Upgrading to an iPad Pro

This was originally written around a year ago, not long after getting the iPad Pro, but I never got around to posting it. I’ll leave my thoughts from then as they were, and add my updated thoughts at the bottom. At risk of spoilering my own post, I love this iPad. A year ago, I was upgrading from an iPad Mini. In the end, I upgraded from a MacBook Pro.

Original Thoughts

I had an iPad already – the Mini 4. It was good. I probably used it as a book more than anything else, but it was a very good book, or lots of books. I also fairly often used it to empty the photos from my camera’s SD card using the Lightning SD Card adapter from Apple. It worked quite well, but took long enough that it wasn’t usually practical during a shoot. And it would sometimes claim it didn’t have enough space to take the photos off the SD card, even when there was more free space than the entire size of the card, and the card was less than half full.

For more context, I’m a bit of an Apple fan, and also have an iPhone X, Apple Watch, and a MacBook Pro.

I’d seen plenty about the new iPad Pro, including watching the keynote where it was announced live. Yes, I’m one of those people who actually watch Apple’s keynotes live at the time. I’ll even rearrange working hours to make sure I’m home in time to watch. It looked amazing, but just too expensive for me.

Well, it turned out that enough money became available thanks to very generous parents (thank you!). I considered my options carefully still, because while my MacBook is still performing very well, Sam’s is getting very old now (too old for the current macOS), and a new MacBook would have enabled me to pass my current one on. The big problem, though, was that the current MacBook range didn’t appeal enough. There have been problems with the keyboards, and Apple seem to be very much held back by the CPUs they can get. I’m guessing they’ll move the Mac range over to their own CPU architecture at some point, because they’re making more advanced CPUs than Intel now, at least for portable use. It’s going to take time, though, and they’re not ready yet.

Anyway, you could have skipped all that, because it was obvious from the title that I settled on getting the iPad Pro. Sorry. I should learn to do more click-bait titles. 14 Reasons the iPad Pro is Garbage. You Won’t Belive Number 9! Anyway. I hadn’t completely made my mind up on size when we went to the Apple Store, but I had settled fairly definitely on not getting the Smart Folio Keyboard. It just didn’t look good enough as a keyboard. I liked the look of the Studio Neat Canopy – a case for the standard Apple Magic Keyboard that doubled up as an iPad stand. So the plan was I’d get the iPad (probably 11″) and the keyboard, then order the Canopy afterwards. I’d also get the USB-C version of the SD Card reader. The Pencil was out of stock, so that wouldn’t be an option.

At the Apple Store, I compared sizes. The larger one did look good, but felt really big. I could see it being very nice to use at home, but it felt like it would be a lot of extra size and weight in my bag. The deciding factor was when I considered using them when out and about, holding it. The 12.9″ felt like it would be very awkward to use that way, while the 11″ felt ok.

The big surprise for me was the Smart Folio Keyboard case. It was so easy to fit and remove, and the keyboard felt really quite good. Yes, a ‘desktop’ keyboard would be better, but it wasn’t as different as I’d expected.

So I left with the iPad Pro 11″, the Smart Folio Keyboard, and the USB-C card reader.

On getting it home, it somehow felt bigger than it had in the store. I was glad I’d stayed with the smaller version. The case works reasonably well as a case (but not very protective), and it’s not too bad when folded around to use the iPad as a tablet in the case. It only takes a second or so to remove it, though, so I actually do remove it if I’m going to be holding it for reading, or playing a game. For something quick, they keyboard part just folds around out of the way. And when using it to type, it’s really quick to turn it into a sort of mini laptop. That’s how I’m writing this.

And that’s where it’s surprised me. It doesn’t feel like an upgrade to the iPad Mini 4, it feels like a completely different type of device. In some ways, especially when using it with the keyboard, it feels more like a tiny MacBook, though you’re still living with the limitations iOS brings. That said, you also have the advantages iOS brings.

The other surprise came when I used the USB-C SD Card reader. It’s fast. The older Lightning version was slow. It takes photos off the card at the rate of around 2 per second, and that’s including RAW files. After photographing Lauren and Holli a few days after getting it, I emptied the card in a minute or so while we sat having coffee, processed a few photos, and shared them in Messages immediately. They could see them on the bigger iPad screen, and had them on their phones within minutes.

After a few weeks with it, I don’t use my MacBook very often any more. It’s just usually nicer to use the iPad.

After a Year

A year later, and I’m still using it, and still love it. My MacBook Pro became Sam’s computer, and I took her old MacBook Air, which is too old for the latest macOS, and too slow for, well, most things, really. But it doesn’t matter to me, because I rarely use it. Maybe once a month something comes up that’s too difficult, or not possible, on the iPad. But all my writing, editing photos, browsing, notetaking, organising, reading, gaming and YouTubing happens on the iPad.

The problem with iOS (or iPadOS now) claiming it doesn’t have enough space to get the photos from the card still remains. I’m in the process of switching to Lightroom for photoshoots, but I don’t know how much of a problem it will be there yet. It’s never stopped me getting the import done, I just have to do it in chunks, selecting the photos in batches, which is a pain when importing 1,000+ photos.

I got the Pencil, and while I don’t use it often, it’s very nice to have. It’s good for editing photos. I’ve seen people do some very impressive stuff with it artistically, and for taking notes, but that just isn’t my thing. I have little artistic talent outside photography, and I’m very text-based for notes.

The other upgrade I’m working on at the moment is getting a mechanical keyboard to use with it. That keyboard case really isn’t bad, but a good keyboard would be much nicer for writing longer posts. Right now, I’m using an external Apple keyboard, the one that came with my old iMac, a decade ago. I’ve ordered an Anne Pro 2 mechanical keyboard, which should make typing longer posts a lot nicer.

It’s likely there’s a new iPad Pro coming soon, but it’s unlikely to be too tempting – I’m sure it will be better, but this one is doing so well for me that I’ll be happy to stick with it for quite some time.

Other Stuff

This isn’t my usual sort of post – I mainly post sets of photos from shoots with models, events and other things. If that sort of thing interests you, have a look at some of these recent posts while you’re here.

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