Apple’s iPad Pro made its debut in 2015, and from day one, Apple marketed it as a computer/laptop replacement. This was a claim I mocked at the time, but eight years later, Apple has finally proved me wrong.
I spent the past eight days using the 12.9-inch iPad Pro as my work machine, writing articles like this one, taking notes during conference calls, snapping and editing photos in Adobe Lightroom, and producing videos for my YouTube channel, and things went very smoothly. All the previous things that held the iPad back from being a real work machine, like lack of a file system, lack of multitasking, lack of external display support, lack of a pro-level video editing app, have all been fixed.
Of course, I could have gotten all of my tasks done slightly faster on a MacBook Pro, but the iPad Pro is more versatile—if I want to take a break from work and scroll through Instagram or play some mobile games, the iPad is much better than the Mac—and slightly more portable (the iPad Pro’s official keyboard case does make the package close to laptop weight).
And ultimately, the iPad Pro is just a lot more fun to use. Animations are livelier and more whimsical, and being able to use my finger or the Apple Pencil stylus to poke at things and drag files around feels more intuitive and natural than dragging a mouse.
I know older working professional types who look at a lot of excel sheets may still scoff at the idea of an iPad as a work machine, but I think for the younger generation—the so-called Gen Z—the iPad Pro is enough. It is their idea of a do-it-all computer. Even for me, much closer to middle age than Gen Z, I think the iPad Pro is capable enough that I can leave the laptop at home the next time I go on a short work trip (like a two-day tech conference).
My iPad setup
I did my experiment with the most current iPad, the late 2022 model running on Apple’s M2 silicon. I used the larger 12.9-inch model, paired with Apple’s official Magic Keyboard.
The first thing I want to say is the Magic Keyboard may be expensive, but it is an excellent performer. I actually prefer typing on this keyboard than many standalone keyboards I have used over the years. And Apple’s software optimization for the trackpad is so precise that the Magic Keyboard’s relatively tiny trackpad allows me to get around the homescreen perfectly fine. Again, I prefer using this trackpad more than the trackpad of many Windows laptops.
Real multitasking on the iPad allows me to use it as a writing machine
iPadOS has also become quite good at multitasking in recent years. I can open two apps at once in split-screen mode, or I can activate “Stage Manager” to open more apps in smaller resizable windows. The iPad Pro’s 12.9-inch screen is still a bit cramped, the iPad Pro also now supports external displays, so I can plug the iPad into another screen, or a pair of AR glasses, and I can get a second homescreen for the iPad software, on which I can sprawl more apps.
With the excellent keyboard and trackpad along with robust multitasking system, I can now write articles for this website, as well as others, perfectly fine. Apple’s Safari is quite good at handling various CMS (content management system) tasks.
The improved file management system with iCloud support
The iPad adopted a self-controlled file management system about three or four years ago, and while it was quite limited at first, it’s become much better now, allowing me to download files directly to the iPad and able to find the file. I can drag that file directly into many apps, including Gmail, and the image uploader of this site’s CMS.
I also love that I can connect my entire Mac homescreen to iCloud drive, meaning any files sitting on my Mac homescreen, I can access on the iPad or iPhone via the Files app. I’ve heard Microsoft and Android fans argue their version of the cloud software can do the same thing. But allow me to explain: with Google Drive, I have to manually upload files to it, before I can access those files on other devices. On Apple’s iCloud drive, I don’t have to manually upload files. I just place a file on the Mac homescreen (which is how most of us store frequently used files on the computer naturally) and I can access those files later on another Apple device. This has come in handy many times when a colleague would ask me for a document that had been sitting on my Mac, but I was out of town without my computer. I could grab the file from my iPhone or iPad.
Video editing on the M2 iPad Pro
Writing is just half of my work now, as I also make videos. For years, I used Final Cut Pro on the MacBook, and so when Apple launched an iPad version of Final Cut Pro a few months ago, I was ecstatic.
It is here that I feel the need to mention that I am an Android smartphone user mostly, because I know loyal Apple users have a reputation for having tunnel vision, waxing poetic about Apple services without having tried other alternatives. I often try other alternatives, and for computing, I really do prefer Apple’s software.
Final Cut Pro is Apple’s native software and it is so well optimized for the M2, Apple’s silicon. I can put several layers of 4K videos on the timeline, scrub through them without any lag at all. This is unheard of on a thin portable tablet. If I try to do this with an Android tablet, there will be occasional stutters, or at least a few seconds of loading time before I can begin moving the timeline. With Final Cut Pro on the M2 iPad Pro, everything was instant. Even rendering and exporting the video, the process was unbelievably fast for a mobile tablet. The YouTube video I embedded earlier in the article was actually almost entirely made on the iPad Pro.
The iPad Pro’s solid camera system allows creatives to shoot on the iPad and then directly edit the footage on the same device. For example, this Instagram Reel below was shot by a videographer on the iPad Pro, and edited via Final Cut. A portable machine this capable opens up a world of possibilities for creative professionals.
Signing documents and sketching with Apple Pencil
Another thing I often have to do is sign documents—NDAs for upcoming products, freelancer contracts—and having a computer device with a touchscreen and stylus support makes the process a lot faster than on a traditional computer. On a laptop, I have to jump through hoops to get a digital signature on a document, including signing on a piece of paper and then scanning that piece of paper using the computer’s poor webcam.
With the iPad Pro, I just sign it on screen. The Apple Pencil has also reignited my childhood hobby of drawing. I grew up reading American comics and manga, and dreamed of being a comic artist. I never got there. But at least the iPad Pro has inspired me to pick up the hobby.
A lot of what I said can be done on Android tablets, like the just-released Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra. But the iPad Pro is a bit more polished, with a superior app ecosystem (app developers are enticed to prioritize iPhone/iPad apps over Android apps due to Apple users having more money to spend), and the M2 chip is noticeably more powerful than Qualcomm’s best chip running in the best Android tablets.
Again, I am an Android smartphone user, I would love to have a Samsung or Xiaomi tablet that can be just as good or better than the iPad Pro. But they’re not. Not for my usage.
The iPad Pro with M2 is basically more powerful and capable than most Windows laptops on the market right now, and arguably many MacBooks, too. You’d have to go with a more spec’d out Windows or Apple laptop to have more power. But even then, the iPad Pro is more fun.
Well, it's not the only thing. If we're being technical, which we love being at Laptop Mag, the iPad Pro can become a true laptop replacement with any operating system that works with applications in a desktop format.How long does the iPad Pro M2 last? ›
I bought an iPad Pro to take notes on the university but after making some tests I am having 6 hoursih or so of streaming playback time in HD ( not even 4K) .... full brightness and that falls short for the 10 hours advertised.Does the iPad Pro replace a computer? ›
So, is the iPad Pro a laptop replacement? The iPad Pro is a great device, particularly the new iPad Pro 2022. It can work as a laptop. But it cannot work as your only productivity machine.What is the benefit of M2 chip in iPad Pro? ›
Apple says that the M2 chip takes the performance per watt of the M1 even further with an 18 percent faster CPU, a 35 percent more powerful GPU, and a 40 percent faster Neural Engine.What is the downside of using iPad as laptop? ›
Con: Computing power
Intensive apps like Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, Audacity, Python, and other specialized software are best fully utilized on a powerful machine like a laptop. The iPad also doesn't have fans like a laptop, so when you're multitasking, the device will heat up.
Apple's iPad Pro M2 (2022) and MacBook Air M2 (2022) share some of the same specifications: Apple's impressive M2 chip, up to 16GB of RAM, and 2TB of storage space, so you'll get roughly the same performance out of both devices.Is M2 overkill for iPad? ›
The new iPad Pro is so powerful that it feels like an overkill, even for professionals who like to nitpick over the slightest latency. So, unless you are thinking of running a media empire, the M2 iPad Pro can easily be your daily driver or the go-to computer for a weekend getaway.Is iPad M2 worth buying? ›
Verdict. The iPad Pro M2 is an excellent device with many advanced features, making it a great choice for users looking to buy a new device. However, compared to previous models, the M2 is not significantly more impressive, which may disappoint some users.How powerful is M2 chip on iPad? ›
Breakthrough Performance from the M2 Chip
M2 features an 8-core CPU — up to 15 percent faster than M1 — with advancements in both performance and efficiency cores, and a 10-core GPU, delivering up to 35 percent faster graphics performance for the most demanding users.
Run Proprietary or Desktop Software
The iPad can't run Windows or Mac software, which means no access to software that requires Windows or macOS, which includes many of the most popular games. Beyond gaming, many people bring their work home with them, and work often involves proprietary software.
Not all iPad models are equally suitable to be used as a laptop. The iPad Mini, for example, is too small to be able to work on properly and doesn't have an original Smart Keyboard. With the Apple iPad (2022/2020), you get a basic iPad and you can perform simple tasks such as text editing and browsing the internet.Is it worth using iPad as computer? ›
Larger display. Laptops offer wider displays that are larger by 2-4 inches in many cases. Laptops more comfortable to use than a Tablet or iPad, especially if you use your device for many hours every day. The only scenario where an iPad would be more ideal is if you value mobility over stationary work.Is M2 Pro chip worth it? ›
The new M2 Pro chip offers decent performance gains on the already very fast M1 Pro chips, with up to 14% improvement in CPU speed and up to 22% faster graphics in tests. That puts it alongside some of the best Intel and AMD laptop chips, but at considerably lower power consumption.Is it worth paying for M2 chip? ›
Performance. At launch, Apple claimed the M2 chip is 18% faster when it comes to CPU speed and that the M2 chip's GPU is 35% faster than the M1 GPU. In our CPU testing, we saw just over a 10% increase in performance. The raw numbers are all well and good but it's all about how it feels for the end user.Is iPad Pro M1 or M2 better? ›
The M2 is a powerful chip, with eight CPU cores divided into four performance cores and four efficiency cores. In our testing, the M2 is roughly 15 percent faster than the M1. The M2 chip in the iPad Pro also has 10 GPU cores, an increase over the 8 GPU cores in the M1.Can iPad Pro replace a laptop 2023? ›
In conclusion, the iPad Pro 12.9-inch is the best overall choice for replacing a MacBook in 2023, while the iPad Air 5 is an excellent budget-friendly alternative. For users seeking maximum performance, the iPad Pro 12.9-inch with the M2 chip and maximum storage capacity is the top pick.Can a laptop be replaced with an iPad? ›
The iPad is becoming a more capable computer replacement with each passing update. While going iPad-only isn't for everyone, it is at least possible for many workflows. Using some of the tips listed above and some patience for learning how to use iPadOS software, a user can easily move their work to an iPad.Is there a big difference between M1 and M2 chip iPad Pro? ›
18 release, the M2-powered iPad Pro is 15% faster than last year's M1 iPad Pro. The new processor also provides a 50% boost for memory bandwidth, something you'll surely need for multitasking with a large number of apps.