Yesterday, I sold my iPad Pro for good. I don’t plan on buying another one anytime soon. From now on, I will rely on my MacBook Pro for everything, from coding to writing, from designing to blogging.

If you have been following my blog, you know I have been an avid iPad Pro fan for years. As a minimalist and slow traveler, my priority is always reducing my belongings to the bare minimum. Carrying around two devices –the tablet and the laptop– was difficult to justify.

Yes, you could argue that the iPad Pro was more useful for reading, browsing the web, or writing, while the MacBook Pro was better for more serious stuff (like coding). But convenience does not equal necessity.

Why was I trying so hard?

The fact is, I have tried to use an iPad Pro as my only working device for three years. As an entrepreneur and multipotentialite, I do lots of different things, so I started to explore the possibilities of using the iPad Pro for:

I even tried to work on it for an entire week without touching my laptop to find out if the iPad could replace it.

But why was I trying so hard? Why not using my laptop?

Well, the Macbook Pro is an awesome device. I love it. Since I got my hands on my first MacBook (one of those white, stylish, but plastic ones from 2007) I knew I would not be able to work on a PC anymore.

However, since I became a digital nomad, and embraced minimalism, I am constantly trying to reduce the stuff I own to the bare minimum, and use the lightest, most portable device I can find.

I fell in love with the iPad because of that. It is small and light. You can use it to read or attach the smart cover and start coding. It is an extremely flexible and portable device. I really wanted to be able to get rid of my MacBook and use the iPad Pro only.

iPad Pro cannot replace a laptop, No, the iPad Pro cannot replace a laptop, Micropreneur Life
Sorry Apple, but I cannot really agree…

Why the iPad Pro cannot replace a laptop

However, after three years of trying, I have finally resigned. It’s not because the device is not powerful enough. It is because iPadOS is a toy operating system, and it has been purposely limited by Apple –the walled garden– in key aspects such as access to the File System, a local terminal, easy information sharing between apps, etc…

Yes, you can do lots of things on an iPad. For some stuff (like administrative work, blogging or writing), you may be even able to do 100% of your tasks on it.

But the lack of a proper File System and the inability to access the information contained in the device comprehensively (not through apps) hampers my attempts to do anything meaningful on it.

Well, to be fair, you can get some work done, but it takes twice or three times as much time as it takes on a laptop. And the experience is frustrating as a whole. You need to constantly be switching apps, moving things from one place to another, and using external artifacts like cloud services or online tools for the simplest things.

Will I be able to replace my laptop with another device someday?

I personally don’t think so. I love the idea of owning a tablet-like device instead of a computer. But Apple does not seem to be interested in making iPadOS more open or similar to macOS. Not at least, enough to be a serious competitor to a laptop.

I had a look at alternative devices, but I could not find an appropriate competitor. Microsoft Surface or any device running Windows is a no-no for me. To be honest, I had a look at the recent Duo (the first Microsoft device to run Android) and I did not like it at all. It’s not only ugly (what’s with this bending-devices trend?) and kind of useless (why would I want a screen on both sides of a phone?), but also super expensive. I won’t be spending $1400 anytime soon on that.

Then, I had a look at Android tablets, but none of them seemed to be truly professional devices. I can’t imagine myself working on a Samsung Galaxy tablet. I even tested some of them. None was anywhere close to being useful for work.

iPad Pro cannot replace a laptop, No, the iPad Pro cannot replace a laptop, Micropreneur Life
Checking email with my iPad Pro in Bali, Indonesia.

Devices are just tools

Even though I am disappointed about not being able to replace my laptop with an iPad Pro, that’s ok. Devices are just tools. You need to find the one that works better for you.

In my case, for a device to call itself “Pro”, it needs to grant me access to truly pro functionalities. I need to be able to easily and quickly access files, modify and move them, resize images, move folders, start new code projects, edit configuration files manually (through a terminal), and so on.

The iPad Pro unfortunately does not meet this requirement.

But that’s fine. I have my MacBook Pro, and it works for me. I sold my iPad Pro because I don’t want to carry two devices when I can just carry one. It is one thing less to clutter my mind, and my suitcase.

Conclusion

After three years of trying hard to replace my laptop with an iPad Pro for diverse things such as blogging, design, development, or writing, I have given up.

Unless you only need to answer emails and browse the web, the iPad Pro cannot replace a laptop for work. Its many shortcomings (lack of a professional Operating System, proper access to the File System, etc) make it awkwardly slow to work on, even if you have access to all the tools you need.

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3 Comments

  1. Deniz Can Çığşar August 27, 2020 at 5:07 pm

    Thanks for the experiment. It’s better to use correct tools for correct processes..

    I’ve the similar urges. Some of my tools run on Windows and I have to code on MacOS as well.. I have to have two computers. I wish Parallels/Bootcamp were good enough.. Parallels does not support USB devices well, Bootcamp has a lot of glitches..

    Reply
  2. JohnIL October 4, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    I tried my own experiment with my iPad buying a Smart Keyboard and Magic Mouse 2. It really left me frustrated vs using my Mac mini or a MacBook. Some of this frustration comes from the small screen, I like a bigger screen and while Safari is desktop capable now how much benefit that that provide on a small screen? Yeah great so I can split screen on my iPad. Not a big deal for the most part, much more useful on my 24″ desktop. Even hooking up a iPad to a monitor does little then to create an oversize iPad screen. Honestly once Apple introduces its ARM CPU’s into Mac’s I don’t see any reason to buy a iPad Pro. I can easily see myself buying a ARM MacBook and selling off my iPad.

    Reply
    1. nacho October 5, 2020 at 9:16 am

      Thanks JohnIL, I had a good laugh imagining the screen of an iPad on such a big monitor 😂.

      Reply

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