Can iPad replace a desktop computer?

by Bradley Nice, Content Manager at ClickHelp.com — online documentation tool

When Apple introduced the new iPad Pro in September 2018, they insisted that they are not competing with other tablets, but with desktop computers. Well, the new iPads are very beautiful, incredibly powerful and (of course) expensive: the cheapest 11-inch model will cost you $329, while a 12,9" iPad with 1TB of internal memory, WiFi and Cellular will cost you $1,899.

I’ve studied it a lot, and also spent some time with the 12.9-inch model. Spoiler: iPad Pro cannot replace the PC. But it can complement it.


The corporation so diligently told us that the iPad Pro is more powerful than almost all modern laptops and that it is “like a computer, but not like any other computer,” that many journalists in their reviews tried to answer the same question: Can this new tablet replace a computer?

When the first reviews came out, all of them stated the obvious: no, it can not. iOS 12 limitations won’t yet let you sell your PC and switch to an iPad.

With that thought in mind, I will try and argue that the iPad is an excellent replacement for your second PC.

The second one?

Wait, what? What about the first one? The idea behind this is simple: a professional has a powerful stationary computer, like an iMac or any other PC. And a secondary, less powerful mobile laptop. Of course, some of you may argue that their first computer is a powerful laptop that easily handles all modern tasks. But laptops are limited in screen size. And if you are, for example, a designer, even 19" is not enough to do the work.

When you are away from the workplace, or on the road, it is the second computer (that is often an old (or not so much) laptop) that comes to the rescue. From it, you can reply to the mail, edit an article, or quickly edit a picture.

So I am not trying to view the iPad as a station for solving “big” tasks, but as a thing you can rely on it when you have to get up from behind the desktop.

Ain’t it too much a second computer?

The 12.9–inch iPad Pro tested by me costs around $1200 (without the keyboard). I’d say this is pretty expensive for an iPad that will be a secondary computer.

But if you’re looking for something ultra-mobile and pretty convenient to use, the price tag starts to look less scary.

What can you do with the iPad?

When you only start working with the iPad, you ask yourself, whether there is an application for a particular task or not. If not, then, most likely, nothing will work — browser-based solutions are off-limits, because, despite being pretty large in screen size, browsers in iOS are still just “mobile” browsers. Websites are opened in mobile view by default, and some buttons on some pages may not even work. Despite the browser you have installed, they are ideal only for content consumption, not creation.

But the good news is, for most of the tasks the applications are there. Besides obvious players like social networks and instant messengers, you can find things like vector graphics editors, code editors, SSH clients and many more.

The iPad Pro even has its own AutoCAD, and this year a full-fledged Photoshop will be released, but there is still no mobile version of Sketch, for example.

In terms of graphics, the iPad (with an Apple pencil) turned out to be an excellent tool for quick sketching. Instead of sketching on paper, photographing that with a phone and so on, you can do quick sketches on the go and send them to wherever or whoever you like in an instant.

But the Smart Keyboard Folio doesn’t feel that great. Typing something longer than a couple of paragraphs becomes pretty tedious. Formally, there’s nothing to complain about, and it’s much more convenient than the on-screen keyboard. But it’s not as good as any other “full-sized” keyboards.

Ain’t it for games and movies?

No, not exactly. A 12.9-inch model is too big and heavy to hold it up and play comfortably using the on-screen buttons. If you plan to watch a lot of videos and play games, perhaps, you’re better off with a smaller 11-inch iPad.


Have a nice day!

Bradley Nice, Content Manager at ClickHelp.com — best online documentation tool for SaaS vendors