This is not an Apple-bashing post. It is also not a suggestion that the iPad Pro is a bad or unfit device in any way. Since 2010, iPad has come a long way and cemented its position as market leader with no viable second place in sight. If you want the best tablet in the world and money is no object, go for the iPad Pro and crank the dials all the way up when configuring it. You will not be disappointed.
The iPad Pro falls down when it is pressed into service to fill a role for which it was never intended. It is a great companion device and might even be the only device some consumers need. But as of this moment, it is not ready to be a full-time replacement for a business laptop. It looks like that is something it should be able to do, at least on paper. But in the real world, it falls just short of the mark in critical areas.
It is fantastic, and even better than business laptops at many tasks such as event planning. It might involve light video editing, photo editing, and designing or selecting the perfect save the date card designs. For creative work, it is probably a better choice than most windows computers of any category. However, here are a few reasons why the business laptop has nothing to fear, for now:
An iPad Pro has just one port. That said, it is the best port you can get. The latest models have USB-4/Thunderbolt. It can handle anything, including docking stations with full connectivity. However, when it is time to make a presentation, the monitor you will need to connect to will very likely be equipped with HDMI. Smart money says that port will never show up on an iPad. You can also forget about a USB-A port or SD card slot. Fans can complain all they like. It is just never going to happen.
There could be a time when the iPad gets an additional USB-C port. But you will always need room in your bag for lots of dongles for connections typically used by business travelers. If you don’t mind managing a lot of dongles or a hefty docking station, the iPad Pro is still in the game. But for many road warriors, that is still a bridge too far.
The availability of bespoke apps is one of the greatest strong suits of the iPad, and iOS in general. There are a lot of business apps available for the platform. The problem is that businesses often use custom apps that can only be downloaded internally. The only way to get apps onto the iPad is via the App Store. That simply is never going to work for a lot of businesses.
The power necessary for running the apps is not in question. The M1 iPad is frankly more powerful than any typical business laptop. It isn’t even close. This was also true for the previous iPad. It is not the most powerful machine in the fight that wins. It is the one that can run the apps and get the specific job done that needs to be done at that moment. At this moment, that is not the iPad Pro.
iPad Pro is not a budget device. Starting at $1,099 for the 13” model, it goes up from there. If you are using it for business, you are going to obviously need a keyboard. Apple’s Magic Keyboard for iPad is $349. You can get the Smart Folio Keyboard for $199 if that helps you sleep at night. But you are still out $1,299 before thinking about features like extra storage or 5G. Your typical Windows laptop for business will be a pretty good one for $700. That will not get you into a Mac laptop at all. It also won’t get you into an iPad Pro at any level, even without accessories.
WWDC might bring some changes that will move the platform forward. But very little will change the fact that, for the moment, laptops are better for road warriors due to their better connectivity, greater app compatibility, and much lower price.