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An LTE iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil will cost more than a MacBook

The gap between tablets and laptops has been rapidly shrinking for some time. Tablets are becoming more powerful and more productive every day. But actually replacing your laptop with a tablet? That's a leap that many have taken, and for the iPad user that's even more tempting with today's announcement of the iPad Pro. Thing is… doing so is expensive. Really expensive.

Let's compare the iPad Pro to the closest Apple computer: the MacBook. The top-end iPad Pro packs a spacious 128GB of storage, while Apple's MacBook starts at 256GB. Of course, iOS and its apps will need less space on the iPad than OS X and Mac apps need on the MacBook, so that storage disparity will be fine. Probably.

Throw in the Smart Keyboard cover to give your shiny new big iPad some tactile typing, the gotta-have-it Apple Pencil, and an LTE radio (sure, the MacBook doesn't have an LTE option, but it should if you ask us), and you come to a price tag that's higher than the baseline MacBook. Math time!

iPad Pro 128GB LTE:$1079
+Smart Keyboard:$169
+Apple Pencil:$99
$1347 vs. MacBook 256GB at $1299

That's not to say that this is or isn't worth it — it's entirely up to you whether or not you think that's worthy of your dollars. The MacBook and iPad Pro are two very different beasts. Where the iPad Pro offers a full touch experience with fingers and an advanced stylus, the MacBook is better suited to juggling multiple apps and heavy lifting computing.

A more fair comparison might be to the Microsoft Surface Pro 3. 12-inch tablet with Pro in the name vs. 12-inch tablet with Pro in the name, after all. Microsoft's flagship tablet starts at $799 like the iPad Pro, but that model has double the storage at 64GB. Bumping the storage to 128GB adds $100, and tossing in a $130 Type Cover (the Surface Pen is included, but is $50 if you want to buy another) brings the total bill to $930 (though if there were an LTE model it'd doubtless add about $120 to the bill). Granted, it's tough to compare the unreleased Apple A9X processor in the iPad Pro to the last-generation Intel Core i-series processors in the Surface line.

There are compromises to be made there too — Apple's stylus is clearly more advanced, and Apple's tablet is thinner, but you're paying far more for a comparable amount of storage. And that Surface Pro 3 has a built-in kickstand, a full-size USB port, and can be configured with an Intel Core i7 chip and 512GB of storage, sure, but its screen is far less pixel-dense (though still quite nice) and those Intel chips need actual vents and fans to keep them cool. And it runs Windows 10, which may or may not be an issue for you.

Again, your money. Spend it where you see fit.

Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm, and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.

37 Comments
  • Can't see a compelling reason to get this over a MacBook or Surface Pro. Sent from the iMore App
  • Because it's Apple and revolutionary? (sarcasm) Posted via HTC One M7
  • If this ran full Mac OS then it would be worth it, just get a Macbook.
  • Yup...Surface Pro any day...the flexibility you get with a full blown PC/ Tablet OS has clear advantages too...
  • Wait a minute. So you guys are telling me the pencil is not included? Sent from the iMore App
  • Wait a minute. So you guys are telling me the pencil is not included? Sent from the iMore App
  • Apple Pencil $99 Smart Keyboard $169
    Yeah, Microsoft makes you pay extra for the keyboard on the Surface 3 too. Ok, now I do want a three-way comparison between the iPad Pro, the MacBook and the Surface 3. All roughly the same size, said to be ultra-portable. And a fair comparison of the various OSs. I'm fed up with people saying iOS isn't a "real" OS.
  • Most people that say that tend to be tech geeks. I can sort of relate, in some way. For example, you can create Mac apps with a Mac, but can you create iOS apps natively on an iOS device?
  • Agreed, I'm tired of that argument that iOS isn't a real OS as well. I'm sure if people were going to buy a Surface, they would have already.
  • The main reason that is said is because iOS lacks connectivity, flexibility, versatility, and manageability of what those people consider a "real" OS. That said, even little Raspberry Pie runs an OS so to say iOS isn't a real OS is just wrong. I will admit as an iPad owner and comparing it to other devices, I enjoy using it but there are many things it just can't do compared to other traditional OSes. Sent from the iMore App
  • The Surface Pro comes with the Pen, which only retails for $49.99, anyways. The Type Cover is only $129, so you save ~$140 over the iPad Pro that you can put towards upgrading the machine. For $1278.99 right now you can get a 1.9GHz i5 Surface Pro 3 with Pen, Type Cover, 8GB RAM, and 256GB from Microsoft running Windows 10 Pro. It has Full USB 3.0, MicroSD Card Reader, and Mini DisplayPort... So you can add a 64GB UHS microSD card for like $20-25 from Wal-Mart of Best Buy (Samsung, Sandisk, etc.). Honestly, I don't expect Apple's A9X CPU to keep pace with that i5 CPU, and even if it did, the rest of those specs, and the flexibility of the Surface machine is just too much to justify the iPad unless you seriously do not want to use a Windows Machine or dabble in Microsoft's Ecosystem (though it's perfectly usable without a Microsoft Account).
  • The stylus actually comes with the Surface Pro line, it's not an extra $50. Sent from the iMore App
  • You are absolutely correct.
  • When you get the chance - please do a head to head test against the surface for productivity and pen based applications. My bet is the Surface would be the more flexible working tool.
  • Yes, but the Surface really needs a keyboard, but doesn't come with one. They iPad is more usable without a keyboard, having one only enhances it ;-)
  • The Surface keyboard is only $120 right now. And it too is usable without a keyboard. Google knows why kids love the taste of cinnamon toast crunch. And they're willing to sell it to you.
  • Yes, I have a Surface Pro 2, and while I can use it without a keyboard -- I don't, it's a PC. I did purchase a little gizmo MS used to make, a cylinder-ish thing that attaches to the SP2 keyboard and turns it Bluetooth -- which is so useful I purchased a 2nd when they discontinued it. That's the only time I used my SP2 without a keyboard attached, when the keyboard is wireless...
    https://www.imore.com/e?link=https2F2Fdeepl... I also have an iPad 3, which I find more of a hassle to use a keyboard with than without, not in a huge way but it seems more designed to be used without a physical keyboard.
  • No it doesn't, specially with windows 10, far from it. Sent from the iMore App
  • I'm all in on the Apple ecosystem. Plus, after I sell my Air 2 and mini 3, it won't be such a bad upgrade. I barely use my macbook anymore since the first iPad, but I also have a desktop when I need to use OS X so that's my go-to. And half the time if I need to do something on my desktop, I remote in with Parallels access from my iPad. I'll be pre-ordering ASAP.
  • So it looks like the Surface Pro 3 - 128Gb - Core i5, with a Black Type Cover is $1,089.99. I didn't see an option for LTE. The prices between the two devices is not that far off. Buy what you want and enjoy it. It really is that simple.
  • I think that is the problem with some people commenting. Like what you like and state you reasons but some just seem to want to make it personal. I for one thing the iPad Pro is overpriced for what it represents but I'm not going to fault someone who goes out and buys one. Maybe it works great for them. Sent from the iMore App
  • I was so disappointed when I saw the price during the keynote earlier today. I've been looking forward to the iPad Pro since it was rumored last year, and it finally comes, and it's way more than I'm willing to pay. I might as well just get a MacBook for that price. If the base model was 64GB instead of 32GB, then I'd consider it at $799. But I have to spend at least $949 for any decent amount of storage, and that's more than I'm willing. Especially since the keyboard is $169 and then another $99 for the pencil. (Does anyone really buy the LTE iPads? What's the point. Wi-Fi is everywhere)
  • Not in my smallish town. Wi-Fi is lame and far between. The only fast Wi-Fi I get is at home. I'm seriously considering an LTE iPad next time.
  • "Apple's stylus is clearly more advanced" sorry bro but I'm not seeing any factual evidence to back this up. Anyone have a link to a apple pencil vs surface pro stylus comparison?
  • Yeah this part got on my nerves, its clearly not objective. Common, the Apple Stylus has a 12 hour battery life!!!!! do you know how trouble some that it... And there is no place to attach it.
  • It sounds like a statement from someone who never used the surface pen. It's not better just because it's made by Apple... Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Yea... Get the Surface Pro 3 or even wait for the new Surface.
    This for that much money is pointless. iOS pales in comparison to full fledged Windows
    If only it had Mac OS then we start speaking but those prices for iOS and labeled as Pro is hardly "Pro"
  • All the comparisons I've seen made so far are missing a huge point- Mouse support. Yeah we are all about touchscreen interface but this is still too big of a feature to just ignore. I understand that you can do anything with your finger/stylus that you can do with a mouse, just not as fast. Sent from the iMore App
  • I think if you are CHOOSING you have to look at use case. I draw but don't do any digital graphic design. If you need an advanced touch interface and stylus but very few traditional PC aspects (USB ports, complex documents/spreadsheets, etc) then you might need an iPad Pro. Otherwise buy a PC. If you need a little bit of both the Surface may be the ticket. Or if you have the scratch, say to hell with it and buy all the cool toys! Sent from the iMore App
  • This product will make me look at the next Surface Pro with a lot more care. It also made me look back at the Samsung Note Pro 12.2 with more respect. Do customers really want a 13" tablet like this? Provided it has an Apple logo, they might.
  • I am trying to get my head around something that if you are using a MBP 13.3" as your daily driver or as your work machine then why would you push yourself to buy another 12" device ? If it is for content consumption then the regular sized iPad Air 2 makes sense. I guess the iPad Pro has been launched to provide competition for the Surface Pro range and not to substitute MacBooks !
  • Gotta say, this is just a weaksauce (expensive) version of the Surface Pro. No thanks.
  • This really makes me rethink my next computer. Ready to replace my MacBook Air and now I'm leaning toward an iMac instead of a laptop and make the iPad Pro my portable. My MBA rarely leaves the house now, as my iPad Air has become my portable machine. I guess its all in what you want to with the device.
  • The Macbook Pro is worth it not this.
  • If the author considers the new MacBook to be used for 'heavy lifting' with it's Core M processor then the iPad Pro doesn't stand a chance against the Surface Pro. with Intel I-series processors. I think the iPad Pro may end up being a MacBook killer. If someone wants a cheap and lightweight Apple laptop with the longest battery life then they will probably go with Air. If they need more power they will get the MacBook Pro. If they want lightweight, touchscreen, and lots of apps they go with the new iPad Pro. This leaves the new over priced and underpowered MacBook dead in the water.
  • I really wanted the iPad pro to run osx and for that price it should. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • So many people not seeing that what shines on iOS is not what shines on OS X, and vice versa. I very rarely do similar things on both. I don't even do the same things on my iPhone as on my iPad, the size matters and it is going to matter a lot with the iPad Pro — for me at least. Comic books will finally be reasonable in portrait view, PDF sheet music will no longer have to be squinted at, Notion (a music scoring app) will finally be large enough to reasonably work with particularly with the stylus. That last one I do on my Macbook Pro, but will be more of a wonderful sketch pad with the iPad Pro. All my devices have specialized uses for me where they are the best use case on that device. Anyone who sees using them all for exactly the same things either doesn't get it or they simply don't have different enough needs to care.