Apple never misses an opportunity to point out that the iPad Pro is a computer replacement. Tim Cook has referred to the latest iPad Pro as the “most popular computer in the world.” Cook & Co want you to believe that the iPad Pro is a full-fledged computer. The unveiling of the iPadOS at the WWDC event last month reinforces that marketing strategy. In this MacBook Pro vs iPad Pro comparison, let’s check out whether the iPad is good enough to replace your laptop.
We are going to compare the 2018 12.9-inch iPad Pro with the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and Touch ID. Apple has made some significant changes in its iPad software before rebranding it as iPadOS. The latest iPad Pro has emerged as a strong choice for people who like working on the go.
MacBook Pro vs iPad Pro: Design
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The iPad Pro and MacBook Pro have vastly different designs. The MacBook Pro design hasn’t changed much over the years. It has a sleek aluminum unibody design with a premium feel, though its bezels are not as slim as the iPad Pro’s. A Touch ID fingerprint sensor is built into the OLED Touch Bar to let users log in by putting their finger on the sensor.
The MacBook Pro has four Thunderbolt 3 ports. It doesn’t offer a USB Type-A port or a microSD card slot for external memory. It measures 12 x 8.3 x 0.6 inches and weighs 3 pounds. By comparison, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro measures 11.5 x 7.9 x 0.3 inches and weighs just 1.7 pounds.
The iPad Pro has ditched the physical home button, relying on Face ID for authentication and security. You can unlock the tablet in any orientation you want. It has reduced bezels with rounded corners. Just like MacBook Pro, it comes in Space Gray and Silver colors.
Apple has given only a single USB-C port on the iPad Pro to connect to other devices. If you want more ports, you have to use an external hub. There is no 3.5mm audio jack, meaning you have to use an adapter or wireless headphones. On the rear panel, it has a 12MP camera and a Smart Connector to connect accessories like keyboards.
You can attach the second-gen Apple Pencil magnetically to the edge of the tablet to wirelessly charge it up.
MacBook Pro vs iPad Pro: Display
Both devices sport gorgeous screens. The iPad Pro has a 12.9-inch Liquid Retina display with 2048 x 2732 pixels resolution. It covers 128.4% of the sRGB spectrum and has an impressive 484 nits of peak brightness. It’s the same display technology that Apple has used on the iPhone XR.
The iPad Pro features Apple’s ProMotion technology, which automatically adjusts the refresh rate up to 120Hz. By comparison, the MacBook Pro’s refresh rate maxes out at 60fps. Both devices have Apple’s True Tone display technology, which dynamically changes the color temperature of the screen based on the ambient lighting to protect your eyes and ensure that the content is visible at all times.
The MacBook Pro features a 13.3-inch display with 1600 x 2560 pixels of resolution. It has 440 nits of peak brightness and covers 119% of the sRGB color spectrum.
MacBook Pro vs iPad Pro: Keyboard, mouse, and Pencil
The iPad Pro comes with the second-generation Apple Pencil, which you have to buy separately. The Pencil has a flat edge to attach magnetically to the tablet to charge. The Pencil is incredibly useful when you need to jot down something quickly, take notes, or create artwork.
If you want to use the iPad Pro as a laptop replacement, you have to buy the new Smart Keyboard Folio, which attaches magnetically to the iPad Pro. It costs $199 for the 12.9-inch model. The Smart Keyboard Folio is comfortable to type on. But it has certain limitations. For one, the keyboard is not backlit. Second, you’ll have a difficult time keeping the tablet steady when you are using it on your lap.
There is no touchpad on the keyboard, which seriously limits your productivity. Apple has added mouse support in the iPadOS, which will allow you to use a wireless mouse for navigation.
The MacBook Pro features an improved Butterfly keyboard, which fixes many issues users had pointed out in the previous generations of Butterfly keyboard mechanism. The MacBook also has a large trackpad with support for various gestures, which gives the MacBook Pro a major advantage over the iPad Pro as a productivity device.
MacBook Pro vs iPad Pro: Performance
People who underestimate the processing power of the iPad Pro have been proven wrong by the latest iPads. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro runs Apple’s custom A12X Bionic processor. It has scored 18,168 on Geekbench 4 multi-core tests, beating even the most powerful laptops in terms of performance. If you want similar performance on the 13-inch MacBook Pro, you have to buy the 8th-gen Core i7 model.
The iPad Pro’s graphics power is also better than that of the MacBook, allowing you to play highly demanding games on the device without any lag. Video editing and rendering on the iPad Pro will also be faster, thanks to its processing power. But high-end video tools like Adobe Premiere and After Effects are not available on the iPad yet, which means you have to use the MacBook Pro to run them.
The iPad Pro is also better than the MacBook Pro in terms of battery life. The iPad Pro lasts more than 13 hours on a single charge with normal usage. The MacBook Pro has a runtime of only around 9 hours when performing the same tasks at similar settings.
MacBook Pro vs iPad Pro: Software
This is one area where the iPads have been struggling as a “laptop replacement” for years. The iPad Pro currently runs the iOS 12, which is a mobile operating system with a lot of limitations. At its WWDC event, Apple unveiled the iPadOS, an improved version of the upcoming iOS 13 software with tons of iPad-specific enhancements.
The MacBook Pro runs the macOS software, which is by far the most refined desktop operating system out there. All the powerful apps such as Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects are available on the macOS for professionals. The iPadOS doesn’t have the same range of professional apps, and it will probably take years for developers to build and refine the heavy-duty professional apps for iPads.
Anyway, the iPadOS will still have tons of enhancements to make life easier for casual users, finally catching up with the hardware improvements. The iPadOS will allow you to pin widgets on the home screen of the device. It will also enable easier app switching. Users will also be able to run two instances of the same app side by side, similar to how you can have two tabs open for the same website in your web browser.
The iPadOS also borrows the App Expose from macOS to show users all the open apps. Apple has also revamped the Files app, adding a column view with a preview window. It will work similar to how Finder works on the macOS. The Files app will also recognize external devices and drives. The Safari browser for iPadOS will request the desktop version of websites rather than the mobile version, addressing a major pain point of users.
However, for much of the navigation, users will still have to rely on touching the screen again and again, which becomes annoying after a certain point. Last year, Apple’s SVP of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi said that “lifting your arm up to poke a screen is a pretty fatiguing thing to do.”
MacBook Pro vs iPad Pro: Pricing
The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch ID and Touch Bar can get pretty expensive. It starts at $1800 for the base model with the 8th-gen Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. Opting for the Core i7 processor will set you back by $2100. Upgrading the RAM from 8GB to 16GB will add $200 to the cost. Doubling storage from 256GB to 512GB will add another $200. The maxed out MacBook Pro with Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, and 2TB SSD storage will cost you $3,500.
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro isn’t cheap either. The Smart Keyboard Folio will cost you $200 and the second-gen Apple Pencil will set you back by $129. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro itself starts at $1,000 for the 64GB storage option. You’d want at least 256GB storage, which costs $1,150. The 512GB option will set you back by $1,350.
The iPad Pro could be the future of computing and become your primary computer…in the future. The enhancements coming with the iPadOS will only close the gap between the iPad Pro and MacBook Pro. It will make the iPad Pro the go-to device for students and casual users. But for professional users, the MacBook Pro is still the go-to device, and the iPad Pro can be an alternative to MacBooks in certain situations rather than a full-fledged replacement.