Key TakeawaysA rumored new iPad Pro could make the tablet a serious contender to replace MacBooks. One leaker says that the new iPad Pro will feature internals "on par" with the M1 chip currently found in the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, released in November.Light computer users may find these upgrades are enough to allow them to replace their MacBooks with iPads. Marko Geber / Getty Images
A rumored upgrade to faster processors could make the upcoming iPad Pro a worthy replacement to MacBooks, experts say.
According to well-known Apple leaker Mark Gurman, the new iPad Pro will feature internals "on par" with the M1 chip currently found in the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, released in November.
The M1 has been well received by reviewers, blowing past previous chip benchmarks. Pairing a keyboard and a mouse with the new Ipad could turn it into a machine that's as capable as a laptop.
"The latest iteration of the iPad Pro promises much more powerful Apple silicon," Andrew Jackson, a tech expert at used tech marketplace SellCell, said in an email interview.
"This could plug the power gap sufficiently to make the iPad Pro a more legitimate 'laptop replacement' for even the most power-hungry users out there."
Better Screens and Faster Chips?
Details on the possible upcoming iPad Pro are scant, but separate rumourmongers have some speculation to spread. Mac Otakara, a Japanese rumor site, claims that the new 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro will have a similar design to existing models.
The leaker says the 12.9-inch model will be about 0.5 mm thicker than the current model. The 11-inch model will remain at the same thickness as the current model. Reports indicate that the larger model will have a Mini LED display with significantly improved performance.dowell / Getty Images
Apple has been pushing the iPad Pro as a laptop replacement for years. The company sells accessories like the Apple Pencil, the Smart Keyboard Folio and the Magic Keyboard, which turn your iPad into something that resembles a laptop, Jackson noted.
"Whether an iPad with a Magic Keyboard represents a laptop replacement really depends on what kind of user you are," he added.
"If you're the kind of user whose usage is limited to things like browsing the web, writing emails, making video calls and using productivity apps, then yes, this represents a very serious contender."
But power users like graphic designers and video editors until recently have laughed at the notion of using an iPad as a laptop replacement. "Some of the applications used by these users are power-hungry, and historically, an iPad wouldn't have had the power to do something like editing a 4K video, for example," Jackson said.
Screen Size Envy
Not everyone agrees that a faster iPad will be a suitable MacBook replacement.
SEO Consultant Simone Colavecchi has been using an iPad for work for the past four years, starting with the 2017 edition 10.5 iPad Pro.
"I found it to be a great travel companion given the limited weight, space and battery power which allowed me to watch a TV show on the plane, arrive at a conference and write notes with a pencil," he said.
“Whether an iPad with a Magic Keyboard represents a laptop replacement really depends on what kind of user you are.”
When the pandemic hit, and he began working remotely, Colavecchi upgraded to the latest 12.9-inch iPad Pro for the wider screen and faster processor. He won't be rushing to buy a new iPad as a laptop replacement.
"The new iPad Pro will come in two sizes, 11- and 12.9-inch, and in my opinion, the screen is still too small compared to the 24-inch screen I use as the main one," he said.
"I am also used to working with two screens, so Apple needs to find a way of easily connecting to an external monitor without mirroring what I already have on the iPad."
If you want a workhorse tablet that's not a laptop or an iPad, consider a Microsoft Surface Pro, which features a folding kickstand and a nifty attachable keyboard. "The Surface is not as good when it comes to screen quality, but it allows you to connect to monitors and headphones easily," Colavecchi said.
"I have been using it for a year now, and it handles my daily work quite well, which includes keeping as many as 70 tabs open."