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

  • zeeBomb - Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - link

    About time! As a Canadian: to buy or not to buy... That is the question. Reply
  • sachouba - Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - link

    It's funny how the iPad Pro 9.7 is compared with the Galaxy S6, the middle range Nexus 5X or the 6 months old Huawei Mate 8 instead of the Galaxy S7, Huawei P9, Xiaomi Mi5 or other 2016 flagships when it comes to performance, display accuracy, recharging time, storage speed, etc.

    Even with a multicore CPU performance that is not as good as the best CPUs on smartphones right now (the Galaxy S7, for instance), a mediocre contrast (what is the point of having accurate colors if blacks cannot even be rendered properly ?), a price that is way too high, and a battery life that is far from impressive, the iPad Pro is praised in your review...

    When it comes to the conclusion, it looks like Apple has invented the "True Tone Display", although it is only a copy of the 2-year-old and not-much-marketed Adapt Display from Samsung – which works great and adapts the white point according to the surrounding environment. You have fallen in Apple's trap of making people believe they invented everything that is known and unknown to Man thanks to aggressive marketing, which is disappointing, to say the least...
  • Brandon Chester - Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - link

    You must have missed the LG G5 in the charts, which is a Snapdragon 820 device. I can't compare to devices that haven't been fully reviewed.

    Also, you may want to re-read the article to find out why True Tone is not the same as Adapt Display, and to clarify some other things that it seems you missed.
  • jlabelle2 - Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - link

    Quite condescending statement when what you wrote was : "As you move to different environments the color temperature of the display shifts to match how your eye adjusts its perception of white depending on the temperature and brightness of the light around you."

    Which is exactly what Sachouba describe about Samsung Adapt Display...
  • jlabelle2 - Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - link

    Since departure of Anand, Apple product reviews look like PR marketing speech, although the tests and content itself of the review do not match the speech :
    - "It’s not hard to conclude that the display on the 9.7” iPad Pro is the best display on any tablet" : except that the Surface (Pro 4) has be shown as having a better display (proven also by Displamate) and the Surface 3 is also shown to have a better display or at least as good with the huge avantage for someone really after color accuracy that they can be calibrated.
    - "However, the significant hardware upgrades that Apple has made with this new iPad Pro are enough to make up the difference. the 9.7” iPad Pro is only $50 more than the 128GB iPad Air 2 used to cost" : an argument that makes no sense. EVERYTIME the year passes and a new phone or tablet is released, we used to have more power or a better camera or better performance ... for the SAME price. Otherwise, what is the point of the new model ? Except that here, it is more expensive than the previous model. And it is between 100 to 200$ more expensive than the iPad Air 2. And if you want really to take advantage of the real benefit of the Pro (the keyboard and / or the pencil), you need to spend 100 to 270$ !?! Just insane.
    - "As far as performance goes, A9X is still the fastest chip that you’ll find in an ARM tablet" : why restricting tablet to ARM processor ? What does it change for the end user if a tablet is running an ARM chip or a x86 chip ? Especially when even a fanless core M smokes the A9X ? And this is good to make the apology of the power of the "small" iPad Pro but what application is taking advantage of this power versus the iPad Air 2 ? Especially with the 2Go of RAM only ?
    - "In the end, the 9.7” iPad Pro is clearly the best standard-sized tablet on the market." : and here it is. How can it be objectively labelled like this ? It seems an excellent tablet but making this universal statement when it is the most expensive, it has not the best display (when it really counts for some), it does not have the best keyboard implementation, it is limited by its RAM, and the biggest asset is also its biggest issue of course as it suffers from limited external peripheric support and of some powerful application / program that people who want a powerful tablet with a good display usually are after (photo / video editing, graphist...). So the hardware strengths are constrained by the software capabilities.
    Strange wordings and conclusions regarding a overall very nice tablet but with its share of drawback for its intended audience.
  • Lochheart - Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - link

    Do you know any 10" Tablet with Core M ? Reply
  • digiguy - Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - link

    Have a look: Reply
  • kmmatney - Thursday, June 2, 2016 - link

    I would not recommend an Onda tablet - I bought one myself and it was a bit of a nightmare. There is very little support. A windows update reversed my touchscreen and was a pain to fix. The glass on the screen cracked with very minimal pressure, and finally one-third of the touchscreen simply stopped responding to touch. This was all within 4 months. I finally just sold mine on ebay, with a cracked screen, and telling the buyer that it could only be used with a mouse and keyboard. At least mine was a lot cheaper than the one you linked to, but cannot recommend an Onda tablet... Reply
  • digiguy - Thursday, June 2, 2016 - link

    I am not recommending either, just showing that it's feasible Reply
  • Lochheart - Friday, June 3, 2016 - link

    Feasible... but does it works ? Throttling, Heat, 1h battery life...
    And... Windows !

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