In the fall of 2020, I made the decision: simplify my range of everyday devices and eliminate the need for a laptop. A desktop computer at home to work and the iPad Pro with its Magic Keyboard to move around would be more than enough.
In the year-and-a-half since then, I haven’t missed a MacBook, but let’s face it: a pandemic has made my work trips away from home bordering on nothing. It was only during this recently completed Mobile World Congress 2022 that I was unable to “litmus test” the iPad Pro as a portable work device and I was able to draw firmer conclusions.
Some tasks take longer, but there are many benefits if you get used to it
The initial intention is clear: to reduce the number and clutter of the devices I take with me when I have to go on a business trip. Either in the same city of Barcelona where I live for a few hours or in another country for a few days.
With my old 13-inch MacBook Pro, I had to carry a backpack on my back, in addition to several cables. The main advantages of switching to an iPad Pro are multiple and noticeable from the first minute:
- You can only take one loader, with which you can charge the iPhone (using a Lightning cable) or the iPad (using a USB-C cable). For short trips, it’s wonderful. For longer trips, you can bring an AC adapter that can charge both devices at the same time without adding too much bulk or weight. There are even external batteries that perform this function.
- You go from carrying a heavy backpack to being able to carry everything in one stylish bag messenger bag. When you have to walk more than 10km per day, as is the case of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, it ends up being noticed at the end of the day. On long trips, you can take a backpack, but in which there is much more free space.
- the the integration of attached (or personal hotspot) to my iPad is unbeatable. All I have to do is unlock the tablet in a location where there are no known Wi-Fi networks and my iPhone takes care of connecting me to 5G networks. Special mention to this mobile bandwidth: sending half a GB of photos and videos to my colleagues takes 1 or 2 minutes. I no longer need to search for decent Wi-Fi networks in the room I am in.
Where are there sticking points? It is noticeable as quickly and it’s in the software. The task of writing articles like this doesn’t change much, but when it comes to laying them out, there’s a noticeable slowdown in workflow. Choosing the images involves more steps, adding the necessary links means using a slower context menu… iPadOS is far from being a system where one can be fully productive.
Where I’ve noticed this the most is when managing social media at Applesfera, which I’m responsible for. With multiple windows in macOS it takes much less time, in iPadOS it can easily take three or four times as long. Fortunately, this task does not occupy a large part of my day and my days on the go are too few to justify buying a MacBook to speed this up.
At the level of autonomy, moreover, 10 hours of iPad Pro gives me all the charge I need able to work all day without having to worry. I can also reduce this load by enabling airplane mode while writing articles like this, which also works as a deterrent. Another positive is that the iPad Pro itself also works as a charger for my iPhone.
In general, the feeling is that using an iPad Pro as a laptop is something that requires sacrificing time for some much more comfortable tasks on a full computer. But in general, and as long as your needs can adapt to iPadOS, I think this is a good way to simplify things. To change my mind, my life would have to become much more mobile, and right now that’s not going to happen. The key here is to adapt and make the most of your time, and to show you an example: I wrote this article on my iPad Pro on a train.