Why I prefer the iPad over a MacBook

I had to bring my MacBook instead of my iPad during a recent trip. For the whole time, I missed my iPad. Here are the reasons why I prefer the iPad over a MacBook.

Why I prefer the iPad over a MacBook

I recently traveled to Germany. Usually, I always bring my iPad, but this time, I had to bring my MacBook as I had a few errands that required me to have a full macOS. For the whole trip, I missed my iPad Pro (M2) every single time I had to use my MacBook Pro (M2 Pro, 14').

(for the reader: iPad means iPad Pro and MacBook means MacBook Pro in the context of this article, I know there are many differences between the Non-Air, Air, and Pro models)

Recently, a friend told me he didn't understand why people prefer the iPad's. For him, it was a toy. For me, it's a productive workhorse. It's a beautiful and magical device. The magic is not immediately clear, but the more one embrace the iPad way, and start using it, it becomes a joy to use it.

For me, here are the top reasons why I love the iPad and why I missed it during my travel (for the record, I'm currently using the 2022 iPad Pro 11' with M2. I ordered the new 2024 11' model with M4, and it'll replace my existing iPad. I plan to write a first impression blog post about it, coming soon.).

  • iPad works better in environments with constrained spaces, such as airplanes. I can hold it in various ways; I can't say the same for the MacBook.. The iPad is portable and small enough to put on an airplane tray. The ability to use the iPad in awkward places is a net benefit.
  • iPad has various apps that allow you to download offline Videos to watch later (Netflix, Prime, etc...). The MacBook doesn't have such apps. Of course, one can always download the videos in various ways, but it's a hassle.
  • It doesn't get hot when I use it on my lap.
  • I can use my iPad while cooking food for the family, it's easier to place it in various places on the kitchen countertop.
  • It's on instantly, whereas it takes multiple seconds on the MacBook to turn it on.
  • Switching between several apps is faster and quicker, especially if you use it with the Magic Keyboard.
  • I love editing my Photos on Lightroom via iPad. I hated using Lightroom CC on my MacBook. It's quicker and easier to edit photos on the iPad than on the MacBook. I probably can write a lengthy blog post about how the Lightroom is so much better on the iPad (of course Adobe also doesn't care a lot about their apps on the macOS).
  • Watching movies or watching YouTube videos is more fun on the iPad. (also, various offline modes rock when I have to travel)
  • Designing a 3D model with Shapr3D is better than trying anything else. I'm not a designer, but if I were to work professionally, Shapr3D + iPad would be the only reason to use the iPad.
  • I can use the iPad while lying on the couch.
  • I like to use it to write blog posts (nit: I'm currently writing this on my iPad Pro).
  • I can use my iPad while exercising to watch instructions or as part of my fitness routine, while the MacBook is very inflexible.
  • iPad is miles lighter than my MacBook. It makes a lot more sense to use it for travel.
  • The kids can use the iPad during long road trips. I can mount it to the seats easily.

I only use a MacBook for my professional Software development job. I need Docker, my Fish/Tmux/Vim environment, kubectl, and the ability to compile Go code, among many other things.

On top of these, some websites don't render well on the iPad, Safari, certain extensions are still missing, and I can't slice 3D models on the iPad yet. These are some of the software that is hard or impossible to use on the iPad. So, it's not a full replacement for a MacBook yet. (I actually tried it at some point, and wrote a lengthy blog post about my experience: Using the iPad Pro as my development machine)

I know Apple would and will never allow people to do any of these on an iPad, but the moment they do, there is zero reason I would prefer a MacBook for an iPad. The iPad feels like a future device, whereas the MacBook feels stuck in the past. The iPad needs a future OS, and unfortunately, Apple has intentionally held back operating system improvements. Once Apple stops treating the iPad like a poster child; it'll be the most incredible device on earth.