A Smaller iPad Is Better for the iPad

9.7-in. iPad Pro Stacked on Top of 12.9-in. iPad Pro

The trend in mobile devices for the past year or two has been making everything bigger, but I count myself among those who still believe that smaller is still better. Most of the time.

For instance, I was pretty enthusiastic about the original, 12.9-in. iPad Pro when it debuted last fall, but in the end I couldn’t bring myself to buy one. I had already been using my iPad Air 2 as a laptop replacement (along with a Belkin Qode Bluetooth keyboard) and I was more than happy with the compact size; even today, it’s all I take with me on my frequent business trips and I couldn’t be happier with the way it’s lightened my load. It’s true that it’s only .61 lbs. lighter than a 12.9-in. iPad Pro, but every ounce counts.

What I really wanted at the time was what Apple announced yesterday: a smaller version that’s fundamentally the same form factor as my iPad Air 2 (and the exact same weight) and that includes the original Pro’s four-speaker sound system and, most importantly, support for the amazing Apple Pencil. If you haven’t yet tried a Pencil, I can confidently say it’s better than any other stylus ou there. The best way I can describe the experience is this: the variable line quality is such a convincing replication of what it looks like to make marks on paper that I often find myself bearing down harder on the Pencil, expecting to feel the texture of the substrate through the implement. (I imagine someday, with tiny motors providing haptic feedback, that quality too will be replicable.)

I’m also optimistic that this smaller, more capable and more affordable iPad will continue the burgeoning trend of tablets replacing laptops. People are surprised when I tell them how much of the work that most people do on their laptops is possible on the iPad; with continued adoption of the Pencil and as the technology that’s unique to the iPad Pro starts trickling further down the product line, I expect soon that there will be even more work that can only be done on iPad. That’s exciting to me, because creating unique value in the iPad is what will ultimately prove out what I believe to be true: for most people, tablets are a better computing experience than laptops or desktops.