Apple doesn’t like to talk about specs. But it turns out my boss Matthew Panzarino already has review units of the new iPad Pro and iPhone SE. So nobody is going to stop us if we want to run Geekbench on these new devices. The result is both interesting and unsurprising. While the 9.7-inch iPad Pro features an A9X chip like its big brother, it’s a bit underclocked.
As you can see on these Geekbench screens, the system on a chip runs at 2.16 GHz. Comparatively, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro’s A9X runs at 2.24GHz, leading to higher Geekbench scores. This isn’t the first time Apple underclocked its own processors. The company usually does that for the iPad mini for example. The smaller iPad Pro has a smaller battery, and underclocking the processor is a good way to save battery.
When it comes to RAM, it’s a bit of a surprise as the 9.7-inch iPad Pro only has 2GB of RAM compared to 4GB for the bigger iPad Pro. The iPad Air 2 already had 2GB of RAM and you could feel it when you were multitasking a lot and using multiple Safari tabs. Another detail, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro’s lightning port doesn’t support USB 3 speeds. Standard lightning cables are USB 2 cables, but if you wanted to transfer large videos over lightning using a camera adaptor, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is a better option.
But it’s not like the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is worse iPad than the big iPad Pro. It has a better camera, a better display and an integrated Apple SIM. It looks like the 12-megapixel camera is the same as the one in the iPhone 6s. It can shoot live photos and 4K videos. The selfie camera is better as well.
Many people were also wondering whether the 9.7-inch iPad Pro would stay still on a table because there’s a camera bump on the back. The answer is: no, it doesn’t wobble.
The display has new four-channel ambient light sensors to measure the ambient light more accurately and adjust white balance. It’s also 25 percent brighter and 40 percent less reflective than an iPad Air 2 with a wider color gamut. At 500 nits of light, it’s the brightest iPad ever. And the LTE variants of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro comes with a built-in Apple SIM so that you can subscribe to data plan when you travel. The nano SIM card slot is still here.
Finally, the software keyboard is the same one as the one on the iPad Air 2 — Apple didn’t add extra keys like on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
As for the iPhone SE, it has 2GB of RAM like on the iPhone 6s. So Apple hasn’t cheaped out on its small iPhone. As far as we know, it has the same A9 processor and camera as the iPhone 6s. But it doesn’t have the faster TouchID sensor — it’s the same TouchID sensor as the one on the iPhone 5s or 6.
The iPhone SE looks like a surprisingly capable device, while the iPad Pro lineup is a bit confusing. In some ways, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is more powerful, and in others the 12.9-inch model is better. It all comes down to what you’re going to do with it as the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is substantially bigger than the 9.7-inch device.