Is the iPad Pro still the best portable laptop?
If there’s one gadget that shows us the future of Apple’s strategy, it’s the iPad Pro. Tealeaf readers had suggested that a larger iPad was on the way after WWDC 2015, and that rumor turned out to be true. Combine a beautiful, high-resolution display with raw processing power and you may have finally seen a device that could one day replace laptops.
The changes in iOS 9 – true multitasking, split-screen and picture-in-picture mode – had hinted that the iPad was finally ready to become more than just a bigger iPhone. The iPad Pro shows what Apple had planned all along.
The most important addition to justify the iPad’s ‘Pro’ moniker is raw power. Apple has claimed that the new A9X chip in the iPad Pro is faster than up to 80% of laptops shipped in the past year. Many of these laptops can’t open 10 tabs in a browser without freezing, but they cost a lot less than the iPad Pro, making it an unfair comparison. Even then, this is a benchmark for the iPad Pro, as Apple is a relatively new entrant into the chip manufacturing business.
The A9X chip is almost twice as fast as the A8X inside last year’s iPad Air 2, which is also a big achievement. With the A9X and 4GB of RAM, Apple is approaching the point where the iPad Pro can seriously be considered a MacBook Air replacement. The iPad Pro already has a better screen, it’s much lighter than the MacBook Air and comes with a battery that lasts almost as long. Add to that the four speakers that will make watching movies enjoyable, and we have a device that will please many.
The only thing missing is the keyboard. Apple has covered this with the Smart Keyboard as well. Apple has added a new smart connector to the iPad Pro, which allows the keyboard to be powered and to exchange data with the iPad Pro. This eliminates bulky Bluetooth keyboards that need to be charged separately and paired with the iPad. Apple has always avoided adding connectors to iOS devices and this is a departure from that approach. Separating the keyboard allows the company to market the iPad Pro as a device starting at $799 (around Rs 53,000). Most people would like to buy the $169 (about Rs 11,200) smart keyboard which doubles as a case for the iPad Pro.
Another interesting accessory is the Apple Pencil. Apple isn’t using it to replace screen touch; on the contrary, the pencil is a tool that only certain people will use. The Apple Pencil is perhaps the best drawing accessory you can get for the iPad Pro, which might appeal to artists and designers.
Powerful PC users will always feel that the lack of a file system on iOS is a deal breaker. This is one reason why the iPad Pro may not be the perfect laptop replacement for everyone. Even with share sheets and improved communication between apps, iOS still lacks the flexibility power users need. Whether iOS will ever reach that point remains to be seen, but despite these limitations, it’s still a perfectly capable desktop OS replacement for many people.
You no longer need a PC to work? Browsing the internet, playing games, using multiple apps at once – like taking notes while watching a video – are all easy tasks on the iPad Pro. Even getting around documents is now much easier on the iPad thanks to the trackpad mode built into the default keyboard app.
The app ecosystem on iOS has evolved to the point that there’s an app for almost everything – with a few exceptions (sorry, torrent downloaders). Most people’s computer use involves switching between applications. The features introduced by iOS 9 – true multitasking, SlideOver, Picture-in-Picture mode – make the iPad a much more capable device as a laptop replacement. Buying the iPad Pro with the smart keyboard seems like a better idea than buying a PC.
Whether you’re a writer, a movie buff, or a busy executive, the iPad Pro can be a great device for you. Spending over $799 on a tablet seems like a bad idea, but is the iPad Pro just a tablet anymore? I do not think so.
Check out the latest from the Consumer Electronics Show on Gadgets 360, in our CES 2023 hub.
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