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How to decide whether to buy an iPad or a MacBook

Not all critics have been able to stress whether the iPad should be considered a powerful touch-enabled computer or tablet, but this is the honest truth: it can be both, it offers equally powerful options for very different tasks.

If you are an Apple fan, you may be wondering if an iPad or MacBook is best for you. As it turns out, it really depends on what kind of person you are, how you accomplish your daily tasks, and what your most important needs are.

The best option for you also depends on which device you’ve preferred and which you’ve been more comfortable with in the past. Today, we’ll walk you through the top questions to help you decide if your iPad or MacBook should be worth your money.

How to decide whether to buy an iPad or a MacBook - iPadOS Mac

Does portability have a value?

How to decide whether to buy an iPad or a MacBook - iPadOS Mac

If you travel a lot and want a lightweight device that you can carry everywhere with you, the MacBook is an acceptable option, especially for the power it packs with it.

But while the MacBook gets the job done, the iPad isn’t easily defeated when it comes to portability. It’s more portable than the MacBook Air, and it’s lighter than the MacBook that Apple makes.

For example, the 2019 MacBook Air weighs about 13 inches 1247.37 grams. While the 12.9-inch 2018 iPad Pro (the largest iPad by size) weighs only half, at 630.5 gr.

So if you want a device that’s light and easy to carry anywhere, the MacBook would be a fine choice, but the iPad is miles better in terms of portability.

Do you need a powerful operating system?

How to decide whether to buy an iPad or a MacBook - iPadOS Mac

In 2019, Apple renamed the iPad operating system from iOS (which also powers the iPhone) to the new iPadOS. Where this differentiates between iPad and iPhone, iPadOS offers more powerful features like Split Screen, desktop-class Safari, full Dock, and more.

But macOS offers much more than that, with traditional desktop features like powerful file management, full desktop apps, and complex multitasking. If necessary, you can install Windows alongside macOS—check out our guide covering how to install Windows on a Mac if you’re concerned.

However, it is certainly possible to get work done on iPadOS, but its apps offer limited features when compared to their desktop counterparts. For example, Photoshop for iPad has been a mess since its release in late 2019, and it pales in comparison to the full version of Photoshop on Mac.

In short, if you are looking to get professional work done, iPadOS is a decent option with some major limitations. macOS, on the other hand, will probably have everything you need.

Is ease of use valuable?

How to decide whether to buy an iPad or a MacBook - iPadOS Mac

iPadOS may not be as powerful as macOS, but it makes up for it with its remarkable ease of use. This means that the iPad is a good option if you are looking to buy a device for a child or an elderly person. Of course, this can also apply to you, if you value a device that is easy to use above all else.

Not only is the iPad easy to use on the system side. Unlike MacBooks, iPads have touch screens, which add plenty of practical options for tasks like drawing and writing. If you like, you can use the Apple Pencil for more precision.

For some types of use, the touch screen is superior, premium and saves a lot of time. However, if you often work in spreadsheets and other tools that require precision, a trackpad or mouse will suit your needs better.

What about strong ingredients?

How to decide whether to buy an iPad or a MacBook - iPadOS Mac

Due to their size and use cases, iPads and MacBooks have different types of components. As a result, the devices provide different levels of power.

For example, the iPad Pro has an additional advantage in the visual aspect thanks to ProMotion Display technology. That’s Apple’s name for the high refresh rate (up to 120Hz) these screens can reach, which makes everything look really smooth. This is great for tasks like browsing and drawing.

On the other hand, the advantage that any MacBook has compared to the iPad is a much larger amount of RAM, which greatly improves multitasking. Plus the more powerful processors in MacBook models, so that heavy tasks like 4K video editing are much faster on a laptop.

Both devices offer impressive internal components for their own uses. If you don’t need massive horsepower from a MacBook, the iPad will suit you perfectly. On the other hand, those looking to multitask while using dozens of apps and using powerful software will find that the iPad has few resources.

Do you want to play games?

How to decide whether to buy an iPad or a MacBook - iPadOS Mac

Both the MacBook and iPad are not dedicated gaming machines, but they do offer some good gaming options. Both iPadOS and macOS let you enjoy a variety of games on Apple Arcade if you have a subscription.

The Mac App Store offers many games for purchase, including desktop versions of casual games and more major titles. Steam is also available for Mac, and while Mac doesn’t support as many powerful titles as Windows, there is still a great selection of Mac games to choose from.

Meanwhile, the iPad has a large selection of games on the App Store. However, these are often casual games that are free to start but quickly hamper your progress with in-app purchases and play limits.

Which one is best for you ultimately depends on how you like to play. If you love keyboard/mouse control of your avid gamer, you must go for a MacBook. But if you don’t mind touch control and prefer casual gaming, iPad is the best option.

Is the price within budget?

How to decide whether to buy an iPad or a MacBook - iPadOS Mac

Another important factor that will help you choose between the two devices is how much money you are willing to pay to get one.

The cheapest MacBook that Apple currently makes is the 13-inch MacBook Air, and its price starts at $1,099 , which is not cheap. On the other hand, the least expensive iPad on offer at the time of writing, the 10.2-inch iPad, starts at Only $329.

The iPad is clearly much better if you’re on a tight budget. Additionally, there are more variants available for the iPad at different prices. iPad Air price starts at $599 , while iPad Pro is available starting from 799 dollars. If you’re looking for a small device, Apple offers the iPad Mini starting at $399.

The iPad is clearly worth 400 dollars It can’t match the capabilities of a MacBook for an amount $1100. If you already have a solid desktop computer, an iPad as an additional device may be better.

iPad and MacBook: what will you decide?

In the end, the most important factor to help you choose between an iPad and a MacBook is the style of device you feel comfortable with.

If you’ve worked with laptops in the past and want a professional desktop experience, you won’t get that on the iPad – a MacBook is right for you. But if you love the simplicity of iOS on your phone and want a small suite of laptop capabilities, plus unmatched usability, the iPad is all you need. Also, if you are concerned about money, the iPad is clearly better.

We hope this helped you decide which device is right for you. For the next step, check out our MacBook models comparison or iPad buying guide to determine the specific model that best suits your needs.

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