Most comparisons between the 12.9″ and 11″ iPad Pros tend to break them down into “better for real work” and “better for portability.”
While no one would argue that the 11″ is more portable than a bigger tablet, how portable is the 12.9″?
You Can Still One-Hand Carry The 12.9″.
My experience is that you need to hold the larger iPad differently. Rather than gripping it by the left or right side, like you would a book, hold it like a server carries a plate with your hand along the back.
I find it very comfortable to carry the 12.9″ iPad Pro this way walking around the house or sitting on the couch. Kick your leg up as you sit and rest the iPad on your knee, and extended reading or drawing with the Apple Pencil is no big deal.
It Fits In Most Tech Bags.
You might not be able to fit the 12.9″ in a purse like you would a smaller iPad, but most tech bags accommodate a 13″ laptop or bigger. This means the larger iPad slides into my every day bag no problem, and weighs no more than a MacBook even with the Magic Keyboard.
(Even if it literally does on a scale, it’s not a difference I’ve ever noticed.)
And in a good iPad case, or the Magic Keyboard, it folds up comfortably for carrying under the arm walking around. It feels a lot like carrying a journal.
Airplane Tray Tables Are A Little Iffy.
This was a valid bit of criticism I’d read early on researching iPads myself, that being on an airplane is an area the 11″ excels. On the fold down tray table, the 11″ fits comfortably and the larger 12.9″ feels a bit crowded.
I’ve used the Magic Keyboard quite a bit in different environments, and while I’d say it’s a pretty consistently good experience, I agree that a tray table is pushing it.
It can be done, but it’s pushing it.
However, if you’re ok to use the iPad on your lap in a case and not a keyboard setup like that, you could probably pull it off more comfortably.
Some People Say The 11″ Is More Versatile. I Would Argue The Opposite.
I have both in my household and have used them both for just about everything.
While I see why the 11″ is preferable for some people, in my opinion the only thing the smaller iPad does better is its lighter weight and that it stows away slightly more easily.
For everything else, I find it a slightly worse experience.
- Reading? The larger screen is more comfortable.
- Drawing? The extra space of the larger screen makes more sense.
- Taking notes with a pencil? The larger screen feels more natural and less cramped.
- Using a mouse and keyboard for “real” work? The bigger one. 100%.
- Watching YouTube? It’s close on this one, but I still like the HDR colors of the bigger screen better.
For me the smaller size does a few things better, but on so many other tasks the small screen feels like a compromise. The larger one feels like an iPad that can handle basically everything.
As I talked about in this video, the larger size feels distinctly iPad Pro to me in a way that the smaller one does not.
It’s a shame, since the 11-inch iPad is light and comfortable to walk around with. If more of my day was using an external monitor from the iPad maybe I’d feel differently, but just enough of it is portable and using the device screen itself and 11″ feels cramped to me.