When I first saw the iPad Pro demonstrated at the launch event, I wasn't sure it was a good solution for me. I'm mobile and like my work systems to be as small and portable as possible. The big 12.9-inch iPad is neither small nor portable.
The high cost of the iPad Pro will be a big factor in the purchase decision for consumers and enterprises alike. It's hard to justify spending more than $1,000 for an iPad with all of the other options out there.
There are quite a few Windows laptops and 2-in-1s available for hundreds less than the iPad Pro. Even MacBooks can be purchased for less than the top iPad Pro model. There has to be a compelling argument to shell out such a sum for an iPad.
Let's face it, I was pretty sure I'd end up getting an iPad Pro since I cover mobile tech for a living. Nevertheless, given the high cost of the iPad Pro the price has given me pause. Here's a look at my buying process and logic behind the decision to get one.
With word that the iPad Pro will be available this week, I've been giving a lot of thought about using one. Having long used an iPad of some sort for work -- I'm writing this on an iPad mini -- I have no doubt the iPad Pro will be useful for the online work I do each day along with the writing. Especially with the Apple Smart Keyboard.
My decision to get the iPad Pro is based on three points.
1. Split View
What has me excited about using the iPad Pro is how well it should handle Split View. Split View, introduced in iOS 9, allows you to put two apps on the display at the same time and work with both. I do that daily on the iPad Air 2 and it boosts my productivity.
Split View should be great on the iPad Pro. At the launch event Apple pointed out that the big display of the iPad Pro was chosen for Split View. Apple said that with two apps sharing the display 50/50, each app was the size of a full-screen app on the iPad Air 2. This doubles the screen real estate I use now with the iPad Air 2.
Having a big browser window alongside a note app is important for my routine work and should boost productivity. For me, Split View will improve how I conduct online research for writing projects.
To a lesser degree I'm hoping to see developers modify apps to best take advantage of the larger display. My hope is developers create new apps for the iPad Pro or at least modify existing ones to better handle the screen real estate. Apps should take full advantage of the large full screen yet morph into a more efficient layout when the app window shrinks.
Having two windows open at once is nothing new and not exclusive to the iPad. But Apple's implementation is smooth and intuitive and for me works better than other options such as the MacBook. My MacBook stays in the office most days relative to the iPad.
It's hard to make an argument that an iPad Pro is a value relative to the competition, but the device makes sense in the iOS ecosystem. Having used iPads since they first appeared I've purchased dozens, probably hundreds, of apps. As a rule I find iOS apps to be better than the competition, even better than those for the Mac.
Apps tend to work with touch operation fluidly and intuitively, and it's easier to take full advantage of an app's features on the iPad as a result.
That's why I end up using an iPad far more often than my MacBook. The apps are cheaper, better written, and work as expected without surprises.
3. It makes more sense than getting a new MacBook
Given the cost comparison why don't I just get a new MacBook? That's a question I've batted around in this purchase decision process and it always comes back to versatility.
I will be able to use the iPad Pro as a laptop replacement with the keyboard, and also as a tablet. While it may be a bit unwieldy to use in the hand, given the large size I'll still be able to use the device as a tablet. That's what the iPad is at its core after all.
As I've mentioned, I also like iPad apps better than OS X apps. The fact is I usually do everything in the browser on the MacBook and using an iPad frees me from that for the most part. I have apps I use regularly that make my life easier and more productive, and that's why just getting a new MacBook is off the table.
What I'm getting
I intend to get the top model iPad Pro for two reasons. The entry level model only has 32GB of storage and that's not enough. That leaves only a choice of 128GB which I believe is more than I need, but Apple's not giving us another option.
Given the ability to store data in the cloud, 32GB may be sufficient for consumers and enterprise workers. I have more than that stored on my existing iPads so I'm uncomfortable going with less storage than I'm already using, and thus I need the 128GB model.
I still regret not getting LTE on my iPad Air 2 and won't make that mistake again. I'll be getting LTE on the iPad Pro and that means the top-of-the-line model at a cost of $1,079. Once past the initial expenditure for LTE on the iPad, it will only cost me $10/month to add it to my pooled data plan with Verizon.
I'll get the Apple Smart Keyboard with the iPad which adds another $169 to the bill. I write thousands of words a week, sometimes in a day, and a good keyboard is critical.
As excited as I am about getting the iPad Pro, I'm still leery about the large size. It is very big for use as a tablet and that gives me pause. I have a third-party keyboard case that I can't discuss yet. It's is a form-fitting case so I have a good idea how big the iPad Pro is. And that's pretty big.
Once again, why not a MacBook?
As much as I like MacBooks the advantage I find with an iPad is the OS. OS X is a good operating system but over the years it's become bloated and too feature rich. Having a true mobile OS like iOS on my daily work system is better for me in the long run. I don't want overhead that I don't use, I just want the system to do the things I need and nothing more.
This ensures having all day battery life and fast performance while getting my work done. I also find that iOS handles mobile broadband better than a desktop OS. It sips from the mobile trough sparingly while making sure I am connected whenever I need to be.
It's not just OS X that is more than I need, it's the same for Windows 10. Microsoft has done a good job making Windows go from desktop to mobile, but it's still far too much overhead for my requirements.
A mobile device with a true mobile OS better serves my needs, and thus the iPad Pro will soon be here.