PLOT TWIST: I returned my iPad Mini 5 and got the iPad Pro 11” instead.
If you’ve not read the first post on my iPad journey, you can do that here. TLDR; I tried both the iPad Mini and iPad Pro, and ended up returning the Pro and keeping the Mini.
Exactly three days of doing the exchange, I went back to the Apple Store, and asked for the iPad Pro back. Let me tell you why the iPad Pro worked better for me.
I was far more productive on the Pro. Period.
The Mini was great for on-the-go note taking. For hardcore writing and typing however, it was just a fail. I kept going back to my MacBook Air to do serious work. This was totally different from when I had my iPad Pro. I chose to do the bulk of my writing on the iPad, even though my MacBook was right by me.
The Mini’s screen is too small for me to take it seriously. I had to try hard to see it as more than just a gaming or media consumption device. That’s right, your girl said “gaming”. I don’t play games, ever. On my iPhone you’ll find just one probably outdated Best Fiends app that I only open when I’m waiting in line to get on the plane. Yet I somehow felt compelled to download Plants vs Zombies and whack zombies all day long. It felt too much like a game console.
I also just wasn’t inspired to do… MORE. I sorely missed the iPad Pro. When I had the Pro, I was excited to use it. It was easy for me to flip it open and write away on it. I’m typing, editing, publishing this whole article on my iPad Pro. In fact, most of the recent articles here were drafted on it. It’s just such a pleasure to use. For the first time ever, I’m days ahead of my editorial schedule. That’s insane and with less than a week of using the iPad Pro.
With the iPad Mini, once I was done with work, I was DONE. I either set it to one side (probably to charge the darn battery), or I’d open Plants v Zombies 2. I did the barest minimum with it.
If the only source of joy that the iPad can give me is in the form of games and consuming media, this would defeat my whole purpose to wanting to get an iPad on the first place.
The Battery on the Mini drains too fast
When I first tried the iPad Mini, I thought I had a glitchy one because I thought the battery was draining too much. I exchanged it for a new one, but I soon realise it was just the Mini’s smaller battery. Apple says the iPad Mini is purported to have a 10 hour battery life. I say that’s being overly optimistic.
I’m on the iPad a lot. A LOT. I find that with the Mini, I had to plug it into the charger at about the three to four hour mark because the battery has gone down to 20%. I do use it at full brightness, on Apple Notes or Nebo app, with Spotify in the background, Youtube during my work breaks and the necessary web browsing – that’s a lot of stuff I’m doing – but that’s the amount that’s required for me to do my work. Needing to charge this at the four-hour mark meant that there’s no way this will last me a whole day out if I decide to not bring my laptop.
Besides, how am I suppose to play Plants vs Zombies at the end of the work day? That’s a no-go.
The iPad Pro could survive a whole day at work with me, and still had enough juice left for the ride home.
A Suited Up Mini is a Clutterfest
To make the Mini workable for me, I bought all of the above: the Otterbox Symmetry clear case with a pencil holder, a Smart Cover folio, and the Logitech Keys-to-Go Ultra Slim Bluetooth Keyboard. All of this bulked up the Mini, even if for not a considerable amount. Suddenly I wasn’t finding it as cute as before. With all the casings on, I handled it differently as well. I’m not sure why, but even simple things I enjoyed before like being able to hold the Mini with just one hand, became awkward once all the accessories were on.
The Logitech keyboard, while ultra thin and portable, felt like a toy. The keys didn’t have much of a raised feel, and typing on it didn’t feel as good. When I didn’t need the keyboard, I hated how it’s just lying around. It felt like it didn’t belong anywhere. Clutter.
“There are better accessories for iPad Mini dillhead have you not heard of Google.” Now listen, I may perhaps have gotten the wrong accessories for my needs. But I’m not going to go on another mad hunt for the “perfect accessories” that apparently even the official Apple shop can’t provide. I can’t. I don’t have it in me. I’m a simple person with simple needs.
The Smart Keyboard Folio is genius
I may have griped about the limitations of the Smart Keyboard Folio before, such as the folio coming off the back if I flip it open too enthusiastically. Ultimately none of that mattered because it took me just a little getting used to and I’m not getting the awkward folio issues anymore.
I absolutely adore typing on the keyboard folio. To me, it’s a satisfying clicking experience which feels so smooth. I read some reviews that wishes it has an extra row of keys, but I personally did not feel like the keyboard lacked anything.
The keyboard is also waterproof and this has proved essential in so many occasions. I’ve been able to rest this on so many tables that has mysterious pools of water and I could easily wiped it away. I’ve also had a bowl of ramen while watching Netflix (yes, I’m one of those people) and had soup splash all over the keyboard – no problemo. Don’t even get me started on how regularly I spill water or coffee.
And really, the best selling point is that you don’t have to charge the keyboard, ever. Technically, it’s charging as long as it’s connected to the iPad, but you know what I mean. Talk about liberating.
My one gripe was the fact that the Apple Pencil keeps coming off the iPad when I’m taking it out of my bag, but you know what, I’d rather take off the pencil and put it in one of my bag pockets than carry around an additional Bluetooth keyboard like I had to with the Mini. The Mini with all of its accessories was just… a clutterfest.
It’s not just the Size
“Why not get the iPad Air then? It’s basically just a bigger version of the Mini but with this fantastic Smart Connector thing that you seem irrationally obsessed with.”
Have you seen the keyboard folio? It looks a folding mess.
I may not care about specs, but I care about diminishing value and returns. iPad Air with the folding mess of a keyboard folio and Apple Pencil will bring me to SGD$1,355. iPad Pro with the keyboard folio and Apple Pencil will bring me to SGD$1,877. That’s a $522 difference in price. Which of the two’s technology would less likely be obsolete in five years time? The iPad Air, with its Touch ID and weird Apple Pencil? Or the iPad Pro with Face ID and a Pencil that makes better sense?
Just knowing the specs on the iPad Pro is a level up from everything else feels like a secure investment for me – and I’m planning to hold on to this iPad for years to come.
There’s also this naggy hunch that Apple might probably even release better versions of the Air and Mini with those Pro features.
There’s also this whole USB-C business that’s supposedly the USB of the future. I don’t use it for anything else other than to charge, but I believe the concept of using just one USB port for everything is forward-thinking.
I love my iPad Pro 11″. The size is compact and portable, with a screen that is conducive for work. Not only is my productivity levelled up, I reap a lot of enjoyment from this device.
I’m on my iPad Pro almost exclusively now. I still use, and love, my MacBook Air, and my iPad Pro cannot be my laptop replacement (for now). However, I’ve migrated and have been using my Pro for 80% of my work already. It has upped my productivity that much more and I loved that I wasn’t limited anymore.
Don’t forget that the Mini is NOT CHEAP. It costs almost SGD$1,000. It’s cheaper than the Pro, sure, but it’s still not cheap. For what I paid, I most certainly expected more out of it. Yet I can’t be full-on mad, because the Mini might potentially be the best small tablet out there. It just doesn’t fulfil my needs.
The iPad Pro is hella expensive, but I’m grateful that I can afford it. Considering how much it has already added to my life, I don’t even feel the pinch of my investment anymore. With that said, I don’t think I can recommend the iPad Pro freely to everyone only because of the price tag.
Determine what you truly need, and work from there. Apple has evolved to be this company that gives more options for better or for worse. In this case, that might just be a wonderful step.
Personally, the iPad Pro has added so much value to my life, it has brought so much joy for me, and I use it every single day. Spend money on what you spend the most time on.