Can the iPad Pro really replace your laptop?

My thoughts after one week w/ the 10.5 inch with Smart Keyboard

For me personally, it’s a fantastic companion device, but no replacement.

I wanted to see if the iPad Pro could handle 100% of the things I do on a day-to-day basis. With iOS11, it’s 80% of the way there, but I found myself grabbing my MacBook Pro 2–3 times a day to complete tasks.


Device — iPad Pro 10.5 inch 64GB WIFI with Smart Keyboard (Apple Pencil not used)
OS — iOS11 beta

Job: Head of Marketing at Opun

Day-to-day use: Chrome, Slack, Dropbox, Excel, Word, Google Suite, Outlook, Photoshop, Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn, CRM/Comms, HTML

The Good:

Performance — There’s no question, this is a fast device. During the week there was no stuttering with simple tasks or heavy multitasking, even on Beta software. It didn’t miss a beat. That’s no surprise really given it can give some MacBook Pro’s a run for their money.

Design — Reducing the size of the bezels for this version was a smart move. The overall unit size is only slightly bigger than the 9.7 inch iPad Pro, but you get 20% more screen. It actually makes a big difference and I found reading articles, documents and emails in portrait mode a joy. I got used to the Smart Keyboard after only 30mins. It feels great to type on and once you start to learn the shortcuts (cmd + space for search / cmd + H for home etc.) that can save you time. The lack of volume and brightness keys is a bit of an oversight in my view but this accessory starts to differentiate it against the cheaper iPad line-up.

Portability — I hardly noticed it in my bag running around Schiphol airport and going to and from meetings. This was a big tick in the box for me, but a slightly heavier MacBook Pro isn’t too much of an inconvenience.

Multi-tasking — Now MacBooks can have apps running side by side of course, but the multitasking functionality of the iPad is second to none. I did miss the 13.3 inch screen size of the MacBook Pro as apps did feel a bit cramped at times, for this sized model anyway.

Chrome + Slack in multitasking | somewhat cramped

The Bad:

App Store restrictions— It’s easy to get sucked into Apple’s marketing (I do every-time!). With iOS you are restricted by what’s on the App Store. Excel and Google Sheets are free to download but adding data, updating charts and sharing them across the business was a nightmare. This is where I had to reach for my laptop because it was taking me 4x as long to do the simple tasks I do everyday. The interface and functionality of apps will improve over time, but for me, even simple data analysis on the iPad Pro was frustrating and not worth the effort.

UI — Touchscreens may be great for artists or designers using the Apple Pencil, but dropping and dragging of images and links in iOS11 just takes longer. It’s fiddly. Using a mouse is much faster and more efficient for day-to-day work tasks.

The Dock is good, but using a mouse is more efficient for long-term use

Price — The iPad Pro’s are not cheap, in any variation. Add on a couple of hundred pounds/dollars/euros and you’ll get a MacBook Pro with a bigger screen, full OS, backlit keyboard, trackpad and multiple ports. Depending on how you work and what programs you need, it’s likely to be money well spent.

Device only prices!

Verdict:

iOS12 needs a complete tablet overhaul if the iPad Pro line-up is going to fully replace your laptop. iOS11 is a step in the right direction — but that’s not good enough if you’re spending close to £1k when you add in the accessories, which are arguably all needed.

“To me, it falls short as a true laptop replacement. The performance is blinding, but I feel it’s 2–3 years off being the only device I’ll need for work and play.”

The MacBook Pro does 100% of what I need, so I’ll be sticking with it. For now…