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Why Apple’s quiet iPhone and iPad reveals are bigger deals than you think

Jon Phillips | March 22, 2016
They might lack sizzle, but the new iPhone SE and 9.7-inch iPad Pro fill important market niches.

First, a lot of consumers think the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is just way too large to be useful. We called it “unwieldy” for some use cases in our generally positive review. So the 9.7-inch iPad Pro immediately answers the size issue. But there’s also a pricing issue to consider. Starting at $599 for the 32GB version, the smaller iPad Pro might appeal to people who want Pro features for a $200 price savings over the 12.9-inch version.

And even more significantly, the new tablet might compel users to finally upgrade the 9.7-inch iPads they’ve been using for the last three, four or even five years. Tablet upgrade cycles are long. Indeed, my most recently purchased iPad is the 3rd-gen “new” iPad that I bought in 2012. But look at the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. It weighs less than a pound. It’s got the A9X chip and M9 coprocessor. It comes with four speakers for double the volume of the iPad Air 2. And the new True Tone display feature—which uses ambient light sensors to match the color temperature of a room’s lighting—looks super interesting.

No, not Siri-level interesting. But combined with all the other Pro features, True Tone may be just interesting enough to compel me to offload my four-year-old iPad, cracked screen and all.

In toto, the March 21 reveals were sirloin steak, sans a lot of sizzle. But affordable sirloin sells a whole lot better than Kobe beef, and if nothing else, Monday’s announcements should make this fall’s iPhone 7 reveal all the more exciting by comparison.


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