Still Image Quality

With the iPhone SE we saw Apple bring the 12MP camera from the iPhone 6s to a $399 phone. The 9.7" iPad Pro brings it to the iPad. More specifically, it's a ~1/3" 12MP sensor with a f/2.2 aperture. The A9X SoC comes with the same ISP as Apple A9, and so we should see parity between the photo quality on the iPhone 6s, the iPhone SE, and the 9.7" iPad Pro. In my iPhone SE review I said that the camera was a substantial upgrade over the one used in the iPhone 5s. In this case the gap is even larger, with Apple moving from an 8MP sensor with 1.1-micron pixels to a 12MP sensor with 1.22-micron pixels. Not only does moving to a higher resolution sensor enable UHD video recording, but the fact that the sensor is larger with more pixels will help to improve the quality of photos in good lighting, and even more so in poor lighting. Using Apple's latest SoC is also what allows for 1080p120 slow motion video and Live Photos.

Daytime Photography

As I said in my iPhone SE review, there's not a lot to say about this camera because we've already seen it in the market for many months now. While it's not the absolute best sensor in a smartphone, it's by far the best one in any tablet. Apple's processing gave them a lead over the competition when they were shipping 1.1-micron 8MP sensors in iPads, and with the 9.7" Pro moving to the same camera as the iPhone 6s the leap in image quality is significant. In the day you can see improved detail. It's also possible that the optics are an improvement over those used in other iPads, as you can see proper detail capture in some areas of photos where MTF limitations caused artifacting on older iPads.

Night Photography

As with the iPhone SE, the 9.7" iPad Pro is equivalent to the iPhone 6s when shooting in low light. In these particular shots there's a slight different in exposure but that could simply be due to me having a bit of trouble focusing on the same area with such a large device. The overall detail is equivalent between all the devices using Apple's 12MP sensor, and when you compare the 9.7" Pro to other tablets they're in completely different classes. The competition from Google is let down by worse cameras, worse ISPs, and worse processing, to the point where you basically can't use them to take a photo in low light. The best competition I've seen for the iPads was the Tab S2. Unfortunately, Samsung only loaned that to us for a short period so I no longer have it for comparisons, but given that it was equivalent to the iPad Air 2, it's safe to say that this new iPad Pro is really without competition for camera quality.

A Few Thoughts On True Tone Experience: A Smaller iPad Pro


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  • ImSpartacus - Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - link

    Whew, finally! Looks like is was worth the wait though. :P Reply
  • damianrobertjones - Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - link

    I sold my iPad mini 4, just to get one of these, as I'd previously owned the Air 2 and I simply couldn't justify the extra cost. Sure, of course, it is a nice device, but all I did was launch SimCity Builit (Which didn't seem to load faster) and mess around. For all serious tasks I have the Surface Pro 3.

    It's a lot... for not a lot really. Plus, seeing as the Surface line was initially blasted for not including a stylus/keyboard, it's annoying that Apple sell them for MORE (I think) than the MS versions.

    The charts do not include the Surface pro 4 for screen quality. Selective information?

    All in all, although nice, it simply wasn't worth the cash (to me).
  • Brandon Chester - Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - link

    The Surface Pro 4 technically doesn't use the same display tests in all cases, such as GMB, as we use a reduced pattern set for mobile. I can add the results that are comparable to the charts. I think as far as size and price go the Surface 3 is the more relevant comparison though, and that was there. Reply
  • dsumanik - Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - link

    Gimme a break chester, this is apple's latest and greatest tablet and should be compared head to head with microsoft's latest, on all fronts. That's what apple was shooting for with this product.

    In fact,

    In apples very own keynote they raved about the amount of PC user's that were ditching desktops for an iPad, which is ridiculous because anyone owning a 7 year old PC is not going to be looking to spend 360 bucks just for a keyboard and stylus... LOL!
  • Brett Howse - Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - link

    I'm not sure exactly what your complaint is here. The Surface 3 is a much closer touch point in almost every aspect except for performance. But regardless, we have our online Bench where you can always compare any device and I've even done it for you:

    The larger iPad Pro was compared to the Surface Pro 4, as it should be. We keep an online database though so if you want to do any extra comparisons its very simple. Bench is a link at the top of the page.
  • nikon133 - Thursday, June 2, 2016 - link

    It is being marketed as a "Pro" line product... thus it should be compared to other Pro tablets.

    I haven't read article yet... but I'm presuming tablet runs on platform comparable to larger iPad Pro. I don't think that screen size alone should be the differentiating factor. HP Elitebooks come with screens from 12 to 15.6", for example... can't recall anyone saying that 12" Elitebook is not a business-class laptop just because it is smaller?
  • dsumanik - Sunday, June 5, 2016 - link

    The complaint is that there is inherent apple bias in the that article has extended to the benchmarks.

    The surface pro 4 may very well be inferior. But this "review" is deceptive. Why not just follow Apple marketing guidelines and compare the ipad pro to "5 year old pc's everyone is leaving for iPad".

    Why not just put a single benchmark of a 486 laptop and call it the best?
  • Vigilant007 - Sunday, August 7, 2016 - link

    I can understand not being happy with facets of the review. Chalking up your concerns to "you're a horrible person" isn't the most constructive line of dialogue.

    It looks like your response was nicely responded to. I'd encourage more discussion instead of tin foil hat guttural response. I think we get it from your responses that your using global stereotypes to paint a picture that everything is inferior to what you have.

    All of that said, I haven't been a fan of the Microsoft Surface line till this generation. There's a certain rhythm of finally "getting it" in terms of fit and finish that I don't think Microsoft has had in hardware till this year. The Surface Pro and SurfaceBook are both impressive devices. If what I wanted as an individual could be served by the Windows ecosystem (phone through tablet) I would be giving it a much more serious look.

    Apples attitude towards user experience and hardware has been, and still is to a certain degree incredibly different then Microsoft and most other OEMs. You can call it "bad" as much as you want, and that's your right to do so. I have a few iPads in my house, and got one for my little brother to use in college. They are arguably the best overall tablet on the market from hardware onto ecosystem.

    Thanks for peeing in the punch bowl because someone doesn't agree with you hence becoming a "horrible person".
  • KPOM - Wednesday, June 1, 2016 - link

    It's $260 for the keyboard and pencil. Reply
  • dsumanik - Sunday, June 5, 2016 - link

    not in canada, they gouge us. $360. Reply

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