Why recommend iPad Pro over iPad for average user?

I often see discussions about replacing a Mac with an iPad but they are always MacBook vs iPad pro. I have a 2017 iPad which is great to take on a plane, has a folio keyboard which is great to type on, is faster than my iMac writing iMovie projects to .mp4. It’s perfect for writing, web work, photo editing.

I’m always surprised when people don’t actually compare the basic iPad with the MacBook for those thinking of switching, with the price as the dealbreaker e.g. you could get an iPad and an Apple Watch for the price of an iPad Pro.

The 2020 iPad is £329 (can use Pencil 1 although I’m not a pencil user). iPad Pro is £769.

If you were recommending an iPad why might you recommend the iPad pro for the average user, compared with the iPad at less than half the price?

At the moment, I think the sweet spot is the air - magnetic pencil, the magic keyboard option, but a lot of cost savings. In the past, pro had more differentiation, like pencil support or the keyboard folio. I think a lot of the articles may be from that era - I’m still using a 10.5 pro, which is still a great device but basically the air before the current one.


Honestly at this point the Pro only makes sense if you need the 12.9 size. The iPad Air is almost everything people need.

This is why I’m 80% sure the next Pro will have Thunderbolt connection as a differentiation

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In which case I’ll refine my question to why the Air over the basic?

I’m using a basic Logitech folio keyboard and it’s great.

I had this conversation with a family member last year, recommending they pay ~$150 more to get the 2019 Air over the base iPad. The reasoning was entirely because the screen on the Air looked better and would be easier on their eyes due to True Tone, the difference in the coating, and the smaller gap between the glass and the display. Basically, they were buying an iPad to enjoy looking at the screen; why not have the looking be significantly better?

However, they certainly would have enjoyed the base iPad as well and I would have had no problem recommending it if the extra cost was going to be a problem.

Magic keyboard, much smaller bezels, magnetic charging of the Pencil 2. Not earth-shattering by any means, but definitely differentiators for heavy users of the iPad.
If it’s more for content consumption and the occasional email and doodle, then yes, the basic iPad is enough.

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My favorite iPad (and most productive) was my old iPad Pro 9.7 (which is essentially what the new basic iPad has become. I did a lot of writing, video creation and editing. The iPad Pro 2018 or 2020 has a nice looking form factor, but honestly I could do most of the same on the basic iPad. The smaller bezels are nice. I’m not a fan of FaceID.

I’d definitely recommend the basic iPad + pencil + keyboard.

Honestly, I think the current iPad is plenty powerful, enough to do far more than what you describe. Before purchasing the 2017 iPad Pro three years ago I was using the iPad Air 2 for work doing work with Pages, website updates/coding with Textastic, painting with procreate and even a bit of graphic/vector work. Sure, the smaller screen is limiting but one can still get a lot done with the basic iPad, even the previous generation. Is it as fast as a current iPad Pro? Of course not. But still very capable for many tasks.

The screen size is a major difference for me. Having owned an iPad (1) iPad 3, iPad Pro 9.7” and now an iPad Pro 12.9” all of which have been my primary personal computing device, the 12.9” is a game changer. I’m not so sure about 0.8 of an inch between the iPad and 11” iPad Pro, but it makes all of the difference to me.

The other massive enabler on the iPads pro is Face ID. I use a lot of apps which require login, reaching for the touchID button would be a pain and would slow me down. The magnetic pencil is so much better than the previous version (which was regularly low on charge) and the Smart Keyboard is so convenient (if expensive) to have to hand and charged.

I think that longevity plays a part here too. I think that due to faster processors, more storage and better technology overall, an iPad Pro will last longer, albeit at a cost, but regular changes of iPads may require regular refresh of accessories which increases cost to change.

I’d always recommend an iPad Pro or now possibly the Air for anything beyond basic web surfing, email and a bit of word processing.

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I have an 11" 2018 Pro. If I were to get a new one now, it would likely be the Air, but I’m not 100% convinced of it. Fortunately my current iPad is still way, way overpowered for what I need, so there is no imminent replacement decision looming.

For me the question depends on how much you use your iPad, what for, and how much the differentiators matter vs cost. The thin, symmetric bezels; FaceID; and (especially) the Smart Keyboard make the device a joy to use, and worth the price. Other people don’t feel strongly about those features though, so they would choose differently.


If you don’t plan to do a great deal of video editing I don’t think you need an iPad Pro. My previous 9.7 iPad was my primary computer and did everything I needed, including editing video with LumaFusion. I upgraded to a 11 inch 2020 iPad Pro because I wanted more storage and USB-C. And I expected to be doing more video editing, but that’s on hold until we can reboot the planet. With that said, if you opt for the standard iPad I highly recommend the 128 GB storage option.

Here’s another opinion that I think might be useful. He has other videos showing how well a standard iPad can edit 4K video, etc…

I’m glad FaceID works for you. If TouchID had been an extra price option on my iPhone 11 and iPad Pro I would have paid for it.

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Digression from the main topic, but: On the iPad, I could live with either (TouchID as implemented on the new Air), but on the “Pro” phones, I am exceedingly annoyed that both are not included. If Apple includes TouchID on the next Pro phones along side FaceID, that alone would be enough to get me to upgrade.

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I didn’t see it mentioned yet but the speakers on the iPad Pro sound incredible! That alone might make a big difference if the potential buyer plans to watch a lot of Netflix on it . . .


For the price difference (if that was the only reason) I’d invest in AirPods instead. The speakers are decent, but nothing like good TV speakers.