Can the iPad Pros replace your PCs?

Not so “Pro” until a major software overhaul

When the machine first came out in March 2016, Apple claimed that the powerful iPad Pro 9.7 is capable of replacing many PCs in the market back then. However, the iOS 10 that time, in my perspective, could not do it best to support this expensive Pro tablet to swiftly perform multitasking and other tasks that even a middle-range PC is capable of. Not until the release of iOS 11 last summer with brand new UI elements most notably the mac-like Dock, swiping upward for multitasking as well as “Drag and Drop” split view, users can truly experience a kind of “pro” iOS exclusively for the iPad. I was truly amazed by this drastic change thus decided to give it a shot.

Older brother, here I go

Since its debut, the iPad Pro 10.5 is greatly praised as an overkill in 2-in-1 sector thanks to its workhorse power, incredible hardware in a very compact form factor. Nonetheless, due to typical demand of a business student and freelance blogger, the smaller 9.7 is quite enough for me personally. Plus a big discount for an older device, I chose to go for this model. Additionally, I also grabbed the Smart Keyboard (no Apple Pencil because I barely do graphics-related tasks. Since then, I have been using the iPad Pro 9.7 as a daily driver: typing, note-taking, reading, consuming media or even making it as an extended display for my main computer.

Enjoyable experience

Superb screen in a compact form factor

Due to its small size & amazingly light weight, bringing the iPad Pro and the Smart Keyboard to work everyday far easier than a PC (and I rock a ThinkPad!). The iPad Pro’s screen is top-notch featuring high resolution & brightness, excellent color accuracy in a fully laminated Retina display. Reading, in particular, on this screen is immensely enjoyable thanks to True Tone technology which adjust screen temperature based on ambient light condition. Therefore, your eyes would be more comfortable when using the iPad for a long period of time.

Speaker & Camera

Regarding sound quality, all iPad Pros are famous for their excellence. Trust me, the quad-speaker in every iPad Pro is incredible, listening to music, watching Netflix or consuming media in general is awesome. Not only high volume but also decent bass significantly contribute to an impressive experience.

The camera in the iPad Pro 9.7 is basically what you found in the iPhone 6s with 12 megapixels featuring 4K video recording and live photos. However, I rarely took photos on this iPad. It is particularly useful when I need to scan documents, whiteboards or cards. With all those needs, this camera’s specs are just more-than-enough.

Smart Keyboard — a nice complement

The smart keyboard is well made for the iPad Pro. Typing is pretty good despite low key travel and small distances between keys. Besides, it is surprisingly fast to get used to typing in this small keyboard. I got familiar with it after only few hours of typing. The keyboard is effortlessly connected and powered by the iPad thanks to the Smart Connector alongside the machine. There are obviously trade-offs for the compact size of this combination. Apple’s keyboard is undoubtedly less functional but more expensive than competitors’s such as Logitech Create.

But it should have been better for a Pro line-up

A more functional keyboard

It would be much nicer if the Apple adds more shortcut keys to make its keyboard smarter. In particular, screen-brightness control, screen-locking, multitasking, Siri invoking or even an Esc key would be highly welcomed. In my opinion, the shortage of a function-keys row could be due to the limited size of the keyboard itself as it works as a cover when being folded (which also contributes to the compact form factor). Equally importantly, a back-lit keyboard supporting different viewing angels would be fantastic.

Moreover, iPad apps developers have not really leveraged the keyboard yet. YouTube app, for instance, works based entirely on gestures on iPad Pros, with or without the keyboard. Yet, it is totally a comfortable experience for an original touch-device. However, it should be more convenient to play/pause media by simply hitting space button rather than touch the screen twice, same as the way users exit full-screen mode with an Esc key.

More “Pro” apps

As the X-chips inside the iPad Pros are becoming more powerful than ever, I really hope that there will be also more professional apps to come. Coding, editing videos and pictures in a fully functional desktop environment would be my biggest expectation.

More professionally customized software experience

Though iOS 11 truly brought a new hype for iPad users, there is still a vast amount of features need to be enhanced. Drag and Drop works laggy sometimes and there are many apps still do not support this feature, Microsoft Office apps, for instance. Surprisingly, some apps even do not support split view at this time, around 4 months after the official launch of iOS 11. These shortfalls definitely need to be remedied for a more polished OS for professional usage.

In conclusion…

The iPad Pro 9.7 really impresses me by its powerful processor, superb screen in an extremely compact size. Using it in daily basis has been a great experience. However, the most controversial question is whether this “Pro” machine can replace your laptop. In my viewpoint, after around half a year, is yes, but only when you need to deal with some light tasks such as typing, note-taking or reading files and documents when travelling or going to school. Otherwise, there are still lots of efforts which Apple need to put in in order to make this iPad line truly pro. Otherwise, the Curpetino giant should probably redefine the term “Pro users”.

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