Can an iPad Replace a Laptop?

Can an iPad Replace a Laptop?

Key points:
  • The latest iPad Pro breathes new life into the conversation about iPads as laptop replacements.
  • iPads are a more compelling alternative to laptops in some jobs than they are in others.
  • The latest iPad Pro has various feature historically exclusive to laptops.
  • JOURNEY has a range of accessories consumers can use to enhance their iPads for work.

The arrival of the latest iPad Pro breathes new life into the enduring question. Can an iPad replace a laptop for work?

Even in its infancy, the iPad had its share of features busy offices could count on to get things done. In 2010, Apple declared its debut iPad a “revolutionary device”, earmarking it for various work activities, including web browsing and emailing.

At a glance, that still sounds about right. Except now, it’s easier than ever to crunch through high-priority work on an iPad. Are we really at the point, however, where we can decommission our laptops and convert to iPad monogamy at work? Sceptics have the wounds of lived experience to feel acrimonious about such a union. Converts, on the other hand, see life rosier through the iPad screen.

But what about you?

Since the latest iPad Pro (the AI-enhanced seventh-generation model) has just launched, we’re here to help you decide.

“I can’t imagine why anyone will want to go back to using a mouse and keyboard once they’ve experienced Apple’s visionary user interface!” – Words from the comments in one tech blog in 2010.

“More than ever, the iPad is equipped to handle tab overload.”

The Advantages of an iPad Pro for work

Lightning-Fast Work

Browser clutter can quickly get out of hand. Take the PhD student in this 2023 study conducted by Aalto University researchers. He reported having around 400 tabs open at one time (ouch). Tab hoarding is even more stressful still, if it grinds your device to a freeze.

Thankfully for iPad users, recent models help avert these headaches.

The sixth-generation iPad Pro was the first to upgrade to the M2 processor, featuring an 8-core CPU and 10-core GPU – and outpacing the M1 processor by 15% and 35% respectively.

Now, with the latest iPad Pro, you have an M4 processor to work with. According to Apple, the new iPad Pro trumps its predecessor with 50% faster CPU, x4 faster GPU, and an additional 20GB/s memory bandwidth.

More than ever, the iPad is equipped to handle tab overload. It’s a bull for the growing proportion of the workforce that regularly needs to barrel through graphics intensive tasks – such as high-res video editing – too.

Photographers, graphic designers, and content creators will find a lot to love in the iPad Pro’s peak visual performance.

Stunning Displays

The Society for Information Display (SID) awarded Apple’s Liquid Retina XDR Display (featured in the sixth-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro) the Display of the Year at its 2022 awards.  

The new iPad Pro features display technology that inspires new heights of visual work activity. 

Highlights include:

  • Refresh rates peaking at 120Hz, for highly responsive viewing experiences
  • Full-screen brightness levels hitting 1000 nits and peak HDR rightness hitting 1600 nits, ensuring your screen is more readable when you use it in bright environments, such as the outdoors under direct sunlight.
  • A 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio for inkier-than-ever darks, along with “pinpoint brightness in the stars” (Apple), and “incredible detail in low light and shadows.

The latest iPad Pro, which features tandem OLED screens, also features display support for one external display, which can hit up to 6K resolution at 60Hz.

Combined with Apple’s Stage Manager app, it’s easy to re-size and organise windows so your workflow is displayed as you need for efficient multi-tasking. Group apps for specific tasks or projects, and arrange, resize, and overlap them in your ideal layout.

iPad OS 17 for Even Better Productivity at Work

iPadOS 17 is full of features for increased workplace productivity on the iPad.

With the latest iPadOS, tablet users can:

  • Complete digital paperwork more efficiently (features including intelligent form detection, enhanced autofill, document scan and inline display in Notes).
  • Visually collaborate through Freeform’s drawing tools, diagramming, real-time collaborative guides, PDF markups, and 3D object exploration.
  • Use smarter predictive typing, auto-correct, and dictation to draft long-form reports, brief intranet communications, or hurry out an external-facing email.

The NEXA 4-in-1 Laptop Sleeve with Wireless Charging is a lightweight sleeve for a lightweight iPad.

A Lighter Alternative to a Laptop

Laptops are lighter than they once were, but still generally significantly heavier than tablets. The 11-inch iPad Pro (sixth generation, Wi-Fi model), for example, weighs 466 grams, and the 12.9-inch equivalent weighs 682 grams. 

The 14-inch MacBook Pro with M3 chip, however, weighs 1.55kg, and the 16-inch equivalent (starting with the M3 Pro chip) weighs 2.14kg.  

The latest iPad Pros, the thinnest-ever Apple product, weigh just 446 grams (11-inch, Wi-Fi and cellular model) and 582 grams (13 inch, Wi-Fi and cellular model).

When you’re frequently hot desking, commuting, travelling, or working mobile, having a lighter alternative to a laptop can significantly impact your everyday carry experience.

The ALTI Wireless Charging Desk Mat structures desks for iPad work activity.

“As tablet-makers such as Apple continue to introduce more laptop-like features to their devices, iPads will become increasingly formidable laptop alternatives.”

Would you use an iPad Pro for work?

When you look at it like we have above, it’s tempting to ask yourself: “With all that upside, why wouldn’t I sayonara my laptop and start unboxing a factory-fresh iPad right now?” 

Maybe you would. Maybe you could. Maybe you should.

But keep in mind the testimony of the many device-onauts who have aborted these missions right around take-off.

Last year, Rami Tabari, an editor for Laptop Mag, guinea pigged with an iPad Pro as a laptop substitute, and tyre-squealed to the hills.

If you want more cautionary tales from critics who parachuted in for a one-week honeymoon with an iPad – like their loyal laptop never existed – Google is flush.

But here is a quick shortlist of bugbears others have sounded in their endeavours to answer if an iPad can replace a laptop:

  • Some apps slow down with the touchpad
  • The iPad Pro is pricey. Set your expectations low if you want to replace your laptop with an iPad Pro to cut costs.
  • The Magic Keyboard isn’t ideal for days of full-throttle productivity activity.
  • The iPad is still short of handy MacOS features.

Getting the most out of your iPad for work

Irrespective of which iPad you use for work, you can quickly enhance its capabilities with the right accessories. 

Here are some of the best iPad accessories to keep you productive:

USB car charger:A USB car charger ordinarily plugs into the 12-volt power outlet in your vehicle. This power outlet, which lives in your console space, is informally known as your cigarette lighter socket or accessory socket.

If you’re driving to work with your iPad packed, or you’re headed out for mobile/remote work, a USB charger will charge your iPad much faster than the port built into your car.

With your vehicle transformed into a dedicated fast-charging zone, you’re equipped with one final line of defence to ensure your iPad is ready when you pull up to a meeting or place of work.

USB wall charger: Your USB wall charger plugs into your electrical wall socket and transfers power to your smartphone, tablet, laptop, and other portable devices.

The maximum wattage an iPad Pro can take from a wall charger is said to be around 30 watts.

Apple includes a 20W USB-C power adapter in the box with new iPad Pros, but we recommend considering a 30W wall charger or higher to get the best out of your iPad and extend the charger’s utility to bigger dervices.

At the same time, if you want to simultaneously fast charge your iPad alongside other mobile devices (such as your phone and laptop), our BLITZ 140 can fast charge four devices, big and small, altogether. Our BLITZ 65 also features two USB-C ports to fast-charge two devices simultaneously.

A laptop stand is a great defence against eye and neck strain during iPad work activity.

Laptop sleeve: A laptop sleeve is a thin case designed to protect your laptop from the bumps and scratches of everyday life. It also protects your iPad from screen scratches and cracks, and general internal and external body damage.

This can save you thousands of dollars in the event of an accident. It can also win you a lot of peace of mind as you carry your iPad between home and place of work.

Laptop stand: A laptop stand is a portable desk accessory that can elevate your iPad to the best viewing height and angle. If you you’re considering working on your iPad for long stretches, and you want to protect your neck and eyes, you need to display your iPad at the ergonomically correct height and angle. You’ll also need a Bluetooth iPad keyboard in a case or a standalone keyboard.

Desk Mat: A desk mat is a protective material surface that zones your desk and offers extra cushioning while you work. Some modern desk mats are equipped with additional features including device charging capabilities, interior storage pockets, and double-sided surfaces. Adding a desk mat to your workspace while you work on your iPad is a simple way to feel organised as you go about your day.

Get more out of your mobile devices, including your iPad, with a multi-port USB-C charger.

Using the iPad Pro as a laptop, sometimes…

As tablet-makers such as Apple continue to introduce more laptop-like features to their devices, iPads will become increasingly formidable laptop alternatives. 

Ultimately however, your experience of the iPad as a work device depends on the type of work you do.

If you’re a digital nomad or somebody who frequently works mobile to service clients, it might make sense. But if you’re permanently stationed at a busy desk to simultaneously crunch through big data, large video files, and various power-hungry apps, across four computer screens, the laptop-to-iPad leap sounds like a gap too far.  

Either way, a tablet such as the new iPad Pro has at least some part to play in many people’s working lives.

Reading next

The Best Tech Gifts for Mother’s Day

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.