The Value of a Smaller iPad Pro

How the iPad 9.7″ form factor is still the best all around size.

The other day I was talking to a good friend about how much we both still love the 12.9″ iPad Pro — we use it a lot for work and leisure. We then talked about the smaller 9.7″ and we took some pot shots at it, but now I feel bad — because I undervalue how much a part of my workflow the 9.7″ iPad Pro has become.

When I purchased the smaller iPad Pro I envisioned using it as an auxiliary device — much in the same way I envisioned using the iPad mini. The iPad mini has never fit in well with my life, and with a larger plus model iPhone — it’s even more redundant. But I use the crap out of my 9.7″ iPad Pro, just as I do with my 12.9″ iPad — both end most days with their batteries nearing depletion.

It’s not that the iPad mini isn’t good, it’s that the 9.7″ iPad is the near ideal size for all tasks — but the 12.9″ iPad Pro is downright luxurious for most tasks. Scaling back to a plus sized iPhone, or an iPad mini, is adding constraints which detract from the perceived, and actual, utility of the device.

In short, the 9.7″ iPad Pro excels because it has always been the perfect size iPad. The 12.9″ iPad Pro excels for the same reason people want 27″ iMacs instead of 15″ MacBook Pros. The 15″ machine is perfectly capable for every task, and yet it feels as though you can do more on the 27″ iMac. It’s not about performance, but about screen real estate.

What I Use It For

Absolutely everything. The only thing which I prefer not to do on the smaller iPad Pro is long form writing. The Smart Keyboard cover for the smaller iPad is just too constrained for me to type well and quickly on — I feel as though I cannot get the words down quickly enough.

Aside from that it is my preferred device for travel, gaming, and reading.

Why Not the 12?

I’m not saying I don’t use the larger iPad Pro anymore — it’s quite the contrary. I mentioned at the outset of this article that most days both iPads are nearly out of battery, but what I didn’t mention is the that the 12.9″ iPad is always out of battery whereas it is hit and miss with the smaller iPad Pro.

The 12 is my workhorse, but it doesn’t travel well. It takes a lot of room on a small table, it is not easily held for reading or gaming, and you need a bag to carry it in. That’s just not the case for the 9.7″ model. You can carry it fine in your hands if you want, it takes up very little space on a table and is ideal for holding to read or game.

You’d choose the smaller iPad if you aren’t planning on working at an iPad all day long. That is, if you are not an iOS only person (or mostly iOS only), then the 9.7″ iPad Pro is going to be what you want.

Why Not the iPhone?

A lot of people asked me why I don’t just use my iPhone 7 Plus for reading or gaming. After all it is even easier to hold and always with me. It would give me one less thing to carry. The truth is, I could use it, but it’s not a comfortable device for me to use for long periods of time.

I cannot sit on a comfy chair and kick back and read a book comfortably on an iPhone, but I can on an iPad Pro. For me it all came down to the fact that I just couldn’t find a way to do things comfortably on the iPhone — things I find easily comfortable on the 9.7″ iPad Pro.

I use my iPads more than I use my iPhone everyday. I use my 9.7″ anytime I am not at my desk, and the 12.9″ (sometimes in conjunction with the 9.7″) when I am at my desk. As much as I lament the constricted keyboard of the device, I can’t help but appreciate just how much value I derive from it.

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