It has been over a year since I’ve been using the 2020 iPad Pro. It was the first product reviewed for this website and over the year, it has become one of the main tools for getting work done. But it was mostly displaced for a couple of months when I started using the M1 MacBook Air, till I came back to it around in March. Of course, one reason simply was touch input, but there is was more.
Even though it is not as fast as the M1 MacBook Air, when it comes down to simple computing, it is better. It is silly fast for running tasks inside a web browser, or to do basic “Office” work. In fact, it will also redouble ably as took for doing graphical design and video editing. It will outshine any Windows, notebook in this regard. It only gets beaten by the M1 MacBooks.
The point I’m making is that unless Apple introduces some more heavy-duty applications or makes changes to iPadOS 15, the 2020 iPad Pro will remain a brilliant purchase for almost anyone.
But whatever Apple has done so far with the updates on the hardware side, Apple really means a pro, when its talks about the M1 iPad Pro. I mean pro “pro” — a pro who would “need” a Mac Pro, a pro, who would need the Super XDR display.
It should also be noted, if you’re going to be using the iPad Pro as your daily computer — then you’re making some big sacrifices when compared to the MacBook Air. It is heavier when combined with the magic keyboard. It is also top-heavy, so while it feels very functional in the lap, it isn’t nearly as well balanced as the MacBook Air.
Its battery life is also cut by half when you compare the battery of the MacBook Air. Though at 10 hours, it is still excellent by either laptop or tablet standards.
You must feel the need to have that large touch canvas. You must need to feel the need for the Apple Pencil. This means you’re likely a graphics designer. If not that, and you’re dazzled by the mini-LED panel, then you’re certainly a professional video editor or cinematographer.
iPad Pro touts 5G in the US — so much so that Apple is also allowing software updates over 5G. If you feel the need for 5G then certainly you are an enthusiast at a bare minimum but if you’re using it to transfer heavy-duty files, then you’re almost certainly editing 4k videos and creating vector graphics on it. If not that you’re making multi-track audio — but right now Apple’s pro apps — Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro aren’t tailored for iPad OS.
But there are hints of this happening — the mini-LED display, 16GB RAM, the tried and tested M1 processor, thunderbolt support, a wide-angle front-facing camera all point towards the same happening and with some luck, Apple could have some good announcements for WWDC 2021.
While the iPad Pro and the MacBook Air in 2021 have the same beating heart, the M1 processor, they have been designed for a wildly different user. The iPad is for serious work and play, while the MacBook Air is meant for more pedantic work and homely play.
It’s the screen and operating system that changes everything. The screen makes it a better tool to edit video on even though there is no FCP on the iPad — we can see it already on apps like LumaFusion. If apps like Logic or Ableton harnessed the power of the M1 chip using the touch canvas of the iPad Pro, they would probably displace the Mac for most musicians in a live environment.
But so far these tools are available on the Mac. But their absence has spawned a generation of alternatives on the iPad.
Apple is treading that line very carefully — tiptoeing into new areas, unlocking new levels of performance for different types of gadgets — but in the meanwhile, we as users only get choices in abundance.
And if you can’t make that choice with the new M1 Mac or iPad Pro, look behind, the 2020 iPad Pro with A12z Bionic is still lightyears ahead of what can be achieved on a Windows notebook or convertible costing the same. Yes, I said costing the same. Yes, I meant it is still comparable to an expensive notebook especially for a creative professional because of its adaptable nature.
But this will be something short-lived as Apple will likely displace the older model with the new one, but then that’s why the 2020 iPad Air exists. Perhaps, that’s why Apple ensured that it was so closely matched with the 2020 iPad Pro because they knew what was on the horizon. And its price point is really affordable when compared to the MacBook Air as then it becomes an affordable proposition. The A14 chipset is almost as fast as the A12z from a CPU perspective and it is faster from a GPU point of view while supporting the Apple Pencil, 2nd generation model.
So if you’re in for very basic computing, Apple says that you can use the iPad Air as a starter pack for basic computing if that all touch screen interface is fine. That starts at Rs 54,900 in India, however, if you want the keyboard and mouse the magic keyboard will add another Rs 27,900 to the price with the Apple Pencil adding another Rs 10,900, bringing it to Rs 93,700 which is around about the same price range as an entry-level MacBook Air with an M1 chip.
For someone who needs all-around capability like the touch panel, cameras all around, a keyboard/mouse/pen input, then the iPad Air is the starting point. If you need a more focussed product with just keyboard and mouse input, but also the firepower of the M1 chipset, then it has to be the MacBook Air or Mac mini depending on how your work. Size also matters. Back in the day, the cheapest portable Apple computer was the 11-inch MacBook Air, then it was replaced with the 12-inch MacBook, and now it is the 10-9-inch iPad Air.
But if you want to combine the versatility of the iPad with the M1 chip and some new features that’s where the iPad Pro 2021 will come into the picture. Everything that Apple has improved with the 2021 iPad Pro has been to make it a product for someone who needs the bleeding edge of mobile technology. Enabling the ability to do what you would in the studio, perhaps so in a diminished way, but on the go, will get the job done.