iPad Pro vs MacBook: which one should I choose?

Updated on 28 June 2023

Since the release of the very first iPad in 2010, the smart tablet has come a long way, even becoming a serious competitor to laptops. Apple is increasingly playing up the versatility of the machine and regularly compares it to the MacBook, not only in terms of design, but also in terms of technical features. So: iPad Pro or MacBook? We tell you everything to help you make your choice when deciding on your next refurbished Apple device!

iPad Pro vs MacBook: differences in everyday life

While for some users the MacBook may seem like the obvious choice, the iPad and its versatility is winning people over more and more. What difference does it make to your daily life?


Obviously, since the MacBook is a laptop, the device is designed to be mobile like the iPad. Yes, that is true, but... :

  • The iPad is lighter and smaller and can be used in any circumstance.

  • The iPad offers a very intuitive user experience, so you can put it in the hands of your grandma or your little nephew without any problem during a family holiday.

  • The iPad Pro is available in sizes as small as 11 inches, making it the perfect light weight portable device to take wherever you go.


The MacBook is an increasingly powerful machine. Nowadays, you can play demanding games smoothly and do intensive art work, such as video editing or photo editing. Yes, but... :

  • The iPad has a respectable (and still growing) app catalogue, with app equivalents to powerful software like the Adobe suite.

  • The iPad Pro can be used alone, with a cover, with a keyboard... the combinations are multiple and almost infinite. No matter what kind of interface you prefer, it’s possible with an iPad.

  • The iPad Pro can be used with the Apple Pencil, the stylus dedicated to the iPad. This gives the device an artistic capability unmatched on the MacBook.


We lightly touched on this, but we think it deserves more elaboration because it's one of the undeniable strengths of the iPad Pro over the MacBook. Where the MacBook is made in one piece, with its own keyboard, trackpad and very little room for customization for its users, the iPad can be modified at will with Apple products or their consumer "equivalents".

  • Cases: leather, silicone, hard plastic... cases come in all shapes and prices. Whether it's a simple folio that you can fold down to stand your iPad upright or a real case that covers the device and provides foolproof protection, there is something for every preference and every use.

  • Keyboards and mouse/trackpad: Thanks to the combination of Bluetooth and the new iPadOS, the iPad Pro supports mouse and trackpad detection as well as keyboard detection. This new step transforms the iPad a little more into a computer in the way it is used. And again, there is a lot to choose from. Apple offers its new Magic Keyboard which combines case, keyboard and trackpad, while Logitech offers its own more affordable version. Other manufacturers offer less complete alternatives at unbeatable prices that allow you to experiment with this new way of using the iPad cheaply. But let's face it, if your main use is for word processing, the MacBook is still your best bet.

Technical specifications

As we've seen, the iPad Pro and the MacBook aren't used in quite the same way. One offers more versatility, the other more stability. But what about the technical characteristics of the two machines? Is one clearly more powerful than the other?

A question of weight (and size!)

  • Size-wise: the iPad Pro comes in two sizes, just like the MacBook. The iPad is available in 11" and 13", while the MacBook comes in 13" and 16". These sizes correspond to the uses of the two machines, since the iPad must retain its mobile aspect and the MacBook remains a portable entity that can also remain on a desk without any problem.

  • In terms of weight: the 13-inch iPad Pro weighs 682 grams (2 grams more for the wifi + cellular version) while the 13-inch MacBook air weighs 1.29 kilograms. This is a significant difference, but it is offset a bit when you add a case or even a keyboard to your iPad. It is possible for the iPad to become more imposing and even heavier than the MacBook by a few grams.

Power and connectivity

  • Both the new iPad Pro and the new MacBook share the powerful M1 chip. The M1 chip is a new chip designed in Apple's own workshops, the first of its kind. This allows the Californian company to break away from other manufacturers and take control over their own processing standards. It’s proved to be an extremely powerful chip that enables ultra-smooth operation on both Mac and iPad.

  • In terms of connectivity, the MacBook (both air and pro) has two thunderbolt/USB-C ports as well as a jack for connecting headphones, while the iPad has only one thunderbolt/USB-C port.

  • In terms of recognition, the iPad Pro offers Face ID, so the sensor automatically recognises the face without you having to do anything extra. The MacBook, on the other hand, only has Touch ID, i.e. fingerprint recognition, so you have to use your finger every time you unlock your Mac. It should be noted, however, that these two types of recognition can be completely deactivated if you wish. Furthermore, we should also mention you can unlock your Mac with your Apple Watch very conveniently. 

  • Finally, regarding battery life (an important factor when using a mobile device): the iPad Pro can last up to 10 hours in web browsing mode, while the MacBook Air lasts up to 15 hours for the same use.

Operating systems and software

While the use of the M1 chip in both the iPad and the MacBook make it seem like they would provide two relatively equivalent experiences, the softwares in each machine differ greatly. It’s clear that Apple does wish to make a distinction between the two.

  • The iPad Pro runs on iPadOS, an operating system specific to Apple's tablet that now offers a unique user experience. While iPhone users will find similiraties with iOS, the iPad’s software has extended features. iPadOS supports the use of the Pencil to draw, doodle, annotate and even write and turn handwriting into text. iPadOS also supports the trackpad and mouse for a more computer-like experience. The specific environment supports multitasking, with the ability today to open up to three apps at the same time through two fixed windows and one floating window.

  • The MacBook runs MacOS, the same operating system that has powered MacBooks and iMacs for decades. Stable and ultra complete, MacOS no longer has to prove its capabilities. Unlike iPadOS, the Mac environment supports a real Finder that allows you to easily manage all your files, whether on your Mac or on your external hard drive. As for multitasking, it's almost unlimited, thanks in particular to the M1 chip, which makes the MacBook even smoother to use than before.

That's it, we've done our part in comparing the pros and cons of the two devices, now it's up to you to make your choice! So, iPad Pro or refurbished Macbook?

Back Market

Written by BrianMarketing Manager Back Market UK & Ireland

When not talking about the latest eco-friendly tech and reducing our carbon footprint, Brian enjoys the odd game of football, a classic horror (book or film) or just to kick back with a beer or a proper Scottish whisky. Slàinte Mhath!

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