Why I Bought an iPad Pro Instead of a MacBook Pro for Design Work

The second generation of the iPad Pro came out a few weeks ago and with it came more speculations about whether it could be a laptop replacement. Apple certainly thinks it can be, but many others have their doubts.

I'm a graphic designer, so the iPad Pro's creative-centric advertising and features had a strong appeal to me. The release of the new iPad Pro also happened to be right around the time I was looking at investing in a new computer.

I started to wonder, "should I buy an iPad Pro instead of a MacBook Pro?"

After a lot of deliberating, researching, and planning, I decided the answer was a "yes" for me. Below you'll find a few of the reasons why I came to this conclusion as well as a few of the things I'm enjoying so far as a new owner of an iPad Pro.

Hopefully this post might be able to help you in deciding whether or not the iPad Pro is right for you too.

1) It's not a laptop, and that's actually a really good thing.


As a designer, I spend a lot of time on my iMac working on client projects within Adobe Creative Cloud. This means that I'm tied down to a mouse and keyboard a lot, and that's not a good thing for me.

Sitting at a desk using a mouse and keyboard all the time is very boring and soul-sucking. If I were to have bought a MacBook Pro, I would have been forced to continue doing my work in the exact same way.

With an iPad Pro, I'm no longer confined to a mouse and keyboard work-style. I can use my fingers, take advantage of the Apple Pencil, and have the tablet sitting comfortably in my lap. Being able to switch between an iMac and an iPad Pro gives me two very distinct working styles that help me get through the day more easily without ever feeling trapped.

2) I don't own a laptop, and I don't really want one either.

For years now I've been thinking that my ideal work setup would be a desktop and a tablet. To me at least, a laptop feels like the tool of a bygone era. It was the imperfect solution that got us through to the age of tablets.

Do tablets still have a ways to go? Sure, but with the iPad Pro we're close enough for my needs.

3) It helps me focus and cut down on multi-tasking.

I know a lot of people are talking about the iPad Pro's amazing multi-tasking capabilities, but I think people are using the wrong word to describe what the iPad Pro can do.

Yes, it can be used for multi-tasking, but what it's really good at is being a productivity power-house. The features that have been dubbed "multi-tasking features" are really just powerful tools that help me focus and get more done in a smaller amount of time.

When I'm working on my desktop, I have way too many options of things I could be doing. With the iPad Pro, I find myself more easily sticking to one task at a time.

4) It gives me the ability to draw digitally and do hand-lettering.

I don't own a Wacom tablet, so an iPad Pro gives me a big advantage that a MacBook couldn't give me. If I had have bought a MacBook, I wouldn't have any additional features or tools that I didn't already have with my iMac. The iPad Pro is a distinctly different device that provides a unique value and feature set.

Thanks to the 120hz display and Apple Pencil, I now have the capability of doing hand-lettering and digital drawing.

5) It's super fun.

The fun-factor of an iPad Pro might seem irrelevant or unnecessary to many people, but for me it's a huge selling point.

I'm always looking for new ways to make the work that I do more interesting and enjoyable, and the iPad Pro does exactly that. As I said earlier, it gives me a break from the dull mouse-and-keyboard workstyle and allows me to be more creative and hands-on.

Also, having more fun in my work life increases my happiness and helps me maintain my mental health.

6) I can't do all of my design work on it, and that's actually okay.

 Project planning on the iPad Pro. 

Project planning on the iPad Pro. 

As I've been using my iPad Pro, I'm realizing that one of its major disadvantages might actually be an advantage for me. The iPad Pro can't run desktop-class creative software like the Adobe Creative Suite yet, but I'm realizing it doesn't have to in order to suit my needs.

If you're a small business owner or freelancer, then you've got a lot of non-design work too. You have to keep track of your finances, plan out projects, write proposals, brainstorm, reply to emails, research, and much more. All of these things are usually the less-fun side of the business, so I now do almost all of it on my iPad Pro.

The iPad Pro handles all of these things extremely well, and they are far more enjoyable when working on a tablet. So, I do all of my marketing and office work from the iPad, and all of my design work on the desktop. Separating out these two worlds has been extremely helpful to me.

7) The iPad Pro is wonderful for creating initial design concepts.

While the iPad Pro can't run the full Adobe Creative Suite yet, it does have several Adobe mobile apps that allow you to ideate and create initial design concepts. So, if I'm out of the office or away from my desktop, I still have the ability to start work on a design project.

 The handout design for my talk. 

The handout design for my talk. 

This past week I designed my new business cards on my iPad Pro and then made final tweaks on my desktop before sending it to the printer. I also designed and printed a handout completely on my iPad for a talk I'm giving next week.

I love the workflow.


Before I wrap this post up, I want to say that the iPad Pro is not for everyone. You have to know yourself and your work context well enough to know if its a smart addition to your workflow. It might be, but it might not be.

For me, the iPad Pro divides my work into two distinct styles that helps me stay productive and focused. I've taken the iPad Pro's disadvantages and turned them into advantages.

Before you decide if the iPad Pro is right for you, take some time to dig deep into how you'd utilize it. Make a pros and cons list and be specific about how it would fit into your workflow. Be sure to pay attention to all the things you can't do on iPad Pro as well.

For me, the iPad Pro was a perfect fit.

Do you own an iPad Pro? Has it helped or hindered you? Let me know how it fits into your daily routine.