10 reasons why the iPad Pro might be a better computer than your Mac

By , Nov 23, 2015

Working from iPad Pro

In my review of the iPad Pro, I made sure to establish that it wasn’t necessarily a replacement for your Mac. At the same time, that doesn’t mean that it can’t replace your Mac, or that it doesn’t do some things better than a Mac can.

To be honest, the iPad Pro does quite a few things better than my MacBook Pro with Retina display. In this post, I’ll consider 10 reasons why the iPad Pro might be the better computer of the two for your workflow.

No fans

If you do any sort of intensive work on your Mac, then you’re likely intimately familiar with the fan noise that emanates from its aluminum housing. Fan noise is such a problem for me on my MacBook Pro with Retina display, that it slows down my entire workflow as I wait for the machine to cool off between takes.

The iPad Pro, like every iPad before it, uses passive cooling to keep the internals at a safe temperature. Apple already sees the value of this, as evident by the passive cooling solution in its 12″ MacBook, but it may be a while before we see such a strategy in the more beefier pro machines.

Battery life

The iPad Pro gets great battery life, and it’s super-easy to charge. Unlike most Macs, which require a physical connection to a wall outlet, you can easily charge an iPad Pro with one of the many third-party battery packs on the market.

Again, Apple is beginning to change this starting with its experimental 12″ MacBook. Like the iPad, you can use battery packs to recharge with ease via its USB Type-C port.

Cellular connectivity

This is something that no Mac has, which is kind of sad when you think about it. Cellular connectivity means that you’re always connected to the Internet, no matter where you go. Of course, you can always use your phone to tether to your non-cellular iPad or Mac, but nothing is as seamless as the built-in cellular connectivity on an iPad.

Power

Obviously, some of the more power-packed Macs run circles around the A9X processor in the iPad Pro, but the A9X is no slouch. In fact, when it comes to processing power, it bests some of the 2–3 year old MacBook Pro’s, and easily tops the 12“ MacBook released just this year. With the iPad Pro, the line is beginning to come into its own and truly live up to Apple’s ”desktop class” architecture claims.

One sterling example of the power contained in the iPad Pro is seen when editing and exporting 4K video. The iPad Pro can handle three simultaneous 4K streams in iMovie, and can usually export a 4K video in approximately the same amount of time that it takes for me to export 4K video on my 2013 MacBook Pro with Retina display.

It’s light and portable

Even though the iPad Pro is large and somewhat heavy when placed next to other models in the lineup, it’s still svelte and sleek when compared to most MacBooks. The iPad Pro is easily portable, which makes continuing your work in another location an effortless endeavor. Outside of the underpowered 12″ MacBook, you’d be hard pressed to find a more portable workhorse in Apple’s lineup than the iPad Pro.

A perfect iPhone companion

It’s something that can’t be overlooked—the iPad is a much better syncing partner with an iPhone than a Mac is. Tons of iPad apps are universal apps that work seamlessly with the iPhone, and sync using iCloud or DropBox. Don’t get me wrong, this is possible with quite a few Mac apps as well, but I don’t feel like you’re afforded the same measure of seamlessness that you get with two devices running the same OS.

For example, I started writing this post in Drafts on my iPhone, and easily picked right up where I left off on iPad, and vice versa. The syncing is so good that it’s almost transparent, and the control schemes and methodologies are all the same since it’s the same app running on the same OS on both devices.

No waiting

With the iPad Pro, there is simply no waiting. When you launch an app, it launches instantly. Under normal circumstances, there’s no need to close apps, and the iPad is always on and ready to go on a whim. It’s the perfect machine for sporadic workflows.

It’s a gaming console

The iPad can transform from a productivity machine into a gaming console in mere seconds. Just pair your favorite Bluetooth controller, and select from a wide variety of games. In fact, the iPad’s gaming catalog far outsizes the Mac’s gaming catalog, so it’s safe to say that you’ll find something that everyone can enjoy.

It does movies and television, too

I’m stating the obvious here, but I don’t think there’s anyone who will deny that the iPad Pro is a better media consumption device than the Mac. There’s Netflix streaming, iTunes movies and television, live streaming television via services like Sling TV, and so much more. There’s a virtual endless amount of entertainment options to be consumed on the iPad Pro, and you can do it all from the comforts of your couch, bed, car, or wherever else you happen to be.

Pencil

Despite how hard it is to get your hands on an Apple Pencil, it is, without a doubt, the flagship feature for the iPad Pro. I’ve only had about 30 minutes of total hands-on time with the Apple Pencil (mine is scheduled to arrive tomorrow), but even from that brief experience, I can vouch for its legitimacy. If you’re a digital artist, then the Pencil should automatically raise the iPad Pro a few notches in your eyes. It’s a method of hardware input that a standalone Mac just can’t compete with.

Not all the way there…yet.

The iPad Pro is the most competent iPad yet. It has the power and performance to do work much more efficiently than any previous model, and most importantly, it has iOS 9, which greatly increases potential productivity.

But the iPad is not an outright Mac replacement for everyone. The Mac can still do quite a few things easier than an iPad can do at this time. The divide is certainly getting smaller, but there remain areas where the iPad can stand to make improvements.

In a follow-up post, I’ll share with you my iPad Pro 2 + iOS 10 wish list, which includes some of the missing features that could improve the device and make it even more competent as a primary computer.

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  • Kurt

    If iDownloadblog wants to buy me one for Christmas so I can experience the joy of the iPad pro, I wouldn’t be opposed :p.

    • QP

      Hey Hey, one for me too pls! 🙂

  • rockdude094

    iPad pro haters incoming

  • AlphaPoppy

    Thinking of returning my MacBook Pro for the iPad Pro just because of Jeff Benjamin..thanks Jeff!

    • Airprint in the house?

    • George

      Biggest mistake of your life.

      • Jonah

        Some people actually can accomplish everything they need to be done with iOS so why call it a mistake when the iPad Pro could be very suiting to their needs?

      • George

        Because someone that bought a macbook pro cannot accomplish everything on an iPad just because the screen is 3 inches bigger than an iPad air.

      • ProllyWild

        No machine will ever allow you to do everything. Some people benefit from having the tablet form and many times in the professional realm those people are in creative fields. I’ll admit that right now the pro mostly ignored programmers and engineers. Since I am not one, I cannot speak to how beneficial the tablet form would be over a laptop or pc.

  • Dave Finkelstein

    The only way an iPad pro can replace a mac is if they open up the os to run mac apps. Right now, most apps for work don’t run on ios. Pro tools for example will never open up to iPad completely so you need to run a regular computer to record with pro tools. Others include many design apps. Now if someone can hack the iPad pro to run OS X, then we would get somewhere.

    • ProllyWild

      I would agree, however I think in that sense one should never replace a strong desktop like a MacPro.l or PC. Perhaps a mobile version of pro tools that can handle some simple tasks might be fine (like cubasis) for quick off recording, but there’s no context that would make sense for heavy duty recording on a tablet or hybrid

      • Dave Finkelstein

        Having a tablet that ran pro tools would actually be very handy for mixing given that you could control your plugins and effects with touch. That is a huge advantage. Recording is only part of what pro tools does. 75% of music production does not involve recording.

      • Rowan09

        They should allow it because personally I don’t think the iPad Pro needs OSX just finder, terminal, etc and the ability to run certain apps like Xcode, etc.

      • ProllyWild

        Apps like TouchOSC have that control functionality. pro tools having an official control app would be nice and I hope that comes around since logic and cubase already have their own.

      • Brad Confer

        The Surface Pro runs pro tools

      • Dave Finkelstein

        It also runs windoze, no thanks.

    • Leguro

      Get over it. There is a touch OS and a mouses do keyboard OS. Will it change? Maybe. Not right now.

  • ProllyWild

    I’ve been using my iPad in place of my MacBook pretty much all year and I have to say that for most people it is a totally doable situation. If I could, I’d like to share some very helpful apps/accessories here to help close some gaps.

    1. Kingston MobileLite Router. It’s a light weight router for smartphones/tablets. You can hook it up to a lan line for local use or just use it to connect your iPad to the units internal SD card reader or USB reader. Read/write speeds may vary, but with this device and its companion app you can easily hook up regular external drives and access them on your iPad. (I use this with a 2TB SSD drive quite often.)

    2. Adam Elements iKlips Lightning/USB stick. 3.0 USB stick that attaches to your iPad via lightning port with its lightning end, and can be connected to a pc via the USB end. App is pretty stable and supports extensions to receive files from other apps. SanDisk has a similar product that has a better app, but is only USB 2.0 if I recall.

    Finally
    3. Documents 5 by Readdle. This app is like having Finder on your iPad to a degree. Supported in most apps via extensions. Supports drag and drop, multiple file formats, PDF editing and wifi-drive support.

    With those accessories it’s pretty much easy to replace a laptop and get all you need out of your device. You can use external drives. Share files via USB, and store all your necessary files in a good file manager app. For any of these things there are various competitors providing similar products so plenty of
    Choices out there.

    • Awesome roundup. I agree with your Documents 5 recommendation; great app.

      • ProllyWild

        I think for anyone worried about the 128GB limitations, being able to access Terabytes of space for movies and music and what-not is a major plus. I’ve even been able to access those files on the remote drive via documents. Depending on the drive the initial read can take some time, but once it’s connected, streaming media is a breeze.

      • My problem is speed, though. I doubt the throughput is good enough to quickly transfer GBs of data, no?

      • Leguro

        Depends on the router. With AC, yes, it’s fast enough to transfer gigabytes in seccons not minutes.

      • ProllyWild

        The mobilelite is mostly meant as a mobile option, but as mentioned by Leguro, if dealing with media at home, networking your drives on a fast router can close the gap. Since documents 5 only allows you to download the files and not view them, I’d say that FileBrowser by Stratospherix is a good general media browser that supports networked drives for steaming and downloading to your iPad.

    • Vince Reedy

      Thanks for that, I was debating the iPad pro vs a macbook air. You may have sold me.

  • Some reasons why a Mac is better:

    – Print on ANY Printer via USB/ LAN etc.
    – Managing any type of file without Cloud
    – Professional Software for everything (CAD, Accounting etc.)
    – Using a Mouse as Pointing device, because there are so manys things you can do better with it

    • Leguro

      With my jailbreak I have all of those. With Splashop you can use any Windows legacy app. With Moonlight I can run games on my iPad that your Mac cannot handle. I have a Windows PC on my iPad Air 2 with streaming. These days the lag is not there with AC routers and even 5 gigahertz witless N.

      • My intention is not on gaming, as it is suppose to be a PRO device. And running a remote Desktop is not a pro usage.

        And an last: There is no Jailbreak for the iPad pro wich comes with iOS 9.1,

      • Rowan09

        You do know there are many businesses, schools, doctors, restaurants, NBA, engineers, etc that uses the iPad and they are professionals.

      • George

        None of those people use an iPad exclusively. Especially schools, they all have either Chromebooks or macbooks.

      • Rowan09

        Neither do some people use a Surface Pro exclusively but the point I’m making is individuals shouldn’t decide what’s professional from what’s not. I get it people want a full OS but not every professional needs a full OS since a lot of professional computers are basically dumb machines anyways (don’t have access to everything).

      • George

        Then why is the iPad air not called iPad air 2 pro because screen size does not warrant the term pro.

      • ProllyWild

        In this case that screen space means everything to the other professional I know who have bought into it. It makes a better mixer tool for music studio professionals. It’s a better tablet for artists who want to draw in a more natural way. It’s better for presentations and for using as a display for certain businesses. It does not serve all pros because I think what was subtly left out of the title is that this device is for pro MEDIA. Not as a standalone away from a powerful desktop but likely sufficient for most people in media based fields. Enough for them to not need laptops.

      • Rowan09

        It’s not only the screen size we cannot dismiss the internals which is the main reason I believe it’s actually a Pro device. I wish they added finder, terminal, and some OSX apps and I would be fine. I don’t see a need for OSX touchscreen. I always thought the iPad should be a tweaked OS from the iPhone.

      • George

        Exactly that’s what I’m saying. I’m just annoyed with the fact that they think the iPad should share the same version of ios as an iPhone.

      • Rowan09

        Yeah. Apple is in a real sensitive space with products. I believe though they can still make tons off their cash cow IOS and just like they made TVOS, they should have iPad OS or something like that. The iPad especially the Pro is too much of a beast to limit it to the same iPhone OS. There’s only a few things needed like the ability to run OSX files, charge people separately and either let them side load it or make a specific App Store section for those apps on the Pro especially. Since the Mac sales are up and down I personally think this would be great for the iPad/Pro.

      • George

        Exactly if this thing ran Mac apps I would be praising apple but they still are behind the idea that they know what’s best for us.

  • Clement Yeo

    For the first time, i’m totally disagree with idownloadblog article.. to replace mac with shi-tty iPad Pro..what a joke.. seriously, its not as heavy as macbook but im sure u can do more on mac than ios.. i wouldnt mind that weight consider workability.

    • George

      With the case and keyboard it is actually heavier than the MacBook 12 in lmao.

    • besrate hogsa

      .what a joke..

  • Lance Faulkner

    The only thing that still makes a mac book more productive is the use of a mouse. When apple allows bluetooth pairing with the iPad then it will be a true work machine.

    • theemptyhead

      only the mouse!!! really???

      • Lance Faulkner

        The title of the post is 10 reason why a iPad pro might be better than your mac. I’m saying that with out the simple functionality of a mouse or track pad it will never replace a macbook.

    • George

      A mouse would be great but this thing has more problems than that. It needs to not be running the same ios version as an iPad mini.

  • theemptyhead

    comparing with 2 year old device and calling it a beast. meh!!!!

  • Alim

    As long as I can’t install whatever OS version I like best, plus the developer could charge me to update (that now takes us back to picking the OS Ver), and now let’s talk about the app’s developer or Applle could one day be taken an app off the App Store that I payed $50 for. Wile we are at it lets talk about getting documents out of apps like Cubase, exc. being to time consuming. iOS is a super fun and powerful toy, but that’s all it will ever be if I don’t have control of my own device.

    • Leguro

      Try jailbreaking and grow some balls. It’s really not hard. Just download an app and run it.

  • Satyam Panchal

    What the heck is going on here .

  • khmi

    Common Jeff, I would like to see you put your MacBook away for a month and only use the iPad pro. Doubt you could even last a week. Without OS X and a file system it’s just another iPad. As fast as the iPad pro is, the OS is a total hindrance.

    • George

      I find it funny how all these apple people are forcing themselves to do something that makes their lives harder. Jeff will end up selling it after a couple months like he did with his watch.

    • It’s already been more than a week since over used my Mac.

  • QP

    Tried it last nite at the Apple store, not sure if it can do that or not but it’s f*cking awesome!

  • Matt Summers

    I’m sorry but I sold my Mac and bought an iPad Air 2 to replace it. And from experience it doesn’t replace a desktop. For instance I wanted to jailbreak my iPhone when the jailbreak arrived. Couldn’t do it from my iPad

    • Leguro

      Jailbreaking my iPad Air 2 is the unlocked device everyone wants.

    • George

      Now we know that when Jeff talks about future jailbreaks he’s lying about not touching his macbook

      • ProllyWild

        Lol why sould the ability to jailbreak devices make any sense as a realistic consideration when designing the iPad pro? Granted I get what you mean as its limitation, but that’s a poor critique of the product since it has nothing to do with its intended market.

  • Joonyaboy

    Id day compare it to the new MacBook. They are both a compomise in opposite directions

  • Ecigsandcoffee

    I want to love this so bad but I refuse to buy another iPad until I can run full desktop adobe apps! But that’s just my personal need. Ill keep chillin with mah iPad 2 for hulu and what not haha

  • lookHOWMADheis

    If it can not run Xcode then I’m out!

  • Felipe Queiroz Drumond

    iPad seems to be a great device to do SOME jobs. But for the majority of tasks, it would never replace a computer like MBP.

  • Leguro

    Lol, Jeff is smart. He knows how to get the trolls out to give him comments.

  • Gucciipad

    I agree. iMac at home. iPad pro. On the road. And iPhone also. Perfect combo.

    • George

      IPad pro weighs the same as the new macbook with the keyboard so what is the point?

      • Gucciipad

        Let’s see. I have an MacBook at home. I hardly use now. It just collects dust. For travel. I use. iPhone or iPad. That’s it. MacBook. is big and bulky. I just use my MacBook to print. Or. Jailbreak. Or sync and back up my iPad and iPhone.

      • ProllyWild

        The keyboard comes off. That’s the benefit. For many people being able to eliminate the physical keyboard at will and use the device solely as a tablet is a benefit in media and form that macbook’s don’t have.

  • Unknow Unknow

    Can’t run OS X,can’t connect any additional hardware ssd iPad pro is even closer to surfer of Windows if you Jeff think that some one is going to run a company or business using a gigantic iPad you are living in an imaginary world

  • Bass Head

    my favorite reason is it doesn’t get frozen unlike the mac