The Apple iPad Pro is not the ultimate PC replacement

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 22, 2016
Updated • Jan 4, 2018
Apple, Companies

If you have followed Apple's -- rather uninspiring -- event yesterday you may know that the company announced a new 9.7 inch iPad Pro, a smaller version of the IPad Pro released last year.

During the presentation, Phil Schiller, Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, made two statements in regards to PCs.

First, he stated that most new iPad Pro users were using a Windows PC previously and that it was the "ultimate PC replacement", and second, that it was sad that more than 600 million people were using PCs that were over five years old.

Let us take a look at the statements that he made during his presentation.

The ultimate PC replacement

The iPad Pro, just like any Android or Chrome OS tablet, can be a a PC replacement under certain circumstances as it depends largely on what a user uses the machine for.

Web browsing, media consumption, light Office work or mobile games are all supported on tablets, and if that is all that is needed, then it can very well be a replacement.

But ultimate means that it is the non plus ultra replacement, and that is simply not the case. The iPad Pro cannot run Windows programs for one, and if you use your Windows machine to produce something, be it applications, websites, 3D models or videos, you will quickly realize that the machine is not suitable for that or not able to be used in that way at all.

Then there are games which some like to play, and there is a huge difference between games available for iOS and Windows as well. You simply cannot play games like The Division, World of Warcraft or Call of Duty on an iPad, and there is little chance that this will change anytime soon.

If you look at peripherals that are available for Windows PCs and for Apple's iPad, there is only so many that you can connect to an iPad Pro. Multi-monitor setups, external storage (extremely limited), or a computer mouse are not really an option.

Last but not least, Windows PCs give users more freedom in regards to what they can do on the system. They are not limiting users to installing apps from a store that one company has full control over, and users can make modifications to the operating system or programs running on it as well whereas the options to do so on an iOS device are fairly limited.

For desktop systems, it is easy to upgrade specific hardware, say computer memory or the video card, which may extend the lifespan of the device by several years.

Microsoft is heading Apple's way in some regards with Windows Store and Windows 10, but it is not there yet and is criticized for its course already by part of the Windows community.

Basically, the iPad Pro offers only some features that PCs, laptops or desktop systems, offer, and while that makes it a PC replacement, it will never be the "ultimate" PC replacement (that would be another PC).

Sad PC users

For a company that tries to win PC users over, it may not be the best strategy to state that it is sad that 600 million people are still using PCs that are over five years old.

First of, old does not necessarily mean inadequate. There is nothing wrong with using a five year old PC if it allows you to do what you do on your computer. Heck, some even use a good old C-64 or Amiga computer for certain tasks even though those machines have been produced more than 20 years ago.

Considering that Apple revealed all the company's advances in recycling, it should be something that the company values instead of mocks.

There are plenty of reasons why five year old PCs are still being used on top of the obvious one: from lack of money over hardware or software that won't run on newer versions or different operating systems, to upgrading select components of the computer to extend its lifespan.

Apple's obviously interested in selling you new stuff regularly and the advances in mobile technology have really opened the door for that up until now. Better processing and graphics power, new features like NFC or fingerprint readers, better displays, less battery use and a lot more.

On PCs, at least on the desktop, there is little need for upgrades unless you are a gamer or require as much processing power as possible for other applications. Even then, it may be enough to upgrade core components instead of buying a new device.

Now You: What's your take on this?

The Apple iPad Pro is not the PC ultimate replacement
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The Apple iPad Pro is not the PC ultimate replacement
If you have followed Apple's -- rather uninspiring -- event yesterday you may know that the company announced a new 9.7 inch iPad Pro, a smaller version of the IPad Pro released last year.
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  1. peerer said on March 27, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    people leaving windows ecosystem is best thing

  2. Sebby said on March 25, 2016 at 1:37 pm

    It’s really great that everybody who thinks Apple are “Uninspiring” are still willing to take time out of their busy schedules of spec-shopping their latest PC builds (because only Apple would dare build anything half-way comparable, for a high price) to watch their presentations and then rebuke them for insulting the wrong religion. :)

    As a Mac owner who’s fearing the end of the line for OS X, which I think is included in Apple’s assault against the PC (and supported by the increasing mediocrity of OS X and their Mac hardware product line-up), I have to say that you guys are all missing the point completely. We geeks understand the value of the PC, but for most people the PC is just that slow, frustrating, crusty machine that gives them no enjoyment, is constantly susceptible to the next incoming arrow of misfortune, can’t do half the awesome number of things their phones can with the same speed and alacrity, and is ultimately the thing they turn to as a last resort for the few things they can’t (or don’t think they can) do on their preferred smartphone or tablet. TBH, I think it’s now very clear that technologists simply don’t count in the equations of the contemporary computing landscape. It’s sad, but it’s true. We make demands on our computing devices–things like upgradability, customisability, local storage, complete control, extensibility, etc–that simply don’t exist for your typical consumers. Sometimes I think this is our punishment for wanting it all; to be finally treated like the end-users we have so often ruled with an iron fist. If you want to see what an ordinary user sees in the world of honest non-Windows options, try, and weep. Apple know this all too well, and while I think it’s shameful they’re crassly advocating throwing away good hardware, it’s hardly surprising that they want to improve their iPads to capture the last few use cases where the app ecosystem absolutely can exist to support them and their needs. And they will do it. Mail is already quite awesome at the keyboard on iOS, they have split-screen, document providers … it’s just about software now. They’ll kill the Mac, and capture a large body of typical productivity applications now enjoyed exclusively on Windows or Mac. Then PC and Mac users will be the fringe luddites, fit only for doing the legwork of supporting users on other platforms, like development or running servers. So JMO, but geeks really need to start thinking about the people they serve, and not just themselves, before they become entirely irrelevant.

    Oh yeah, and Macs make great Windows machines, even after Apple ditches support for them. Get yours now, while they’re <= Haswell, so you can continue running Doze on it until 2023. I run Linux on my Mini, but plan to move back from OS X to Windows on my other boxes, just as soon as the mediocrity closes in for good.

  3. Dantematrix said on March 24, 2016 at 12:35 am

    Apple is ahead of its time yet again. Releasing such an innovative product a year after Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S2 9.7″. Apple should sue Samsung for copying it one year earlier.

  4. hirobo2 said on March 23, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    Pffff… Typing this on a 9 y/o laptop (plan is to continue using it for another 9 more years). PC upgrades hit a plateau with cheap multi-core CPUs. Anything post the Core2Duo era is and will be sufficient even for moderate power use for the next few years at the least!

  5. pd said on March 23, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    To be quite frank Martin … WTF are you doing reviewing crApple gobshite? Are you trying to get me to subscribe so I can get access to a no-crApple articles filter? :)

  6. DaveyK said on March 23, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    The guts of my PC are nearing 7 years old, although I have upped the RAM, added an SSD and changed the graphics card during that time. However despite being 7 years old, it is still a quad core i5 (3.2GHz) and hence can play the likes of Fallout 4 at 1920×1200, plus anything else I’ve tried to throw at it. So, why would I throw it out and replace it when it works fine and does what I want?

    To be honest, this “throw it in the bin” mentality that Apple has adopted lately is precisely why I do not buy their products any more. My old Mac Mini has had a couple of RAM and hard drive upgrades over time which have kept it running competatively. But Apple decided with the latest Mac Mini to solder the RAM to the board. That’s because they specifically don’t want me to upgrade it, they want me to throw it away after a few years.

    Sorry Apple, that’s pointless waste. I will not buy a product you’ve deliberately designed to be disposable like that. For this reason (and others), the iPad Pro is not a device I’ll be buying, and crowing about PC owners not throwing their machines away every 5 seconds is not something to be proud of – it’s something to be ashamed of.

  7. Mike said on March 22, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    I’m in the general cloud of agreement here. The classic ‘PC’ form factor with large screen, mouse and real keyboard is very hard to replace for productive creativity.
    I’ve used an iPad 2 quite a bit but find it extremely limiting. Tracking down the obscure substitutes for the right mouse button (if available) is not worth my time.
    My mothers 12 y/o PC was very usable with Linux and 1GB of memory, but the final killer was lack of SSE2 support – many common apps like browsers require it. Upgrade motherboard, memory, CPU and hard drive came to about $160.

  8. berttie said on March 22, 2016 at 10:13 pm

    I still run a mid 1980s Tandy/Radio Shack CoCo2 occasionally. It boots almost instantly and writing and running quick and dirty math equations on it is a snap. Its <16k Microsoft OS doesn't crash often either, although it isn't totally immune from doing so.

  9. MdN said on March 22, 2016 at 6:51 pm

    Apple sometimes, more often than not nowadays, wastes time looking for solutions to problems that don’t exist. Then a few people start believing, and then it takes a while until things get useful again.

  10. Tim said on March 22, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    Yeah, I agree with the article.

    As for the line:
    “There are plenty of reasons why five year old PCs are still being used on top of the obvious one: from lack of money over hardware or software that won’t run on newer versions or different operating systems, to upgrading select components of the computer to extend its lifespan.”

    I was watching a recent documentary that was discussing ground-breaking revolutionary new idea’s that neuroscientists were experimenting with in regards to the human brain and curing neurotic conditions. As part of this pioneering work they had some pretty advanced machinery/equipment set up that allowed them to analyse people’s brains in great detail. When the neuroscientist demonstrated what he was doing on the machines and how it worked, you could see that at the heart of it, it was running on Windows 2000. I must admit I was rather amused.

  11. jungman said on March 22, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    I read once that tablets (and smartphones) are only for media consumption and agree. Have finally purchased my 1st tablet I agree even more. They are useless for anything creative. Even managing emails without a decent desktop client is a pain. As to having or using older PC’s depends entirely on what your needs are. I have legacy programs for electronic cct design and microchip programs that will not run on newer PC’s which are often too fast or the OS does not support the legacy pgms. Just try to buy a new version of Microsoft Publisher these days or get a newer version of Office and have all your doc’s autosave as .docx which I notice most people do and send them on without even realizing not everyone can read them.

  12. oz said on March 22, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    Same here… I’ve owned several iphones and ipads for a number of years now, but have never grown fond of using them for internet activities, or watching movies on them. It’s doubtful that a mini-screen change of any size would lure me into buying a new device for those purposes. Give me a full-size computer screen for using the web and a much bigger screen for watching movies.

  13. Nebulus said on March 22, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    For me, there is no replacement for PC. Period.

  14. Rocky said on March 22, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    I agree too. Other than for very light browsing no tablet or phone is a replacement for a full size PC/screen/ keyboard even though the marketeers might have is believe otherwise. I am constantly surprised at how the younger generation can be bothered using a phone/tablet for internet usage – its like having a very powerful car that you can’t fit into .

  15. insanelyapple said on March 22, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    I think it’s not about manufacturer or software owner but form factor – you can do your tasks in much comfortable way on standard desktop pc and laptop than with tablet even with attached keyboard and mouse or phablet. Also, I think the only device you can call a replacement is the one you can fully control and you aren’t dependent on manufacturer/software owner and its decisions, limitations out of blue.

    Apple just tries to fill devices gap to be as attractive as Microsoft – I don’t see any “innovational” or ground shaking move in releasing 9.7 device. Especially where these are feature complete nowadays – no matter from which company.

  16. Earl said on March 22, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    There’s never been a reason to replace a Windows PC with an Apple PC (unless the Apple PC does something you need to do that the Windows PC doesn’t do, meaning–basically–that the Apple PC supports a program that the Windows PC doesn’t [of which there are certainly a few]). Same with a Linux PC–almost (general lack of corporate culture is a benefit).

    They’re all just Personal Computers–smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, whatever. And, personally, I like my 6yo desktop with its full-size keyboard and full-size monitor (HD-TVs make for great monitors).

    But I’d still take an MVS mainframe over everything. :D

  17. Maurice said on March 22, 2016 at 10:04 am

    I agree with your post.
    Watching Apple’s presentations it felt like the Politburo way back in the Sovjet Union: unimpressive presentations which still elicited applause. Like the Sovjet Union I think Apple is not too big to fail.

  18. Jackson said on March 22, 2016 at 8:53 am

    Apple events these days..BIG yawn. The likes of Microsoft, Google, and even Amazon are doing more interesting things in tech, and at least taking some risks.

    Apple just churns out a fresh coat of candy on minor variations and waits for the money to roll in.

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