iPad Pro vs MacBook Air M1

HOT TAKE ALERT!!!!!! The iPad Pro is not a good deal and schools should stay away from it!

I guess that’s not really a hot take but more of an obvious opinion. Let me explain where this is coming from.

My school assigns MacBooks to our staff. We like the build quality, the ease to use and manage MacOS and the fact that it has good battery life and updates don’t seem to break the OS (side glancing at you Microsoft). In short, they are good value for the money and when there are issues, Apple is quick to help us resolve them.

Three years ago, Apple started marketing their iPad Pro as a laptop replacement. You can check out their ad below.

The ad is a little cringey but the message was clear. Tablets are the future and the iPad Pro is the tablet of choice to take you there. It is more like a laptop than ever before! They touted that it is more powerful than most laptops out there, has way better battery life, a great screen and it’s super portable. None of these claims are untrue but it runs iPad OS. Which means it only runs apps that have been built specifically for that operating system. But then . . .

Enter M1

Last November, Apple unveiled its own silicon called the M1. This put the entire system of the computer into one chip and allowed Apple to fully optimize it for Mac OS. This means, great performance, great battery life and since it is their own architecture it had one more trick up its sleeve. It could run most iPad OS apps. That means if you have an app on your iPhone or iPad you could run that app on your new MacBook Air or MacBook Pro. Whoa.

Many people started talking if their laptop can do almost everything an iPad Pro can do, why would (or should) you shell out the money for a tablet when laptops are far more productive and users can be just as creative with it?

Apple’s Spring Event

On April 20th, 2021 Apple held their annual spring event and unveiled many things. One of them was a new iPad Pro. They spent a lot of time on it and I think they really tried to answer the question I just posed.

Here is the thing, outside of better cameras and a better screen it wasn’t a huge update. Then the price was announced. Rather than explain it with words, let’s let Apple show us. Let’s buy an iPad with the same specs as a MacBook Air and compare.

To be fair, I picked the 13″ iPad Pro (which is more expensive than the 11″ version) so the user will have similar screen size. Even without a keyboard, Apple Pencil or mouse/trackpad it still manages to be $200 more money with the same processor, same amount of RAM! WHY?!

Just to be fair here is the cost of the 11″ is cheaper than the MacBook Air, but again, no keyboard, no Apple Pencil, mouse or trackpad and it’s only $100 less. You can check out it’s price below.

I am sure it is great, but you can’t run full Photoshop (the iPad has its own special app), you can’t edit video with Final Cut (again, a special app) and only a single port to charge or plug connect it to an external hard drive. If you want more ports, you need a dongle or a hub.

You have a laptop, and a tablet and they both have the same processing power. The laptop has a keyboard, has a trackpad can run most of the apps that the other can and a huge selection of apps that the other cannot run, and is nearly the same price and in many cases cheaper – why would a school consider an iPad Pro at all?

The iPad Air starts at $600 and is almost as powerful. The base level iPad starts at $320 and while not as powerful still very capable and it runs all (I’m pretty sure) the same apps as its more expensive Air and Pro variant.

Summing it up

Spend your money wisely. If you buy iPad Pros for your school they’ll work wonderfully, but then again so would the base model iPads. If you’re thinking of getting them for your teachers, don’t. Just buy the MacBook Air’s. They have great performance and battery life.

There are a lot of rumors that touch will be coming to MacBooks or that iPad OS and Mac OS will merge into one super OS to rule the world. These are just rumors and we will see what Apple has planned, but right now – the iPad Pro is just no match for the MacBook Air in a daily educational setting.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments below! We are happy to hear other people’s hot takes! 🙂

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