I’ve been a enthuiastic 12.9″ iPad Pro user since the 2018 iPad Pro came out. Prior to that device I’d owned many iPad versions but they were mainly content consumption devices. I did a bit of blogging on them, I even tried my hand at coding with the 9.7″ iPad Pro, but ultimately there was something about the devices that felt like it was lacking and I couldn’t make them my full-time device.
With the 12.9″ iPad Pro that changed. I spent a year focusing on the iPad as my device. I figured out how to turn my iPad Pro into a fairly capable web development device. The biggest hinderance to the iPad as a development device was that it only had the 12.9″ screen to work with. Attaching it to a second monitor was mostly a waste of time as it couldn’t really use the external screen for anything but mirroring what you were already looking at.
Sure there were a few applications like LumaFusion and Blink Shell that attempted to make better use of the external monitor. Both of these applications did a decent job with the capabilities Apple gave them, but you were still stuck using a single app at a time which greatly hindered the usefulness of the applications.
With iPad OS 16.2 that has changed. You can now fill an external monitor. Stage Manager lets you have multiple different applications open on your screen at once, while also having different applications open on your iPad screen. These changes have also had me wondering if the 12.9″ iPad Pro is the best iPad Pro for those that want to get work done.
The biggest knock against the 12.9″ iPad Pro as a device to get work done is that when you take it away from a spot that you can get it on a desk or table it’s huge. Using the 12.9″ device as a tablet is a struggle. Laying down to read always has me wondering if I might injure myself if I slip and drop it on my face.
The 12.9″ iPad Pro is not the best iPad if you want to use it as a tablet. It’s large and unwieldly in tablet mode.
Now though you have other options if you want an excellent modular focused computer that is a great tablet. Both the 11″ iPad Air and the 11″ iPad Pro will support external monitors under iPadOS 16.2 since they have M1 chips in them. I think this additional functionality makes one of them the best iPad to get work done on.
When You Need Screen Space
When you need lots of screen space you can now sit down with either of those 11″ iPad’s and attach them to a second screen. I’m sitting in front of a 27″ 4k display with my 12.9″ iPad Pro off to the side. I have one window open with Obsidian to write in and Safari open beside it to reference the specs of different devices.
This is better ergonomically because I can look directly in front of myself instead of looking down at the iPad on my desk. Yes I have built an iPad stand that lets me mount my iPad on any VESA compatible arm which improved the ergonomics of the device for worknig at a desk, but that still left me with the 12.9″ screen as my only interface to the software. Now I use that iPad VESA mount beside a second screen running iPad OS 16.2 for a highly productive iPad setup.
Either of the 11″ iPad’s can do this just as well as the 12.9″ iPad Pro. They’d both handle Obsidian and Safari on an external monitor with Apple Music playing sometihng to listen to. The 11″ iPad Pro would process video just as fast as the 12.9″ iPad Pro since they use the same chips that have the same features.
When You Need Portability
When you’re looking for a device that’s portable and powerful either the 11″ iPad Air or the 11″ iPad Pro beat the 12.9″ iPad Pro because they’re both far more portable than the massive 12.9″ device. They achieve this portability without giving up much in the power department.
For most people the 11″ iPad Air is the right choice to get work done. It’s storage can be upgraded to 256GB, which is plenty for most users. Sure I like 1TB of storage, but I end up loading videos onto my iPad so that I can edit them for YouTube.
For me, the 11″ iPad Pro is looking like one fine device. I can still get storage options up to 2TB and at the larger options I’d get 16GB of RAM in the device. It would be much easier to use as a tablet, while retaining the extra screen space I can get from an external monitor. The 11″ iPad Pro also saves me $400 Canadian compared to the 12.9″ iPad Pro at similar configurations. That pays for the keyboard I’d need to purchase during the upgrade.
Sure the 12.9″ mini-LED display is nicer on the 12.9″ device. It will do HDR, and supports reference mode for more accurate colour reproduction. I’m almost never going to use these features though which means it’s not $400 nicer.
If I was purchasing a new iPad right now to replace my M1 device I’d get the 11″ iPad Pro. It can do everything my 12.9″ iPad Pro can do in the power department, and it’s a far better tablet.
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