Here's why I turned down a brand-new iPad Pro

Apple iPad Pro 11 (2021)
(Image credit: Future)

Being a tech journalist, you can imagine I often find flashy new gadgets crossing my desk, and most of the time I look forward to pulling them out of the box and seeing what they're like.

When my old editor left TechRadar a few weeks ago, and returned all his accumulated tech, he offered me the team's iPad Pro (2021) test sample. He knew that I still used my iPad Pro 12.9 (2018) daily, and presumed that I'd appreciate upgrading to the newer slate.

However, for one of the first times since I joined TechRadar, I said no. I declined this new, powerful, giant tablet, and said I'd prefer to stick to my older one.

This might seem like a baffling decision (and if there was a financial factor, it absolutely would be - these slates cost so much! But as a TechRadar device, it wouldn't be mine to keep). But after having used hundreds of gadgets in my time, and having kept a close eye on Apple, I had a few reasons for preferring the older tablet.

What does 'new' even bring?

With each successive generation of iPad, and particularly iPad Pro, one of the key upgrades touted is the new chipset. Each new device is meant to be more powerful than the last, and I don't doubt it.

But why should I care?

iPad Pro (2018)

(Image credit: Future)

I use my current 2018 iPad Pro for some pretty high-end stuff - I use it for LumaFusion, which is a premium video editing app, and I do loads of gaming on it too (though my primary use is streaming and word processing). 

That's just it, though, isn't it - if my older tablet can do everything a newer one would, what's the point of upgrading? I'd spend time transferring all my files, just for nothing. And it's not like speeds would be noticeably faster - I'm never having to wait ages for games to load, or for videos to render. More speed means nothing to me.

That's the same as with the other features Apple has brought to its newer iPad Pros. I'm in the 99% in saying I don't need a LiDAR camera, I can only see the benefit of a Mini LED screen when comparing one side-by-side with an LCD panel, and I think the Magic Keyboard looks daft.

Upgrading is a faff

Even if the 2021 iPad Pro isn't a big upgrade over the 2018 one, surely an upgrade would still be worth it (particularly since I'm not paying anything for it)? Well, not really.

I find the Apple device set-up process such a faff, it's enough to put me off from using them. I recently found this when I started using an iPhone for the first time in years.

iPad Pro 12.9 (2018)

(Image credit: Future)

Part of the reason is that I'm not totally on the Apple ecosystem, so I don't have a hundred device back-ups ready to send to the device so it knows all my apps and details. Instead I have to provide loads of information, and it takes ages.

Another part is a weird Apple issue that's affected me for years, ever since I first used my mum's hand-me-down iPhone (somewhere between 4-7, I can't remember which).

For some reason, my Apple ID is now partially linked to hers, so even though I have a separate account and apps and everything, I can still see her calendar and a few other things like this.

I've no idea why this is the case, and it mainly seems like recurring entries instead of new ones, but my Apple devices don't truly feel 'mine' while my mum's reminders are all populating the thing.

But perhaps change is in store?

I'm not saying I'm fully committed to my iPad Pro (2018), and I'm sure I'll upgrade at some point.

I haven't had the iPad since it launched four years ago, and have maybe used it for about two years, but it still hasn't aged fantastically.

Firstly, the battery life is terrible. It wasn't great to begin with, but even after a year of use the battery health deteriorated quickly, and now I can't do a few hours of writing without the percentage tanking. 

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra

I enjoyed using the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra recently (Image credit: Future)

Secondly, I got the device with the Keyboard Folio, and this thing didn't last long at all. It's meant to double as a case and a keyboard stand, but a few months in my bag ruined the appearance of the thing, and after about a year of owning the tablet the keyboard just stopped working. Now, it's a roughed-up-looking stand and nothing else.

This makes word processing in coffee shops really hard, as I have to touch the screen instead of typing like normal (and no, I'm not going to buy a new folio for a loaner device).

With these issues in mind, you should be able to tell how much I can't be bothered to deal with the whole upgrade process.

But I won't stick to this one forever. I'd like to try a smaller device, maybe like the new iPad Air 5, though an iPad mini just sounds too small to be useful. I'd also consider an Android tablet - previously that'd be out of the question as LumaFusion doesn't run on them, but the big news from earlier in the year was that this app is actually coming to Samsung Galaxy tablets, and maybe more too.

So I'll wait for something to come along and pique my interest, instead of just waiting for whatever tablet falls across my desk - no matter how fancy (or expensive) it may be.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist.