I wonder whether the 12.9” iPad has a future

Seems like almost anybody thinking about buying one of the big iPads would be better off with a MacBook Air.

For most people, the 12.9” iPad is an ungainly platypus, neither mammal nor bird.

The only people who seem like they’d want the 12.9” iPad would be graphic artists and other people who really, really need that big display and touchscreen and Pencil support.

The 12.9” iPad is too big and heavy to be as portable as the smaller iPads. You can’t hold that 12.9” iPad in your hands for long, unless you’re Andre the Giant. And iPad OS isn’t as versatile as MacOS.

I have an 11-inch iPad Air with a Folio keyboard that I use as a mini-laptop when I want something like that, and I have an iPad mini that I use every day for reading and social media.

Honestly, I’d probably be happier with a MacBook Air than with the iPad Air, but I can’t justify the expense of buying a new MacBook right now.

Truthfully, the iPad mini was a foolish purchase, as I already had the iPad Air. But, still, I’m glad I bought the mini, because it’s my primary iPad now.

I tried for years to make the iPad my go-to device. It wasn’t until my work crippled all iOS Microsoft apps on the iPad that I was “forced” back to my M1 MacBook and I realized just how amazing it is.

I do love the iPad Pro 11" but almost everything is harder on it. I do use it for reading and taking notes. It feels more intimate. I was considering training in the iPP for a mini with cellular…

I realized that I just need to accept this iPad for what it is: a portable tablet that can do some things pretty well but not even close to everything. That makes justifying the high price for the iPad much harder.


I got an 12.9’’ last month and I don’t find it as uncomfortable as I expected for my use case (reading, sheet music, light gaming). But I don’t value portability as much --the device does not go out and about with me.


The cellular connection of my iPhone and its much smaller size, making it seem like a completely different device, is what allows me to accept the limitations of iOS. I have never been able to accept on an iPad the limitations and odd ways of iOS (and more recently iPadOS). If cellular were ever to come to my beautiful M1 MacBook Air I might never think of an iPad again. :slightly_smiling_face:

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I’m so glad I have one (usually attached to a magic keyboard). Using it for sheet music with ForScore is worth the entry fee alone: sits on the music stand just like a (slightly thick) piece of paper. Video on it is fantastic and it’s big enough to be great for picture in picture when I need it and ebooks are great as two-page spreads in landscape. It’s just laptop enough to do some serious work when I need to, especially writing when it’s a dream machine. It’s very portable in the house and I put it in a sleeve if it’s travelling with me.

If money were no object, I’d love a MBA too, and maybe an iPad mini (and a maxxed out studio and ludicrously expensive monitor) but they are all different devices with different strengths. I think a big iPad has a future.


I still love my 12.9” iPad Pro and will continue to purchase iPads at this size.

Split Screen is better. Sheet music is better. Reading and annotating PDFs is better.

And in Stage Manager, Zoom with a notes app is better.

Just my two cents.


I recommend the Air to regular folks because it’s a lot cheaper, but the 12.9” is so fun and useful. And portable. I don’t think it’ll be discontinued unless they change what their premium iPad lineup looks like.


If money were no object nor was reality, I’d prefer one device that could handle most everything. Obviously the phone is going to be separate because it has to be carryable. Desktop class iPad would be the best. But this is not where Apple is going, so PDF’s & sheet music & reading & cooking is an iPad thing. Except for those who prefer the big screen, there’s really no need for the iPad Pro. If they had an iPad Air 13"…

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I own a 12.9, and yes - it’s absolutely a tank. Big and heavy, and takes up the same bag space as the MBA.

That said, for some things I like it much better. The touch interface is very nice for a number of things. The Pencil adds functionality that just doesn’t exist on a laptop. And it might sound silly, but the keyboard adds distance between me and the screen. It’s much easier to use the iPad when I’m not at a desk.

That said, I’m not generally using a keyboard with it either. I have a ZUGU case that has basically turns into a triangle stand at a variety of different angles, and that works well for me.

I get that it’s not a laptop, and I don’t think I’d ever want to give up my laptop for my serious day-to-day work. But for something to go in my bag and handle a number of work-type tasks when I’m on the go, it’s great. :slight_smile:

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Thinking of looking at that ZUGU case for the iPad mini.

Now that I’ve transitioned from iPad Air to mini, one thing I miss about the Air is the way the Folio keyboard and case are all one thing, and the iPad effortlessly attaches and detaches from the Folio.

I don’t agree with this, it largely depends on what you use it for. It’s definitely not a Mac Replacement, but since my iPad 3, I stopped using my MacBook Pro and since then have used a Mac Mini as my desktop and my iPad as my daily driver, but I largely consume from it and don’t use a Mac for work.


Just noting that the ZUGU case wouldn’t attach/detach easily - it’s a full-encasement thing. But it has a nice pencil pouch on the back, the pencil can magnetize to the side while it’s being used, and the little magnetic multi-position stand is awesome. :slight_smile:

I have a mini and a 12.9, and I have the ZUGU for both. Works great.

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That would be perfect for most of the senior managers/executives I supported over the years. Most liked having a larger screen. They used their computer to stay organized, consume data, and communicate.

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I hope your prediction is wrong. Apple can pry my 12.9" iPad from my cold dead hands. It is a workhorse for me. I’ve used this size since the second gen pro version came out in 2017.

You are probably right that when confronted with an either/or choice between big iPad and MBA, the MBA may win out for most people. I’m not an MBA guy, so I’m not quite sure. I’d take the 12.9" iPad over the MBA, but I get tremendous value out of the iPad. For my macOS machine, I use a 16" MBP.


Out of curiosity, what’s your use case for the larger iPad? Always interested in how other people use the big device. :slight_smile:

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Thrilled you asked! Actually, I was planning on doing a separate post detailing some of this to share how Stage Manager and external display support have been working out. I hope to have that done soon and will link to it here.


I really wish they’d allow external (non mirrored) display use without using stage manager


I am a mathematics teacher and writing on my 12.9’ is bliss. That is all I need to justify the cost.


It would be nice for Apple to enable that. Still, if you run the app on the external monitor in “full screen,” you can come pretty close to that. It’s not quite the same thing, and it doesn’t get you SplitView and Slide Over. But you can at least get the one-app experience.

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I really don’t like Stage Manager and much prefer Split Screen. I find SM to be inconsistent and wasteful of screen real estates. It’s not really fit for focused work.