Can the New iPad Pro 2021 Replace Laptops? Yes… or Maybe Not

Have you heard about the new Apple iPad Pro? A lot of people are wondering, “can the new iPad Pro 2021 replace laptops?” We will give you our opinion on this in this detailed guide. There have been other tablets that claim they are a direct replacement for a laptop. Does the new iPad Pro have what it takes?

The new iPad Pro is M1 powered, and Apple claims that it is the ideal replacement for a laptop and even a desktop. Apple’s M1 processor is undoubtedly more efficient and powerful than previous iPad chips. It certainly positions the new iPad as a possible replacement for a laptop. 

Significant Performance Improvement

iPad pro comes with improved performance

There are significant performance improvements with the Apple M1 processor. You get better security and the battery life is improved too. Apple claims that their new M1 chip actually has comparable performance to that of a desktop. This means that it has the computing and graphics power to outperform laptops and some desktops.

Apple’s M1 chip has an 8 core CPU that improves performance as much as 50% more than previous iPad chips. The architecture is designed for the fast loading of applications, quick file access, and better performance when using the cloud. There is a dedicated GPU which is also 8 core and this is 40% quicker than previous chips.

In addition, Apple has added a neural engine which is 16 core to the chip. This helps to provide more performance gains and is one of the main reasons why they believe it can outperform most laptop computers.

The new iPad Pro comes in two sizes: the 11-inch version with a 2388×1668 pixel liquid retina display and the 12.9-inch version with a 2732×2048 pixel XDR liquid retina display. 

There is a lot more storage capacity available with the new iPad Pro. This starts at 128 GB and you can go all the way up to 2 TB. With this kind of storage available, it will be a lot easier for you to save large video files, high-resolution graphic files, presentations, and more than you could with earlier iPads.

Significantly improved Battery Life

iPad pro has great battery life

Having been criticized for the low battery life with their mobile products, Apple has studied how to prolong battery life and has built this into the M1 chip. The result of this is that you should get around 10 hours from the battery if you are watching videos, searching the web, and more. This includes using Wi-Fi as well. 

A battery life of 10 hours is impressive, and most laptops cannot match this. If you spend a lot of your time working in battery mod, you need to seriously consider whether the new iPad Pro is a better alternative to a laptop. We will start by taking a look at the reasons why the new iPad Pro can be considered a true laptop replacement.

You can easily Expand

You can easily Expand iPad pro

Having a great lightweight mobile device with a lot of power is one thing, but what if you want to make the new iPad Pro perform like a laptop when you are in the office? If you are doing a lot of intense work, then an 11-inch or 12.9-inch screen will probably not be enough. Then there is the virtual keyboard (ugh!).

Apple has addressed expandability with their new iPad Pro. You can go for docking and cable options and provide your iPad Pro with DisplayPort connectivity and Thunderbolt functionality. If you have an Apple XDR Pro Display, you can use the Thunderbolt connectivity option and the dock and cables to take advantage of the 6K resolution.

Another great option is the Magic Keyboard. This is a full backlit keyboard that is so much better than using a virtual keyboard – especially if you need to do a lot of typing. Then there are the Magic Mouse 2 and the Apple Pencil to enhance the capabilities of your iPad Pro.

The magic keyboard is a clever device. You use a magnet system to connect it to your iPad Pro to look and feel like a laptop. If you want to use your iPad Pro on your lap, then you can do this with the magic keyboard, as it will provide the necessary support.

And let’s not forget the Magic Mouse 2. This is a trackpad device that functions as a laptop trackpad does. With previous iPads, when you are typing with the virtual keypad, you had to take your hands off of the keyboard to do other things because you had to physically touch the screen. With the magic mouse 2 option, you do not have to do this anymore.

All of these options are great for working at the office or at home. The magic keyboard is a very welcome addition and goes a long way to transforming the iPad Pro to provide full laptop functionality. The only problem here is that these are optional extras and they come at a fairly steep price.

Audio and Video of the Highest Quality

iPad pro speaker

The Covid-19 pandemic has made people rely on videoconferencing more than they ever did before. Even when things “get back to normal” this trend will continue. Companies will see it as a great way to cut costs by having some of their employees work from home and be available through the use of services like Zoom and GoToMeeting.

Apple engineers and designers were not slow to pick up on this trend and have equipped the iPhone Pro with the highest quality audio and video functionality. When it comes to video cameras, you can’t fail to be impressed by the 12 megapixels, TrueDepth, 122º camera, which is perfect for videoconferencing and recording videos too.

With this camera, you can record video at 4K and at 60 frames per second (fps) with your iPad Pro. It also has HD recording functionality at both 1080p at 60 fps and 720p at 30 fps. There is a 2 times optical zoom with the camera and it has video stabilization as well.

On the audio front, the new iPad Pro allows users to record in stereo and there is the Dolby Vision production feature. You will get 4 speaker audio with the iPad Pro, which will enable you to utilize Dolby Atmos.

Now we will discuss the reasons why the new iPad Pro is not a laptop replacement. Of course, these are just our opinions. But having tested the new tablet we still feel that it has some shortcomings compared to a laptop.

The Price of the iPad Pro and Accessories

Buy iPad pro

A new 12.9 inch iPad Pro is going to cost from $1,099 up to 2,399. This is the price of the tablet on its own without any of the options that we consider essential if you want to replace your laptop. The most essential item is the magic keyboard, and when you go for this as well you are going to have to pay a staggering $2,877. 

You can get a whole lot of 13-inch laptop for $2,877. Even the 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at a considerably lower price of around $1,299. If you are not focused on an Apple laptop, then you can get a higher spec Windows laptop for the same money as the entry-level MacBook Pro.

Although the new iPad Pro has the capability of internal storage from 128 GB to 2 TB, the standard tablet comes with just 128 GB. If you wanted to upgrade this to 256 GB then you will need to come up with another $100. Most laptops come with a minimum of 256 GB SSD internal storage these days and you will pay a lot less for them.

Battery life is not as good as some Laptops

iPad Battery life is not as good as some Laptops

We stated earlier that the iPad Pro had an impressive battery life of around 10 hours if you use it for surfing the Internet and watching videos. But Apple’s own MacBook Air M1 laptop has even better battery life performance at 15 hours for performing the same tasks and the MacBook Pro M1 can deliver 17 hours of battery life.

There are even Windows laptops that can top the 10-hour battery life of the iPad Pro. If you intend to use your device on battery power a lot, then you may find that a modern laptop can provide you with the same or better battery performance at a lower price.

Multitasking is still better with a Laptop

iPad Multitasking is still better with a Laptop

One of the biggest issues with tablet devices over the last few years is their weakness with multitasking. In fairness, Apple has been working on this and things have improved quite a bit since the early days. 

With the new iPad Pro, you can see more with the widgets they have redesigned. They have also introduced a “smart stack” feature which helps as well. Apple has improved application design with the iPad Pro and now there are pull-down menus that help you to access more features faster.

Having said all of that, the multitasking capability of a laptop that uses the macOS is still vastly superior to the iPad Pro. You can achieve a high level of multitasking with a Windows 10 laptop as well. With a macOS laptop and a Windows laptop, you can work on several different apps at the same time. You can only work on a few things at once with an iPad Pro.

Maybe we are expecting too much here. Laptops provide multitasking through windows-based features and it may be too much to expect Apple to include this functionality with an iPad tablet. But we are assessing here if the iPad Pro is a good laptop replacement, and when it comes to multitasking, it certainly isn’t.

Trackpad is Small

iPad Pro 11 with Magic Keyboard

The trackpad with the magic keyboard is quite a bit smaller than those you can find on laptops. Although the trackpad option is a welcome addition to the iPad Pro, they just didn’t make it large enough with the magic keyboard. 

When you have a larger trackpad on a laptop you can do so much more with it. It is much easier to select text and also to scroll with a giant trackpad. OK, the iPad Pro does have touch screen capability, but how many laptop users actually want this?

Laptops have more Ports as part of the deal

Most modern laptops come with a variety of different ports that you can use for different functions. There is usually more than one USB port provided as well. As standard, the iPad Pro has only one port.

If you can bear the cost, you can invest in the dock and cables necessary to connect your iPad Pro to a high-resolution display, such as Apple’s XDR Pro with 6K capabilities. But this is not much use to you when you are on the move. When you take your laptop with you, there are several ports you can use. You only have one if you just take your iPad without the dock.

The Bottom Line

There is no doubt that Apple has significantly increased the performance of the iPad by including the M1 chip. The video and audio capabilities of the new iPad Pro are top class and would put many laptops to shame. An iPad is still considerably lighter than a laptop and it is a lot easier to carry around with you.

The problem is that the iPad Pro still lacks a lot of the versatility of a laptop. Sure, you can get the optional magic keyboard and dock if you want to get closer to laptop functionality, but these options are expensive. Additional storage is expensive too. 

Can the new iPad Pro 2021 replace laptops? Well, it is undoubtedly the closest tablet to do this but, in our opinion, it is not quite there yet. The price is a major factor. For an iPad Pro and magic keyboard, you can get an awful lot of laptop for the same price or less.

Chris Martin is a professional tech writer. He's been covering tech tutorials, hardware reviews, and more as a professional writer for over seven years now and it doesn't look like he'll be stopping anytime soon! In addition to writing about the latest gadgets on the market, he also covers topics such as how to set up your home network or troubleshoot any computer problems you may have.

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