Deciding between two of Apple's leading products can be a tricky decision. The latest iPad Pro 2022 (M2) has almost the same processing power as the MacBook Pro 16-inch (2023), both equipped with Apple's latest M2 Pro chip, which is impressive for an iPad to be able to compete with a MacBook at this advanced level.
In the last couple of years, the lines between the iPad Pro and MacBook Pro have become blurrier than ever. It might seem like a tougher decision these days to compare pro-level specs, but we're here to help highlight the key differences between these workstations and the benefits of using each for creatives.
Take a look at our Apple Black Friday deals page for early discounts on Apple tech (including iPads and MacBooks) ahead of the big sales event.
MacBook Pro Vs iPad Pro: Design and Display
Design is a crucial factor when deciding on your next device, but thankfully both of these Apple Pro products meet the premium design and build quality that the company is known for.
The latest MacBook Pro series has been designed with sturdy aluminium alloy materials for an all-metal structure offering a sleek and classy look (that's a little on the weightier side), whereas the 2022 iPad Pro models are made with recycled aluminium, gold, plastic, tin, and rare earth elements, according to Apple.
The iPad Pro might be made of strong stuff, but the 12.9-inch model keeps its traditional thin and portable form which is great for creatives who travel and like to work on the go. It weighs just 682 grams (1.5 pounds) and has a width of 6.4 mm/ 0.25 inches making it thinner than a typical notepad.
As for the displays, the latest 2023 MacBook Pro is available in both 14-inch and 16-inch models, with a gorgeous liquid retina XDR display that delivers improved brightness and contrast ratios with advanced dynamic range for maximum quality.
The iPad Pro also has two available size options, either the 12.9-inch model or the 11-inch model, although these devices make use of backlit Mini-LED displays instead which offer more accurate and brighter visuals than the previous year's models, powered by 10,000 Mini-LEDs spread across local dimming zones. This is better for People who regularly watch HDR content or use their iPads in dim conditions.
The iPad Pro can reach 1,600 nits of high dynamic range brightness, which is great for streaming as well as working. The MacBook Pro also offers the same 1,600 nits of peak HDR brightness, but of course for a much higher price.
MacBook Pro Vs iPad Pro: Performance and Software
We've already mentioned that both the latest iPad Pro and MacBook Pro models are equipped with powerful M2 chips, meaning the performance levels of these devices should be pretty on par, unless you opt for the pricier MacBook Pro configurations which make use of the M2 Max chips instead.
It might be a good idea to consider a MacBook Pro over an iPad Pro if you tend to take on high levels of creative work, such as video editing, and need a machine that can handle productivity and multitasking. That's not to say that the iPad Pro would struggle in this area, but the horsepower of the M2 Pro and M2 Max chips make it the go-to for those with seriously demanding work to get done.
However, if you happen to be an illustrator or digital artist, you might find the iPad Pro to be the better option for managing your workload, especially if you need a more portable device with the option to use an Apple Pencil or other key accessories. If you opt for an iPad, keep in mind that you'll need to purchase a keyboard and Magic Mouse separately if you intend to use your device in this way.
Software on the iPad might be easier to access with a stylus if you use apps such as Procreate for digital art or Final Cut Pro for editing. Whereas apps like Photoshop and Lightroom for photographers might benefit from a more stable set-up with a larger display to work with. Procreate is also an iPad-only app, so keep this in mind if you plan to use a MacBook Pro for digital art.
MacBook Pro Vs iPad Pro: Features and Battery Life
Features of these Pro devices are pretty similar, although the iPad Pro is a clear winner if you hope to be able to use a stylus. The MacBook Pro comes with a 1080p FaceTime HD camera, and benefits from advanced image signal processing using computational video, which pretty much means the quality will improve thanks to auto enhancements to make you look your best.
As for the iPad Pro, both models come equipped with wide and ultra-wide cameras, including a 12MP (ƒ/1.8) wide camera, and a 10MP (ƒ/2.4) ultra-wide camera with up to 5x digital zoom. As for the front camera, it has a 12MP ultra-wide TrueDepth camera and can record 4K video. So if you're a keen photographer then the iPad Pro might be of more use to you than a MacBook Pro.
According to Apple, the iPad Pro battery life has the potential to last up to 10 hours when surfing the web using Wi-Fi or streaming video content. In comparison, our sister site Tom's Guide ran an extensive battery test on the MacBook Pro 16-inch 2023 model with the M2 Max chip and found that it lasted for 18 hours and 56 minutes.
Chances are that you won't leave your MacBook unplugged for this long anyway, and if you use more demanding editing software then your MacBook or iPad will undoubtedly drain much faster. But it's good to know that the MacBook Pro has a super long-lasting battery should you ever be stranded without your charger.
MacBook Pro Vs iPad Pro: Price
Apple's 2022 12.9-inch iPad Pro model with an M2 chip retails for $1,099 / £1,249, and the 16-inch MacBook Pro with an M2 Pro chip can be had at a starting price of $2,499 / £2,699. While the MacBook pro is the more expensive choice, it comes equipped with a 12-core CPU, 19-core GPU, plus 16GB of unified memory and 512GB of SSD storage. In contrast, the iPad Pro offers a lesser 8-Core CPU chip with a 10-Core GPU, plus 8GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage.
If your final decision boils down to price and budget, then it's a no-brainer in our opinion to opt for the iPad Pro over the MacBook Pro, with levels of performance and power that are incredibly similar to the latest MacBook Pro series, despite these devices sitting at wildly different price points. Especially if you upgrade the specs of your iPad Pro slightly when purchasing, you could get a top-spec machine to rival the MacBook at a much more reasonable price.
However, consider that with the iPad Pro, you might need to purchase extra accessories such as one of the best iPad keyboards to make your desk feel like a complete setup. Apple's official Magic Keyboard will set you back $299/£319, and every extra accessory adds up, so think about if the MacBook Pro which is already complete with a keyboard and trackpad is a more convenient choice.
MacBook Pro Vs iPad Pro: Black Friday 2023
Black Friday is just around the corner, and there are already a huge number of retailers out there offering some excellent Black Friday deals on Apple products. We're already seeing price cuts on popular models such as the older 10th-gen iPad with up to $50 off, and a much bigger $750 off the MacBook Pro 16 (M1 Pro, 2021).
The Apple Store is not the place to get Apple Black Friday deals. Instead, you should decide exactly which hardware you're after and how much you want to spend, and the new can help with the rest. As a general rule, huge Apple Black Friday discounts are usually on older kit, or products released earlier in the year.