Lately I’ve had an itch to buy a new gadget. Although I recently purchased a Nexus 5X to replace my iPhone 6, I’ve continued to eyeball all of the cool flagships that have come out over the past couple of months. However, when it comes to pulling the trigger on buying another smartphone so soon, I haven’t been able to bring myself to do it. However, there is another gadget of mine that hasn’t been replaced in a while, and that’s my trusty iPad Air.
I've talked about how I’m one of those people that doesn’t upgrade their tablet often. I don’t use it that frequently, at least compared to how often I use my phone. I also don’t use it for as many things. I mainly use it for Netflix and Microsoft Office, maybe answering a couple of e-mails here and there, and some light web browsing. For a while I also had a Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0, which has since bit the dust, that I used exclusively for drawing. While I’m not unhappy with my iPad Air’s performance otherwise, trying to find a suitable stylus for the iPad Air has been an abysmal experience. The iPad Air was just not meant to be a great tool for drawing.
The iPad Air 2 came with some improvements to stylus functionality, but the real winner is, of course, the iPad Pro and its compatibility with the Apple Pencil accessory.
We’re all likely familiar with the late Steve Jobs’ harsh stance on styli, so the very fact that Apple eventually came out with a stylus is somewhat surprising. However, given that Jobs is no longer at the helm, it’s to be expected that some of his ideals won’t stick. With devices like Samsung’s Galaxy Note and Microsoft’s Surface tablet put a big focus on stylus performance, Apple introducing a stylus of their own is just responding to competitive trends. At the very least, in typical Apple fashion, they positively nailed stylus design and performance (even if it is a bit weird how it recharges).
The Apple Pencil debuted with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but the device was far too expensive for me to feel like I was getting a good value out of it. The fact that the iPad Pro ships with iOS and not a full desktop experience does make me feel like I’m greatly overpaying for what I need to use the device for. $799 for a tablet that I can draw on in my spare time? Not my idea of a smart purchase. However, when the 9.7-inch iPad Pro was introduced, the entry-level price point was lowered by $200. And I’ll admit that despite the low 32GB starting point (which I’m not particularly impressed with, but at least it’s not 16GB) I have been contemplating buying the smaller iPad Pro due to the fact that I am that impressed with how well the Apple Pencil performs. For me, it perfectly solves my dilemma; I’d get to keep my iPad while also having an exceptional digital drawing experience.
I haven’t purchased an iPad Pro yet because I’m still weighing the pros and cons between the iPad Pro and the Surface Pro 4, which offers a similar outstanding stylus experience of its own. What’s more is that the Surface Pro 4 could be used as a true laptop replacement if I needed it to. No matter what Apple says, no amount of modification could make the iPad Pro replace my laptop for me. Not with iOS, and not without having a mouse. On the other hand, Apple does a much better job at being a tablet than the Surface Pro 4 does. But I digress.
Despite all of the reasoning as to why I should or should not get an iPad Pro, it still makes me laugh that the main reason I’m even considering it is because Apple, of all companies, created a top-notch stylus. If it wasn’t for the Pencil, the iPad Pro would not even be on my radar. Although I can’t speak for everybody, I think this rings true for a lot of people. In reality, the iPad Pro offers only marginally outperforms the iPad Air 2 with the A9X processor, True Tone display, and camera upgrades that match the iPhone 6s (but how often does anybody use the camera on their tablet?) The true selling point for the iPad Pro is the ability to pair the Pencil and Smart Keyboard with it, but even then it feels like the iPad Pro is $100 overpriced than it should be (especially considering neither the Pencil nor the Smart Keyboard are included – otherwise I would probably feel differently.)
I just never thought that I would be commending Apple (or contemplating buying an iPad) solely for their stylus, as it never seemed like it was a direction they would take before.