Can an iPad Pro really replace a laptop? Let's find out

What does "Pro" really mean? Can an iPad Pro replace my MacBook Pro as a daily driver?
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Long-time readers will remember that I used to own an iPad in the past. It was a 3rd-generation model that saw daily use up until I bought an iPhone 6 Plus and realized I didn't need a separate device with a larger screen anymore.

So the iPad ended up as a mousemat, gathering dust on my desk until a circling family member asked if I was still using it (I was, but not in a productive way).

Years have gone by, and I haven't given the iPad much thought beyond covering launches. But just the other day I was offered the chance to test drive an iPad Pro and the Apple Pencil.

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The iPad Pro is the 2018 model with the 11-inch display and USB-C port. This is paired with a 2nd-generation Apple Pencil, and a Logitech Slim Folio Pro keyboard (not just for the keyboard, but for added protection).

I won't bore you with the specs of any of this -- nothing here is particularly new or exciting -- what I'm interested in is finding out whether this set up can replace my 15-inch MacBook Pro as my daily driver.

Now, this is all highly personal. Your work and workflow will be very different from mine, and the hardware and software platform you need will vary. My work mainly involves outputting a lot of words, dealing with emails and messages, some photo and image processing, and a little web coding.

In preparation for the launch of iPadOS 13, I downloaded and installed the beta onto the tablet right from the start. It made more sense than to get used to working with iOS 12 only to have to change in a few weeks and get used to iOS 13.

I've only been using the iPad Pro for a few days (this is written on it, as have been a few of my previous pieces) so it's too early to come to any solid conclusions, but here's what I've discovered from using the setup.

The iPad Pro and Apple Pencil combo is nice. The tablet is speedy and responsive, and the display is stunning. The USB-C port adds valuable flexibility to the package, although I'm not yet sure how I'll fully make use of this yet.

For me, this is what makes the iPad Pro a pro piece of kit. Without USB-C, the iPad is just a scaled-up iPhone. With USB-C, huge opportunities are opened up.

The Apple Pencil's ability to magnetically attach to the iPad Pro and wirelessly charge are convenient features and mean not having to mess with charging cables and other hassles.

I like having a keyboard. The on-screen keyboard is fine for jotting notes where accuracy is not important, but it gets tedious for anything long. Not only is typing on a solid piece of glass tiring (yes, tiring), but accuracy is poor. The Logitech keyboard is OK in terms of accuracy and precision (it's not as good as the keyboards I'm used to on MacBooks, but hey-ho, that's life), and I like the backlit keys and the long battery life it offers, although it remains to be seen if it will last the promised three months). It's also a sweet touch that the keyboard charges using a USB-C port, so no additional cables are needed.

The case also adds much-needed protection for the iPad -- this is why I'm not using Apple's Smart Keyboard, which has a better keyboard but offers less protection.

But that's the hardware. Getting work done relies on loading this hardware with the right apps. Apps like Google Docs and Sheets are a no-brainer for me as this is my platform of choice, and I'm working through my Adobe Creative Cloud suite looking for apps that I need (I particularly like Lightroom on the iPad Pro).

I'm still looking for apps to make the best use of the Apple Pencil (if you have any ideas, let me know).

Right now, the iPad Pro plus Apple Pencil Plus Logitech feels like a serious package that I can get real work done on, but time will tell if any gotchas are waiting for me around the corner.

I'll let you know how things go in a future post.

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Have you given made the switch from a laptop to iPad? How did it work out for you? What did you learn? Let me know!

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