Back to top

Yes, the iPad Pros Needed to Be Thinner

I won’t be buying the new iPads, as I’ll keep rocking my 11-inch 2018 (with Magic Keyboard). But one thing has been bugging me about the early coverage of the new models, that I wanted to address. 1

Because, when I watched the Keynote and saw that the new iPad Pro models were thinner and lighter, I immediately went “Nice!”. But I kept seeing (and hearing) comments like this, here exemplified by David Pierce (whom I really like!) on The Verge: 2

Basically, the point is, “Who asked for this? Why not make it thicker and increase the battery life?” Nilay (Patel) agrees with this — but then, six(!) minutes later, answers the question: 3

So yeah, not a long time between them not understanding why they made it thinner and lighter, and complaining about it being too thick and heavy…

Reason #1: The Magic Keyboard

From top to bottom: iPad Pro 11-inch with Magic Keyboard, M1 MacBook Air, M2 Macbook Air, 14-inch MacBook Pro.

As you can see, the iPad becomes pretty thick! Furthermore, I personally really like that it’s cantilever instead of using a kickstand (as it uses way less depth) — but then you have to worry about it falling over. This has caused two things in the old Magic Keyboard (MK):

  1. To counterbalance, the keyboard itself has to be heavier.
  2. It still can’t tilt as much, and this contributes to the lack of a function row.

So, as the new iPads are thinner and lighter, they’ve spent some of the gains on making the keyboard lighter as well, and some on adjusting the angle to make room for a function row. Very valuable stuff, in my opinion!

iPad (with Magic Keyboard) vs. MacBook Air
Product Weight
12.9-inch M2 iPad Pro + MK 1 392 grams
13-inch M4 iPad Pro + MK 1 246 grams
M3 13-inch MacBook Air 1 240 grams
Comparisons, from this article.

Reason #2: Holding it

A friend and I have exchanged iPads temporarily — so currently he has my iPad Pro 11-inch, and I have his iPad Mini. 4 The latter is obviously way worse as a semi-laptop — but it’s very nice to hold! Either for reading, watching movies or playing games. But the larger and heavier the iPad is, the more clunky this (traditional tablet usage) is. I’m not saying my 11-inch is terrible at this — but I absolutely think improving it at it is worthwhile. And this is even more true on the 13-inch. Previously, I had a 12.9-inch (with a home button), and I rarely used it in my hands, as it was so clunky.

More batteries come at a cost

If Apple instead shoved more battery life into the iPads, we have to remember that we would have to carry that extra weight, and deal with the extra thickness, every time we use (or just transport) the product! And we would only benefit from the extra battery life those times we’re away from power for more than 10 hours. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be nice to not have to plug it in quite that often, or get away with a smaller power bank on a trip. But I am saying the two reasons above far outweigh (pun intended) this benefit.

So I’m pleased Apple chose to make it thinner and lighter — because it was absolutely needed. And I think I’ll love it, when I buy the 2024 11-inch model second hand in three years!

  1. I wanted to write this post earlier, before the reviews are out - but I still think it’s relevant! ↩︎

  2. Transcript:

    David: “But them I’m like, OK if this was was a little thicker, so it didn’t have a camera bump (which is a thing a lot of people pointed out was…). This thing could’ve been the thickness of the camera bump, and would’ve been about the same thickness of the last iPad - which no one was complaining about the thickness of, by the way.”

    Nilay: “Yeah.” ↩︎

  3. Transcript:

    Nilay: “What I’m really curious about is the keyboard. Because my favourite plane computer of all time, was the 12-inch MacBook, which was super light and thin. I tried to replace it with the previous 11-inch iPad Pro - which turned out to be, like, thick. Like, it was just like a heavy, weird thing… It, like, just wasn’t as good as a laptop in many ways, because of just the way it worked.”

    David: “Yeah.”

    Nilay: “Is the new keyboard case sort of better at… They announced it as being more like a MacBook than ever, which I thought was really interesting.” ↩︎

  4. Why no love for this, Tim!? ↩︎