Can an iPad Pro Completely Replace a Laptop?

The release of the 5th Generation iPad Pro in the Spring of 2021 caused a lot of buzz. People wondered if this iPad would finally be the one with the capabilities to replace laptops fully. 

The latest technology packed into the iPad Pro makes it even more powerful than some laptops. We can also attach a magnetic keyboard and trackpad, and that give is a latpot look.

The iPad Pro could replace a laptop to a certain extent. It’s capable of completing basic office tasks and can even handle some extensive design and animation projects. However, the main drawback that keeps the iPad from fully replacing a laptop is its operating system, iPadOS15. 

Apple has designed its products with data sharing between devices in mind. The iPad Pro currently functions as a device that makes transferring work between portable and stationary devices much easier and more convenient for users.

Although Apple may want iPads to eventually replace laptops, it appears as though the current purpose of the iPad’s design is to work in conjunction with MacBooks and iMacs and other Apple products. 

How an iPad Pro is Similar to Laptops

When we look at the iPad Pro, we’ll notice that it shares many similarities with standard laptops. 

When we start with just appearance, the horizontal position of the iPad Pro looks like any average laptop screen. The latest generation of iPad Pros comes in 11-inch and 12.9-inch displays, which are the screen sizes of smaller laptops. 

We can also attach Apple’s magnetic keyboards and connect a computer mouse to the iPad Pro, as long as the mouse is compatible. 

The Apple App Store has over a million apps for iOS powered devices amd we are going to be able to find an app to help us accomplish all kinds of work assignments and projects. Both, Google Workspace and Microsoft Teams, also offer iPad app versions, so we can collaborate and communicate with coworkers. 

The iPad Pro also has 5G and Wi-Fi 6 capabilities, which help us connect to the fastest available mobile interenet. We can also get up to 2TB of storage, which is a comparable amount of storage for laptops. 

Although MacBooks don’t have touchscreens, The iPad Pro does. Like other touchscreen laptops, the iPads also pair with a stylus, and they work best with the Apple Pencil.

The Apple Pencil enhances the user experience for iPads. It has extremely accurate pressure sensitivity, so it’s great for drawing and sketching. 

The 2nd Generation Apple Pencil that pairs with the latest iPad Pro also has a double-tap feature that enables us to switch quickly between tools. 

5th Generation iPad Pro 12.9-Inch Display

The 5th Generation iPad Pro with a 12.9-inch display made one of the biggest technological jumps between iPad generations. This version of the iPad Pro contains the powerful M1 chip, the same chip that’s in the MacBook and iMacs. 

The M1 chip enables the iPad Pro to operate with all-day battery life and work efficiently with faster performance. With the M1 chip, we can use the iPad Pro to edit videos, play games, and build AR models. 

Why an iPad Pro Won’t Completely Replace Laptops

The iPad Pro has amazing features, and it can replace laptops to a degree, depending on the application requirements. However, it won’t completely replace the PC or laptop just yet because of the limitation of the operating system. 


While MacBooks use macOS, iPads have a designated operating system. the iPadOS. The latest versions of both these operating systems are aligned well, but they still have distinct differences. 

For the most part, iPadOS functions more like a mobile phone than a laptop or desktop. We’ll notice the difference in operating systems the most within the apps. Mouse and keyboard actions and shortcuts work differently on the iPad. 

The iPad version of apps runs similarly to iPhone apps. They tend to be more limited than apps designed for macOS. 

For example, Garageband is available through both iPadOS and macOS. However, the iPadOS is more straightforward but has limited controls. Meanwhile, the macOS has more options for detailed operations. 

Depending on the application, we may have to tweak our use of iPad apps because they rarely have as many features as MacOS apps. 

Many iPad Pro users have a shared experience of using workarounds with office apps designed by Google. 

Both Google Docs and Google Sheets are available for iPad Pros. However, like Garageband, the features are pretty limited. For example, we can’t input complex formulas into the Google Sheets app. 

Users have found a workaround for these limitations. We can often open up these programs through a web browser app, such as Safari or Google Chrome. When we access Google Drive through these browsers, we can use the full versions of Google Docs and Google Sheets. 


If we’re using a MacBook and iPad Pro with Sidecar capabilities, we can easily use our iPad as a second screen that either extends or mirrors our MacBook or iPad screen. 

This feature makes transferring work between iPad Pro, iPhone, MacBook, and iMac smooth. So, we can continue to work outside of our workstation with an iPad Pro. Once we’re ready to settle down or do more detailed work, we can easily transition and transfer to a MacBook or iMac with Sidecar.

Features like Sidecar and the improvements made to the latest iPad Pro leads me to believe that Apple has designed the iPad Pro to replace laptops. However, it’s supposed to replace PC laptops, not MacBooks. 

As of now, the iPad Pro is another device to add to one’s collection of Apple devices. It works well when paired and used in conjunction with a MacBook. So, it makes sense for some users to have both an iPad Pro and a MacBook. 

Can Students Use an iPad Pro Instead of a Laptop?

The iPad Pro can replace some laptops for college students as long as students don’t need to work with programs designed primarrily for desktop and laptop operating systems. 

If a student just needs a laptop to take notes and complete general assignments and projects, the iPad Pro can be a great alternative to a bulkier laptop. 

Can Other iPads Replace Laptops?

I don’t recommend replacing laptops with older versions of iPads, especially the ones that aren’t compatible with the Magic Keyboard. These iPads will still strongly feel like tablets and have limited storage and processing power. 

However, as we assess our need for a laptop, we might realize that the type of work we do doesn’t require a laptop at all. A powerful tablet, such as the iPad Pro, could be sufficient for us to use. 

Much of the possibility of replacing a laptop revolves around the type of work that us do. So, iPads can replace some laptops, but as of now, they can’t fully replace a MacBook.

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