Apple is positioning its new iPad Pro as a lightweight productivity machine… so where does that leave this year’s ultra-light, almost-tablet-like MacBook? Is a stylus or a fixed keyboard the way of the future? We pit these two Apple gadgets against each other in the categories that matter most.
The gigantic iPad Pro is the bigger of the two devices, at least when the laptop is closed.
The MacBook is 90 percent thicker but remember this measurement doesn’t include the iPad Pro’s keyboard, hardly a fair fight.
It’s a close call in terms of the weight of these devices, despite the MacBook having that full keyboard added on. As a tablet, the iPad Pro comes out to 23 percent lighter than the full laptop MacBook.
No surprises here: both the iPad Pro and the 2015 MacBook have aluminum unibody designs that Apple is known for. Despite being larger, the iPad Pro follows the design of its predecessors, though the new MacBook is a bit more of a departure from the MacBook Air.
Both devices ship in the same three color options.
The iPad Pro’s display is 23 percent bigger than the new MacBook’s display. The laptop has a flatter and wider 16:10 aspect ratio compared with the iPad’s boxier 4:3.
The iPad Pro is packed with pixels: over 5.5 million of them, to be exact. The 2015 MacBook’s isn’t quite as sharp, but since you won’t be holding it at a tablet viewing distance, it’s probably as sharp as you’d need it to be (the farther away you view a screen, the fewer pixels you need for it to look crisp).
The iPad Pro’s primary input its its touchscreen, but it also accepts smart keyboards and styluses (you can get official Apple versions of each). The MacBook’s screen has no touch capabilities, so you need to make use of the keyboard, trackpad (which is terrific) and whatever accessories you decide to add.
Apple’s Touch ID system is exclusive to iOS for the time being, and has yet to make it to its laptops and desktops. Who knows, maybe you’ll be able to use fingerprint recognition technology on next year’s MacBook, but it’s not available yet.
Though both are (at least partially) work-focused machines, the MacBook has the much more work-friendly storage options.
Apple takes a minimalistic approach with both devices: the iPad Pro has a familiar Lightning connector and a 3.5mm headphone jack, while the 2015 MacBook makes do with a single USB-C port and a headphone port. The USB-C port can handle data transfer, video out and charging duties via the appropriate adapters.
Apple gives similar estimates for both devices. We found the MacBook’s battery to hold up well during our testing.
The iPad Pro will make even less sense for photography than an iPad Air 2 would, but it does have the same cameras onboard.
Apple never reveals too much about its mobile CPUs, but even if it did it would be hard to compare these substantially different processors, though benchmarks will help to shed some light on that.
We don’t know for sure until the device appears, but educated guesses (and
some inadvertent leaks) point to there being 4 GB of RAM inside. The MacBook doubles that to 8 GB, but as it’s running a desktop OS, it has a more demanding multitasking environment to manage.
Again it’s difficult to compare the different graphics capabilities of these devices directly against each other, but it looks like the A9X chip inside the iPad Pro is the more capable (it has to be to power all those pixels). The 2015 MacBook is fitted with an integrated Intel HD 5300 GPU.
As we’ve already mentioned, you can pick up a SIM-enabled iPad Pro if you want to stay connected away from Wi-Fi. You do have to buy the 128 GB model, however.
There’s no cellular option on the MacBook as it’s Wi-Fi all the way (though you could always use your smartphone as a hotspot).
The software running on these two devices accounts for one of the most crucial differences between them. It’s iOS 9 vs. Mac OS X 10.11 El Capitan – mobile vs. desktop – and everything that means for the kinds of apps you can, Siri (iOS only), multitasking (more advanced on the MacBook, simpler on the iPad) and file access (complete access on the MacBook, none on the iPad).
Power users will still lean towards the MacBook (or, perhaps more likely, a more powerful model of MacBook), but Apple is pushing the iPad Pro as a modern productivity tool (note the new Split View multitasking mode for example).
The MacBook has been available to buy since April. Those of you who fancy an iPad Pro will have to wait until November (and we still don’t have any pre-order info).
The iPad Pro – tablet only – rings up for US$799 (32 GB), $949 (128 GB) or $1,079 (128 GB + cellular connectivity). But while the iPad’s Pencil stylus ($99) and Smart Keyboard ($169) are technically optional extras, they may be essential – especially the keyboard.
That’s a hefty outlay but the entry-level MacBook costs an extra $232 over it (after all, it is a full computer system, with more storage).
For more, you can check out Gizmag’s full review of the new MacBook (and stay tuned for more on the iPad Pro).