iPad Pro 9.7” – Productivity in a tablet?

So I have been living and working with a 9.7” iPad Pro for the past 8 weeks and thought I would detail my experience.

For background, I am a used tech guy, I do not buy new, as prices are to prohibitive and I find it more worthwhile to look back on how the hardware and software has aged over time.

Recently, I have found myself back in the Apple eco system after an hiatus of about 5 years whilst I was using Chromebook/Android tech. Given that to get a used Google Pixel 2 phone still needed around £500 – £600 to purchase I went with a used iPhone 7 running IOS12 and began to fall in love with Apple again. To that end, for a Christmas present from my darling wife, she gifted a used 9.7 iPad Pro (the deal coming with a 1st generation Apple Pencil and Apple Smart Cover).

I hadn’t owned an Apple tablet since the iPad mini 2 some years previously. Disclosure I also own an ageing MacBook Air 2011 model (therefore not eligible to upgrade to Mojave OS) but had not switched it on for some time.

So down to my thoughts….

Form Factor

One of the biggest advantages of the 9.7 over the larger size Pro’s and indeed Mac laptops is the portability of this device. It is built with the usual Apple attention to hardware excellence – the clean lines and solid construction both a hallmark of Apple products.

To be able to travel with something this powerful in this small a footprint is amazing even by todays technology.

But one of the pros of this form factor is also one of its biggest cons – the real estate of the screen is sometimes just a shade too small – highlighted further when you jump onto a 13” laptop such as the Air. I think you expect and are given so much productivity from this machine that the screen size sometimes hinders you.

Overall I think if your set up includes a larger screen for use at home maybe then this is a compromise you can live with given the mobility this allows you. One advantage of a smaller screen though, in my experience, is that it forces you to be more focused with the tasks at hand as there is nothing else competing for your attention (especially if you turn off notifications) as you need to make the best of the app you are using.


I mentioned above how powerful this thing is – I can assure you that unless you need to edit video or high end photography this Pro will not let you down.

I have tried using the main office apps from Google (Docs, Sheets and Slides), Microsoft (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) and the Apple set of Pages, Numbers and Keynote. All of them work perfectly well (although the screen size is definitely a downside when dealing with spreadsheets). Google Drive, OneDrive and iCloud all perform well and can be synced to the Files app on the Pro along with anything locally saved – in any of the formats above. I have seen comments regarding the Files app not being up to scratch in IOS12 but in my experience it is perfectly good enough.

Overall I prefer the built in Apple experience (I am writing this in Pages) but Word is a close second. Google’s Docs app leaves a lot to be desired which is a shame because on the Chromebook it is a viable alternative to the Office suite.

Multitasking on the Pro is a revelation. As I understand it this has been refined with IOS12 (I cant comment for sure as never used IOS11) and is a joy to use. To be able to split screen, hover and even have 3 apps running at the same time by using touch works like magic. I have Pages running next to Apple notes and can copy and paste with ease as well as dragging and dropping images from safari (and other sources) directly into the app I am working in. Note that not all apps support this functionality.

I have not had any stuttering with multiple apps running in the background although I would not class myself as a “power user”.

Adobe Lightroom has proven to be a great find for photo enhancement and is free to use (although will not sync across devices without a subscription).

Essential Accessories

Without a doubt to be productive, investment in a keyboard, is essential. My purchase came with an Apple Smart Cover so I can only, at the moment at least, give my opinion on this keyboard add on.

The good first…

I find typing on this to be a pleasant experience although the feel of the key press gets a little bit of time and patience to get accustomed too. The keys have decent travel and given the size of the device are well spaced out. The speed typists amongst us though might find the keys to small I would guess, however, any mistakes in typing is corrected very well, at least in Pages autocorrect terms.

The smart cover adds very little weight or bulk to the device and seems to be very well made – sturdy and gives the impression of longevity.

Also by using the Apple connector this keyboard needs no charging nor does it use Bluetooth so connecting is instant and I have not had any missing keystrokes.

However the bad…

No backlighting

No protection on this older version for the back of the iPad

No function or “hot keys”

And the worse disadvantage for me – no adjustment to the angle of the screen.

All in all a good keyboard that I’m happy with at present however I am looking at 3rd party suppliers that address all the issues I listed above for example Green and Gold ( https://goldandcherry.com ) or Logitech ( https://www.logitech.com/en-gb/ipad-keyboards ). There are a bunch of reviews on YouTube so check them out before purchasing!

The Apple Pencil is a revelation and can be used in a intuitive way – and not just for drawing in apps such as Procreate or Sketchbook. I have found that the pencil can act as a mouse ( iPads do not have mouse support as yet ) and is good at more precise actions.


So to the conclusion of my ramblings.

The iPad Pro 9.7” can, for the right user, be a productivity powerhouse. Long lasting battery, mobility and a maturing OS enables serious work to be done. Would I like a slightly bigger screen, yes in all probability, maybe trying the 10.5 or 11.3 next time, but this size is not a deal breaker for me at least.

Also don’t forget I could get a SIM card in here and never have to rely on WiFi.

If you have a chance to use one of these amazing machines then do yourself a favour and try it – I suspect you wont be disappointed.

Do you use a Pro? What apps do you use? Stopped using a Pro and found it did not work for you? Join in a discussion below and let me know your thoughts.

One Reply to “iPad Pro 9.7” – Productivity in a tablet?”

  1. Good perspective here! Now Apple sells the base iPad with Pencil and Smart Keyboard support and a newer CPU for far less money; I’m thinking of buying it.


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