My 2020 11-inch iPad Pro is probably the device I use the most every day, outside of my smartphone. It’s incredibly versatile, convenient to carry around, powerful enough for just about everything, and with the Magic Keyboard attached, is a real productivity powerhouse. So when Apple announced its new iPad Pro for 2022, I wondered if it was time to upgrade and get the massive 12.9-inch version, as I watch a lot of videos.
I wasn’t prepared for the shock I’d get when I saw how much this would cost me. It was so surprising, I took a moment to see what else Apple offers that would do almost the same job, and in the process ended up either saving quite a lot of money or getting more from the deal.
My dream iPad Pro (2022)
Before my jaw dropped at the eventual price, I specced my iPad Pro to the way I wanted on Apple’s pre-order page. I treated it like I did my existing iPad Pro and got enough storage space so that it’ll last for a while — but I have no need for cellular connectivity as it spends most of its time in the house. A Space Grey, 512GB iPad Pro was placed in the basket. But wait, I need the Magic Keyboard, so that was added, and I regretted not getting an Apple Pencil last time, so that went in, too.
The price was … wait for it … $1,877. Or, more accurately as I would be ordering from the U.K., a frankly eye-popping 2,117 British pounds. This isn’t even the absolute top specification I could have chosen either, as there are still two further storage space upgrades. I’d have to spend another $400 to get the 1TB model, then another $400 again if I want the largest 2TB iPad Pro. If I’d have gone for that model, the bill would be a laughable $2,677.
Yes, I love my iPad Pro (2020) and consider it one of the best tech purchases I have ever made, based on the amount I use it, its versatility, and the overall quality. But I can’t, and won’t, accept that to “upgrade” would cost nearly $1,900. That’s leaving aside whether the internal upgrades would really make much difference to me, as my main reason to upgrade here was the additional screen size.
That’s right, I said “was” the reason to upgrade. Why? I’m not paying that price when I genuinely think a better deal can be had on a whole host of other Apple products that will probably end up being just as good, if not more enjoyable and varied, for the same or less money. To prove it, I cleared my basket and tried again. This is what I came up with.
Option 1, the mobile deal
Say I want a lovely big screen, a keyboard for productivity, and the Apple M2 chip. The MacBook Air M2 with 512GB of storage space is $1,399, which leaves quite a lot of money left in my pocket — but I know I can do better than that. The MacBook Air with the Apple M1 chip is still excellent, and with 512GB storage, it costs $1,199. Amazingly, that leaves enough money to buy a brand new $699 iPhone 13 at the same time.
M2 MacBook Air
A laptop and a smartphone for the same price as the new 12.9 iPad Pro (2022) isn’t a bad way to update all your essential everyday tech, and the only thing that’s really missing is the Apple Pencil.
Option 2, the stylus deal
The above option looks good, but if the stylus is a must, then it’s not quite going to do. Instead, look at Apple’s still new-for-2022, but a little forgotten, tablet — the iPad Air. It has the Apple M1 chip inside and is a beautiful piece of hardware. You can only get it with a maximum of 256GB storage space, but you can add the 2nd-generation Apple Pencil and the Magic Keyboard, resulting in a $1,177 price. That’s a tiny bit cheaper than the MacBook Air M1, comes with a stylus, and therefore still leaves enough money for an iPhone 13 if you want one.
Option 3, the refurb deal
This option may take some patience, as stock in Apple’s refurbished store changes regularly and rapidly. Plus, you’ll have to order one piece from another store, but it’ll be worth it. In my experience, everything you get from Apple’s refurbished store looks and feels brand new, and it is a great way to save some money without compromising on quality and a long manufacturer’s warranty. I’m basing the below on what’s available in the store today, but it may not be the same when you’re reading this.
A refurbished 2nd generation 11-inch iPad Pro with 512GB storage space is $889, the second generation Apple Pencil is $89 from Best Buy, and the Magic Keyboard is $299 almost everywhere. That’s a total of $1,277. If, like me, you really want the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, then a refurbished 1TB, 12.9-inch 4th-generation iPad Pro is $1,049, and the larger Magic Keyboard is $349. That’s a still-expensive $1,487 with the Apple Pencil, too, but you’re getting more storage space built in.
Compromises have to be made
I fully understand you can’t completely replicate the iPad Pro (2022)’s specs for less money. All the options above have compromises compared to the brand-new iPad Pro, some harder to take than others. I will always prefer an iPad with Apple’s 120Hz ProMotion technology and miss it terribly on the iPad Air, but not everyone will feel the same. Plus, if all the new iPad Pro features like the enhanced Apple Pencil support, Thunderbolt connectivity, and M2 chip are all essentials, then you’ll have to buy the new iPad Pro.
The compromise to get them comes in the huge, almost impossible-to-justify price attached to the latest hardware. It means whatever option you choose, you’ll have to decide which compromise to accept. But if you balk at the iPad Pro (2022)’s monstrous price after adding the accessories that let you really take advantage of its ability, just remember that with a few little tweaks, you can walk away with an almost-as-good product for a lot less money, spend the same amount and get a laptop/smartphone package, or have an older iPad Pro and all the kit plus some money left over.
The fact that there are three such options — all featuring great products — and that I felt compelled to go out of my way to find them, says a lot about Apple’s pricing for the new iPad Pro, plus how off-putting it is even for an acknowledged iPad Pro fan to upgrade this year.
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