iPhone and iPad

Why The iPad Pro Isn’t Just A Bigger iPad

Mihir Patkar 15-09-2015

If you think the new iPad Pro is “just a bigger iPad”, you’re wrong. It’s a new way of iPad-ing.


Much like with any Apple announcement, people are split down the middle about the new iPad Pro. Everyone has an opinion, whether they intend to buy one or not — and so do I.

Ignoring the question of my authority, the debate shouldn’t be about whether people need a bigger iPad or not. It’s not even about innovation. The only thing you need to ask yourself is this: is the new iPad Pro useful?

The iPad Pro Wants to Make iPads Useful

Ask around and you will find several iPad owners who don’t know what to do with their iPad any more. It’s used once in a while, but mostly, it’s just lying neglected at home, like that inflatable sofa you bought off the TV shopping channel at 3am. MacWorld’s Simon Jary wrote the best piece I’ve read on this phenomenon, and found several echoes across the web.

That’s what the iPad Pro seeks to improve on. Its purpose is to make you use it beyond the usual “play a few games, surf the web for a few minutes, check my emails” scenario. The iPad Pro is the first productivity-focused iPad.

This is evident when you see that Apple has packed in some of the essential gear to use tablets productively Can You Use a Tablet as a Laptop? The Essential Apps and Gear Want to use your Android tablet as a laptop replacement? Here is your comprehensive guide to the necessary hardware and software. Read More . There’s the new Apple Pencil stylus and the Smart Keyboard cover.


The iPad has always been primarily a consumption device and not offered much in terms of creation. But the Smart Keyboard cover changes that by letting you turn it into a laptop anywhere on the go. Similarly, the Pencil, when combined with the right software, will enable everything from robust image editing to creating presentations.

Champion of the Surface, Microsoft is bringing major changes to Office for iPad Microsoft Launches Office For iPad & Office Mobile On Phones Now Free Office Mobile for Android sneaked into the headlines while the world was watching the arrival of Microsoft’s Office suite to iPad. So, let's give them each the space they deserve. Read More by actively supporting these accessories, making the iPad Pro a good option for the professional on-the-go.

The iPad Pro Wants You to Dump Basic MacBooks

In a way, the iPad Pro is taking on the MacBook. I’ve always said that the MacBook Air is a great value laptop Want A Great Value Laptop? Buy A MacBook Air Unlike many of Apple's other products, the MacBook Air is different. It's actually better value for money than any Windows laptop at that price. Read More , but the new iPad Pro seems to be challenging it for the crown of a value-friendly portable computing machine.

“If I was looking at replacing my MacBook in a few years time and had the option between an iPad Pro or another MacBook, I think I’d find it pretty tough to justify the extra money I’d need to stump up for Apple’s laptop. The same can be said for many who use the Air. And even some who use the Pro,” wrote Eliot Michaels in a blog post about the iPad Pro’s cannibalization of MacBooks.


Right now, the app ecosystem of the MacBook The Best Mac Apps to Install on Your MacBook or iMac Looking for the best apps for your MacBook or iMac? Here's our comprehensive list of the best apps for macOS. Read More and the general OS X environment is far better suited for power users. Even though the new iPad Pro’s larger screen can take advantage of split-screen multi-tasking in iOS 9 What's New in iOS 9? Want to know what features your iPhone will be getting with the release of iOS 9 in September? Curious as to whether your device will be compatible? You're in the right place. Read More , it isn’t true multi-tasking like you would get on OS X. And heavy-duty professional apps like Final Cut Pro and Scrivener are still missing.

However, app developers will flock to iOS as it gets more users, and more professionals. The example of Microsoft and Adobe making iPad apps is indicative of how even the most unlikely of software developers will warm to the platform once the userbase is there.

Maybe not now, but in a few years you could definitely look at the iPad Pro as an alternative to the MacBook Air or other Mac laptops.

Is It Innovative? No. But It’s Still Great

At this point, there is no arguing the fact that Apple has dropped the ball on being innovative when it comes to the iPad Pro. The Microsoft Surface Pro beat it to the punch.


“Apple has done a great job as a design company. But I wish they would do something as earth shattering as some of their earlier computers,” wrote Francine Hardaway. Some said Bill Gates predicted tablets better than Apple and Jobs. And then there’s that comic strip by Hijinks Ensue.

Why The iPad Pro Isn't Just A Bigger iPad ipadpencil

But here’s the thing: Not being the first doesn’t mean this isn’t a good product. We loved the Surface Pro Microsoft Surface Pro 2 Review and Giveaway Although the Surface Pro 2 might not be the latest and greatest, is it still a good device to get? Read More and so did most of the tech press, especially the latest Surface Pro 3. It’s a great form factor and it makes a lot of sense. So when you apply the same logic to the best tablet around Are Any Android Tablets as Good as the iPad? The latest web traffic statistics show that 78% of all web surfers using a tablet after the holiday season were on an iPad. Though its dominance is slowly dwindling, Apple’s device remains on the throne.... Read More , why wouldn’t it be a killer machine?

Leave the Windows vs. Apple hatred aside Your Apple/Android/Windows Hatred Is Irrelevant, Give It Up Getting upset because someone is buying something you're not interested in benefits no one – so why do we get mad anyway? Read More , and focus on the product itself. If the Surface Pro 3 makes sense as a great portable 2-in-1 device, so will the iPad Pro. While the Surface Pro is a desktop first and a tablet second, the iPad Pro is a tablet first and a desktop second. That’s the basic difference, but both devices will do all jobs you want of them.


Will You Buy the iPad Pro?


In my head, it’s pretty clear that the iPad Pro could become a viable 2-in-1 convertible-slash-hybrid device. Plus, given Apple’s control of the ecosystem of third-party developers and accessories, I would put good money on betting that it will be better than existing hybrids.

What about you? Will you buy the iPad Pro? Can it replace your laptop?

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Anonymous
    October 4, 2015 at 9:31 am

    The first time i might actually consider buying an Apple product.Wanted to get the surface pro3 but this is a good chance as any to own an Apple product.
    Who knows might even become a fanboy.(Lol)

    • Mihir Patkar
      October 5, 2015 at 8:21 am

      Haha one product isn't going to turn you into a fanboy, don't worry :D

  2. Anonymous
    September 26, 2015 at 4:58 am

    Gracias Likefun butnot gonna translate it to spanish cause most of the user are english speaking. PERO APPLE ES FACIL DE USAR PERO UNA MIERDA CARA!!

    Thanks likefunbutnot’s for the facts; hope I can organize it and place it on the top. The IPAD is a manufacturing dream no doubt but is not a productivity device; none are yet but Android is very close.

    iOS also doesn’t have tools for accessing data from local sources external to the device. Everything needs to come from the web or from a computer running iTunes, or it’s going to be locked up in a single application. USB? External storage? These things are unknown to iOS.

    Mihir Patkar is not bad to admit when someone is right specially when is facts like the file management not being as flexible as what you get on Android or Windows. iOS apps can’t talk to each other unless they’re specifically coded to do so. iOS also doesn’t allow user interaction with an underlying filesystem.

    James Bruce That was an unsupported @$$ response WHEN YOU SAY "They should open up the filesystem to allow anyone to put malware on there. That’s the one thing I’ve always felt was missing from my iPad" THE MALWARE come from apps that have control over the devices the appstore requirements are stricter than the playstore but the malwares are from the apps and the control they have on the device. ANY APP can be a malware if the developer wants it to be. UUUUHHHH I got an IPAD and is in a BUBBLE so I don't get VIRUSES!!! that's how you sound. Apple forces programmers to develop using its pet language (Objective C), to pay for access to its App store and to post any software they write through a computer running OSX. These are all significant barriers to entry in its ecosystem.

    Chinmay Sarupria your not wrong or APPLE is not wrong; an IPAD is a beauty and is the training wheels to get you rolling to the PRO's like productivity realms like Windows and Android. In a collaborative network environment the MAC or IPAD are just kids my friend. NO WRONG OR RIGHT just training wheels my friend; the BEST USER FRIENDLY DEVICE YOU CAN GET.

    Simplicity is perfectly acceptable for a device designed for media consumption. Simplicity is just fine for a DVD player or cable TV box, but it’s really lousy when someone is actually trying to do work.

    likefun butnot sad instead, I’m glad that THEY learned something!

  3. Rob Nightingale
    September 23, 2015 at 10:18 am

    I have an iPad 2 that I've barely turned on for almost two years, but the introduction of the Pencil could well see me wanting to upgrade for the first time... :)

    • Mihir Patkar
      October 5, 2015 at 8:22 am

      It looks great, doesn't it?

  4. Anonymous
    September 16, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    I can't help but feel that the iPad Pro is nothing more than a crippled, overpriced Surface RT. A mobile OS designed for consumption wanting to be productive - seriously ?

    At this moment I can buy a Windows tablet (with *full* Windows x86 support) for the price of the pen and a small coffee.

    But of course, because it has the Apple logo on it, it *must* be perfect and magical and it cannot fail.

    • Mihir Patkar
      September 16, 2015 at 2:10 pm

      I said "viable 2-in-1 convertible/hybrid device", so I'm not sure where you got "perfect and magical and it cannot fail". Or at least that's not how I define "viable".

  5. Anonymous
    September 16, 2015 at 12:40 am

    It's still just a slightly bigger ipad. They just added accessories that you can buy, which you could already buy from third parties. In the case of the pen the third party one is from a better brand (Wacom).

    • Anonymous
      September 16, 2015 at 5:10 am

      Have you used the Wacom pen on an iPad? It is not even REMOTELY close to as accurate as the new Apple Pencil, or Samsung's S Pen, or Wacom's Cintiq stylus. I say this as a Wacom fan who was very disappointed in the Wacom pen I bought for the iPad Air.

      This is a next level iteration of the tablet that artists have been waiting for for a long time.

    • Mihir Patkar
      September 16, 2015 at 6:53 am

      The accessories make a difference, is my point. Like David, I've used the Wacom pen and it's not that great, honestly. On the other hand, if you use Samsung's S Pen with software made by Samsung to take advantage of that S Pen, the experience is far better. One of the reasons I like recommending the Note series to professionals is because of the S Pen and how it's a different way of using a phone/tablet. That's what I see happening here.

  6. Anonymous
    September 15, 2015 at 11:27 pm

    iOS does not support enough local data interchange to be useful as a general purpose productivity device. This isn't a competitor for a Surface, it's a less useful and more expensive alternative to the Chromebook.

    • Mihir Patkar
      September 16, 2015 at 6:54 am

      What kind of local data interchange are we talking about here? Not trying to argue, you might have a valid point, but I honestly don't know the specific scenario you're talking about.

      • Anonymous
        September 16, 2015 at 2:15 pm

        iOS does not possess the capacity to fully share data between arbitrary applications. Users are forced to rely on third-party "glue" apps that they can only hope will talk to all the apps they need. iOS is almost entirely nonfunctional for any productivity purpose at all if you take away Dropbox or some similar multipurpose viewer app with a lot of third-party support.

        iOS also doesn't have tools for accessing data from local sources external to the device. Everything needs to come from the web or from a computer running iTunes, or it's going to be locked up in a single application. USB? External storage? These things are unknown to iOS.

        What you're left with, if your needs are driven by a focus on data rather than media consumption, is a tool that dictates practically all workflow through either completely web-based tools or that requires work pass through Dropbox. If your productivity needs aren't fit to those particular holes, an iOS-based device is the wrong choice for you. If those tools *do* fit your needs, you're just as well or perhaps better off with a ChromeOS or Windows RT device anyway, since those devices also have fully functional web browsers, full access to cloud storage and app to app communication but also allow for functional external ports and connectivity options.

        • James Bruce
          September 17, 2015 at 7:43 am

          iCloud Drive is now a thing – http://www.apple.com/icloud/icloud-drive/

          The camera connection kit - for accessing external SD cards etc - has been a thing for a while now.

          Of course, these tools are limited, but blanket statements like you've made are patently false.

          If you think a Surface RT or Chromebook device is a sufficient alternative to an iPad, I'm very happy for you that you have so many choices.

        • Mihir Patkar
          September 17, 2015 at 9:34 am

          I think likefunbutnot's base point--the inability to share data without using a third-party go-between like icloud drive or dropbox--is valid. It has become much easier than when iOS first came out, but file management is not as flexible as what you get on Android or Windows.

          The rest of the things, as much as I hate to say it, James is right.


        • Anonymous
          September 17, 2015 at 11:02 am

          @James Bruce,

          No, I'm entirely correct and here's why:

          iOS apps can't talk to each other unless they're specifically coded to do so. iOS also doesn't allow user interaction with an underlying filesystem, so if any two applications need to exchange data and can't directly share with one another, they need a third-party glue application to do that. In my experience with iOS, this is most often Dropbox, though I'll admit others exist. This is part of the fundamental design of iOS and it's all for want of filesystem access that Apple says users don't need.

          As for the camera connection kit, yes, it exists. It just becomes one more thing an ipad owner has to carry around to make their ipad kinda-sorta as well as an Android or Windows tablet. They very delicate (there's actually a broken one on my desk right now. The user shoved her tablet in her bag with it still attached and bent it) and crucially, they also only allow interaction with image and video files that Apple thinks might be camera formats. You still can't read or write arbitrary data with one. You're not copying PDFs of CAD drawings or presentations on or off of one of those things through it. Not much of a help, is it?

          Trying to use iOS for actual work really is the story of trying to deal with the fact that Apple doesn't allow filesystem access. It might be acceptable if all of your work can be done in a web browser or a word processor, but literally any other major tablet or laptop-shaped device is going to be offer better options for interacting with data on the device.

        • James Bruce
          September 17, 2015 at 11:09 am

          You're right, and Apple has it all wrong. They should open up the filesystem to allow anyone to put malware on there. That's the one thing I've always felt was missing from my iPad.

          Also, that must be exactly why so many iPad owners are giving up their devices in favour of windows and Android tablets, and why literally no one ever does the opposite.

        • Anonymous
          September 17, 2015 at 11:31 am

          @James Bruce,

          I know that I am right. I know that Apple is wrong. The story of dealing with iOS in a professional setting is the story of jumping through ridiculous hoops to deal with the limitations of Apple's security model. Those limitations that are merely aggravating for a device that is designed for media consumption but they are unbearable for device that is meant for productivity.

          I'll accept your apology for describing my previous statements as false any time you feel like making it.

        • Chinmay Sarupria
          September 22, 2015 at 11:05 am

          @likefunbutnot: Apple devices are made with simplicity in mind so that anyone and everyone can use it. The other things add unnecessary complexity.

          Find a person who has never used any devices, give him an Apple device and other OS device, he will choose Apple because he will like it simplicity.

          And simplicity also doesn't comes at the expense of productivity. Apple ecosystem is well known for quality apps which some people will say that are present on other platforms too. But they are not.

          Developers first choice is Apple.

          Still if you think that Apple is wrong then yes Apple is wrong. Apple is wrong to make a device that people like, Apple is wrong to make a device that app developers like, Apple is wrong to make a device that tries to help people in their daily lives.

        • Anonymous
          September 22, 2015 at 2:19 pm

          @Chinmay Sarupria,

          Simplicity is perfectly acceptable for a device designed for media consumption. Simplicity is just fine for a DVD player or cable TV box, but it's really lousy when someone is actually trying to do work.

          In computer terms, work often involves moving data from one source to another. This can often involve stringing data from one tool to another, something that iOS is fundamentally designed to discourage if not actively prevent. It's all too common to find supposedly well-designed iOS software that cannot communicate with other supposedly well-designed software, leaving users in a state where they have no choice but to use a third party tool or cheat by exporting data off the device for data interchange that their beloved Fruit hardware cannot handle on its own.

          Speaking to what developers might or might not prefer: Apple forces programmers to develop using its pet language (Objective C), to pay for access to its App store and to post any software they write through a computer running OSX. These are all significant barriers to entry in its ecosystem.

          And I am glad that we finally agree that Apple is wrong. Good. I'm glad that you've finally learned something.

  7. Dave Parrack
    September 15, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    Yes. But. The iPad Pro IS just a bigger iPad.

    • Anonymous
      September 15, 2015 at 11:32 pm

      That's, ultimately, what will kill it for professionals. The iPad Pro may have been inspired by the Surface but what they built was the Surface RT. Its true competition is the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro Android tablet.

      Just tacking 'Pro' onto a name doesn't make it so. If I want to run applications instead of apps, Windows or OSX is required. If I want a tablet trying to be a laptop, the same applies. And since the latter description applies to me I am writing this on my Dell Venue Windows tablet.

      • Anonymous
        September 16, 2015 at 5:12 am

        I have the Samsung Note Pro 12.2 and love it. Sadly, the app store is VERY underwhelming in comparison to Apple. I've downloaded nearly every art app on the Note 12.2 and have yet to find anything even close to the level of iPad's art apps.

        My guess is that the devs just aren't there for the Note 12.2 because it's a much smaller audience than the iPad's.

        • Mihir Patkar
          September 16, 2015 at 6:56 am

          Perfectly put, David. Really, the Note Pro example is just spot-on.

      • Mihir Patkar
        September 16, 2015 at 6:57 am

        We'll let time decide whether that kills it or not. My vote is no, yours is yes, let's leave it at that and check back here in a year or so. :)

    • Mihir Patkar
      September 16, 2015 at 6:55 am

      When the iPad first launched, everyone just said, "It's a slightly bigger iPod Touch." Which it is. But the difference lies in how you use it. Size isn't everything. #SUBTLEINNUENDO

  8. Anonymous
    September 15, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    "This is evident when you see that Apple has packed in some of the essential gear to use tablets productively. There’s the new Apple Pencil stylus and the Smart Keyboard cover."
    Um, neither of these is "packed in" - yes, they were released at the same time, but neither one is included with the device.

    • Dave Parrack
      September 15, 2015 at 9:14 pm

      That's a very good point, actually. Only Apple would even try to get away with selling a keyboard and stylus as extras when they're pretty much essential to get any use out of the device.

      • Mihir Patkar
        September 16, 2015 at 7:00 am

        Dave, Microsoft sells the Type Cover keyboard as extra for the Surface Pro, when it's pretty much essential to get any use out of the device.

        In fact, Windows is far less useful without a keyboard than iOS is. You can use an iPad very well without the keyboard or a stylus. iOS is great for finger-based usage, Windows really isn't (as much as MS would want us to believe otherwise).

        • Anonymous
          September 16, 2015 at 2:36 pm


          The Surface Pro can be connected to a standard USB or a bluetooth keyboard. I don't bother to carry the stylus because I never use it, but Windows 8.x or Windows 10 in tablet mode is fully usable.

          Microsoft's on-screen keyboard might leave some things to be desired, but while it doesn't support swipe-style typing and can't be replaced with a third-party option, it does offer handwriting recognition for input. There's probably an edge case for decade-old Windows software with UI components too small to touch on a tablet-size screen, but there's also the absolute iOS standard of completely unlabeled icons that force users to guess where an app developer has hidden functionality.

          This is not an area where either party can really throw stones.

        • Mihir Patkar
          September 17, 2015 at 9:43 am

          Heh sorry man, I honestly can't do the "Windows vs iOS as touchscreen operating systems" argument any more. I had it in me till I used Win 10 on a touchscreen. Now, I really don't want to bother with that argument. For me, it's the equivalent of arguing Windows Phone vs Android / iOS.

          Not trying to dissuade you from making one, mind you, hopefully some other commenter will step in and engage with you. It's just that I personally can't do this argument any more. My apologies.

    • Mihir Patkar
      September 16, 2015 at 6:57 am

      You're right, Howard, "packed in" was the wrong phrase to use there, my bad.

  9. Anonymous
    September 15, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    I don't see why the iPad Pro should come into existence, especially when it's still just using iOS and not a Machintosh. Apple blew their chance imo. I mean what productivity can you get from this that could beat a full size laptop (in example, the MacBook). It could do way more, shortcuts keys, full file browsers and such. But... iOS... You really have to really love *cough*fanboying*cough* on the iOS to overlook that simple fact. Sure Microsoft is giving support on this thing but really, without mouse support, your so called productivity is just not productive, so to speak.

    Like you say, it's a tablet first, desktop second, but it will always be just a tablet(due to it using iOS). The apps will be limited in their use and so is your work on it. In the end, it will be nothing more than an oversized, beefed up iPad. Sure both devices will do the jobs that I want them to do, but none of what the Surface can do, the iPad Pro can(or at least to some flexibility).

    And I'm really trying to think really hard on what the iPad Pro has the upper hand on, well, pretty much anything, really. Do enlighten me.

    • Mihir Patkar
      September 16, 2015 at 7:06 am

      I agree with you about your base point: that an iPad Pro with a more OSX-like operating system would have been better. I would have preferred it that way too.

      "Like you say, it’s a tablet first, desktop second, but it will always be just a tablet(due to it using iOS). The apps will be limited in their use and so is your work on it." -- I half-agree with you there. I was on your side of the fence till a couple of years ago, but seeing recent iPad apps has changed my mind. Office for iPad, for instance, is a powerful, robust office suite. It's getting better with each major iteration. I see it being as good as the desktop Office Suite for 75% of users in another few years.

      It's not an "upper hand", as you put it, and I really don't have anything to enlighten you here. My view is simply that the more I use portable computers, the more I feel that 2-in-1s are a great form factor; that a 2-in-1 should be about the tablet first and the desktop second, but both should function well; and that iOS is a better tablet-first-desktop-second operating system than others. Like I said, it's a new way of iPad-ing, it's not a revolutionary innovative step that's going to change the world.

      • Anonymous
        September 16, 2015 at 3:02 pm

        The thing is though, even with a powerful app, say, Office, you're still limited to what you can do physically(read : hardware and maybe software wise). Can the iOS handle mouse input? I'm not sure about that. And without that, the things you can do in Office is very limited. You can forego the mouse in exchange by using the new Pencil, but it'll take work harder. For example, trying to highlight some texts would require you to use the Pencil(or finger) and then get back to the keyboard.

        Oh and of course the closed sandboxed nature of the iOS makes opening files in another app harder imo.

        • Mihir Patkar
          September 17, 2015 at 9:39 am

          I'm sorry, but you're thinking of Office from the desktop sense and not Office for iOS. It's an entirely different app designed specifically for use on touchscreen devices. Your point of using a mouse doesn't make sense to me at all, unfortunately. "Pencil is harder than mouse" also doesn't make sense to me, considering we haven't yet seen how Pencil with Office works. I fear you are shutting yourself off from possibilities of a new way of using devices.

  10. Anonymous
    September 15, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    The IPAD pro in my opinion is more likely to compete against Microsoft Surface.

    • Mihir Patkar
      September 16, 2015 at 11:40 am

      Yup, agreed Nicky.

    • Anonymous
      September 16, 2015 at 2:37 pm

      @Nicky K. D Chaleunphone,

      I agree, but only if the Surface in question is one of the Windows RT versions.