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9.7-inch iPad Pro review: Hits the sweet spot between size and price

Susie Ochs | April 4, 2016
You don't need to spend more on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro—the smaller model is a better size and isn't hampered by having half the RAM.

I see a lot more webpages default to tablet or mobile views in splitscreen Safari, even though they load as the full-size version when Safari has the entire screen. That’s not a big deal, and even helps readability. Both sides of the screen stay active in splitscreen mode—I was able to play a video in Safari on one half of my screen while writing this review in Byword on the other half.

True Tone

The Lil Pro has one feature its big brother doesn’t, True Tone. This feature is enabled by a new ambient light sensor embedded in the Lil Pro’s display. Every iOS device has these ambient light sensors, which enable the Auto Brightness feature, but in the new Lil Pro, those sensors measure the color temperature of the light in the room, not just its intensity. That way, iOS can adjust the color temperature of your display, in an attempt to match it up, so your display doesn’t look more blue in some light and more yellow in others.

You can turn this off in System Preferences > Display, but it’s a binary on/off switch. There’s no slider to lessen the intensity of the effect—the whole idea is that it’s automatically adjusted. The new Night Shift feature in iOS 9.3, on the other hand, isn’t controlled by sensors, so it does have a slider to let you adjust the intensity. (I can’t stand it at any more than about 25 percent, but your mileage may vary.) Night Shift isn’t aimed at matching the color temperature of the room; rather it just shifts the temperature of your screen from blue to yellow at night, in case the reduced blue light helps you sleep better—although the research isn’t so conclusive that this particular feature would help. You can use both Night Shift and True Tone together on this Lil Pro, but it looks terrible, like your screen was suddenly submerged in a bucket of apple juice.

ipad pro 97 review 2016 
This screen is way too nice to yellow it up by layering True Tone and Night Shift together.  Credit: Adam Patrick Murray

I remain ambivalent about True Tone. I don’t mind keeping it on, but I wish I could tone it down just a tiny bit. Still, after a couple of days I stopped noticing it, until I had the Lil Pro side by side with a MacBook, and the MacBook screen’s blueish tint was more visible than ever. Anyone who does get hooked on True Tone may start jonesing for it on all their devices, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple starts building these new light sensors into more screens. In the meantime, there’s always f.lux on the Mac.


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