Some hardcore Apple fans are surely excited about some of the rumored products that are supposed to launch later this year, including the 12-inch Retina MacBook Air and the 12-inch iPad Pro or iPad Air Plus the company is reportedly working on. Despite what some have secretly been hoping for — that Apple is making a Surface-like device that’ll bring you the best of two worlds, an iOS tablet and an OS X laptop in the same ultra-portable box — it appears these two devices are separate products targeting different buyers.
Yet at the same time, the 12-inch MacBook Air and the 12-inch iPad will somehow compete against each other later this year. And buyers, myself included, might have a tough time deciding between these two particular computers.
Paradoxically, the 12-inch MacBook Air might be targeting users who aren’t necessarily interested in a Pro experience and who might find a tablet even easier to use on the go. Yet I could very well use a 12-inch MacBook Air for most of my daily activities — though yes, I’d need a few extra ports here and there to connect other peripherals, especially a secondary screen.
Meanwhile, the 12-inch iPad is apparently targeting enterprise customers who might be looking for desktop-grade apps and a physical keyboard for certain work-related tasks. Though I can’t see myself using an iPad for work purposes at this time, the increase in screen size combined with some special iOS 9 features that improve productivity could turn a 12-inch iPad into an even more powerful working tool than any of the current iPads.
On the other hand, the 12-inch MacBook Air is supposed to offer a design makeover that’ll make the notebook even more portable and bring it to tablet territory when it comes to size and weight. According to reports, the 12-inch MacBook Air will ditch all ports but for a USB Type-C port and a headphone jack, which seems to indicate that Apple wants this device to appeal especially to computer users who are constantly on the move, and yet need a dependable laptop to get them through the day. That means the device should be incredibly light as well, making it the perfect travel companion for those work-related trips.
It’s likely the MacBook Air will also offer great battery life considering it’s supposed to pack an even more efficient processor that doesn’t need fan cooling. And no, I don’t even care there’s no MagSafe port in there. In fact, I hope I won’t have to constantly remember to pack my charger while out and about. Though at the same time, the bigger iPad should offer battery life that’s at least on par with what Apple’s 9.7-inch tablets can currently offer, if not better.
There’s no doubt in my mind the MacBook Air should offer a consistent computing experience, not to mention improved visuals. But then, so should the bigger iPad, which is going to get a special, faster processor, and special iOS 9 features.
Sure, the MacBook Air is rumored to pack a Retina display, but the iPad Air Plus should offer a more than decent viewing experience for all sorts of content as well, especially considering the significant increase in size compared to the iPad Air. In fact, we shouldn’t be surprised to see the bigger iPad sport Retina-grade resolution as well.
Finally, there’s also price to consider. The cheapest iPad Apple sells costs $499 (16GB Wi-Fi iPad Air), while the cheapest MacBook Air costs $899 (the 11.6-inch model). It’s likely the 12-inch iPad will be more expensive than 9.7-inch versions, and that the 12-inch MacBook Air should be more expensive than the 11.6-inch base version. But buying both devices shouldn’t really be an option.
Whatever the reason Apple is creating two devices that’ll have the same screen size yet offer completely different computing experiences, the company certainly feels consumers need them. After all, one could always argue that the company already had similarly-sized iOS and OS X products in store so far, as the 9.7-inch iPad/iPad Air and the 11-inch MacBook Air are very close in size. But Apple’s upcoming 12-inch devices will be more similar than any of their predecessors, assuming both products will actually be launched this year.
Thus, choosing between a 12-inch MacBook Air and a 12-inch iPad Air Plus might be a tough nut to crack for many computer buyers this year. I’m already torn about it and I don’t see an easy way out.