Battery Life

Apple has always advertised the iPad as achieving all day battery life. I've generally found that to be true based on my usage, although on days where I use the larger iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil heavily I can find myself looking for a charger by the time the work day is over. With our 2016 mobile test suite we've rolled out a new WiFi web browsing test that is more taxing on devices than the previous one, along with moving from GFXBench's T-Rex HD battery test to Manhattan Metal. With the 9.7" iPad Pro having a similar battery capacity to the iPad Air 2 it can hopefully be expected that battery life remains the same, or possibly improves.

Web Browsing Battery Battery Life 2016 (WiFi)

In our 2016 WiFi web browsing test the 9.7" iPad Pro comes in at roughly the same runtime as the iPad Air 2. Apple has always advertised a ten hour battery life for iPads, and that generally held true in our old test which did static page loads. But in our new test the iPads simply can't last that long due to the heavier and more representative workload.

Unfortunately I no longer have the Tab S2 for comparisons to a non-Google Android tablet in this test, but when it comes to battery life the 9.7" iPad Pro lasts a bit longer than the Nexus 9 and significantly shorter than Google's Pixel C. The Pixel C is also significantly thicker and heavier, but its LTPS display also helps it to drive down platform power, and I wouldn't expect to see the iPads approach it any time soon with Apple's continued focus on driving down mass and thickness, and reliance on IGZO displays to achieve their switching refresh rate.

Video Playback Battery Life (720p, 4Mbps HP H.264)

The 9.7" iPad Pro does well in our video playback test. This test hasn't changed from the 2014 one, as my measurements found that the impact of moving to higher resolution and higher bitrate test files has a negligible impact on battery life due to the fact that the decoding for H.264 is all handled by dedicated hardware. You can see that the Pixel C still leads the pack, and the Tab S2 is close behind it even though it's incredibly thin and has a relatively small battery, and this is due to its AMOLED display using much less power in low APL videos than your typical IPS LCD on a tablet.

It's worth noting that we see a regression here from the iPad Air 2. The 9.7" iPad Pro actually has a slightly larger battery than the iPad Air 2, and I'm not sure where the difference here is coming from (possibly the display?), as our video playback test is conducted in airplane mode with no background tasks or location services, so there's not much room for software variance.

GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 / Metal Battery Life

GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 / Metal Final Frame Rate

In the GFXBench 3.1 Manhattan battery test the 9.7" iPad Pro performs incredibly well. Not only does it last slightly longer than the iPad Air 2, but the GPU performance throughout the test is more than double that of the A8X. With our old T-Rex HD test we saw Apple's devices essentially maintain the same frame rate for the entire test, as the GPUs were so fast that they were actually spending time idling. With Manhattan this isn't the case, and we see that the 9.7" iPad Pro does show signs of throttling. In general the performance is still very stable, and the throttling is not near as serious as what I've seen on competing Android tablets running the old T-Rex test with its lighter workload.

Charge Time

Smartphones have gone from taking several hours to charge a few years ago to only taking an hour or two today. Unfortunately we haven't see such improvements with tablets. While charge times have certainly gone down with Apple's 9.7" iPads, that's due to shrinking batteries rather than significantly faster charging. With the 12.9" iPad Pro Josh measured a charge time of over five hours, which is really unacceptable to say the least. With the 9.7" iPad Pro using a battery of similar size to the iPad Air 2, it can hopefully be expected that the charge time will be similar too.

Charge Time

Apple includes a 10W brick with the 9.7" iPad Pro. I actually haven't kept track of when they switch between 10W and 12W, but I can tell you that they need to start shipping these tablets with something closer to 20W or 30W. They happen to already sell something that fits the bill quite nicely, and customers would appreciate it. In the case of the 9.7" iPad Pro the charge time is much shorter than the five hours that the 12.9" model takes, but I think we really need to see improvements in how long it takes to charge these devices. When you use an iPad all the time for writing with Apple Pencil it will most certainly be nearly dead when you get home, and that means you can't use it for the rest of the night unless you keep tethered to a power outlet. Hopefully we see improvements made here with the next generation of iPads, along with the rest of the tablet market in general.

System Performance Display Analysis: Color Accuracy in DCI-P3 and sRGB


View All Comments

  • Hal422 - Friday, June 10, 2016 - link

    I tried the 12" iPad Pro with the Logitech Keyboard. Other than adding some weight to it they complement each other like family.

    I really like the paring, the functionality was remarkably like a laptop.

    Having had the new Macbook for a while, I almost could not tell the difference except for the OS differences.

    That aside, I am enjoying the 9.7' very much. It makes the iPad Air seem kind of kulnky in it's performance.

    The screen size is identical to the iPad Air, as the Matt screen protector fit fine when switching them.

    I really wish Logitech would reproduce the Logi Create for the little guy.

    The sound on the 9.7" is at least 3 times as loud as the iPad Air, and very welcome.
    The sound was deeper and better defined on the 12" Pro for the obvious size reasons.

    I use the little iPad Pro daily and am trying to figure out who would best like to have my old iPad Air.

    I am trying to like the Apple Pencil but there are some "Loss of Connection" issues and the Battery life lasts only around 2 days. There is no way to tell how low the battery on the Apple Pencil is getting until it quits on you. Come on Apple, you can show it with your Magic TrackPad. It would be nice to have an on and off switch on the Pencil as well.

    I find myself using an old fashioned capacitive rubber stylus as it is always ready to use.

    I have enough Win 10 devices to compare it to but Windows 10 is too buggy and nosey to use.

    For my money I'm sticking with Apple for work and play.
  • alexb1 - Friday, June 24, 2016 - link

    I got the 12.9" iPad Pro at work, and I absolutely HATE IT! It has ZERO use case for anyone who doesn't wanna draw on the iPad, and the size alone makes it completely poitnless. IF I wanted to carry a larger device with keyboard, WHY would I pick this iPad pro vs. a MacBook? or a Surface? There's zero added business value. iPad's selling point was its portability, ease of use, getting to your data quickly and not needing a keyboard... ALL of that is negated in the 12.9" ridiculous size.

    Now, I might get this iPad Pro, IF it was cheaper, as the price is absolutely outragous! Specially when someone add the Pencil and keyboard cost to it. It should have replaced Air 2, and should have been $100 cheaper and then it'd be the iPad of choice. It still doesn't offer any compelling reason for me to get rid of my iPad Air.
  • ragingfighter - Wednesday, July 13, 2016 - link

    I agree there are definitely a lack of reasons for even me to consider an upgrade. If you have a generation one or two of the iPad Air you really don't need this device and less if you're opting for the better camera the under the hood performance increases and/or the true town display technology If you can live without this features this is definitely not for you. The assessories are or something that I do not consider too much. I consider it it's still a tablet and anything else is additional bogging down the base price Reply
  • ragingfighter - Wednesday, July 13, 2016 - link

    I have sampled this tablet and I think it is really good I put it through its paces and it does keep up in general quite well. That being said though I still think you are an owner of the iPad Air generation one or beyond this is not necessarily an absolute need to upgrade. Unless if your iPad is your primary portable device which in some cases there are people that have them in this manner and have no laptop then you'll want the absolute best power and either you or go for this model or the higher 12.9 inch model. In this generation it's a conflict thing thing as this is why their first generations that introduce and actually larger iPad than the 9.7 in this generation it's a conflict thing thing as this is why their first generations that introduce and actually larger iPad than the 9.7 tier. If you are an iPad owner that has an iPad generation four or below and this may something to consider or even a second-generation iPad Air 2 myself I still think if you can get the iPad Air generation one for a good price it's more than I wore the tablet and you can save money beyond all the other models if you can pick it up for good price. You take a look at the upgrade path and it's Swithin mid tier of what apple has in their upgrade line iOS 10. Still have some time in it and it's still a very where the tablet. I don't think you could go wrong either way with that one or beyond Reply

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