Mossberg reviews Apple’s iPad Pro: Graphics folks will love it, but I’m sticking with my iPad Air

“I am a tablet man, specifically an iPad man. I do love my trusty, iconic, MacBook Air laptop. But, except for heavy writing, I’m likelier to grab my iPad Air or even my diminutive iPad mini to get work done,” Walt Mossberg writes for The Verge. “That includes everything from email to photo cropping; from reviewing and annotating PDFs to signing legal documents and editing articles and spreadsheets. I surf the web on it, run Slack on it, use it for Facebook and Twitter, business and personal video calls, and even keep my calendar on it.”

“While the iPad hasn’t entirely replaced my laptop, it has replaced so many of the scenarios for which I used my laptop in the past that I turn to the laptop much less often,” Mossberg writes. “So I was quite intrigued when Apple announced the iPad Pro, a new, jumbo-sized iPad with an optional snap-on physical keyboard cover and stylus for drawing. This whopping slate can be ordered starting today, and I’ve been testing it for the past week. In fact, I wrote much of this column on an iPad Pro with Apple’s Smart Keyboard. For comparison, I also used a new iPad Pro keyboard from Logitech, and a MacBook Pro to write portions.”

“My problem with the iPad Pro is threefold. First, I found it just too big and bulky to hold and use comfortably for long periods,” Mossberg writes. “Second, I was disappointed with Apple’s optional keyboard case… The Logitech Create keyboard for iPad Pro, by contrast, has real individual keys, is backlit, and has a whole row of iPad shortcut keys. Also, it acts as a full case and is $19 less. Of the three keyboards I used to write this column, I found that the MacBook Pro was best, the Logitech Create second, and Apple’s iPad Pro Smart Keyboard dead last. Third, I found few apps that took advantage of the greater screen real estate to display panels or functionality often hidden on mobile devices… The iPad Pro will no doubt make a lot of Apple users happy, especially if they use it for graphics. But I won’t be buying one, and I don’t recommend that average users do so either.”

Tons more in the full review – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: Well, there you have it, a decidedly mixed review from Mossberg. Keep in mind that this review is coming from someone with little or no need for the Apple Pencil – “I’m not a graphics guy. I’m bad at drawing, photo touchups, and even taking notes in freehand on a screen. But even I am blown away by the Apple Pencil” – and who is heavily reliant, likely more than most users, on being able to do one thing: Type.

Apple’s Smart Keyboard is an interesting conundrum. Obviously, Apple eschewed physical keyboards with iOS and Muti-Touch. Is it possible that when asked to design a physical keyboard for iPad after all these years, Jony Ive & Co. looked at the project with disdain and therefore subconsciously did not put full effort into its design?

Notice that the Apple Pencil is universally lauded, while the Apple Smart Keyboard earns barely a “meh.” Well, just look at who designed them: Designers. Who’d better to put maximum effort into perfecting a drawing implement while looking at designing “yet another keyboard” as a chore? It’s not difficult to imagine Apple’s top designers being excited to work on Apple Pencil while passing the “boring” keyboard down the line to lesser ranked team members.

You’re not going to get a glowing review from a writer when your new companion keyboard isn’t best-in-class.

The Verge reviews Apple’s iPad Pro: Could this replace my MacBook? – November 11, 2015


  1. “I won’t be buying one, and I don’t recommend that average users do so either.”

    Over on MacRumors someone posted that that was one statement from Walt that we probably won’t be seeing in a Keynote presentation. 🙂

    So let’s see how many reviews make this the best thing since sliced bread before people really get their hands on it like just happened with the aTV.

    1. So I asked you all go iCal me about my predictions of this device. While it’s still early, these initial reviews like this are substantiating my thoughts.

      The problem is that the device is bulky, the keyboard is paltry (not lappable), there’s no trackpad and no software that would even enable such a precise thing, the keyboard stand is fixed at one angle, and it can’t run full desktop apps or even allow pro grahics people to edit things like raw photos.

      In the end, people will realize that this is just another blown up iPod Touch. Look at yourselves… Look at the store shelves with all the junk accessories for iPad. You’re JURY RIGGING this product when you can just get a laptop. People are literally snapping and gluing keyboards and screen stands to iPad to make it function more like a laptop. Just get a laptop that includes way more power, precision input with mouse, and desktop applications with an unbounded ability to multi-task.

      iPad was never meant to be a laptop replacement. It’s a compromised device out of the box. A simple tablet that’s good at just a narrow amount of things.

      The hypocrisy with you folks is that you charge Microsoft with making a toaster refrigerator and you are now buying a toster refrigerator from Apple. And one that isn’t even as good. For starters, the Surface Pro’s multi angle built in stand blows this fixed angle flimsy iPad Pro keyboard cover stand away.

      iPad sales have been steadily declining because it’s not a must have device. Particularly with jumbo smartphones competing with them. The iPad Pro is just another bozo Tim Cook product. We are riding a headless horse into grey skies on the horizon…

      1. @dswe

        I concur wholeheartedly with your acute assessment.

        The iPad Pro typifies why Tim Cook is failing as Apple’s CEO. He had 4-years to bring out an iPad Pro. Yet all he does is create a giant iPad, offer a cheap but overpriced keyboard, and offer a virtually worthless pencil accessory, then almost double the price!

        I pass on all Cook’s garbage: slow uniport Macbook, Stupidwatch, trashcan Mac, iPad Amateur, buggy Apple Music, etc.

        Also stayed with my iPhone 6, as the 6S doesn’t warrant an upgrade (‘Force Touch’, are you kidding me).

        All utterly WORTHLESS and poorly built and marketed products that Jobs would’ve never let see the light of day.

        The only thing I’m waiting for from Apple is a competent CEO!

      2. Not sure I see the article the same as you do. By no means will I buy an iPad Pro because I do see it more for graphics folks than the average joe or the developer. However, you go further and include the iPad. In fact, my iPad, like the article author’s, has totally replaced my Mac for most everyday tasks. It is MUCH easier to carry my iPad than even my 12″ MacBook. With the MacBook, I’m constantly holding it tightly to keep from dropping it; with the iPad, it’s one piece with an Apple Case that I can be a little less concern about – still careful but not white-knuckled as when I carry the MacBook. Then, when I’m reading in bed, there is simply no better replacement for my small, light-weight iPad Mini. Then again, we I’m hammering out code in Eclipse, XCode or even Visual Studio through Parallels, the iPad just doesn’t measure up. I think the point the author is making is that each device in different sizes plays its own role in its owner’s life depending on the functionality that the owner demands. For people who are casual computer users, it seems overkill to put a laptop in their hands when an iPad can surf the web, email, take notes, keep the schedule and such. But whether the iPad Pro will replace the laptop is primarily dependent on how the owner uses it – not on whether they do or don’t glue a keyboard to it – something by the way that I have not seen and cannot fathom.

      3. You want a trackpad. A TRACKPAD!!! Are you f-ing kidding me?!! I had to reread that several times to make sure you weren’t being sarcastic. But no. I guess I just have to come to terms with the fact that some people have very limited creativity and imagination.

        Regardless, you are right. The iPad Pro isn’t for you. Don’t buy one.

  2. Will be picking up my iPad Pro today at 10:00 am Cuppertino time. Order at, pickup today in-store.
    I plan to use it as another stationalry screen in my stock trading office at my desk……..
    I have also ordered one from B and H photo as a gift to a AutoCAD designer…..shipping today as well….
    For travel I prefer the MB Air……..

    1. PS- bought (6) Apple TV4 for myself, family and friends…….yes the TV needs some work and more Apps but that is alllll forthcoming….
      Accessing Netflix and Hulu via voice commands is awesome for starters…..

      The Apple TV and the Watch will be the must have Holiday gifts especially with the discounts being offered by Target!!!

    1. I am with you. Why are all these reviewers asking if an iPad Pro will replace a laptop? As I have stated before, a better question might be; could any laptop replace an iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil? No? If you are asking these questions, you don’t get it. I am a Pro. I am not about to give up my MacBook Pro. I would also never give up my iPad, now to be replaced or supplemented with the new iPad Pro and Pencil I ordered at about 12:38 am Pacific Time. They are both powerful tools, but different tools. A hammer drill and a Dremel are both rotary tools that have some overlapping capabilities, but one could never replace the other.

      The real questions should be: Will the iPad Pro make me more productive? Will it make my life easier and add to my pleasure? Will it be useful enough to justify the purchase price and costs of ownership? For me, those questions were easy to answer. This thing will make me money, and I will have fun using it.

      1. I agree with your assessment but blame the iPad Pro vs. laptop debate on Tim Cook since he made the statement that he travels with iPhone and iPad pro only now – implying that the pro has replaced his laptop at least in travel.

  3. The iPad Pro quite rightly isn’t for the casual user. It’s for graphic designers like myself. It’s especially for those designers who, again like myself, kept the flame burning in the dark days when we were virtually the only ones buying Macs and keeping the company afloat. The days when we were moving into companies and insisting on buying Macs in bulk for design, PR, photography and illustration departments. When we were fighting against the oncoming tide of Windows dreck and evangelising the Mac as a viable platform. It’s now payback time. And this iPad is for us.

  4. As an artist, I don’t give a damn about typing. The Pro eliminates the need for a Wacom tablet. Apple can’t win- the pros compain about being ignored, and the nerds bitch about “designer types” like- Apple’s designer. Sickening. And PC nerds just loove thw Surface’s mediocre stylus. Get a Logitech keyboard and stop whining about the iPad Pro! You want one device doe everybody and everything? Not.. gonna.. happen. Grow up.

  5. I need to upgrade from my old iPad 3 but still on the fence whether to just get the same size or the iPad Pro. My guess is I will probably only need the standard 9.7″ iPad. “Need” & “want” can be two different things though. Look forward to seeing this in the Apple Store to judge.

  6. First of all, from a Veteran:
    Thanks to all who have served and are serving our country this day- Veteran’s Day.

    I bought a new MacBook Pro Retina last week and have decided to hold off on the iPad Pro until I see that it is worth the King’s ransom they are charging.

  7. Sorry MDN don’t agree. Look at almost all of Apple’s PR shots for iPad Pro. They don’t feature the keyboard. Apple doesn’t want you to think of the iPad Pro as a laptop. They want people to think of th device as a lot more than something to type a term paper on.

  8. And don’t forget you can use a standard Apple Keyboard with this, you don’t need to use the one designed for the Pro.

    But everyone here is right, this is not intended to be a laptop replacement, reviewing the iPad Pro as such is simply wrong. Yes, Tim Cook is pushing this idea, but it will be valid for only some people. The target audience are for people who want a high-end tablet with powerful pen capabilities.

  9. For folks in architecture, engineering, construction, aviation, mechanical service, etc., the Pro is what we’ve been waiting for the ideal, on-site, mobile device.

    As with old iPads, with a Pro we can walk on a construction site with a full set of 30 x 40 drawings, a 10 lb specifications book + all records in the project management flow + code books + forms + anything you can think about related to a project. But with the iPad Pro, we can see documents, details, and plans, much more clearly now. That is huge. And that, while still keeping the capabilities of current iPads to make changes and edits on the spot, take field pictures, access weather conditions, fill out forms, write reports on the spot, and what have you. On the field, we can now write notes and sketch site details and conditions with greater precision and speed.

    So yes, what the current iPad does not have that the Pro does is SIZE! And you know what they say, you cannot teach size! The right size for the job that is. Throw in a bit more power, storage, and speed, and the iPad Pro locks in the sweet spot for the perfect working mobile device combination in terms of size, compactness, deployability, weight, power, and technology.

    Can’t wait to get mine.

    1. It will also be useful for sales engineers because the larger screen and pencil enunciations will be better for show and tell. Teachers will find it useful for markup and some students will discover it is more efficient for generating notes.

      It looks like this is the first reasonably priced device that closely resembles the paper and pencil/pen experience. Throughout the years my stylus experience on Windows devices has been abysmal and not worth the frustration. The Pro could be the beginning of a new paradigm in computing. Saying this device is only useful for artists is missing the bigger picture.

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