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

  • UtilityMax - Friday, June 3, 2016 - link

    The thick and bulky Surface Pro 4 is hardly a tablet.. Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Tuesday, June 14, 2016 - link

    I have no issues using it as a tablet and I also own an ipad mini 4. Reply
  • ragingfighter - Wednesday, July 13, 2016 - link

    I think the surface pro line depending on how one uses it makes it a competitive choice as opposed to a new Apple tablet. Many people go for the higher-end storage of the surface tablet and that regard it's price is ridiculous when you start talking $1500 for a tablet to me at the feats the purpose for $1500 you can get yourself an amazing laptop. Still would have more memory at least by double maybe even triple and the specs will be as well if you opt for mid tier say 128 GB storage solution if you have an external hard drive plugged in because it has USB three you can save yourself a lot of money. In that regard it's a small use of what the surface provides as an option and also it's an idea of saving money that makes it viable choice. Obviously the recovery partition and the operating system take up a lot of space in comparison to something like iOS or even the android platform built in storage does take a bit of a beating because of it but if you can use everything on a portable hard drive that's plugged in the USB three and run the surface and such in the way it will make the base cost far less and much more approachable. I just think in general tablets beyond I would say $800 becomes problematic specifically because you get into an upper mid tier of what a laptop can offer you for $800 and beyond and you get a lot still you can still have a decently portable laptop with a decent amount of power. Laptops though in this price range and below take a hit in quality and the most important aspect and that is the screen usually this price point or below have very crappy screens the color and their sharpness and infidelity are really not phenomenally up there. When you get in the laptops beyond $1000 point you start getting sharper queen or technology implemented into them. I feel it is important when it comes to a comparison of options out to complete a task. It comes down to really what is cost-effective for your workflow how much you need portability and how much of a solution a tablet aspiring to be a laptop killer a replacement can become Closest tablet to achieve such your feat is the Microsoft surface. Reply
  • ragingfighter - Wednesday, July 13, 2016 - link

    Though I am a Mac user I must admit that in regards to any kind of a portable keyboard Apple they dropped the ball when I came to the iPad keyboard. It is a step behind Microsoft smart cover keyboard one because it's not backlit but also because of the way out the bun travel is smaller and the buttons are smaller not necessarily a favorite for everybody. The biggest design thing that I think Apple completely messed and I have to give kudos to Microsoft is the built in stand. I'm not a super fan of windows though I know how to use Windows and use a Windows it is nowhere near my primary platform which is the Mac. But I have to give credit to Microsoft where credit is due the surface pro line is and where the tablet but even I have to met there are many different kiosks I have been to where the tablet has malfunctioned during time of demoing it is much more rare to see an iPad completely not work for kiosk purposes that it is for surface tablet I've seen their tablets not even turn on even with the power cord extend it to them plugged in fully lights show it is fully charged but outside of doing a direct comparison to the different pros and cons of each wall smart enough to know what fits our needs the best for me and iPad is a good tablet and it doesn't basically what I needed to and for others the Microsoft surface pro line suits their needs as well. Trust me we want to open a can of apples and Microsoft comparisons here. Just say they're equally respectable types of tablets based on their own individual merits the only reason I bring up the prior points in general are because a tablet should have a stand and not needing a case to provide such or solution is a very added and welcome bonus the people on a surface tablet. Myself I don't want to surface tablet but I will give them credit for that addition Reply
  • Meteor2 - Thursday, June 2, 2016 - link

    I'd like to see the Pro 4 in the charts where possible, please. They are aiming at similar users. I'd love to see the Dell 7275 tested though, as it looks (and feels, after using one for an hour) in many ways better than the MS Pro. Reply
  • blackcrayon - Monday, June 6, 2016 - link

    Why would you think a 9.7" iPad Pro is aiming at similar users as a Surface Pro 4? Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Tuesday, June 14, 2016 - link

    The word 'pro' is being used. Blame Apple. Reply
  • Tikcus9666 - Saturday, June 4, 2016 - link

    In the UK the ipad pro 9.7" with 128GB is priced only £100 less (or a few £, if you opt for cellular version) than the Surface Pro 4 entry level with m3, 4GB and 128GB.

    I think comparison is very valid, also for a "Pro" device, to be considered as a "Pro" device we need more than web benchmarks, and battery life..... until it runs photoshop, lightroom, muse, sony vegas to name a few, it aint replacing a PC for real Pro's
  • tipoo - Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - link

    I've been curious - it has less memory bandwidth than the 12.9", but not halved, despite half the pinout width and half the DRAM capacity. Does the chip reintroduce the L3 cache? That could explain it. Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - link

    No. It has half the memory bandwidth. CPU benchmarks just don't show the full effect. Reply

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