9.7in iPad Pro sketching app
The new iPad pro has support for Apple's stylus, the PencilApple

With the 9.7in iPad Pro now finally an official member of the Apple family, proud owners of previous iPad iterations will start to ask themselves whether the changes and improvements are enough to warrant trading in their old model.

While it has been a slightly longer wait for a makeover for the regularly sized iPad range, after the monster iPad Pro landed last year in lieu the iPad Air 3, the new 9.7in Pro model has a few tricks up its sleeve to tempt away even the proudest iPad Air 2 owners.

Thankfully, IBTimes UK have taken a long look at the changes to see if it is worth upgrading immediately, or sitting out this round of the seemingly infinite Apple launch cycle.

iPad Air 2 vs 9.7in iPad Pro: Specs and features

iPad air and iPad Pro specs
Table comparing the iPad Air 2 with the new 9.7in iPad ProIBTimes UK

As you can see, the new iPad Pro is an entirely different beast to the iPad Air 2. In fact, it is so different that Apple will sell the new model alongside the Air 2, drawing a clear line between its consumer and 'prosumer' iPad product lines.

9.7in iPad Pro specs
The 9.7in iPad Pro has almost all of the same features as its bigger brother, but in a more management packageApple

What is not listed in the table however, are the most noteworthy features of the new Pro which differentiate the tablet from its predecessor and set the newcomer up as a smaller, less unwieldy version of the iPad Pro, but with equal performance.

Support for the Apple Pencil should greatly appeal to potential business customers and budding designers eyeing up the prospect of drafting and sketching on-the-go with the bespoke stylus.

Taking further cues from its bigger brother, the smaller tablet borrows the Smart Connector and quad-speaker set-up from the iPad Pro. The Smart Connector adds compatibility for the new keyboard case, while the two extra speakers when compared to the iPad Air 2's stereo offering will present an enviable multimedia experience for Netflix-bingers.

iPad Air 2 vs 9.7in iPad Pro: Display

Although the new Pro has the same screen size and resolution - and therefore pixel density - its screen is set to be one of the most impressive Apple has ever made. The biggest new feature, and one which is unique to the smaller Pro, is called True Tone Display.

The 9.7in iPad Pro is sold alongside a keyboard dockScreenshot

By measuring the colour and 'temperature' of ambient light, the iPad automatically adjusts its display to match both. By doing this, Apple claims the iPad Pro 9.7in will be more comfortable on the user's eyes. The feature works in partnership with Night Shift, a new feature of iOS 9.3 which works to reduce the amount of blue light produced at night time.

Apple claims the new iPad's display is 40% less reflective than the Air 2, as well as being 20% brighter and having 25% more colour saturation.

iPad Air 2 vs 9.7in iPad Pro: Design

It takes much more than a glance to notice the physical differences between the iPad Air 2 and new 9.7in iPad Pro. For a start, they weigh the same and are exactly the same thickness. They also have the same unibody aluminium body and glass front.

The only real aesthetic differences are the four speakers of the new model - compared to two in the Air - and the Smart Connector, used to attach the new Pro's keyboard dock. The new model is available in the same colours as the Air 2 - grey, silver and gold - as well as rose gold, a first for any iPad.

iPad Pro
The iPad Pro range now has a 9.7in screen and 12.9in screen. Both work with the Pencil stylusApple

iPad Air 2 vs 9.7in iPad Pro: Processor/Storage

The 16GB version of the iPad Air 2 (and all iPads before it for that matter) bordered on a total waste of money. Only the very lightest of users could ever avoid filling the paltry vanilla storage option, with most seemingly only buying the entry level offering on the pricing alone.

Thankfully, the new Pro starts with 32GB of storage, a decent amount for average consumers to get their teeth into. Meanwhile, power-users or the 'prosumer' market - those looking for business grade functionality from an affordable device – will be happy to hear the return of 128GB option like the full-size Pro and a new 256GB option.

Apple's iCloud and an abundance of other cloud storage options exist as practical alternatives to on-board storage in the current mobile device market, but limitations on file size, restrictive offline access and a general dislike of having to manage an entirely separate storage format will still put some people off the cheapest model.

iPad Air 2 vs 9.7in iPad Pro: Camera

Yes, people do like to use the camera on their iPads. As much as it looks a tad mad to hold up a tablet for a cheeky snap, the fact is if there is nothing else to hand it has always done a decent job of capturing important moments for your Camera Roll.

9.7in iPad Pro financial reports
The new iPad is exactly the same size and weight as the iPad Air 2Apple

As rumoured, the new iPad is the first to get a flash for its rear camera, and at 12-megapixel it is a solid upgrade on the 8MP sensor found on the larger iPad Pro and iPad Air 2. Ultra HD 4K video recording is possible - another first for any iPad - and so too is slow motion HD at 240 frames per second.

The front camera has also been upgraded, up from a feeble 1.2MP on the iPad Air 2, to a more respectable 5MP. This should make Skype and FaceTime calls much higher quality. Helping selfie-takers get enough light into their shot, the new iPad features Retina Flash, which turns the screen white to help illuminate photos taken with the front camera.

iPad Air 2 vs 9.7in iPad Pro: Price and release date

The new iPad Pro is priced from £499 for the Wi-Fi only 32GB model. Increasing storage to 128GB and 256GB takes the price up to £619 and £739 respectively. All three models cost a further £100 when a 4G SIM card slot is added, giving the most expensive 9.7in iPad a price of £839.

These prices put it comfortably above the Air 2, which now starts at £349 for the 16GB model and £429 for 64GB. As with the new iPad, a 4G connection adds £100.

Pre-orders will open on 24 March and the new iPad goes on sale on 31 March.

iPad pro 9.7in
The new Pro's smaller screen makes it easier to hold and type on without resting it on a deskApple

iPad Air 2 vs 9.7in iPad Pro: Final thoughts

There is a lot to like about the new iPad. The Apple Pencil support and Smart Connector support, increased speaker count and True Tone Display make the it a tantalising offering and we cannot wait to get our hands on one at IBTimes UK.

Whether or not the time is right for an upgrade will depend on how much sway the additional features have on your daily usage and overall lifestyle. For 'prosumers' left dismayed by the huge proportions of the iPad Pro, the 9.7in model has a similar specification in a more manageable frame.

Owners of the iPad Air or older models looking to trade-up will certainly see a huge boost in performance and quality also.

For iPad Air 2 owners the choice is much trickier, which is a testament to how well the tablet has held up since its release in October 2014. If you have got the money to spend and are not satisfied without having the most cutting-edge tech by your side, then you certainly will not be disappointed. For the budget conscious? You might be happier pocketing the cash and keeping that iPad Air 2 in pristine condition until the next upgrade cycle.