I recently bought an Apple (AAPL 0.05%) iPad Pro in order to evaluate and test it. As somebody who really enjoys using his iPad Air 2, I was excited to get my hands on the latest iteration of Apple's iPad product line. Indeed, the new iPad offers a lot of very exciting new technological advances over my iPad Air 2, so surely it must be better, right?
After spending a few days with it, I decided to return the iPad Pro and continue plugging along with my trusty iPad Air 2. Here's why.
Not really a great productivity device
The iPad has traditionally been viewed as a consumption device rather than as a productivity device. If you want to watch movies, answer emails, or play games, iPad is arguably the best mobile platform on which to do these things.
The iPad, though, isn't really all that good as a productivity device. I've tried to write articles on the thing -- using the on-screen keyboard as well as with third-party keyboard accessories -- but the experience is just plain frustrating compared to a reasonably nice Windows or Mac laptop.
Now, to be fair, I did not buy either the Apple Pencil or the Apple Smart Keyboard along with the iPad Pro; the Apple Pencil seems to be perpetually back-ordered and the Smart Keyboard frankly seems like a rip-off at its current price.
However, I did spend some time with the Apple Smart Keyboard at my local Apple store and I can say the typing experience was just not very good compared to what you get with a MacBook or a high-quality Windows laptop.
iPad Pro is hardly the ideal productivity device for what I do, and I wouldn't be surprised if others shared my sentiment.
Not really a great consumption device, either
Although I'm not huge on iPad as a productivity device, I love my iPad Air 2 as a consumption device, so I was hoping I could at least justify keeping the iPad Pro as a "bigger, better" iPad Air.
Sadly, I couldn't make that case to myself either.
To be clear, there are a lot of really nice things about the iPad Pro that make my iPad Air 2 look, frankly, dated. The display is nicer, with more accurate colors and better contrast. The speaker system on the iPad Pro is miles ahead of the system found on the iPad Air 2, which makes watching movies and listening to music better.
The processor is also noticeably quicker. Not just in performance tests, mind you, but in everyday usage. Webpages load much quicker, for example, thanks to a CPU that's nearly twice as fast as the one found in the iPad Air 2. The graphics engine is so fast that even at the very high resolution that iPad Pro needs to drive, games were as smooth if not smoother on the iPad Pro than they were on the iPad Air.
It's a marvelous piece of engineering.
Sadly, it's just too big and unwieldy to really replace something like the iPad Air 2 for traditional "tablet" uses. In using the iPad Pro as a "replacement" for my iPad Air 2, I found myself frustrated with how large and heavy (the latter was really a problem) the device is compared to the Air 2.
The worst of both worlds; give me a better iPad Air!
After using the iPad Pro, my thinking is that a large tablet running the same operating system as the smaller iPads is just -- to borrow the words of Tim Cook -- a "compromised product."
It's neither as good as the iPad Air 2 as a tablet nor is it as good as the Mac as a productivity device, at least for my uses. Maybe future iterations, which should be thinner and lighter, could do the trick.
That being said, even though the iPad Pro isn't for me, I would love to see some of the great technologies Apple introduced in the iPad Pro in a next-generation iPad Air 3.
Although I can't speak for the broader iPad customer base, I can say that if the iPad Air 3 includes the A9X chip, iPad Pro-like speaker systems, and a higher quality display, I'll be very excited to buy one -- and keep it.