It’s time for an iPad Pro Max for professional users

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iPad Pro Max: It’s time to take iPad to the next level
Apple has repeatedly increased the size of the iPad over the years. A 15-inch version is the logical next step.
Graphic Cult of Mac

While the iPad Pro serves as a primary computer for many people, the 12.9-inch version is simply too small. Apple needs to make a 15-inch iPad Pro Max to make the tablet truly useful for power users.

And a bigger screen is only the start. This version should include other top-tier features not found in Apple’s smaller tablets.

iPad Pro Max would be Apple’s premier detachable

The old argument that people can’t rely on an iPad for “real work” should be considered completely laughable at this point. In recent years, Apple added features like enhanced multitasking and proper mouse support that make its tablets total productivity powerhouses.

These days, many people choose an iPad rather than a MacBook because the tablet is far more flexible. It can be used with a keyboard or without, something the laptop can’t match. And it lets you work however you want, wherever you want.

People like me spend our workdays typing on an iPad using an external keyboard of one sort or another. We don’t need macOS to be productive. Then, in the evenings, we detach the tablet and use it for reading e-books, playing games or watching movies and TV — all activities for which a keyboard is an irritating hassle.

But whether for work or play, what we really need is a larger display. I do side-by-side multitasking all day every day, and I know it’s not just me. Currently, iPadOS shows a maximum of two applications at the same time. A 15-inch display could easily handle three. That would make me … indeed, all of us iPad multitaskers … more productive.

Facing the drawbacks head-on

Yes, a 15-inch iPad Pro would mean some extra bulk. But consider that Apple recently got rid of the 15-inch MacBook Pro because people wanted a bigger laptop. Now they carry around 16-inch MacBooks all the time. And unlike with a tablet, you can’t leave the keyboard behind when you don’t need it.

True, this proposed product would be expensive. The current 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $999, and the 15-inch one would surely cost more. But iPad Pro Max buyers would be heavy users. People for whom it’s not a secondary option, but their go-to computer. The sort of people who plunk down plenty of money for accessories, like the Apple Magic Keyboard or the upcoming Kensington StudioDock.

And let’s keep things in perspective. Most people would be buying the tablet in place of a MacBook Pro, not in addition to a laptop. Apple’s professional-grade notebooks start at $1,299 for the version with a screen smaller than what I’m proposing. The 16-inch version starts at a whopping $2,399. Pricing for the Max-size iPad Pro might be in the neighborhood of the 13-inch MaBook Pro, but should cost much less than than the 16-inch laptop.

Plus, it’s not like this would be Apple’s only tablet. There would still be multiple smaller, much less expensive options.

Bonus features: Additional ports, M-series processor and more

Just as the iPhone 12 Pro Max offers features smaller iOS devices don’t, the largest iPad could pack advanced capabilities. We’ll be paying a lot for this product, and we’ll want our money’s worth.

Dual USB-C ports

The new iPad Pro Max should be the first Apple tablet with dual USB-C ports. So many accessories can be easily accessed through this port — like hard drives and displays — that it’s painful when they can’t be used together. I should be able to pull a movie directly from a hard drive and stream it to an external display, which I can’t do now.

Also, many peripherals can’t be used long-term because the tablet can’t charge while they’re attached.

Yes, there are exceptions. Some accessories can charge an iPad. And the Apple Magic Keyboard powers the tablet without taking up the USB-C port. But an iPad Pro Max with dual ports would remove that concern completely.

Additional storage

iPad Pro Max vs iPad Pro: The iPad Pro Max needs professional-grade storage options.
The iPad Pro Max needs professional-grade storage options.
Graphic: Cult of Mac

The 2020 iPad Pro tops out at 1TB of storage. The Max version should go up to at least 2TB. And maybe Apple should go all in and offer up to 4TB or even 8TB. As mentioned, this device could function as a person’s only computer, and plenty of jobs require digital truckloads of storage. The same thing holds true for some hobbies, like photography and recording music.

M-series processor

Apple could give the iPad Pro Max an enormous boost by taking out the A-series iPhone processor and putting in an M-series Mac chip. Apple designed both chips, and they are similar enough that the swap shouldn’t be a monumental task. In fact, we’ve already heard a rumor that this is in the works.

The change would make the premier iPadOS computer as powerful as a MacBook Pro.

Full support for external displays

iPads currently offer only partial support for external displays. Mostly they just mirror the built-in screen, though exceptions exist for watching video. An iPad Pro Max should be able to handle a true second display, just like Macs do.

A mouse or trackpad would be required for the second screen, but many high-end iPad Pro users already use these. That’s why there’s a trackpad built into the Smart Keyboard for iPad.

Extra bonus features

As long as Apple is adding new features, the company should go whole hog. Include a Touch ID sensor built into the power button to supplement Face ID. (The new iPad Air comes with one, after all.) And haptic feedback is overdue. I miss it when gaming on my iPad.

This is going to be a top-tier device, with a price to match. It should benefit from all the bells and whistles Apple can add.

Reshuffling the iPad product lineup

15-inch iPad Pro Max, 12.9-inch iPad Pro, 10.9-inch iPad Air and 10.2-inch iPad
Add the iPad Pro Max and Apple’s tablet lineup becomes this.
Graphic: Cult of Mac

Adding a 15-inch iPad Pro Max wouldn’t mean the end of the 12.9-inch version. Apple should keep that one around as a smaller alternative. Instead, it’s the 11-inch iPad Pro that should go. This an easy move because the 2020 iPad Air already took its place. Apple really doesn’t need two 11-inch tablets with edge-to-edge displays.

The end result would be a tablet lineup made up of the 15-inch iPad Pro Max, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, the 10.9-inch iPad Air, the 10.2-inch iPad and the iPad mini, which might be about to jump up to a 9-inch screen.

And Apple shouldn’t stop there. Someday there could be a 16-inch iPad Pro Max. The 16-inch MacBook Pro shows there’s demand for portable computers that big. Tablet users should be able to take advantage of the productivity boost that comes from a large display, just as Mac users already do.