I challenge Apple to 'Think Different' for once with the iPad Pro

2024 iPad Pro M4 on desk with Magic Keyboard
(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / iMore)
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It happened again. Apple set the trap, and I fell for it. Hook, line, and sinker. A month after introducing the latest iPad Pro, Apple gave us a long look at what will come to all of its latest “Pro” devices later this year. And what a disappointment it was. 

Along with the OLED display, the 2024 iPad Pro is the first Apple device to feature the company’s latest M-series of chips with the Apple M4. Not the MacBook Air, which kicked off this revolution back in 2020, or the Mac Studio, which has yet to be updated with an M3. 

2024 iPad Pro M4 on desk connected to external display

(Image credit: Gerald Lynch / iMore)

There was also the all-new Apple Pencil Pro, which was another long-overdue addition to the lineup of iPad accessories. Throw in the updated Magic Keyboard Case with its aluminum palm rest, and it’s about as close to a touchscreen MacBook as you can get. 

In my mind, this made me believe that Apple had big plans for the next version of iPadOS 18, which was being announced at WWDC ‘24. So, I decided to pre-order the M4 iPad Pro, keeping my fingers crossed that things like Stage Manager would be improved.

What did we get? A calculator app. Yes, I’m aware that it’s not as simple as that, and some of the things that you can do are admittedly pretty neat. But it’s a calculator app. That was the big “fundamental” change to iPadOS. No, I’m not including the updated version of Siri and Apple Intelligence because nothing there is “iPad-only.” 

Math Notes in the Calculator app on the iPad Pro with iPadOS 18

(Image credit: Apple)

It’s been clear from the get-go that Stage Manager is an afterthought for Apple. While it offers a better way of multi-tasking than just relying on Split View, it’s nowhere near as robust, or useful, as Samsung DeX

For one, you’re still limited to using just four app windows at a time. “Who’s using more than four windows at once?” Well, I do. The apps that are always open when I’m on my computer are Chrome, Slack, Discord, Telegram, AirTable, and Obsidian. I also have a tendency to leave File Explorer open because my brain still can’t comprehend how to organize files on Windows. 

Now, I don’t need that many apps open at a single time, but it makes my life easier and explains my addiction to having as many displays around me as possible. Seriously, it’s a real problem that I’ll never shake. Admittedly, I don’t have all of those same apps open when using DeX on the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra, but at least I could if I wanted to. That’s not the case with Stage Manager on the iPad Pro, and I doubt that it ever will be. 

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra in DeX Mode on desk

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

So when it comes to productivity, I’m better off just closing my iPad and grabbing a Chromebook or the Tab S9 Ultra if I want to get stuff done. I’ll still argue that the iPad and iPhone have better (read: more polished) apps than Android, although that gap has been finally shrinking as of late. 

What I think really sticks in my craw, besides a CALCULATOR APP being the biggest addition to the iPad in the year of our Lord two thousand and twenty-four, is the cost. Don’t get me wrong, the OLED panel is beautiful and doesn’t suffer from any of the blooming issues we saw with the mini LED screens of the previous model. And the M4 is incredibly powerful, even in synthetic benchmarks. 

At $1,300, the iPad Pro is stupid. It’s beautiful, thin, sleek, modern, and stupid.

Many folks are talking about whether Qualcomm will be able to find lightning in a bottle with its Snapdragon X Elite and X Pro chips. I won’t be surprised if they fall short of the M4 in the iPad Pro. However, the difference is that the new Surface Pro is running the full version of Windows 11. The iPad Pro is stuck in this weird place of being a computer, but also not because iPadOS is a joke of an operating system. 

For years, I’ve hoped that Apple would do one of two things: release an iPad Pro running macOS or give us cellular connectivity in the MacBook Air. In 2024, we have neither of those things. Instead, Apple is set on tricking everyone into thinking that the iPad can do more than it really can. It’s clear that the “Reality Distortion Field” created by Steve Jobs is still alive and well, and I suspect it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. 

Unless you like burning money, don't buy the iPad Pro M4. If Apple doesn't care, why should you?

I’m growing so tired of these companies releasing products with an incredible amount of unrealized potential. So if you were to ask me what the best tablet is if you wanted a laptop replacement, I’d tell you to get the Galaxy Tab S9 Plus. Why not the Ultra? Well, I like having options, and for whatever reason, the Tab S9 Plus is the only option of the trio that can be had with cellular connectivity. 

As just a tablet, the iPad and iPad Air are still great and should be on your radar, provided you only want to do “tablet-y” things. For anything else, just get a Chromebook or the Tab S9 Plus. You’ll save yourself a lot of headaches and even more money by pretending that the iPad Pro doesn’t even exist. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to figure out how to get rid of this thing and wipe the egg off of my face.

Andrew Myrick
Senior Editor - Chromebooks and tablets

Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.

  • Lestat1886
    If people wants a laptop, just buy one!!! I hope Apple thinks different than you and many tech pundits who just do not understand what a tablet is!
  • cribble2k
    I'll be sticking with my Surface Pro 9 with Windows 11 pro. Apple still doesn't have a product that I'm interested in.
  • Windroid 2483
    Lestat1886 said:
    If people wants a laptop, just buy one!!! I hope Apple thinks different than you and many tech pundits who just do not understand what a tablet is!
    The problem there is: Traditional laptops run traditional desktop operating systems (Windows, Linux, Mac OS). For some folks, asking them to use desktop OS is asking a lot. Android and iOS are easier to use.

    Desktop OS's have thier advantages, of corse. My own tablet has both Windows and Android installed onto it: I boot up Windows when I use my tablet as a laptop (with the keybord-mouse atatchment), and Android when I use it as a tablet. So, I'm well aware of the advantages of a desktop OS! But as I said: Using a desktop OS is beyound some folks.
  • williamsbh76
    Apple knows the iPad is just a an afterthought and a cash grab. Nearing the end of the intel days with Macs the iPad was to be the darling next big thing for everyone except pros who needed raw power. Then the Mac got into trouble and Apple had to refocus. Apple knows what it needs to do but as long as the iPad plays fourth fiddle to the iPhone, Mac, and Apple Watch it will never truly change. That’s sad because I still can see it being the future.