There’s no doubting the power that the iPad Pro brings to users. It could very well change the way you work and play but it isn’t a fit for me.
At first I thought that all I needed to make the iPad Pro fit my work was a keyboard and the Apple Pencil. The split view mode allows me to work in two apps at once, which is essential to productivity. But even with a nice keyboard the limitations of the iPad Pro prevent it from becoming a permanent part of the work gear I use to manage a remote team and write 2,000 to 4,000 words a day.
Keep in mind that my workflow and daily work may vary dramatically from yours. I spend many days working from a home office with two large monitors. On days where I work mobile I typically carry a notebook with a 12 to 13-inch display. Some days this is a MacBook Pro or a MacBook, other days it is the new Lenovo Yoga 900.
The iPad Pro initially felt like a gadget that would allow me to carry a slightly thinner and lighter device with me and still stay productive, but it’s not a good fit for my needs.
For other users the iPad Pro could be a perfect device, delivering the perfect place to sketch, draw and take notes in a package that is easier to carry around than a laptop and drawing accessories. Ultimately the usefulness of this very large tablet comes down to your needs and workflow — and there’s no room for it in my bag.
Here’s what I learned, why I’m returning the iPad Pro and why I want the iPad Air 3 more than ever.
Bottlenecks to Productivity
There are too many bottlenecks to being productive with the iPad Pro in my workflow. Using two apps side by side with the Magic Keyboard does let me reference a webpage and write in another app, but I found myself spending too much time juggling between these two core apps and a messaging app like Slack or Hangouts.
If you only need to use two apps at a time for the bulk of your day, and both apps support the Split Screen mode in iOS 9, this might be perfect for you. Ultimately, even when focused on a task, I still need easier access to a third or fourth app.
Apps & Accessories
If I want to use the iPad Pro professionally I need great apps that work perfectly on the big screen and I need a keyboard that lets me type faster.
There are too many apps that aren’t optimized for the larger screen. It is early, but this isn’t just a case of the iPad Pro blowing up an iPad Air app to fit the bigger screen. Apps that aren’t updates use a blown up keyboard without the intelligent layout and shortcuts that iPad Pro optimized apps offer.
To combat this, and to make typing thousands of words a day easier, an iPad Pro keyboard is needed. After spending $1,000 on the iPad Pro I’m hesitant to spend another $100+ on a keyboard case that adds to the size and weight of the device, just so I can use it.
It’s Too Big
For some users the huge 12.9-inch display is exactly what they need, but the iPad Pro is too big to be useful.
Although the iPad Pro is thinner and lighter than the MacBook that I routinely rely on for work, it isn’t different enough to separate itself from the MacBook.
When I look into adding a keyboard case that delivers the features I need, like the Logitech Create, the combination weighs in at 3.17 pounds — which is heavier than the MacBook or MacBook Air, and almost as heavy as the 13-inch MacBook Pro.
Big, Beautiful Screen
From an entertainment perspective the iPad Pro offers a large, beautiful screen and great sound, but the size is still a challenge.
When I am using the iPad to watch Netflix it’s more of a commitment to carry it around and to find a place to set it than the iPad Air 2, and the extra screen size doesn’t add enough to the entertainment experience.
Some games like Guitar Hero Live benefit from a bigger screen, but I did not find enough games that matter to me or that feel substantially different on the 12.9-inch display. If I could stream Xbox One games to the iPad Pro this would be a different story, but that’s not possible.
Where’s the iPad Air 3 with Apple Pencil Support?
Ultimately I find myself bumping into the limits of the iOS software more than any hardware limitations from the iPad Pro. The compromises and changes I need to make to my workflow to use the iPad Pro as a replacement for a laptop are too significant to overcome the beautiful screen, 10 hour battery life and improved sound.
Yes, I can use the iPad Pro to edit 4K video I shoot on the iPhone and it has more than enough power to run two apps side-by-side. There is a lot of potential for productivity, but in its current state the apps aren’t quite ready and the accessories I need to make it useful push the weight and the price too high.
Even though I don’t have a need to sketch and I take most of my notes with a keyboard. after reading an in depth Apple Pencil review, I really want an iPad Air 3 with a 9.7-inch display that supports 3D touch and the Apple Pencil instead of this massive tablet that comes with too many constraints for the price.