iPad mini 4 vs iPad Pro 9.7 comparison review

There's a new iPad Pro but should you spend an extra £180 on it instead of the iPad mini 4? We explain how these two tablets differ in price, design, hardware, specs and features in our iPad mini 4 vs iPad Pro 9.7 comparison review. See also: Best tablets 2016 and iPad Pro 9.7 in-depth review.

iPad mini 4 vs iPad Pro 9.7 comparison review: Price

As you would expect, it's the iPad mini 4 which is the cheaper option here with its usual starting price of £319. Even if you get the most expensive Wi-Fi only model, it's still more affordable than the cheapest iPad Pro 9.7 which is £499.

There's a big price difference of £180 when comparing the cheapest models of each but it always depends how much storage you want and if you need 4G data. There are five different capacities but each is available in three different choices. See the table below for a full price comparison. Also see: Best new tablets coming in 2016.

iPad mini 4 vs iPad Pro 9.7 comparison review: Design and build

There's a clue in the name here when it comes to biggest design difference. The iPad mini 4 is the smaller, more portable choice while the iPad Pro 9.7 is the size of the iPad Air 2 and the tablets which have gone before it.

Although both iPads here are 6.1mm, it's understandable that the Pro is heavier at 437g against 299g. The larger option also has, for the first time on an iPad, a camera which sticks out. Other things related to design are that the iPad Pro 9.7 has a four-speaker audio setup and a Smart Connector – neither are found on the iPad mini 4.

iPad Pro 9.7 colours

While size is the big (or small) differentiator here, the iPad Pro 9.7 is the first Apple tablet to be available in a Rose Gold colours – should you want a slightly pink iPad. Both, as usual, also come in Silver, Space Grey and Gold.

iPad mini 4 vs iPad Pro 9.7 comparison review: Hardware and specs

As mentioned, one key difference here is two screen sizes to choose from. The iPad mini 4 is 7.9in while the new iPad Pro has a 9.7in screen (to provide a smaller option compared to the original 12.9in model).

It's not just the size though, as the iPad mini 4 has a higher pixel density of 326ppi thanks to its resolution of 2048x1536. The iPad Pro 9.7 also uses this resolution so over a larger display, it's pixel density is 264ppi.

See also: iPad Air 2 vs iPad Pro 9.7.

iPad mini screen

That might leave you a bit miffed but the Pro does have some advantages in this department. It's less reflective, brighter and has greater colour saturation. Apple calls the Pro's display 'True Tone' which means it can measure the temperature of the ambient light, then adjust the white balance settings accordingly for a better, more realistic, viewing experience. Furthermore, it supports the Apple Pencil (£79) which the iPad mini 4 does not.

The iPad Pro 9.7 has a larger and more technically advanced screen but it's also more powerful than the iPad mini 4. Inside is an Apple A9X (third generation) processor which is 2.4 times faster than the A7 on the CPU side and 4.3 times faster on GPU.

Meanwhile, the iPad mini 4 has the older second generation A8 which is a more modest     1.3- (CPU) and 1.6- times faster (GPU) than the A7.

The larger screen and more grunt will make a difference if you're trying to do proper work on an iPad – as will the option of the Smart Keyboard (£129) which works with the Smart Connector on the Pro model. Although there are Bluetooth keyboards available for the iPad mini 4, the Pro is a neater and more laptop-like solution.

iPad Pro 9.7 Smart Keyboard

How much storage you needs depends on what you want an iPad for and as you can see from the table above, the two iPads here only share one capacity – 128GB. The iPad mini 4 is better for those who don't need much space and will save you money while the iPad Pro 9.7 comes in up to 256GB.

If photography is important then the iPad Pro 9.7 could be worth spending extra on. It has a 12Mp iSight camera with an f/2.2 aperture, a True Tone flash, support for Live Photos, 4K video recording and Slo-mo at 240fps. That's a reasonable upgrade compared to the iPad mini 4's 8Mp rear camera which doesn't even have a flash.

There's also a difference at the front for things like video calls as the iPad mini 4 only has a 1.2Mp FaceTime HD camera while the iPad Pro 9.7 offers a 5Mp camera with a Retina flash.

A lot of tech is shared across both iPads here including a Touch ID fingerprint sensor, Apple Pay, dual-band 11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2, Lightning Connector and up to 10 hours quoted battery life.

If you're going to buy a cellular model for mobile data on the go, it's worth noting that the iPad Pro 9.7 has support for three additional LTE bands and an embedded Apple SIM.

Reasons to buy the new iPad Pro

•    Rose Gold colour
•    Higher storage capacity available
•    Bigger screen
•    Better display tech
•    Better cameras
•    A9X processor
•    Apple Pencil support
•    Smart Keyboard support
•    Four-speaker audio system

Reasons to buy the iPad mini 4

•    Up to £180 cheaper
•    Just as thin
•    Lighter and more portable
•    Higher pixel density screen
•    No camera bump
•    Available in 16GB option
•    Still decent specs for general use

Apple iPad Pro 9.7-inch: Specs

  • Apple A9X processor with M9 coprocessor
  • 32GB/128/256GB onboard storage
  • iOS 9 (able to use all iOS 9 tablet features, including Split View)
  • LED-backlit IPS LCD, capacitive touchscreen, 16M colours, 2048 x 1536 pixels, 9.7 inches (diagonal), 264 ppi pixel density
  • Touch ID fingerprint sensor
  • Four-speaker audio
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band with MIMO
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • 12Mp (rear-facing) with True Tone flash
  • 5Mp (front-facing) with Retina flash
  • Smart Connector
  • 170x240x6.1mm
  • 437g (WiFi-only model) or 444g (Wi-Fi plus cellular)
  • Apple A9X processor with M9 coprocessor
  • 32GB/128/256GB onboard storage
  • iOS 9 (able to use all iOS 9 tablet features, including Split View)
  • LED-backlit IPS LCD, capacitive touchscreen, 16M colours, 2048 x 1536 pixels, 9.7 inches (diagonal), 264 ppi pixel density
  • Touch ID fingerprint sensor
  • Four-speaker audio
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band with MIMO
  • Bluetooth 4.2
  • 12Mp (rear-facing) with True Tone flash
  • 5Mp (front-facing) with Retina flash
  • Smart Connector
  • 170x240x6.1mm
  • 437g (WiFi-only model) or 444g (Wi-Fi plus cellular)

OUR VERDICT

Although the iPad Pro 9.7 is clearly a superior tablet here, it's only worth spending the extra on if you really need that better screen and you'll make use of the performance for proper work tasks. Then there are the additional costs of accessories like the Pencil and Smart Keyboard which enable this. Go for the iPad mini 4 if you're only to use the device for casual things like gaming and web browsing.