iPad Pro vs. MacBook: Which Should You Buy?

"Should I get an iPad Pro or a MacBook?" For Apple fans, this has been a tough decision ever since the original iPad Pro was announced. The new iPad Pro and a series of MacBook updates make this sticky decision even more difficult, especially with the powerful iOS 11 on the way

The new iPad Pro models get a boost in size and processing power, with a 10.5-inch tablet replacing the 9.7-inch base model, and a step up to the new A10X Fusion chip. On the other hand, the MacBook line gets Intel's latest, 7th Generation Kaby Lake processors and will receive a new operating system: macOS High Sierra. This OS brings expanded capability and performance to the laptops.

From portability to pricing, several key distinctions between the laptop and tablet will affect your ability to work on either device, but Apple has pushed hard to narrow the gaps between these very different devices.

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Row 0 - Cell 0 iPad ProMacbook 12-inchMacbook Pro 13-inch
Starting Price10.5-inch - $64912.9-inch - $7991299$1,299 $1,799 with Touch Bar
Operating SystemiOS 10macOS SierramacOS Sierra
ProcessorA10X Fusionup to 1.4 GHz Intel Core i7 processorup to 3.5 GHz Intel Core i7processor
Memory4GB8GB 16GB8GB 16GB
GraphicsIntegrated 12 core GPUIntel HD Graphics 615Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640
Storage64GB 256GB 512GB256GB SSD 512GB SSD128GB SSD 256 512 1TB SSD
PortsLightning PortUSB-C2x Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C)
Display Size10.5 inches 12.9 inches1213.3
Display Resolution10.5-inch - 2224 x 1668 12.9-inch - 2732 x 20482304 x 14402560 x 1600
TouchTouch Screen Touch IDApple Pencil ($99)Force Touch trackpadForce Touch trackpadTouchBar(available without)
KeyboardSmart Keyboard - 10.5-inch ($159) Smart Keyboard - 12.9 inch ($169)Full-size backlit keyboardFull-size backlit keyboard
Cameras7-megapixel FaceTime camera 12-megapixel rear-facing camera480p FaceTime camera720p FaceTime HD camera
Dimensions10.5 inch - 9.8 x 6.8 x 0.2412.9-inch - 12 x 8.68 x 0.2711.04 x 7.74 x 0.5211.97 x 8.36 x 0.59
Weight10.5-inch - 1.03 (Wi-Fi) / 1.05 (Wi-Fi + Cellular)12.9-inch - 1.49 (Wi-Fi) / 1.53 (Wi-Fi + Cellular)2.033.02

Which Is Right for You?

While the two styles of device have gotten more and more alike over the years, the central questions have stayed the same: Do you need productivity, performance or portability? Flexibility with inputs or more ports and storage? Budget-friendly pricing or the best tool for the money? Where you land on these questions will come down to your needs and preferences, but for getting things done, the MacBook Pro is our recommendation.

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Row 0 - Cell 0 iPad ProMacBook (12-inch) MacBook Pro (13-inch)
Size and PortabilityRow 1 - Cell 1 Row 1 - Cell 2
OS and Office CapabilityRow 2 - Cell 1 Row 2 - Cell 2
Input and InteractionDrawDraw
CamerasRow 4 - Cell 1 Row 4 - Cell 2
Storage and PortsRow 5 - Cell 1 Row 5 - Cell 2
PriceRow 6 - Cell 1 Row 6 - Cell 2

The MacBook Pro wins the productivity battle thanks to its broad compatibility, capable OS, full feature set and range of configuration options. When you need a no-nonsense machine for even demanding office work, the MacBook Pro is the go-to choice.

Still, the iPad Pro offers several distinct features that the MacBook simply can't match, like touch and pen input and excellent portability. While we might recommend using the iPad Pro as a secondary device, there's a strong argument that it's the better choice for professionals who work outside of the office or creatives who need drawing and handwriting input.

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Row 0 - Cell 0 10.5-inch iPad Pro12-inch MacBook
Laptop Mag Battery Test13:559:29
Geekbench 49,2336,853

The 12-inch MacBook might offer a more complete operating system than you'll find in any iPad, but it doesn't stack up well in head-to-head competition. The 10.5-inch iPad Pro trounced the macOS notebook in both battery life and overall performance, lasting more than 4 hours longer on the Laptop Mag Battery Test (13:55 vs 9:29) and netting a much higher score on the Geekbench 4 performance test (9,233 vs 6,853). 

We look forward to seeing how Apple's latest MacBook Pro notebooks fit into this puzzle. 

Photo credits: LaptopMag; Apple