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The M4 iPad Pro is great for travel, but it still can’t replace my Mac

Published Jul 4th, 2024 1:07PM EDT
2024 iPad Pro on a Magic Keyboard
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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The M4 iPad Pro was released in May. With many expectations for iPadOS 18, we quickly discovered that this upcoming software update isn’t changing the foundation of iPadOS. Still, as I lacked a newer iPad, I was convinced I should finally upgrade my 2nd-gen iPad Pro to the new 13-inch M4 iPad Pro.

Combined with the Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil Pro, I needed a little push to leave my Mac setup to see if I could get my job done with Apple’s most expensive tablet. That’s why when I had a business trip for the past couple of weeks, I knew I should risk it and take the iPad with me instead of my MacBook Pro.

While I knew taking the MacBook Pro was probably a better option, I was intrigued by the possibility of using the M4 iPad Pro as my main computer and trying to discover if I could get the job done. Here’s how it went.

Making sure the M4 iPad Pro wouldn’t let me down

Before traveling, I made sure all the apps I needed to perform my job as a tech news reporter worked properly, especially while running iPadOS 18 beta 1. In my case, Slack, my e-mail app, Microsoft Edge or Safari, and Pixelmator needed to be working smoothly.

In the week before my business trip, I wrote a few articles here and there with the M4 iPad Pro. It certainly could’ve gone smoother, but I was convinced I could get the job done. As I returned home, I can say things were better than worst. However, the iPad’s bad and good points became more apparent.

I took the iPad for the fun, but work needed to be done

The main reason why I took the M4 iPad Pro with me was because I wanted to conveniently watch my TV shows and movies during the long hours of the flight. While I could’ve taken both devices, I knew it would be too much – and I also wanted to see if the iPad Pro could replace my Mac for business trips.

The overall experience was fine, but I had two main issues that I think could have been avoided with a MacBook: RAM management and Grammarly incompatibility.

M4 iPad Pro / iPadOS 18 supported devicesImage source: José Adorno for BGR

The first issue will resonate with more users. At least once while working, I lost about 200 words because Safari refreshed the page before WordPress could automatically save it. Even with 8GB of RAM, the iPad Pro often wanted to refresh Safari pages when I switched between apps. Unfortunately, even if I had 16GB of RAM, the same thing would’ve happened. The bottom line is that the iPad has poor RAM management, and some apps like Final Cut Pro are dumped out of RAM as soon as I minimized them. Crazy.

The other issue was with the language barrier. As a non-native English speaker, I often need to double-check my spelling with Grammarly. While it works pretty consistently with the Mac, I had many, many issues with it on the iPad, such as:

  • Grammarly doesn’t work with Apple’s Magic Keyboard
  • When I asked for Grammarly suggestions, it wasn’t able to give me options to rephrase a sentence
  • I had to tap paragraph by paragraph to get Grammarly insights (while also removing the iPad from the Magic Keyboard)
  • Recommendations weren’t that accurate

Long story short, Grammarly (the app and the extension) didn’t work as expected. I had these issues before installing the beta, and, of course, they didn’t go away with iPadOS 18. In this case, I feel it’s both an issue with Apple and the developer, and this might be the biggest drawback for those planning to replace their laptop with an iPad.

There’s something charming about the iPad’s workflow

M4 iPad Pro docked in the new Magic Keyboard
M4 iPad Pro docked in the new Magic Keyboard Image source: Apple Inc.

Even with these problems, I still enjoyed using the iPad Pro during my travels. Not only it’s a beautiful piece of hardware, but it also has the quickness of an iOS device.

Also, I could experience Stage Manager in action for the first time. Even though it has its limitations, I feel it’s the best solution yet for splitting the screen. It was great splitting multiple windows in a natural work environment. It’s also especially great to have different stages for applications, such as Mail + Slack, Safari tabs only, Pixelmator, and so on.

Of course, this is only possible thanks to the Magic Keyboard, which enhances the iPad experience. Otherwise, the iPad’s keyboard would take up half the screen, and I wouldn’t be able to work as fast as I needed to.

While I still feel more secure with a Mac, I know the iPad can do the job. After all, in 2019, I covered an in-person WWDC 2019 with an iPhone XR, a 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and a dream. Phew.

Does the M4 iPad Pro can replace a laptop?

It all depends on your needs. For me, the Mac offers the most reliable work experience. However, there’s no issue with wanting a funnier experience. The iPad Pro has been great for me as a journalist, and I’m sure it also works well for designers and many other professionals.

For my next business trip, I’ll still consider taking the iPad with me. Eventually, I might sell the MacBook Pro and keep my Mac Studio for working at home and the iPad Pro for working outdoors.

José Adorno Tech News Reporter

José is a Tech News Reporter at BGR. He has previously covered Apple and iPhone news for 9to5Mac, and was a producer and web editor for Latin America broadcaster TV Globo. He is based out of Brazil.