9.7-inch iPad Pro - Hands On First Impressions

I had the chance today to play with a 9.7-inch iPad Pro at the beautiful Omotesando Apple Store in Japan, and it's just as great as I have been hoping.

I've been waiting a long time for an iPad that doesn't just give me alternate way of doing the same things my iPhone and Mac can do, but allows me to do new things. For me, the Apple Pencil makes this difference, and I now finally have a device to use it with.

The Pencil, when combined with iOS 9's multitasking and Apple's latest A9X processors, allows me to do things that I simply cannot do on a Mac. After trying Wacom tablets, scanning my hand drawn sketches, and even giving the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 a try, I can confidently say that the Pencil is the greatest tool for graphic design that i've ever used. It feels like it was made just for me. I used it with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro for a month over Christmas, and was more productive than i've ever been before.

I treat my laptop primarily as a portable desktop computer. I use it for web development, managing and editing a library of RAW images, and producing music. iOS isn't at a stage that it can manage these tasks easily, and while I know there are some people who are doing this things on iOS, they are the exception, not the rule. There are currently huge comprimises to trying to do this work on iOS instead of a desktop OS.

I also use my laptop for writing, reading and researching, and these are things that I think are much better suited to a smaller display that you can hold in your hands. I will probably use the 9.7-inch iPad for these tasks instead of my laptop. It's just a more appropriate device.

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro takes all of the features of the 12.9-inch model, plus some more, and packs them into a smaller, more comfortable form factor. It's smaller dimensions won't make you think twice about packing both it and a laptop.

For the last two weeks i've been on a study trip in Tokyo Japan doing the kinds of things a media design student does when in Tokyo; visiting advertising museums, swooning over design exhibitions, attending book binding workshops, and gawking at impecabble typography on public transport signage. For the last two weeks the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, paired with the Smart Keyboard case, would of been fine as my primary computer. If anything it would of been than bringing my MacBook, because i'd be able to carry it with me instead of having to leave it in the hotel safe everyday.

It's been a long time coming, but I feel like the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro is finally the iPad for me. I can't wait to pick one up when I get back to Australia, and finally be able to use the Apple Pencil outside of an Apple Store.

Jack Alexander