9.7-inch iPad Pro review: What makes something “Pro” anyway?

If you’re Apple, how do you decide what constitutes a “Pro” device? Is it in the specs? Usually Pro products are faster and offer more storage and RAM than their non-Pro counterparts. Is it something special about the hardware and software? Often, yes, Pro products have specialized features that non-Pro products either get later or don’t get at all. Is it about the kinds of tasks they can perform? Sort of. Most Pro and non-Pro products run the same software, but the Pro can perform actions faster and better thanks to the aforementioned hardware improvements.

Some Pro products are also more “Pro” than others. There’s a huge gap between the lowest-end Mac Pro and the highest-end version of the same machine. The 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro offers all kinds of performance improvements that the 13-inch version doesn't.

Keep all of this in mind as you consider the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. In some ways, it is decidedly more “Pro” than the iPad Air 2 it kind of, sort of replaces—the new iPad Pro is faster, and it supports the Smart Connector and Apple Pencil. Its screen technology is more advanced, and in some ways it’s even better than the 12.9-inch iPad Pro Apple released in the fall. But this new release isn't quite as big and it isn't quite as fast. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro also shares a few areas of overlap with the iPad Air 2, which is still hanging around at lower new and refurbished price points. It’s Pro, in the context of the rest of the iPad lineup, but it's not the most Pro.