Did Apple cripple the 9.7-inch iPad Pro by including only 2GB of RAM?

Apple delivers a 9.7-inch iPad Pro, then shocks some potential customers by limiting the device’s RAM to 2GB. Did the company make a big mistake by not giving it 4GB of RAM like the larger iPad Pro?

When Apple announced the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, there was quite a bit of interest from current iPad users. Many of these potential upgraders also have older iPads and have been waiting a long time for a new iPad Air.

The initial reaction about the 9.7-inch iPad Pro from Apple’s customers was quite positive…until it was disclosed that the smaller iPad Pro ships with only 2GB of RAM. This stands in stark contrast with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which comes with 4GB of RAM.

As you might imagine, some of the folks who were very interested in buying the 9.7-inch iPad Pro were quite disappointed to find out that it only comes with 2GB of RAM. And they weren’t shy about sharing their thoughts about it on many different sites.

I’ll share my own thoughts below, but first here’s a selection of comments from a thread on Reddit that will give you an idea of what folks have been saying:

Crispix24: “It’s weird to see this on the iPad line where sales have been in decline for the last year or so. Their solution is bumping up the price and cheaping out on the features? How is that going to revive the iPad line?”

Lucrums: “Because it says pro… Pro that’s it, must sell. Maybe next year we can append titanium or turbo and be back to the good old 90s. When they stick platinum on the end we’ll be back to the early 2000s.”

Kidwuf: “I think a lot of this has to do with trying to please different markets. The 9.7“ is a try to make iPad Air and older device holders upgrade and the 12.9” was in response to the art market that, like me, always wanted a bigger canvas on which to work and a native pressure sensitive pen to work with.”

Mzoon: “…I was really excited about it but now I’m not sure anymore.”

KateWalls: “Hmm, this is an unpleasant surprise, but there is precedent for this kind of move. For the MBP, the 13“ has 8GB ram, and the 15” has 16GB. This strategy has worked for them in the past, so it makes sense that they would try it with iPads.

But what’s total bullshit is that they don’t show it on www.apple.com/ipad/compare/”

Kerrigore: “Apple has never mentioned the RAM in their iOS devices anywhere on their spec pages.

Probably because they know that Android and Windows devices typically have had way more RAM, and the average consumer doesn’t have a nuanced enough understanding of the differences between the various operating systems to understand why Apple’s devices aren’t necessarily at a performance disadvantage despite having less RAM. Heck, even comparing it to their laptops might give people the wrong idea.

To the average Joe and Jane, “More RAM is better” is one of the few things they understand about computing devices, especially on mobile devices where CPU’s are even more varied and confusing than in the PC landscape (which in itself has gotten much more complex of late thanks to Intel’s increasingly Byzantine classifications).

That said, now that Apple’s devices have such a big range of RAM amounts and the newer ones are mostly 2GB or 4GB, I think it’s a position they should reconsider.”

Pgiguere1: “Not cool.

Not just the fact it has 2GB, but the fact it was misleading to brand this iPad as “Pro”, yet never mention it had such a notable difference with its bigger sibling.

Everybody just assumed it would have 4GB and now everybody is let down. Surely Apple could have managed expectations better?

I know they traditionally never mention RAM, but they should. We’re not at a point where the RAM amount “just works” and you can blindly trust Apple with it. It’s by far my iPad Air’s biggest flaw, and has been since the beginning.

People often defend Apple saying they don’t want to get into technical stuff. Bullshit. They mention some even more technical stuff that almost nobody cares about (transistor count, type of transistors, chip die area, fabrication node…). You’re going to tell me your 64-bit 128mm2 chip uses over 3 billion non-planar 16nm 3D FinFet transistors, but omit RAM completely, really?

I’m pretty sure they don’t mention RAM simply because they lag behind competitors in that area, so they don’t want people discussing it too much.”

ScaliasDicta: “Agreed. This actually just convinced me to jump for the 12" version. It’s $100–150 off on several sites, and you can get tax-free and with free shipping at MacMall or B&H. At that point, you’re only paying a little more money for that bigger screen and a decent upgrade in horsepower.

I know 2GB is probably sufficient for my needs now, but who knows what the future holds? I want to keep this for 3–4 years, and RAM is usually the first obvious limitation.”

Gmmxle: “People who don’t know about specs will see the basic model as a good deal. People who consider specs will look at the next model, and reason that if they only give Apple a little bit more money, they’ll get a model with the configuration that really should be the standard, but they’ll also get other benefits. For just a little bit more money.

Standard upselling strategy. Can’t blame Apple here.”

Mjsxii: “…I was going to upgrade my iPad Air and give it to my mother but not if its not on par with the 12.9 version.

I know they added a few new things but I’m also left scratching my head at the 100 dollar price increase. Since the a8x -> a9x(borked) should be a lateral move I’m just left confused about this why does this have the pro moniker? Is it the 12mp camera (I don’t think so), I’m also wondering why this doesn’t have the seconds gen touch ID sensor? I know they increased the storage by 16gb from the base Air 2 but unless you really need the pencil why would you go for this over the Air 2? I’m just confused why this is a “pro” product without pro specs. Admittedly if the 12.9 was at 2gb I wouldn’t care as much… I would still think is was silly but I wouldn’t mind since they would essentially have specs parity.

It also seems silly for them to leave the 500 range unoccupied since it’s now a 200 dollar jump between iPad models and that price jump doesn’t really justify what you’re getting for the price increase.

If it had 4gb I’d bite, I seriously had cash in hand ready to preorder this on Thursday but I think I’ll be sitting this out till next year. Do to the annoying price structure they have set up and the dropping of the 64gb model and price to jump to the 128gb (32gb is just a hair to small for what I’m using my iPad for) I’d be looking at ~900 dollars for this upgrade.

edit: I want to be super clear. I don’t think this is a bad product, I just don’t see why this has a 100 dollar price increase over what other new iPads have been in the past. This is not a super step up from the Air 2 and the fact that it cost $200 more does not seem like a smart idea. If there had just been a $100 difference and came in @ 500 I would without question say it’s worth the buy but currently it doesn’t put enough distance between itself and the Air 2 to warrant a 200 dollar difference.”

More at Reddit

When is a 'pro' device not really pro?

I think Apple may have shot itself in the foot big time by only including 2GB of RAM in the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. The device is labelled as “pro” which means that people’s expectations are higher than if it had simply been called the iPad Air 3.

So it’s quite understandable that many potential buyers are going to be disappointed and somewhat frustrated. Some folks like to “future proof” their devices to make them last longer, and with only 2GB of RAM the 9.7-inch iPad Pro may not last as long as its larger sibling.

Of course the need for more RAM varies depending on the needs of the user. So many people probably won’t even notice that the 9.7-inch iPad Pro only comes with 2GB of RAM. But others probably will, and that has led to some very negative reactions to the smaller iPad Pro.

Many have called into question whether or not the smaller amount of RAM in the 9.7-inch iPad Pro undercuts the “pro” label. And I can't say that I blame them, since Apple already set a precedent by including 4GB of RAM in the larger iPad Pro. It's quite reasonable to expect that any device labelled "pro" would match what the 12.9-inch iPad Pro has to offer in terms of hardware.

Apple should dump the 'pro' label altogether

I’ve never liked the “pro” label as I find it to be misleading and exclusionary. For example, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is the best iPad I’ve ever used but I don’t use it for much that is related to work. Instead I use it for ebooks, comics, movies, web browsing, audio books and other non-professional functions.

But the “pro” label falsely gives the impression that the iPad Pro is geared toward professionals only. And that just isn’t true at all. Anybody can buy the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and get a fantastic experience for non-professional uses.

And now we see the “pro” label causing great disappointment among potential buyers of the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. It’s just an awful way to describe a product. It raises expectations and has the potential to confuse or even discourage Apple’s customers from buying a device.

If Apple had called the smaller iPad Pro by another name, such as the iPad Air 3, I doubt so many customers would be so angry about it having only 2GB of RAM.

I’m glad I bought the 12.9-inch iPad Pro

When the smaller iPad Pro was first announced, I had a momentary feeling that I might have goofed by buying the bigger one a few weeks before the announcement. I wondered if the additional features found only in the smaller iPad Pro such as True Tone, a better camera, etc. might have been a better buy.

But once I found out about the 2GB of RAM in the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, and also that its processor is slightly underclocked compared to the bigger iPad, I was very glad I bought the larger version.

Don’t get me wrong here, I think the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is still a fine device. It can do anything the larger iPad Pro can do, but the slight processor performance difference and smaller amount of RAM, combined with the smaller screen means that it just isn’t a product I’d want to buy.

Your mileage may vary, however.

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Related video: Apple unveils a new iPad Pro

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