When Apple announced the new iPad Pro last month, it tried yet again to drive one point home: the iPad can replace your computer. The company even said that iPads are outselling laptops from all the top traditional computer makers.
Here’s the problem: I’ve never seen the iPad as much more than a machine that’s good for watching movies on airplanes and getting light work done here and there.
Does the new iPad Pro change that? No, it doesn’t.
I’ve been testing the iPad for the past several days, and while it’s a very nice tablet, it’s still not capable of replacing my regular laptop. In fact, most people should probably just buy a Mac, or Apple’s cheaper $329 regular iPad.
There’s a lot to like about the iPad Pro. (There are 11-inch and 12.9-inch models. I tested the former.)
Both models ditch the home button and use Face ID. That means, like Apple’s newest iPhones, it’ll unlock in a split second right when you look at it. The home button is gone and there’s more screen in its place. I love how easy it is, and it meant I could just pick up the iPad and start doing things quicker.
Apple also switched to a USB-C port on the bottom of the iPad, instead of the Lightning port found on iPhones and other iPads. The switch to USB-C has its ups and downs. It means you can finally attach a monitor or a camera to offload pictures.
I tried this with a phone to see if I could move pictures off of an Android device, but it didn’t work. Maybe it works better with regular digital cameras. I liked that the iPad was also able to charge one of my Android phones, which uses USB-C, however. Sadly, it didn’t charge my iPhone, which still uses a Lightning cable. You need to buy a separate Lighting-to-USB-C cable from Apple if you want to charge your iPhone with the iPad Pro.
The new iPad Pro is also really fast. I never noticed it slow down at all, even when I was using complex AR apps, like one that let me zoom in and around a 3D version of the human skull, but you can do that with last year’s model, too. Eventually, Adobe will launch a full version of Photoshop, which should really take advantage of the extra power. It’s not available yet, however, so I couldn’t try it.
The battery life is still really solid. I’ve always been able to easily fly across the country and watch movies on my 10.5-inch iPad Pro without hitting the battery too hard. My iPad Pro lasted from Friday evening until Monday morning, and still had 39 percent charge remaining. I used it for writing, light gaming, watching some movies and chatting with friends.
If you want to really use the iPad as a laptop, however, you need to buy a keyboard. Apple sells one for $179, so I bought one for the review.
I’m impressed that I was able to type pretty efficiently on it. While the keys felt good for typing, the rest of the case felt and looked really cheap. That’s a bummer considering the price. I’d skip it altogether look for a third-party option from a company like Logitech.
Likewise, there’s a new Apple Pencil 2 stylus that attaches with magnets to the side of the iPad where it can charge. That’s much better than having to plug the pencil in to a Lightning port, which was Apple’s solution on previous iPad Pro models. The Pencil 2 performed awfully similar to the original Apple Pencil, but I liked that I could automatically switch between tools, like the eraser and a writing pen, by tapping the side of the Apple Pencil.