Less is more: 9.7-inch iPad Pro now official

But can it save Apple's declining tablet sales?

As expected, Apple just announced a new iPad Pro tablet alongside a new iPhone, because making things smaller and cheaper without compromising on performance seems to be the overarching mantra guiding the company’s latest product keynote — and we’re on board with it.

It makes sense for Apple to bring the pro features of the 12.9-inch iPad to the most popular size in Apple’s tablet lineup, especially at a time when iPad sales are tanking. And while it’s too early to tell if a more compact design and lower price points are enough to make people go out and buy a new iPad, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is by no means a less interesting product than anything Apple is trying to sell right now.

Apple new iPad Pro

The device has all the bells and whistles you’d expect from its larger sibling, including an A9X processor that delivers console-quality graphics, a four-speaker system, a 12-megapixel rear camera that shoots 4K video, and support for the Apple Pencil stylus ($US99) and matching keyboard cases ($US149 each), among others. It’s a fancier version of the iPad Air, minus a fancy name.

The Retina display is the best you’d get on an iPad; it is said to be 25 percent brighter and 40 percent less reflective than the iPad Air 2’s. Apple even went as far as to say that it is the brightest and least reflective tablet screen on the market, something we’re taking with a grain of salt until more information is available.

Apple new iPad Pro with keyboard cover

The Pro also incorporates sensors and adaptive display software to dynamically adjust the screen’s color temperature based on ambient lighting, making for a more comfortable viewing experience.

Apple’s 9.7-inch iPad Pro will be available in silver, space gray, gold, and rose gold, starting at $US599 for the base configuration with 32GB of storage and WiFi-only connectivity. Storage options go up to 256GB, while pricing reaches $US899 for the said WiFi-only model. Adding 4G LTE connectivity adds $US130 to the price.

The tablet will be up for preorder on Apple’s website and in select Apple Stores on March 24, with a release date set for March 31.

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