Tried out: Can the iPad Pro Replace a MacBook?

Tried out: Can the iPad Pro Replace a MacBook?


In June of last year the time had come: The new iPad Pro with 10.5 inch screen diagonal was presented to the public and the big brother with 12.9 inches received a hardware update. If the Pro series of Apple tablets was already fast, it now reaches completely new spheres. Looking at just the technical data, the advertising campaign seems to be right and the iPad Pro is actually an alternative to the MacBook. But does that also apply in everyday life? Thanks to the iPad, can the mobile Mac finally remain at home?

The Hardware

With the hardware, the iPad actually earns its name suffix "Pro". Especially the A10X fusion processor with six cores stands out in everyday working life in conjunction with 4 GB of RAM. Three of the processor cores are responsible for compute-intensive tasks, the other three are automatically used when less power-hungry processes need to be done. This saves the iPad Pro power and protects the battery.

Cases with Keyboard

Apple offers with the Smart Keyboard a rather thin, but also very expensive case with external keyboard. A look at the meanwhile very large offer from other manufacturers is worthwhile. Actually, there is something for all tastes.

Also the graphics calculation takes over the A10X and can also shine there. In graphics benchmarks, the iPad Pro even reaches the performance level of the current generation of MacBook Pro and leaves all tablet competition far behind - neither Samsung nor Huawei can keep up with this.

But how does this sheer performance make itself in everyday life noticeable? Mainly due to extremely low load times. Apps open almost immediately, image editing is not a problem even with large and high-resolution images and even video editing presents the iPad Pro from not too big challenges. There is still no game to be found in the App Store that would not run smoothly on the iPad Pro.

In addition to the processor's performance, the excellent display also stands out. Again, Apple is dangling rather than spilling, and apparently equips the device with everything that is technically possible. In addition to true tone, so the automatic adjustment of the color temperature to the environment for realistic whiteness, the display has become even brighter than its predecessor. Although the front glass still reflects quite a bit, but when working in the sun, it is no longer necessary to guess what can be seen on the screen. Texts and photos look as if printed - the iPad Pro is perfect for reading.

One aspect that is not immediately noticeable, but should not be underestimated, is the now increased maximum frame rate of 120 frames per second. For the human eye, movements on the iPad display are thus completely stepless and fluid. Annoying stuttering, for example when scrolling web pages, is a thing of the past. This point also makes the iPad an extremely pleasant work tool.

So far, the iPad is doing very well. But as soon as you hold a USB stick or an SD card in your hand, you are already reaching the limits of the tablet. Although Apple is thankfully still a classic jack for headphones, but otherwise there is only a Lightning port on the bottom. For Apple unfortunately meanwhile tradition: Without adapter nothing works. No external memory, no card reader, no external monitor or beamer can be connected to the iPad without a Lightning adapter. To be fair: Even the current generation of MacBook Pro can not score here. If you are not completely covered with new accessories for USB-C, you will not get anything connected to your laptop. The problem is more Apple's radical minimalism than the concept of the iPad.

Pencil and Touch

A fast processor, lots of memory and good graphics: iPad and MacBook are very similar. But there are also points that the iPad has ahead of a classic laptop. In conjunction with the Apple Pencil, the tablet turns into a quasi-endless notebook, extremely flexible drawing board and creative all-round talent.

The connection of Apple's smart pen and the iPad Pro works very well after a short adjustment period. Entries are recognized directly and without delay. And also different firm pressing and the hand position are implemented realistically and let forget quickly that one does not write on genuine paper. For those who like to draw, iPad is an excellent tool.

In addition, the iPad is a big step in the direction of the paperless office. In a meeting, you can quickly capture notes by hand, insert images and send directly to colleagues, without first scanning a sheet. And even the iPad Pro can do it with iOS 11 using the integrated camera: Thanks to Augmented Reality, the Note app automatically detects the orientation of the document to be scanned and makes it perspective fit - again a few points that speak for the iPad Pro.

Universal Apps

Rumor has it that Apple plans to offer developers universal apps for the iPad and the Mac so they just have to program and support one application. If that's true, the number of professional apps for the iPad is likely to rise sharply. If Apple then still a few barriers of iOS opens, the iPad could be in the near future, but perhaps a full alternative.


With the just mentioned scanning function we have already advanced into the field of software. iOS 11 offers a lot of new features, especially for the iPad, and a large part of it is actually supposed to make it easier to work with. Much is already familiar to users of macOS: the iPad finally gets an app for managing the file system, the classic dock finds its way onto mobile devices and multitasking is becoming more and more powerful. But it's a pity, especially with the software, the iPad Pro is losing the chance to really compete with the MacBook.

The Files app is only as practical and extensive as expected at first sight: Because in reality it is much more likely to have access to the iCloud and other online storage services like Google Drive and Dropbox. The app does not provide actual access to the file system of the iPad. Apple has long been trying to get users more and more data in the cloud - and it may be convenient to seamlessly sync a file between devices in this way. But in the daily workflow you just do not want to move every file into the digital cloud, but save it only locally. On the iPad, this is only possible if the file is saved directly in the app used and if necessary then using the Share function is copied to another. Apple has a real chance of bringing iOS and macOS closer together.

Better implemented is the new dock, which can now be opened from any app, for example, another application in multitasking next to an already open window to place. Up to three apps at the same time can now be used and move things by drag-and-drop. It actually works very well, but still takes a bit longer with a finger or Apple Pencil than with a mouse or the trackpad on the Mac.

On the software side, the MacBook beats the iPad - at least, if

Professional Apps

In addition to the operating system, of course, the programs are elementary important points - a smartphone is Just as practical and functional as the apps installed on it. And also for tablets this rule applies. The great hardware of the iPad Pro screams for professional applications in the style of Photoshop and Final Cut Pro.

Unfortunately, the field of such programs is still relatively manageable. Adobe, for example, offers so far only much slimmed versions of its applications. It makes better because affinity with Photo - the iPad app of the company was not presented without reason by Apple in the course of the iPad presentation on stage. Affinity Photo offers almost identical functionality of the already popular among many users desktop versions and is thus a real competition to Photoshop.

Unfortunately, not many developers take the iPad so seriously, because in the field of video and audio editing There are so far only a few programs that can compete with the variant for macOS. It looks much better in the office area. Both Apple's own product line with Pages, Numbers and Keynote, as well as the top dog Microsoft with Word, Excel and PowerPoint are represented.

If you want to use the iPad as a typewriter, but rather not typing on the display keyboard, but rather a physical use, one must either resort to the with 179 or 189 euros (for the 12.9 inch model) extremely expensive (and getting used to) Smart Keyboard from Apple itself, or look around at other manufacturers.


The iPad Pro is getting closer to the MacBook Pro. The hardware does not hide under any circumstances and is sometimes much faster than some of Apple's currently sold Mac models. The screen is one of the best LCD displays currently available. And in connection with the Apple Pencil offers the iPad Pro even a significant added value to the MacBook.

But the Apple Pencil is not included in the purchase price from 729 euros for the 10.5-inch model: The smart pin strikes again 109 euros to book and also a keyboard must be purchased extra on request. If you take the most expensive version of the iPad Pro, ie the model with 12.9 inches, 512 GB and LTE module and buy the Smart Keyboard and the Pencil, the total package costs as much as 1747 Euro. That's still cheaper than a MacBook Pro, but not far from it.

So, if you're thinking about choosing MacBook or iPad Pro, you should think twice about what it wants to do with it. If you are mainly surfing the internet, like to play a game and want to consume movies, series and music on your device, the iPad is probably the better choice. And even if you want to be creative and draw a lot in addition to occasional photo editing, you should try once, if the iPad Pro could not be a good alternative to the analog drawing block. Often, a laptop is no longer needed.

However, the MacBook is still much better suited for professional photo editing and editing, handling many files, and working productively with a variety of apps. iOS 11 is a good step in the direction to make the iPad Pro more and more an absolute professional device, but still there is still a lot of room for improvement. The hardware definitely has the potential, the software unfortunately not yet.

Comment: In Search of the Golden Mean

The big advertising campaign around the iPad Pro is under the motto "What's a Computer? ", Which means free translation means" who needs a computer? ".

Well, Apple, for me the answer is still: Anyone who wants to work with it professionally. Yes, the iPad Pro is more productive than ever with its latest hardware and iOS 11 features. And yet I still can not do without my MacBook in my day-to-day work. This is not due to the performance of the iPad hardware, which I have not made even with several gigabyte image and video files to sweat, but it is much more to iOS: Even in the current version, it is simply a mobile operating system.

That's exactly right for my smartphone. There I do not want to install any third-party programs outside the App Store. There I do not need a complete file system as under macOS. But on the iPhone, I also write no articles, cut videos and audio files and edit images.

Of course I can do all this thanks to iOS 11 on the iPad Pro. But there are many things usually cumbersome and so I just need on average longer. And the range of professional software is still expandable.

The way Apple wants to go is obvious to me, but there is still much to do. It has long been said by Apple, you would never merge macOS and iOS to a common operating system, as it tries, for example, Microsoft with Windows 10. I think this is a good approach as a Mac user, I do not need a full-fledged touch display there and I do not want an iPad running a pure macOS. The developers of Apple seem fortunately continue to search for the golden mean. Until Apple found that, I like to continue using both devices. Only for different tasks.

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