So it is with all the iPad vs. Mac shootouts, showdowns, and comparisons since iPad Pro launched a few years ago. This will be my last comparison of iPad Pro vs Mac. Until some not-to-distant point in the near future when Apple changes something that requires a new perspective.
Not. The. Same.
At the basic hardware level there just isn’t much to compare with comparably priced Mac and iPad Pro models. iPad Pro is more powerful. The Apple-designed A-series CPU runs rings around entry-level MacBook (ready for an upgrade), MacBook Air (likely to get an upgrade with a new keyboard), and MacBook Pro (all three priced within $100 of each other).
iPad Pro models are lighter, sans keyboard, of course, but have a higher resolution display, too. iPad even has more apps than you can find for the Mac. The reason for yet another shootout has to do with iPadOS, due later this year, which features a few dozen more keyboard shortcuts, and… insert Mac360’s famous drum roll here… mouse support. Add a decent keyboard to the iPad Pro and you get a lightning fast device that has more apps and better graphics than any comparably priced Mac.
When just comparing hardware and software choices, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro wins the shootout with ease. $1,149 gets you 256GB of storage, while a MacBook Pro comparably equipped is $1,499, a MacBook Air is $1,399, and the basic MacBook is $1,299. The iOS App Store has far more applications available for iPad than the Mac App Store, or the Mac in general.
So, iPad Pro wins, right?
Almost but not quite. Hardware and software are one thing, but usability and capability must be considered. One can argue– and probably win the debate– that all iPads are easier to use than a Mac. Capability is a different animal.
Even entry-level Macs can run Photoshop, Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Cloud apps, and many more that do not have iOS or iPadOS counterparts. Even Apple’s own Logic Pro X and Final Cut Pro X do not have anything comparable for iPad. It remains to be seen how Mac-like the addition of more keyboard shortcuts and mouse-trackpad support brings to iPad Pro, but suffice it to say the only category left to compare is the one that cannot be compared. At least, not compared easily.
If all you need to do is email, text messaging, some FaceTime, browse the interwebs, play a few games, keep track of Reminders, Notes, Calendar, Contacts, and News, then even a lowly $329 iPad with a decent Bluetooth keyboard (Amazon has some good ones for less than $30) will do the deed. Less than $400 vs. $1,200?
iPad wins at the low end of user requirements. No contest. Touchscreen is just easier to use than the keyboard and trackpad-mouse combo.
Easier isn’t necessarily better because user requirements vary.
What about the other end of the scale? Macs can run Windows 10, most flavors of Linux, even Unix; and all at the same time if required (not just in Base Camp’s dual boot mode). Even macOS has the Terminal.app which gets used by Mac power folk, and the Mac has many utilities and professional level apps not found on iPadOS.
Let’s call it user horsepower requirements that are not reflective of hardware specifications– but they can be. A 15-inch MacBook Pro can be outfitted with a 9th-generation Intel Inside, 32GB RAM, 4GB GPU, 4TB SSD storage and that– for $6,549– will run rings around any iPad Pro this side of Apple’s R&D facilities.
Every shootout or showdown or comparison needs to be sliced and diced and Julienned based upon user requirements. If yours fall into the casual category, an iPad is a bargain. If you need some heavy lifting that only a truck can handle, a more powerful Mac might meet your requirements.
Word on streets says the next iPad Pro models might also have a clamshell design– a keyboard that looks and feels Mac-like– while the Mac notebooks are about to get the old scissors keyboard design back again; replacing the ill-fated butterfly design that haunts Mac users.
So, this is the last iPad Pro vs. Mac shootout. Until the next one.