in the 9.7-inch model is slightly slower than that --?2.4 times faster.




There's an even greater disparity between the two processors when it comes to graphics: The 12.9-inch iPad Pro boasts graphics processing five times faster than the A7, while the 9.7-inch tablet and its A9X processor are 4.3 times faster.

It's possible that battery and heat concerns led Apple to underclock the A9X for the smaller 9.7-inch tablet. With less space to work with, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro must feature a smaller battery and less surface area to dissipate heat from its processor.

Though both iPads are labeled as "Pro," there are a number of trade-offs between the two tablets, in both directions. In another leg up for the 12.9-inch model, its integrated Lightning port has faster charging and data transfer because it is built on the USB 3 specification. The 9.7-inch model features a slower USB 2 Lightning port.

But the 9.7-inch iPad Pro also has a number of advantages over the larger model, most notably a True Tone display that automatically adjusts colors to the user's current environment. The smaller "Pro" also features a 12-megapixel rear camera (and accompanying camera bump) with flash. Even the forward facing camera is higher resolution, with Retina Flash capabilities as well.

Preorders for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro begin this Thursday, and the device will get into the hands of consumers a week later. It starts at $599 for the 32-gigabyte model.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    OF course it's underclocked, it's got a much smaller battery, form factor, and a screen with less pixels, all those things weight in on what's needed in this tablet.

    Considering how much less pixel there are on the smaller pro, the actual on screen performance of the smaller device should be higher than the big one.

    It's actually incredible that they got so much power in such a small form factor.
    edited March 2016 chabigmike1jbdragonpatchythepiratepscooter63
  • Reply 2 of 25
    nhughesnhughes Posts: 767editor
    sog35 said:
    Should not make a difference in real world situations because the 12.9 inch model is pushing way more pixels.




    Presumably the stats quoted by Apple apply to the processor actually pushing the pixels on each respective device (especially considering they broke out graphics from CPU). Taken at face value, the specs suggest the 12.9" has greater graphics performance at its native resolution than the 9.7" model. That said, I doubt it's a noticeable difference in real-world use, but benchmarks will ultimately tell the tale.
  • Reply 3 of 25
    ibillibill Posts: 400member
    Any thoughts on why the USB version disparity? Spec geeks are panning the 9/7" iPad Pro for the USB2.
  • Reply 4 of 25
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,297member
    Did anyone ask Schiller why the 9.7" model only supports USB2?
    roger wade
  • Reply 5 of 25
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,799member
    Did anyone ask Schiller why the 9.7" model only supports USB2?
    iPad semi Pro. USB2, slower cpu/gpu/ram. Just when I was getting excited about this, now sort of a buzz kill. 
    roger wade
  • Reply 6 of 25
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    volcan said:
    Did anyone ask Schiller why the 9.7" model only supports USB2?
    iPad semi Pro. USB2, slower cpu/gpu/ram. Just when I was getting excited about this, now sort of a buzz kill. 

    Come on, apart from USB2, in everything else, the difference is marginal. This device has 1/2 the internal volume of the Ipad pro, it's an actual miracle of performance.
    A better screen than on the big pro, a top notch camera and it does auto-white balance (which the big one should have had too, probably wasn't ready then).

    edited March 2016 jbdragonpatchythepiratepscooter63
  • Reply 7 of 25
    And it'll still be faster than every other device out there, except the 12.9" Pro. 
  • Reply 8 of 25
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,462member
    ibill said:
    Any thoughts on why the USB version disparity? Spec geeks are panning the 9/7" iPad Pro for the USB2.
    Spec geeks can go pound salt. They are useless nincompoops who know nothing about engineering compromises that are sometimes needed to meet marketing goals, like the aforementioned battery life issue. All they do is obsess over numbers that mean nothing in terms of usability in the real world. They are fools.
    ration alai46
  • Reply 9 of 25
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,297member
    volcan said:
    Did anyone ask Schiller why the 9.7" model only supports USB2?
    iPad semi Pro. USB2, slower cpu/gpu/ram. Just when I was getting excited about this, now sort of a buzz kill. 
    What about RAM? Apple never mentions how much RAM an iOS device has.
  • Reply 10 of 25
    maccadmaccad Posts: 87member
    I'm so glad they didn't put the 12-megapixel camera in my 12.9-inch iPad Pro. My iPhone is my primary camera, and if having a higher resolution camera means a camera bump, no thanks. I want my iPad to lie flat and not wobble. I would gladly accept lower resolution cameras and/or thicker iPads and iPhones to get rid of the damn camera bumps.
    Snails_Pacepscooter63
  • Reply 11 of 25
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,297member

    lkrupp said:
    ibill said:
    Any thoughts on why the USB version disparity? Spec geeks are panning the 9/7" iPad Pro for the USB2.
    Spec geeks can go pound salt. They are useless nincompoops who know nothing about engineering compromises that are sometimes needed to meet marketing goals, like the aforementioned battery life issue. All they do is obsess over numbers that mean nothing in terms of usability in the real world. They are fools.
    So battery life is the reason the 9.7" Pro doesn't support USB 3? Is that why the iPad mini 2 didn't have the same color gamut as the iPad Air but now the mini 4 has better display than the Air 2. So it was a UX issue then but now it's not?

    I think that's a bunch of BS. It's one thing to leave out 3D Touch out of the iPhone SE as their probably isn't the space available for the Taptic Engine. Or it's possible Apple hasn't perfected the tech for 3D Touch on larger displays yet and that's why we don't have it in the iPads. But I think it's clear there are things Apple does to create artificial differentiation to get you to spend more money. Why is the better camera only available on the largest iPhone? Is that really a space issue or is that a way for Apple to get you to buy the more expensive iPhone and drive up ASPs? Same with the iPad mini. Was there an engineering reason the retina mini had an inferior display or was it just a way for Apple to get more people to spend more on an Air instead? I think it's pretty clear 16 > 64 and 32 > 128 storage increments aren't about UX but about getting you to spend $100+ more. 
    roger wade
  • Reply 12 of 25
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member

    lkrupp said:
    Spec geeks can go pound salt. They are useless nincompoops who know nothing about engineering compromises that are sometimes needed to meet marketing goals, like the aforementioned battery life issue. All they do is obsess over numbers that mean nothing in terms of usability in the real world. They are fools.
    So battery life is the reason the 9.7" Pro doesn't support USB 3? Is that why the iPad mini 2 didn't have the same color gamut as the iPad Air but now the mini 4 has better display than the Air 2. So it was a UX issue then but now it's not?

    I think that's a bunch of BS. It's one thing to leave out 3D Touch out of the iPhone SE as their probably isn't the space available for the Taptic Engine. Or it's possible Apple hasn't perfected the tech for 3D Touch on larger displays yet and that's why we don't have it in the iPads. But I think it's clear there are things Apple does to create artificial differentiation to get you to spend more money. Why is the better camera only available on the largest iPhone? Is that really a space issue or is that a way for Apple to get you to buy the more expensive iPhone and drive up ASPs? Same with the iPad mini. Was there an engineering reason the retina mini had an inferior display or was it just a way for Apple to get more people to spend more on an Air instead? I think it's pretty clear 16 > 64 and 32 > 128 storage increments aren't about UX but about getting you to spend $100+ more. 
    Stop whining, seriously; you're going full on rant with barely an argument to support it.

    Yes, there may actually fracking be an engineering argument (which includes parts availability at volume) behind most of the things you list : that's it.
    patchythepirate
  • Reply 13 of 25
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    maccad said:
    I'm so glad they didn't put the 12-megapixel camera in my 12.9-inch iPad Pro. My iPhone is my primary camera, and if having a higher resolution camera means a camera bump, no thanks. I want my iPad to lie flat and not wobble. I would gladly accept lower resolution cameras and/or thicker iPads and iPhones to get rid of the damn camera bumps.
    Apple would lose a lot of sales if it had a significantly worse camera than Samsung and that means living with a bump
  • Reply 14 of 25
    What's "fastest tablet"? Should I throw it and see how fast it flies? For the record, not only CPU clock decides of speed. More frequently than CPU clock there are bus, memory and internal CPU architecture (parellelism) that decide about processing speed far more than just clock.
  • Reply 15 of 25
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,297member
    foggyhill said:

    So battery life is the reason the 9.7" Pro doesn't support USB 3? Is that why the iPad mini 2 didn't have the same color gamut as the iPad Air but now the mini 4 has better display than the Air 2. So it was a UX issue then but now it's not?

    I think that's a bunch of BS. It's one thing to leave out 3D Touch out of the iPhone SE as their probably isn't the space available for the Taptic Engine. Or it's possible Apple hasn't perfected the tech for 3D Touch on larger displays yet and that's why we don't have it in the iPads. But I think it's clear there are things Apple does to create artificial differentiation to get you to spend more money. Why is the better camera only available on the largest iPhone? Is that really a space issue or is that a way for Apple to get you to buy the more expensive iPhone and drive up ASPs? Same with the iPad mini. Was there an engineering reason the retina mini had an inferior display or was it just a way for Apple to get more people to spend more on an Air instead? I think it's pretty clear 16 > 64 and 32 > 128 storage increments aren't about UX but about getting you to spend $100+ more. 
    Stop whining, seriously; you're going full on rant with barely an argument to support it.

    Yes, there may actually fracking be an engineering argument (which includes parts availability at volume) behind most of the things you list : that's it.
    According to Matthew Panzarino the 9.7" iPad Pro only has 2GB RAM. You seriously want me to believe that's because of lack of parts availability in volume? Seriously?


    I'm glad I own the 12.9" Pro. Anyone who buys the 9.7" model with only 2GB RAM is a sucker.
    edited March 2016 roger wade
  • Reply 16 of 25
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,297member
    sog35 said:
    According to Matthew Panzarino the 9.7" iPad Pro only has 2GB RAM. You seriously want me to believe that's because of lack of parts availability in volume? Seriously?


    I'm glad I own the 12.9" Pro. Anyone who buys the 9.7" model with only 2GB RAM is a sucker.
    again: do you think a $35k BMW 325 will have the exact same features as a $60k BMW 540?
    The $399 iPhone SE has the same amount of RAM as the $749 iPhone Plus. Try again. Apple is calling this a "Pro" device. What's "Pro" about 2GB RAM? Especially when it's not something you can upgrade like with a 13" rMBP.
    roger wade
  • Reply 17 of 25
    Did anyone ask Schiller why the 9.7" model only supports USB2?
    My guess is they were developing the 9.7" version before the 12.9" version but decided to ship the 12.9" first.
  • Reply 18 of 25
    staticx57staticx57 Posts: 403member
    sog35 said:
    again: do you think a $35k BMW 325 will have the exact same features as a $60k BMW 540?
    sog35 said:
    So you expect the $35k BMW 325 to have the same features as the $100k BMW 760?  What planet are you from?  Candy land?
    Well, which is it?
  • Reply 19 of 25
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,297member
    sog35 said:
    The $399 iPhone SE has the same amount of RAM as the $749 iPhone Plus. Try again. Apple is calling this a "Pro" device. What's "Pro" about 2GB RAM? Especially when it's not something you can upgrade like with a 13" rMBP.
    Does the SE have the A9X? Pencil support? Smart connector support? 

    Just stop. If you expect every model in a line to have the EXACT same specs then you are smoking something.

    I see no reason why 2GB is not perfectly fine for many Pro's
    No it's a joke just like the retina mini with worse color gamut. I guarantee you v2 will have more than 2GB RAM. Most likely because Apple will get feedback that customers held off buying the 9.7" model. Unless Apple's goal all along was to slightly gimp this device to get people to buy the 12.9" model. My guess is professionals care more about RAM than the camera on an iPad.
    michial
  • Reply 20 of 25
    staticx57staticx57 Posts: 403member
    sog35 said:
    staticx57 said:
    Well, which is it?
    Both.

    I don't expect a BMW 3-series to have all the features as the higher 5-series and 7-series.
    You know this is a bad comparison as you changed it and keep changing it. The 9.7" is not marketed as a 3 series.
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