Compared: 2018 iPad versus the original 12.9-inch and 9.7-inch iPad Pro

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in iPad edited April 2018
The newest iPad can easily be considered as a low-cost alternative to the current generation of iPad Pro devices, but a comparison with the original iPad Pro models suggests Apple's latest release has a lot in common with the earlier tablets. AppleInsider looks at the numbers to see how close they really are.

Apple 2018 iPad and iPad Pro


At the original 12.9-inch iPad Pro's launch in November 2015, it was seen as a more powerful option for those who needed to do processor-intensive work on a portable device. The introduction of the Apple Pencil helped make it into a creative powerhouse, raising its status as a premium tablet even higher.

Around four months later, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro joined the 12.9-inch version, packing the performance and Apple Pencil support into a more familiar size of device, while also adding in new features that even its larger stablemate didn't have.

Just over two years later, Apple has brought out an iPad that includes Apple Pencil support. In that time, Apple has also shipped more powerful iterations of the iPad Pro, but the performance improvements seen in iPad over the same period could in theory have created a tablet that is better than the first iPad Pro launches.

In some respects, this is quite true, but as detailed below, it isn't as straightforward as one would think.

Size, Screen, Heft

Starting with the obvious, the larger iPad Pro has the bigger 12.9-inch display, and an equally larger resolution than the other two at 2732 by 2048. The larger stature also translates to a heavier weight of either 1.57 pounds or 1.59 pounds depending on cellular support, over half a pound heavier than the other two.




The 2018 iPad and iPad Pro 9.7 certainly have similar specifications at this point, with a 2048 by 1536-resolution 9.7-inch screen and a weight of around a pound.

The iPad Pro differs mainly from the use of a True Tone display, a system that uses a spectral-sensing ambient light sensor to measure the brightness and color of light from the local environment, with the data used to adjust the colors emitted from the display. This effectively means that the image on the True Tone display will seem to be the same to the user as they move between rooms and light sources, rather than seeming too orange or blue as can be experienced with other screens.

Apple didn't add True Tone to the first iPad Pro, only introducing it in the 9.7-inch model, and isn't included in the 2018 iPad either.

Performance Parity

As would be expected, the use of a faster and newer generation processor in the iPad offers better performance in benchmarks compared to the aging iPad Pro models, but it isn't by much.




The 2018 iPad is equipped with the quad-core A10 Fusion and the M10 co-processor, clocked at 2.22GHz with 2GB of RAM. Both the iPad Pro models use a dual-core A9X with M9 co-processor, clocked at 2.26GHz and 2.16GHz for the 12.9 and 9.7-inch models respectively, with the larger-screened variant also having 4GB of memory, while the other is equipped with 2GB.

Looking at the Geekbench 4 scoring, the 2018 iPad comes out on top, achieving 3254 in single-core tests and 5857 for multi-core. The iPad Pros score 3049 and 2967 for single-core performance, making them roughly 9 percent slower, while the multi-core 5079 and 4954 scores indicate they are slower by just 15 percent.

While they were high-performance at the time of their release, the development of faster chips over time has led to the better-equipped iPad overtaking the initial iPad Pro wave in processing power. Even so, the scoring shows the old guard can give the modern rival a run for its money.

Photo and Video

The iPad Pro 12.9 and 2018 iPad have the same 8-megapixel f/2.4 rear camera, capable of recording 1080p video at 30fps. Meanwhile the iPad Pro 9.7 is equipped with a 12-megapixel f/2.2 camera capable of 4K video at 30fps and 1080p at 60fps.




While the 2018 iPad and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro can record slow-motion video at a 720p resolution at 120fps, the iPad Pro 9.7 doubles the 720p frame rate to 240fps, and can even capture 1080p video at 120fps.

Another oddity for the rear camera is the lack of flash accompanying both 8-megapixel sensors, but the 12-megapixel iPad Pro 9.7 has a dual-LED "dual tone" flash. Current iPad Pro models now use a quad LED flash, along with 12-megapixel cameras.

It is a similar story for the FaceTime camera around the front, with both the 2018 iPad and iPad Pro 12.9 capable of taking 1.2-megapixel still images and recording 720p video. Again, the iPad Pro 9.7 opts for the higher resolution 5-megapixel sensor, capable of 1080p video recording.

Connectivity

All models are capable of connecting to a wireless network using 802.11ac, and to other devices using Bluetooth 4.2. This is fairly standard for Apple's mobile devices, as it typically takes a long time before device producers adopt newer standards, as well as for the standards themselves to be developed.




The Lightning connector continues to be the main way of physically hooking up an iPad to a Mac, as well as for charging, but again there is some slight differences. Both 9.7-inch models will communicate to a connected Mac at USB 2.0 speeds, while the iPad Pro 12.9 will do so at USB 3.0 speeds, something which could plausibly have been incorporated into the newer iPad's design.

The iPad Pro pair also benefit from having a Smart Connector located on one side of each device, allowing it to connect to smart keyboards and other accessories, providing power and handling communications with the accessory directly. As raised in the current-generation iPad Pro comparison, the plethora of Bluetooth keyboards with long-lasting and rechargeable batteries devalues the usefulness of the connector and makes it relatively unimportant.

Miscellaneous Specifications




Another signature feature of the iPad Pro range is their use of four speakers, instead of the two used by the iPad. By having four, it means that the iPad Pro is capable of playing stereo sound correctly from each of its four display orientations. Of course, the iPad can play stereo sound as well, but using only two speakers limits proper stereo playback to just two positions.

Battery life varies considerably between models, with the iPad's 32.4 Watt Hour battery sitting in the middle between the 38.8 Watt Hour unit in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and the 27.9 Watt Hour version in the 9.7-inch device. All were effectively said to provide up to 10 hours of use at launch, but two years of wear will probably cause the batteries in the iPad Pro models to provide a bit less usage time, depending on how they were treated over time.

The storage capacity options are relatively similar for all three, with the lower two capacities of 32 gigabytes and 128 gigabytes available for all models. Both iPad Pro models also offered a higher 256 gigabyte option, but while seemingly impressive, the current generation of iPad Pros boast up to 512 gigabytes of storage at their most extreme.


Summary: On a par...

Looking at the specifications list of each device, it is surprising how similar and how different they actually are in various ways.

Comparing the two 9.7-inch models, the iPad exceeds the performance of the old iPad Pro, and that's to be expected. However, the better cameras, quad speakers, True Tone display, and the rear flash of the iPad Pro arguably makes up for the processing shortfall.

Moving to the 12.9-inch first-generation iPad Pro, it almost seems as though it could simply be a larger version of the new iPad. It has the same front and back cameras, pixel density, and performance in the same ballpark as the iPad.

If Apple gave the 9.7-inch iPad the same specifications as its larger stablemate, save for screen size and resolution, it could be argued that it and the new iPad would be practically the same device.

As it stands, the iPad is roughly where the iPad Pro line started over two years ago. While on the one hand this highlights Apple's advances in the iPad product family over time, it also shows that even Apple's older premium-level hardware is still more than usable a couple of years down the line.

Where to buy

Apple's brand-new 2018 iPad can be purchased from Apple authorized resellers with tax incentives for many shoppers. Both Adorama and B&H will not collect sales tax on orders shipped outside NY and NJ (B&H may report sales in CO and VT*, however), potentially saving customers up to $45 compared to buying direct. Shipping is also free to the contiguous U.S. For a full list of deals and product availability, please visit our 2018 iPad Price Guide.

2018 iPad (Wi-Fi Only) deals

  • 32GB Silver Wi-Fi Only for $329.00 @Adorama * ($26 off in tax outside NY and NJ)
  • 32GB Silver Wi-Fi Only for $329.00 @B&H * ($26 off in tax outside NY and NJ)
  • 32GB Space Gray Wi-Fi Only for $329.00 @Adorama * ($26 off in tax outside NY and NJ)
  • 32GB Space Gray Wi-Fi Only for $329.00 @B&H * ($26 off in tax outside NY and NJ)
  • 32GB Gold Wi-Fi Only for $329.00 @Adorama * ($26 off in tax outside NY and NJ)
  • 32GB Gold Wi-Fi Only for $329.00 @B&H * ($26 off in tax outside NY and NJ)
  • 128GB Silver Wi-Fi Only for $429.00 @Adorama * ($34 off in tax outside NY and NJ)
  • 128GB Silver Wi-Fi Only for $429.00 @B&H * ($37 off in tax outside NY and NJ)
  • 128GB Space Gray Wi-Fi Only for $429.00 @Adorama * ($34 off in tax outside NY and NJ)
  • 128GB Space Gray Wi-Fi Only for $429.00 @B&H * ($37 off in tax outside NY and NJ)
  • 128GB Gold Wi-Fi Only for $429.00 @Adorama * ($34 off in tax outside NY and NJ)
  • 128GB Gold Wi-Fi Only for $429.00 @B&H * ($37 off in tax outside NY and NJ)
2018 iPad (Wi-Fi + Cellular) deals

  • 32GB Silver Wi-Fi + Cellular for $459.00 @Adorama * ($37 off in tax outside NY and NJ)
  • 32GB Silver Wi-Fi + Cellular for $459.00 @B&H * ($37 off in tax outside NY and NJ)
  • 32GB Space Gray Wi-Fi + Cellular for $459.00 @Adorama * ($37 off in tax outside NY and NJ)
  • 32GB Space Gray Wi-Fi + Cellular for $459.00 @B&H * ($37 off in tax outside NY and NJ)
  • 32GB Gold Wi-Fi + Cellular for $459.00 @Adorama * ($37 off in tax outside NY and NJ)
  • 32GB Gold Wi-Fi + Cellular for $459.00 @B&H * ($37 off in tax outside NY and NJ)
  • 128GB Silver Wi-Fi + Cellular for $559.00 @Adorama * ($45 off in tax outside NY and NJ)
  • 128GB Silver Wi-Fi + Cellular for $559.00 @B&H * ($45 off in tax outside NY and NJ)
  • 128GB Space Gray Wi-Fi + Cellular for $559.00 @Adorama * ($45 off in tax outside NY and NJ)
  • 128GB Space Gray Wi-Fi + Cellular for $559.00 @B&H * ($45 off in tax outside NY and NJ)
  • 128GB Gold Wi-Fi + Cellular for $559.00 @Adorama * ($45 off in tax outside NY and NJ)
  • 128GB Gold Wi-Fi + Cellular for $559.00 @B&H * ($45 off in tax outside NY and NJ)
    *B&H and Adorama will not collect sales tax on orders shipped outside NY & NJ. CO and VT residents, see here.
Apple Pencil deals

  • Apple Pencil (Refurbished) for $79.99 @TechRabbit * ($20 off + free shipping)
  • Apple Pencil (New) for $99.00 @Adorama * ($8 off in tax outside NY & NJ)
    *Adorama will not collect sales tax on orders shipped outside NY & NJ.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    3ruce33ruce3 Posts: 1member
    Why are you comparing to to old iPad Pro models?
  • Reply 2 of 13
    bikertwinbikertwin Posts: 564member
    Thanks for the useful article. I’m typing this on my 2015 12.9” iPad Pro.  :)

    A couple nits:

    1. RAM isn’t just “Application RAM”, though, is it? Isn’t a large reason for the higher memory on larger iPads & iPhones because of video memory needs? That RAM is shared, right?

    2. Giving battery “life” in terms of capacity is very misleading, isn’t it? Battery life depends both on battery capacity as well as power consumption of the screen & electronics. As CPUs get built on smaller processes (12nm, 9nm, 7nm, etc.), they need less energy power for the same processing power. They really should be compared on Apple’s original battery estimates, along with your note about battery aging on older devices.
    edited April 2018 cornchip
  • Reply 3 of 13
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,989administrator
    3ruce3 said:
    Why are you comparing to to old iPad Pro models?
    Because people keep iPads like computers, not like iPhones, and the iPad Pro line is blurred now with the Apple Pencil compatibility on the new iPad.
    edited April 2018 pscooter63GeorgeBMacmike1
  • Reply 4 of 13
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,989administrator

    bikertwin said:
    Thanks for the useful article. I’m typing this on my 2015 12.9” iPad Pro.  :)

    A couple nits:

    1. RAM isn’t just “Application RAM”, though, is it? Isn’t a large reason for the higher memory on larger iPads & iPhones because of video memory needs? That RAM is shared, right?

    2. Giving battery “life” in terms of capacity is very misleading, isn’t it? Battery life depends both on battery capacity as well as power consumption of the screen & electronics. As CPUs get built on smaller processes (12nm, 9nm, 7nm, etc.), they need less energy power for the same processing power. They really should be compared on Apple’s original battery estimates, along with your note about battery aging on older devices.
    1 - not entirely. Video's usage of this RAM depends greatly on what's going on. It's not a static X MB are reserved for video.

    2 - It's just a stat comparison. Apple's battery estimates are "10 hours" across the board.
  • Reply 5 of 13
    mbenz1962mbenz1962 Posts: 130member
    I would also be interested to know if the 2018 iPad supports quick charging (14.5V @ 2A) like the iPads Pro.  I don't think so, but it would be nice to get a definitive answer.  If not, that would be one more differentiating factor for the Pro line (old and new).
    cornchippeterhart
  • Reply 6 of 13
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 5,269member
    For me, I think, the biggest difference might be in the combination of the thin keyboard and thin profile of the IPad Pro.

    While I love the Gen6 iPad I bought for my grandson, when it's in its Logitech Bluetooth Keyboard/case it becomes almost as thick and bulky as a traditional laptop.   The difference in iPads is only about 1.5mm so the difference is in the case -- which I suspect is a very fixable "problem".  We need Jony Ives to take a look at this...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 13
    dewmedewme Posts: 2,193member
    These comparisons reconfirm what we all know, love, and hate (at some level) about technology products: over time the performance of a product always increases while the price either decreases or stays about the same. The net effect is that the value of the product to the customer constantly improves.

    While we wish all products, e.g., automobiles, houses, and college education, followed this same pattern it's not without a downside. The downside is that when you commit to purchasing a product you are basically locking yourself in at a specific value point on the curve. At some point you will feel left behind as newer versions of the product arrive and eclipse the value of your purchase. This is simply the nature of the beast. 

    Some would argue that buying excess capacity by optioning-up the product up-front buys you a little more time before you feel left behind. Maybe. There are also times when you feel less left behind because the product undergoes cost reduction or redesigns and your older version feels less compromised in one or more aspects, e.g., Mac Mini and Mac Pro. But for the most part, once you lay down your hard earned cash for a new product its obsolescence clock starts ticking and the ticking gets louder every subsequent product update announcement. 

    One thing that still bothers me about the iPad Pro 12.9" original release version is the lack of applications that really take advantage of the device's impressive capabilities. This may simply be wishful thinking on my part, but I feel that the older iPad Pros have untapped value that would extend the time before they feel left behind. However, Apple never promised anything beyond what was demonstrated at the iPad Pro 12.9" product announcement and they've delivered exactly what they promised. What it does today is exactly the same as what it did when it was first offered for sale in 2015. If you loved it then but don't love it now it's not the iPad's fault. It held up its side of the relationship but you moved on.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 13
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 5,269member
    3ruce3 said:
    Why are you comparing to to old iPad Pro models?
    Because people keep iPads like computers, not like iPhones, and the iPad Pro line is blurred now with the Apple Pencil compatibility on the new iPad.
    For me, the comparison is instructive in how far Apple has come in only a few short years.   When it was introduced, the iPad Pro was revolutionary and challenging the power and functionality of traditional laptops.   Now, most of that power and functionality is available in Apple's low cost iPad targeted at grade school kids!

    In another article ai pointed out how mobile devices still operate under Moore's law.  This article demonstrates that.

    But, Moore's Law is a bit deceptive in that it works both ways:   You either get more power for the same money.  Or, you get the same power for less money.  In this case:  the original base model 9.7" iPad Pro cost $600.  Today, 2 years later. the base model IPad Gen6 with similar power and functionality costs $339 (or $299 for students).

    I don't think we will ever see this level of progress in either Desktops, laptops or smart phones ever again....   The future is with the ARM style processors invading the traditional turf of the 68X and X86 processors....
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 13
    benji888benji888 Posts: 117member
    LAMINATED SCREEN:

    Again, you missed the major features of the laminated display:

    • Anti-glare
    • Better Color (full sRGB color for all laminated display iPads, Pro 9.7 and newer covers both sRGB AND P3 color ranges)
    • Better Contrast

    If you're going to make this kind of comparison, don't miss major features! I don't use the "true-tone" setting, but, the color and the anti-glare screen are amazing, however, some of this might be missed if one puts a screen protector, (especially a glary glass one), on it as soon as they get it. I could not put a screen protector on my first iPad with a laminated screen, (the iPad Mini 4), nor the iPad Pro 9.7.

    Maybe you need to go to displaymate to find out what I am talking about.

    About the iPad Mini 4:
    "But in terms of real-world viewing conditions, the record low 2.0% screen Reflectance actually makes a bigger visual difference for the image colors and image contrast that you actually see because ambient light washes out and degrades the displayed images and reduces screen readability - so its record low Reflectance actually makes a bigger difference!"

    Someone I know with an android small tablet looked at my iPad Mini 4 and said "look at that screen!".

    (EDIT: The non-laminated iPad 2017/2018 models do not have the same color, contrast, and are not anti-glare. It's not just about resolution, the thickness and weight. ...True-tone is a software thing, but, does require better hardware in order to take advantage of it, though, I don't use it, I prefer white to be white.)
    edited April 2018 watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 13
    benji888benji888 Posts: 117member
    ...Let me put it another way:

    The color range and accuracy are so high on the iPad Mini 4, iPad Pro models (at least the iPad Pro 9.7 and newer), that a professional photographer can edit their photos on those iPads.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 13
    benji888 said:
    LAMINATED SCREEN:

    Again, you missed the major features of the laminated display:

    • Anti-glare
    • Better Color (full sRGB color for all laminated display iPads, Pro 9.7 and newer covers both sRGB AND P3 color ranges)
    • Better Contrast

    If you're going to make this kind of comparison, don't miss major features! I don't use the "true-tone" setting, but, the color and the anti-glare screen are amazing, however, some of this might be missed if one puts a screen protector, (especially a glary glass one), on it as soon as they get it. I could not put a screen protector on my first iPad with a laminated screen, (the iPad Mini 4), nor the iPad Pro 9.7.

    Maybe you need to go to displaymate to find out what I am talking about.

    About the iPad Mini 4:
    "But in terms of real-world viewing conditions, the record low 2.0% screen Reflectance actually makes a bigger visual difference for the image colors and image contrast that you actually see because ambient light washes out and degrades the displayed images and reduces screen readability - so its record low Reflectance actually makes a bigger difference!"

    Someone I know with an android small tablet looked at my iPad Mini 4 and said "look at that screen!".

    (EDIT: The non-laminated iPad 2017/2018 models do not have the same color, contrast, and are not anti-glare. It's not just about resolution, the thickness and weight. ...True-tone is a software thing, but, does require better hardware in order to take advantage of it, though, I don't use it, I prefer white to be white.)

  • Reply 12 of 13
    PenziPenzi Posts: 1member
    Is there a reason for the general amnesia of the primary change for A processors with X addendums? Why are the GPU ramifications ignored, beyond the fact that it takes actual research to pin it down? I wish to know how much of an impact it actually has - A10 v A9X is not simply a CPU benchmark compare. As an aside I personally notice and benefit from the display improvements to the Pro line. If you don’t, that’s cool - I wouldn’t care/pay for things I don’t notice either...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 13
    mbenz1962mbenz1962 Posts: 130member
    I guess we now have our answer with the release of the new 30w charger.

    According to AI: 
    The accessory provides "optimal charging performance" with the MacBook, which has a built-in USB-C port, Apple says. It also enables fast charging for the iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and X, as well as 10.5- and 12.9-inch iPad Pros. All 9.7-inch iPads are excluded.

    https://appleinsider.com/articles/18/06/05/apples-new-30w-usb-c-power-adapter-replaces-older-29w-model 

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