The iPad Pro

Words & Photo Retouching:
Mahmoud Mfinanga

Photography & Creative Direction:
Mahmoud, Samuel Trotter, and Nick Hagen

Nick, Sam, Mahmoud, and a deaf cat

Though the iPad Pro was provided by Verzion Wireless, this had no effect on my thoughts about the device.


Apple 9.7-inch iPad Pro

Starting at $599 USD
Storage — 32GB, 128GB, or 256GB
Finishes — Silver, Gold, Rose Gold, or Space Gray

Apple 12.9-inch iPad Pro

Starting at $799 USD
Storage — 32GB, 128GB, or 256GB
Finishes — Silver, Gold, or Space Gray


When Apple revealed the iPad in 2010, it was intended to allow a more intimate, fun way of accessing content and apps, but the primary focus was never to replace a laptop. However, as the years went by, people started using tablets as a means to not only portably consume content, but create it. From editing videos, to taking notes, tablets gave the average consumer less incentive to use their five-year-old PC.

Thing is, due to the variety of iPad’s that Apple now sells, it’s difficult to generalise what type of people should buy the iPad. Some want an iPad that’s an extension of their workstation, while others want an iPad that satisfies their portable computing needs

The “Pro” in iPad Pro

Though the “pro” in the Mac Pro indicates that it’s primarily for professionals, the “pro” in the MacBook Pro suggests the ability to expand the MacBook's performance capabilities. I noticed that most people who purchase a MacBook Pro use it in varied scenarios. Some are students, some are creatives, some are developers, some are cats, and some simply have the moolah to buy one. And when it comes to the “pro” in iPad Pro, it’s more subjective than objective. Apple isn’t specifically targeting professional users; they're targeting all users

The iPad Pro is a (deaf) cat friendly device.

The iPad Pro is a (deaf) cat friendly device.

Look, the hardware in the iPad Pro is amazing. The 12.9-inch screen—which is big for a tablet, but not big enough for Netflix-and-chill—is shockingly immersive. The quad surround speakers are loud and clear, I never once experienced lag, and the battery life is good, but it’s not the hardware that’s limiting the iPad Pro; it’s the software. 

Simply put, there are tasks and functions, such as Adobe’s full-featured creative apps and a file and folder management system that work better on OSX. As a creative professional, I was excited by the idea of having a tablet replace my laptop, but after using the iPad Pro the way I’d use my MacBook, it became harder to ignore its blemishes.

My documents are handled through Pages and Google Docs, my pictures are handled through Dropbox, Google Photos, and Photos, and my music is all on Apple Music. All of these apps are available on the iPad Pro, but my workflow also involves downloading various file types. From .ZIP's to RAW’s the iPad Pro can’t manage these type of files as well as my MacBook can.

One of Adobe’s mobile creativity apps is Photoshop Lightroom, which allows you to edit, capture, and share photos. So when I would attempt to edit RAW images with the iPad Pro, I could only adjust basic tools such as exposure values, tone curves, split toning, and cropping. But I can’t solely rely on those tools with my work. I religiously rely on VSCO Film camera profiles and tools such as lens correction, adjustment brush, and spot removal. I can’t generate the desired work my clients and I want without these tools. Oh, and “fun fact”: I can’t view RAW files on the Photos app; they show up as blank images until I upload them to Photoshop Lightroom. When it comes to working on typographic projects, until I’m able to directly upload third-party sourced typefaces, I can’t use Adobe’s Comp CC to it’s full potential for my intended use. Overall, these apps are great for basic functions that most users would be content with. But the iPad Pro won’t be replacing my laptop just yet. The iPad Pro is technically capable of supporting these features, but it’s up to developer support to make these dreams come true.

Size matters

Here’s a real world scenario I’ve encountered. Let’s say you notice that you have to go to the bathroom and that it’s gonna, well, take a while. But you’re currently working on your laptop. Sure, it would be nice to continue working while handling business in the bathroom, but what mad man takes a 15-inch MacBook to the bathroom? Not this guy. So, because the iPad Pro’s form factor is more portable than a laptop, you can continue your work in the bathroom. And because of the continuity Apple’s apps have, you can pick up right where you left off. It goes to show that the iPad Pro—like previous iPad's—can go anywhere with you without compromising productivity/entertainment. From your bed, desk, the toilet, to sitting backseat during a road trip, the iPad Pro will keep you company.

Digital meets tangible

I never thought that 2016 would be the year I bought a $99 “pencil”. Though my wallet is still giving me the stink eye, I gotta hand it to Apple; they made a revolutionary tool for the iPad Pro. It’s responsive, innovative, and tangible. And when I integrated the Apple Pencil into my notes, the experience was as familiar as using a pen, because of the Pencil’s weight and rigidity. The Pencil’s latency—the delay between the time it takes to initiate a touch and response—virtually replicates the experience of drawing on a piece of paper. Major Key Alert, guys.

One thing I found myself frequently doing while taking notes was scratching out the mistakes rather than erasing them because (1) there’s no digital eraser on the Pencil, and (2) the Pencil is already in my hand so erasing something would either require my other hand or disrupting my writing to select the eraser tool twice (to enable and disable).

I wish I could use the Apple Pencil for photo-editing, but all the things I would use it for aren’t even offered in Adobe’s Photoshop Lightroom app, yet.

You cain either charge the Apple Pencil by plugging it in the iPad Pro or by connecting it to a lightning cable via the female to female lightning adapter.

You cain either charge the Apple Pencil by plugging it in the iPad Pro or by connecting it to a lightning cable via the female to female lightning adapter.

Not for me.
Maybe for you.

Judging from what Apple’s CEO Tim Cook suggested, I think the people who are best-served by the iPad Pro are the same type of people who only need to browse the web, manage emails, and run non-intensive apps. And to me, that seems like a major portion of the same type of consumers who’ve had the same PC for five years because their tablet meets their needs.

In order to let the iPad Pro replace our laptops as a portable computing device, iOS will gradually have to inject OSX’s powerful capabilities, but this is a good start. The iPad Pro invites developers to use it’s platform to create intuitive, powerful apps that will eventually allow us to throw away our laptops, but no matter how powerful and immersive it is, the iPad Pro is still an iOS device.

The iPad Pro won’t replace my laptop yet, but maybe it can replace yours.

Extended notes:

  • The 9.7-inch iPad Pro has a rear 12MP and front 5MP camera, True Tone technology, and built-in sensors that automatically adjust and optimise the audio no matter which way you’re using it. These improvements make the 12.9-inch iPad Pro—only six months old—feel inferior. 
  • If I was to choose between either sized iPad Pro’s, I’d prefer the 9.7-inch model because (1) it seems sensible as a companion to my MacBook, and (2) it can be held single handedly for an extended amount of time.
  • The on-screen keyboard on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is the same size as laptop keyboard. In fact, on-screen typing felt so natural on the iPad Pro that I was comfortable enough to write most of this review on it.
  • The diameter of the iPad Pro is almost the same size of a box of Frosted Flakes, or Cheerios. Whichever one makes you feel happier.