The iPad That Should Have Been

Something I have been consistently hearing from people over the last couple weeks: “The 10.5” iPad Pro is really good, it’s every bit as big as you need it to be, without ever being too big.” (I am paraphrasing about 6 people, and countless “yeah totally” blog posts.) I feel this too, while it looks like only a tiny size bump, the 20% more screen makes all the difference in use.

The thing about the 10.5” is that it’s the right size for almost all your needs. Anything smaller is almost perfect, but limiting (especially in the keyboard department). Anything larger is really luxurious feeling, but cumbersome too. This is why the 9.7” iPad (Pro or not) has always been a head scratcher for some. Yeah, I mean you can work from it, but it’s going to feel cramped at times.

(Note: The iPad mini is a niche device you can dismiss, just as Apple has.) But the 12.9” was a breath of fresh air for iPad users as it offered more space — finally enough room to feel like it was unlimited. Much like using the 15” MacBooks — it is a bit large to lug around, but good lord is it a machine. The 12.9” was and is a huge jump in size from the 9.7”, and while great, it also presents its own set of issues. It’s not easy to hold up with your hands, it’s not easy to fit on planes, and on and on. Essentially the same issues you have with a 15” laptop.

What the iPad lineup was always missing was that device which sat between the small, and the large — the 13” MacBook Pro. That’s what they have created with the 10.5” model. It’s basically all the screen you’ll need for work. They filled the awkward gap which existed between the 9.7” and 12.9”.

What’s more, the 9.7” is still there for those who just want a casual device to mess around with on the couch. You want to really work with it, then they’ve got the 10.5” and 12.9” for you. Just pick the tradeoff you want: too small sometimes, or too large sometimes.

This is the iPad size that should have always been.

I could work from it all day if I wanted, it’s easier than it was working from only the 12” MacBook all day. I can, it’s not an issue, but given that I also have something bigger, why not use that one? If I didn’t have it, I’d only own a 10.5” for working on all day.

The 12.9” is amazing, but it’s cumbersome to use for just about any non-desk task. It’s too big to really use on a plane, or in any crowded coffee shops. But, it is a fantastic screen size which leaves little want when you work all day with it.

If I only had to pick one, it’d be the 10.5” without hesitation.

There’s a sense of freedom you gain with the 10.5” model that I never had with the 9.7” or the 12.9”. The sense that if I want to take my iPad away from my desk for any reason, taking the 10.5” gives me next to no tradeoffs. I can go read for hours, or write for hours, or anything in between.

When I had the 9.7” and the 12.9”, there were many times when I would leave my office for the evening, or perhaps it was a weekend morning, and I would lug both iPads around the house. The big one in case the urge to write struck, and the smaller for just about anything else. I’ve never once had that urge since getting the 10.5”.

I’ve tried living with the 9.7” on trips, and I never love it. Likewise when I travel with the 12.9” iPad Pro, or just try to make it my only iPad, I always feel the awkwardness of the size on planes, on the couch, or when reading.

You get none of that with the 10.5” — yes at times I wish it ran two full-sized iPad app views side by side, but that’s the only tradeoff. And even then, most non-full-sized-iPad-app-views are pretty damn good.

This is one hell of a machine.

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tl;dr

It sounds minor, but had Apple made this iPad screen size from the beginning, we would have had. Well actually it probably wouldn’t have changed a thing. Still, what a machine.