If you’ve been considering an iPad recently, you might find it difficult to find meaningful differences between it and your iPhone—besides the obviously bigger screen. While the iPad and iPhone have a lot in common, over the years the iPad has received many features that make it a worthwhile purchase alongside your iPhone.
Whether you’re watching movies, TV shows, or YouTube videos, I think we can all agree on one thing: A bigger screen is always better. However, using your TV isn’t always convenient, especially if you just want to lay in bed and watch Netflix. The iPad is still small enough to comfortably hold or view close-up, while still being bigger than an iPhone.
The iPad Pro and Air even feature 120 Hz displays compared to the iPhone’s 60 Hz. And while it’s rare anything is recorded in higher frame rates than 60, it’s still a nice bonus feature to have and helps future-proof the tablets for when higher frame rates are more common.
Power Under the Hood
When it comes to performance, some iPads can spank even desktop computers. The iPad Pro’s A12Z Bionic processor is not just the fastest you can get in a tablet, but one of the most powerful consumer chips on the planet. But you can only get the A12Z in the newest iPad Pro models.
Recently, Apple also announced the updated iPad Air, which ships with the brand new A14 Bionic chip. It’s not quite as snappy as the A12Z Bionic, but it is faster than the A13 Bionic found in the iPhone 11 series. The word on the street is that it’s 15 percent faster and 30 percent more power-efficient.
Even the newest base model iPad is now using the A12 Bionic, which is the same chip used in the iPhone Xs, Xs Max, and Xr—still quite snappy phones. If you’re currently using anything older than the Xs series, then the newest base model iPad is a performance upgrade from your phone—and it’s only $329.
You Can Use a Mouse
Using a keyboard with an iPhone or iPad is nothing new, but the iPad supports another peripheral that the iPhone lacks: computer mice. While the iPad’s interface is built with touchscreens in mind, as are most apps, that doesn’t change the fact that mice are just more precise. That precision will only help niche cases, but when it comes in handy it really comes in handy.
While precision isn’t largely important in the vast majority of apps, the fact that you can freely reprogram the inputs of your mouse to do whatever you want is. This allows for the mouse to either act as your primary way of interacting with the iPad, or as a way to execute common actions (such as opening the notifications screen or dock).
The ability to use a mouse also grants more freedom in how you use the iPad. If you’re using a wireless keyboard, you don’t need to reach over it to tap on something anymore—you can use it more like a normal laptop basically. That’s especially true in the iPad Pro’s case where the Magic Keyboard exists, which is the standard keyboard and trackpad combo you’d expect of a laptop.
When it comes to playing games, obviously the larger screen of the iPad is ideal. But beyond that, the iPad is just a more comfortable device to play games on. If you want to play something more than a simple mobile game you’re going to want to use a controller. If you’re on a phone, your options are pretty limited for setting this up comfortably, but there are tons of iPad cases that have a kickstand of some manner.
And PC gamers will be glad to know that you can play with a keyboard and mouse on iPad. This is great for games that require any form of aiming or inventory management—especially if you’re not a fan of the touch controls many of these games adopt. In competitive games, this can also give you an edge over the competition.
There’s also the matter of power. Naturally, more complex games are going to benefit from certain iPad’s models more powerful chips. Console-quality iPad games like PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUND can run at higher graphical settings on the iPad Pro than the iPhone and even run at 90 FPS—taking at least partial advantage of the Pro’s higher refresh rate display.
Drawing (The Apple Pencil)
The Apple Pencil is a king amongst styluses, and Apple has done a lot over the years to cut down latency and add new features to make using the Pencil as pleasant as possible. When you’re drawing with it, the near-zero latency makes it feel great—it’s a major step up from other styluses. It also works great for handwriting notes and writing/drawing on screenshots and documents.
The Pencil currently does not work with the iPhone, and it’s easy to see Apple’s reasoning as to why. The limited screen real estate would limit the Pencil’s usefulness and artists would have a tough time drawing anything even slightly complicated on such a small screen. While there are styluses out there for the iPhone, they don’t have the added software and hardware integration that the Pencil has with the iPad that results in such a great experience.
The second-generation Apple Pencil is only available for the Pro line of iPads and has some nice features such as a magnetic charging connection. However, the first generation is still an above-average stylus and is compatible with most of the recently released iPads (full list on the store page).
Apple has been advertising the iPad as something you can get real desktop-grade work done on. And that’s certainly become true over the years. The iPhone’s limited screen real estate makes it difficult for intense work to be done on it, but with the iPad you can comfortably fit a lot on your screen at once.
This is especially apparent in fields like video editing and graphic design. On iPhone, apps for these fields of work are simplified and have to be to fit on the smaller screen. This is fine, but if you want to do professional work you need more advanced tools, and there are many apps that make use of the iPad’s larger screen to create those advanced tools.
Luma Fusion is a great example of this, as it’s basically a desktop-grade video editor available on the iPad. Not only does the iPad’s larger screen give the UI the space it needs to breathe (the iPhone version is terribly cramped), but the app also has significantly more options and features than other mobile video editors.
And the stuff we’ve already discussed like mouse support and the superior hardware of certain iPad models also help with intense forms of work. All of this rolled into such a sleek and portable device is unmatched anywhere else, and certainly makes the iPad an appealing product for professional. And that will only become more true over time as iPad models become more powerful and the apps made for them more robust.
While switching between multiple open apps on the iPhone is useful, it has nothing on the iPad’s split-view. This allows you to, well, split your screen between multiple apps so you can view them all at once. So if you’re checking Twitter and want to open a link, you can keep your timeline open while viewing the site. There’s even some integration with some apps to allow for more actions to be performed while in split view.
For example, if you have the Photos app open alongside an email, you can drag and drop a photo into the email as an attachment. And if you’re doing work on your iPad, the benefits are even more obvious, as you basically have multiple screens available to multitask between various productivity apps. Working on a spreadsheet but need some info from your note-taking app? No need to constantly switch between them here—just keep them both open at once.
Comparatively, the iPhone’s more standard version of multitasking where you can switch between multiple apps, while still useful, is more limiting. After all, it’s much more annoying to quickly jump back and forth between a couple of apps than it is to view everything you need to see at once.
Browsing the Web
Most sites nowadays have mobile versions, but some still don’t—and many that do offer a watered-down experience. There can be content missing, the UI can be a pain to navigate, and it just makes for a bad time. On iPad however, the browsing experience is desktop-class thanks to numerous improvements to the iPad version of Safari (such as a better download manager).
iPads now have access to all the same desktop versions of websites that you would access on your Mac. This is a massive set up from the iPhone and also opens the door to using web apps. With this version of Safari, your browsing experience on the iPad will be indistinguishable from your desktop (well, besides using a touch screen).
Like the iPhone, the iPad is a great piece of tech that can do a lot for you. Whether you’re working or relaxing, the iPad has a lot of unique features compared to its pocket-sized cousin. That’s why the iPad still has a place in many people’s lives today and is worth considering for many people.