Is the iPad a serious laptop replacement?

A question that is often debated is whether the iPad, as Apple has lately proclaimed, is a serious laptop replacement. However, there are poeple who strongly disagree, especially given the perceived limitations of the iPad compared with laptops.

So, which side is right? Is it a seroius laptop replacement?

The short answer, I believe, is “probably yes for most people.”

In this post, I’ll give my personal take on the issue. What you eventually decide, depends on your perspective and needs.

Let me start by saying that I haven’t jumped on the iPad wagon from the very beginning. Granted, I pre-ordered the original iPad for my wife when Steve Jobs first announced it back in 2010 and that iPad was among the ones in the first batch ever shipped by Apple. However, at the time, I saw it more of a consumption/entertainment device than a serious one for work.

When Apple introduced the iPad Air in 2013, it was the one I thought I could (at least partially) use for work. I remember buying the device for myself in early 2014. It was good for Keynote presentations, emailing, and some other tasks. It still wasn’t a device that I could rely on as my sole working machine on the go. For that, I used a laptop (MacBook Pro).

When Apple introduced the original 12.9 inch iPad Pro in November 2015, I thought that it was a strong contender on the ability/practicality side, but doubted it on the mobility side. The 9.7 inch iPad Pro that came short after was better in mobility, but did not resonate well with me for some reason. Consequently, I kept hold of my iPad Air.

What really turned things around for me was the introduction of the 10.5 inch iPad Pro in mid-2017. Not only did it virtually match the 12.9 inch model in abilities, it had a new screen technology that made it ever more responsive, especially with the use of the excellent Apple Pencil. More importantly, the size was just perfect in terms of ability and mobility.

This device, especially when equipped with iOS 11 (and later), was a dream come true! It was significantly more capable (in terms of hardware and software), and yet kept a similar overall size to the original iPad ratio of 9.7 inches.

In essence, from that point on, my old laptop had permanently resided on the shelf, and the iPad Pro took its place as my go-to mobile computer.

So, back to the original question, is the iPad [Pro] a serious laptop replacement?

Well, it eventually depends on the person and his/her needs. I do believe that the iPad Pro is a good laptop replacement, and also offers some advantages over a normal laptop. For me, however, the iPad Pro does not serve as my one and only computer. A short while before getting it, I had purchased an iMac desktop computer, augmented with two external monitors. In essence, I have moved from a MacBook-only setup to an iMac-plus-iPad one.

For the heavy work, where I would need a significant screen real-estate and perhaps desktop-only software, I use the iMac. Other than that, which constitutes most of my computing, I use the iPad.

Sure, the iPad has its limitations, like the lack of native external input support (USB flash drive or SD card) and the unavailability of some professional level applications. In regard to the screen size, however, I believe 10.5” is the perfect size, but there’s also the 12.9” size for those who need more screen space.

The advantages that the iPad Pro has over laptops are also significant. Battery life is better than the vast majority of laptops, such that I never have to carry a charger with me on the go. When I’m at a coffee shop, for example, I do not need to sit at a table near an electricity outlet. In addition, the iPad serves as an excellent notebook. I would go as far as saying that, in my experience, the iPad Pro is superior to traditional pen and paper! In addition, the iPad is lighter and significantly easier to carry around than a laptop (no wiring, no sophisticated bag/backpack, etc). As a bonus, I do believe that using iOS is much more pleasant than using Windows or even macOS!

And just to clear a possible important hurdle for people; Yes, the iPad does support Microsoft Office apps (that’s Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook, with the support of OneDrive).

So, in summary, I would say that if you only use a laptop and do not have regular access to a desktop computer, then replacing that with an iPad might not be sufficient for all your needs. If, however, you have a permanent access to a desktop computer, the iPad [especially the Pro version] would be an excellent laptop replacement for your work on the go.



18 thoughts on “Is the iPad a serious laptop replacement?

  1. Now I use ipad everyday for almost everything and my laptop maybe once a month only for some complicated things like java. Some video editing. However my laptop is old now and am planning to try the Microsoft surface as a laptop replacement. Tablets are the future or maybe even big phones…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Welcome Humeid!

      The iPad is increasingly proving to be very useful to many people. It is virtually the first tablet to seriously claim to be a laptop replacement, which is probably true for most.

      The MS Surface hybrids (and now Google Pixel Slate) are aiming at the same market, but with a different approach. Yes.. and the big phones have an important role to play as well.

      Thanks for posting the first ever comment on the Mobile Computer Blog! 🌟🥇


  2. Thanks Hamed for the excellent review. It was really helpful
    I’m having surface pro 3 (unfortunately the screen just broke recently) , however its not easily mobile due to battery life and it’s weight. I think for most us, who are having a computer at work, and probably another one at home, we need one that we can easily carry it with us when we go to coffee shops or when we travel.

    I think I will get one too, but probably need to wait for the new one first.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome Mazin.

      The fact that the iPad could easily carry you throughout the day without charging and its truly mobile dimensions and weight make it very useful for mobile computing.

      Yes, you are probably better off waiting (perhaps a couple of weeks!) for the rumored new iPad Pro devices.

      Stay tuned for an upcoming article on some of my specific uses of the iPad. Also, check out the “Recommended Apps” page at the top of the blog.

      Thanks for passing by!


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