Can You Replace Your MacBook with iPad?

This year Apple launched the new iPad Pro with an M4 Processor. It was heralded as a laptop beater. So when I was in Japan, just as this launched, I bought one. I also bought a new MacBook Pro and ever since I’ve been wondering if I should have picked one instead of the other. Join me for a wander into my mind which will hopefully help some people choose between picking an iPad or a MacBook.

I’m going to write about MacBooks and iPads because that’s what I have, but this could largely apply to all laptops and tablets.

Can iPad Replace MacBook?

The only honest answer to whether or not you can do everything you do on a MacBook with an iPad is; “it depends”. This will sound stupid, but the biggest reason I bought both was Football Manager 2024. Sure enough, I’m deep into a Football Manager save, but it’s not the only reason I bought both – it was the general scenario that game presented.

Football Manager has two different versions for iPad and MacBook, with the iPad one being much “lighter”. This left me knowing that not everything on iPad will be as “full fat” as it is on MacBook. So that’s my one use case that left me buying both.

But you might have a totally different set of uses. For example, if you like editing photos and just simple writing, I could see a world where the iPad, perhaps specifically the iPad Pro, is more than enough for you.

If you get the iPad Pro’s Magic Keyboard, it’s just a small MacBook that runs iPad OS instead of Mac OS. This limits certian apps, but some mobile apps are superior to their desktop apps.

My iPad Pro and Magic Keyboard

Photoshop is a great example. Adobe has destroyed the experience of Photoshop in my eyes. But Procreate, once you get used to everything, is a great piece of editing software.

I could easily shoot some photos for an article, edit them and type up the piece on my iPad Pro.

So it depends. you might be able to completely replace your MacBook workflows with an iPad Pro. But you’ll need to make sure the difference between iPad OS and Mac OS doesn’t limit you too much.

For now, I’m still glad I have both but I am a bit like that current meme. I need the laptop for big purchases. Not everyone is going to be like that.

An iPad Could Replace MacBook

The one thing to watch out for is creators on platforms like YouTube saying they are now thinking about replacing their MacBook with iPads because they are so powerful. These comments come out every year yet the same creators are often back one year later just saying that they could do it – yet they haven’t.

As I’ve alluded to, the most important thing you can do it make a big list of things you want to use your machine for. Then see if it can be done easily on iPad OS.

What I will say is that if you should find everything you need to do is possible on iPad OS, the experience is very laptop like these days. The iPad Pro in particular is incredibly powerful. More powerful that you’ll ever really be able to get from the device because Apple insists it cannot overtake MacBook in terms of overall usability.

But that said, iPad is incredibly powerful these days. The Magic Keyboard is one of the most premium (but expensive) iPad accessories on the market, but it delivers an experience to boot.

Should You Buy Both?

And then we arrive at me. I bought both. Why?

I recently discovered a lot of people don’t realise you can use your iPad as a second screen for your MacBook. Duet even lets you use your iPad as a second screen for Windows too. When I’m traveling for events, these comob gives me a wild amount of flexibility. At an event like IFA, I can bring the iPad, pop into the press room, type up a quick article and get back out again. No need to carry around a big heavy laptop for the day.

But when I get back to the hotel, I can fire up the MacBook alongside the iPad as as second screen and have an office like workspace on the road.

Incredibly valuable set up for me. Even at home, I sometimes like siting downstairs at the dinner table working on my MacBook and iPad as second screen. It’s a wildly expensive setup and I don’t use near 100% of the power at my fingertips, but I do like it. If you don’t mind the price, like seamless integration and premium experiences – don’t rule out both.

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Founding Editor of Goosed, Marty is a massive fan of tech making life easier. You'll often find him testing something new, brewing beer or finding some new foodie spots in Dublin, Ireland. - Find me on Threads