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Does the iPad need a built-in kickstand like the Surface Pro's?


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booksbooks

macrumors 6502a
Original poster
Aug 28, 2013
711
603
Vote on whether you think the iPad design needs to evolve to include a built-in kickstand. The Surface Pro line has well designed kickstands that effectively disappear into the device when retracted and have close to limitless degrees of freedom.

I've owned every iPad since the first. I've developed software for them. I understand tablet use cases and the history. Apple ushered in a new category with the iPad. As Steve Jobs stated in the initial keynote, there had to be a reason for such a device to exist... a category in between a smartphone and a laptop. He talked about a set of things that the iPad could be better at than a smartphone or laptop, like surfing the Web, watching a movie, reading a book... and a few other things. For the most part, this is still true today when it comes to tablets in terms of the possibility of them being better at these things than other categories of devices.

But we're many years now into tablets, and to me, after seeing the Microsoft Surface Pro X, it beats the iPad Pro... to the point where Apple is now lagging in tablet innovation. There are some key areas where the Surface Pro X bests the iPad Pro:
  • The overall design looks better and is more balanced than the iPad Pro. The iPad Pro is blocky and uninspired, although still rather nice and a bit thinner and lighter than the Surface Pro X. This is somewhat subjective I admit, but if we talk about design principles, like the fact it doesn't have a massive camera bump and one that is flush so the device can lay flat on the ground... the rounded edges, etc.
  • The keyboard cover. No question here. It kills Apple's iPad keyboard cover or any third party one. It's got the best materials, has backlighting, is thin and light and has a large multi-touch glass trackpad (makes sense with the Windows software).
  • The stylus with its hidden nest in the keyboard cover, effectively always charged status, and eraser tip bests Apple's.
  • The kickstand. The iPad's lack of a kickstand is now at a point to be a detriment to it. Apple is trying to sell it as the only computer you'll need for a target market, but it certainly cannot function like that out of the box in terms of being a laptop replacement for those that it may do that for. And the third party options are pretty ridiculous: awkward and compromised, and particularly lacking in the degrees of freedom of the built-in Surface Pro kickstand. This latter kickstand is what fuels artists to create on the device... Apple is summarily beaten here in a big way.
  • Fast charging. 80% battery charge in less than an hour for the Surface Pro X. iPad Pro cannot do this.
  • Other cool things about the Surface Pro X. It has 2 USB C ports. It's also compatible with the Surface dial. It can have up to 16 GB of RAM. Its hard drive is easily accessible and replaceable by the User. Surface Pro X has a slightly larger display than the iPad Pro at 13" vs. 12.9".
  • Some things the iPad Pro bests the Surface Pro X on. ProMotion display (120 hz refresh rate). Unknown what the Surface Pro X's is, but I assume it's not that good. iPad Pro has 600 nits for screen brightness, Surface Pro X 450. iPad Pro is lighter by about .3 lbs.
Disclaimer: I hate Windows and won't use it. But I admit as an Apple person that the Surface Pro X is compelling in the way I've described.
 

akash.nu

macrumors G4
May 26, 2016
10,017
12,198
Fast charging is actually really bad for long term health of the battery and given Apple’s support cycle it’s wise for them to not support that. Especially since the upgrade cycle for iPads is way slower than iPhones. Even until this year they didn’t provide fast charging blocks in the box.
 

mmomega

macrumors demi-god
Dec 30, 2009
3,849
2,025
DFW, TX
I have 2 Surfaces. The 2 and 3 Pros. With keyboards and pens.
Purchased them for the office but used at home for about a month to check how well I liked them.
I personally didn't care for either of them. Took them to the office because the Docs and staff were asking about using them instead of the old iPad2 they were using. In less than a week they were back using the iPad2.
I have since gotten them much quicker iPads but across the 9 employees that use the tablets, none of them continued using the Surface Pros and they keep the iPads with them almost continuously.

Maybe the newer versions are better. But none of the staff but 1 person cares for the ones we have now.
And it isn't a Mac thing, out of 50+ employees only 8 have Macs personally.
 

secretk

macrumors 65816
Oct 19, 2018
1,376
1,022
Here are my thoughts:

1. I honestly like both designs so I cannot say that the Surface X looks better than the newest iPad Pros. Now if you compare Surface X to older iPads then yes I agree I like the Surface X's design better.
2. To be honest both keyboards are compromises for me as I prefer a bit more key travel but overall I think both are good. Backlight is not important for me as I would not use my devices in the dark anyway.
3. Kickstand is nice to have but it is not a serious issue for me either. I can't use on screen keyboards so I would use hardware keyboard with tablet always. I do agree that if you tend to use the tablet without a keyboard then the kickstand helps.
4. Fast charging is I think overall OK with the new iPad Pros. Now regular iPads are slow. That is something Apple can improve for sure. Also I think that iPad's battery lasts longer than the Surface ones so they kind of compensate there.
5. I agree that two USB C ports is better than one. I would argue that iPadOS does not need 16 GB RAM to work properly while Windows might need :D. That being said IMO any iOS device should have at least 4 GB RAM. I have two devices with 2 GB RAM and man the apps and tabs reloading is annoying as hell. It just does not work for an user like me. About the pencil - it is cool that is hidden but I wonder about ergonomics. I feel that the pen might not be too comfortable for holding for long periods of time.

Do not get me wrong I like Windows better than iOS or iPadOS. iOS is the OS I like the least. For me Apple has to invest in the OS itself than in hardware changes. For the most part IMO the iPad's hardware is great. It is the software that is holding the iPad back.
 

muzzy996

macrumors 6502a
Feb 16, 2018
938
849
I work on a Windows Mobile workstation daily out of necessity and that will never change. When the writing was on the wall that Android tablets were not going to get Googles full attention I jumped to an iPad Pro and have enjoyed it. But there are certain things that I will never be able to do with the iPad as efficiently as I would on Windows and the desire for a mobile tablet form factor with Windows but some of the convenience of what iPads have has me interested in the Surface Pro X.

It’s none of the cool things that OP mentions that has me intrigued, it’s the ability to run full Windows applications on ARM with full time LTE in a similar form factor to my iPad Pro 12.9. Now with USB-C things got better for the surface lineup. If I do get one I’ll still keep the iPad Pro for leisure.
 
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secretk

macrumors 65816
Oct 19, 2018
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It’s none of the cool things that OP mentions that has me intrigued, it’s the ability to run full Windows applications on ARM with full time LTE in a similar form factor to my iPad Pro 12.9. Now with USB-C things got better for the surface lineup. If I do get one I’ll still keep the iPad Pro for leisure.

I am the same :). Windows as OS allows me to use certain applications that I need. So the idea of having a device like iPad that can run Windows would be awesome. However I am not sure that Surface line has reached that point (in terms of performance and battery).
 
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0989382

Suspended
Jan 11, 2018
527
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Apple is now lagging in tablet innovation
Does it? The sales or customer satisfaction vs. the Surface don't seem to tell that story. I'm sure it's a valid opinion, but I don't see any facts to support it...
overall design looks better
Your opinion. iPad Pro is cleaner, sleeker etc. to me...
thinner and lighter
Most people would also argue it's innovation to fit the power of an iPad Pro into this bodyshell. And that in tablets, thinner and lighter is key to a superior experience...
..and how does the Surface devices cameras compare to that iPad? Boom... Apple innovation wins again..
The keyboard cover
The Surface is a detachable laptop more than it's a true tablet, and such it's official accessories are designed to aid this. Compared to a laptop keyboard it's actually a lot more flimsy and unusable. And using the trackpad on your lap with that stand would require you to have double length legs... ergonomic nightmare..
[Surface Pen] bests Apple's
I'm yet to see anyone use it creatively in a way that impresses me beyond taking notes. The Pencil is wayyy more innovative, even if Gen 1 did have a silly way of charging. Again sales and customer satisfaction, as well as dedicated apps to support it are why I'd argue the Apple Pencil is king. Then again, it's not a stylus like the Surface's so it's maybe unfair to compare as the Pencil would win out due to its professional uses and industry leading graphical design capabilities..
it certainly cannot function like that
Seems like it can and does to me, bud..
The iPad Pro will get through a workday way easier on its battery than the Surface, Windows to thank for that...
2 USB C ports
Again, as Surface is a laptop competitor that's comparable to the entry level MacBook Pro which was slated for only having two.
16 GB of RAM
Kind of the reasonable amount for a premium Windows ultrabook these days. Also slow, laptop RAM... iPad OS makes way more efficient use of it's limited RAM. The 1TB models of iPad Pro have 6GB RAM.
hard drive is easily accessible and replaceable by the User
Not what I heard...
larger display
That's a Pro to some and a Con to others, as portability is often sought in choosing a tablet...
 

gtmac

macrumors 6502a
Jun 25, 2010
670
105
Kick stand is overrated and performance isn’t as smooth as Apple was before iOS 13. Hopefully things smooth out soon with iOS 13.2. Otherwise no thanks on the surface tablet.
 

Precursor

Cancelled
Sep 29, 2015
1,091
1,066
Istanbul
Whatever everyone says, I like the kickstand on the Surface Pro (and I don't own one). The levels of adjustment is way better than iPad Pro's 2 options. I use my 12.9" in landscape mode all the time and I really wish iPad Pros had this type of kickstand.
 
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kamikazeeMC

macrumors 6502
Aug 18, 2017
382
345
Perth, Western Australia
I personally love the boxy design, as for the camera bump sure it would be better without. Reading/watching artists views I see nothing but praise for the Apple Pencil even vs the Wacom pens and to me the Surface pen looks uncomfortable used beyond a 'stylus'. An extra USB C port would be nice, along with a SD card reader, but I'm not bothered with attaching a hub.

To me I like the idea of the iPP because it's a tablet primarily which is untethered from extra stuff hanging off it and adapt my workflow to suit. When the original iPad first released, I though it should have ran full OS X, but came to realise that would have been a mistake. I was trying to apply a traditional way of using a computer to a different product, rather than come up with a new workflow. Not sure how much things have improved from the Surface Pro 2, I didn't think that made a good laptop or tablet experience, just average at both. Still need to see how Windows will run on ARM, and application support.

How strong are the kickstands? For me I would only use it at its max while drawing. I would feel more comfortable leaning into this.
6c07f8707679b85749cc4ceef9d21b8e879812cd_600x600.jpg
 

zhenya

macrumors 604
Jan 6, 2005
6,866
3,576
The Surface line has always had nice industrial design and some neat features, but it’s always let down by a number of major issues. One, running Windows. Perhaps this new version will fix this, but I’m skeptical.

My iPad is ready to go in a second every single time. With Windows you never know how long it will take to wake up, or if it will freeze suddenly or have run the battery down in your bag and so on.

Two, the Surface Pen is just nowhere near accurate enough to feel natural. I owned several Surface devices. The first time I used an Apple Pencil I was sold. Basically everything else is irrelevant because of how bad the Pen is.

Three, Microsoft Surface reliability and support is abysmal. Both of my Surfaces went from fully operational to 100% dead battery because of Microsoft’s own firmware updates, before the devices were 3 years old. Microsoft told me I was out of luck. $600 for replacement.

I really don’t care how many ‘extras’ they give the Surface. My iPad is a fantastic digital supplement. I don’t WANT it to be my main computer. It is my digital notebook, sketchbook, e-reader for books, news, and magazines, a light email and web reader, a way to quickly edit and sort my photos on vacation on a larger screen, and so on. It’s way better having a solid laptop PLUS my iPad than trying to integrate those two into a single device.
 

Abazigal

Contributor
Jul 18, 2011
15,499
14,874
Singapore
I think the success of either device is ultimately going to boil down to software and ecosystem and something like a kickstand is not going to be foremost on anyone’s mind.

For example, the ipad has a wide library of iOS apps, and there are some fan favourites like Ulysses (for writing) and LumaFusion (for video editing).

I also don’t see Apple doing a kickstand. We know Apple doesn’t like moving parts, so to them, the ipad form factor as is represents the purest expression of how a tablet ought to look and feel. Yes, a kickstand may be more utilitarian, but it would also go against what Apple’s design ethos stands for.
 

MBX

macrumors 68000
Sep 14, 2006
1,925
746
Don't think it should be a built-in kickstand.

I'd rather see a 15'' iPad Pro along a better Apple SmartFolio Keyboard that has better variations for the angle setting of the iPad.
 

tobefirst

macrumors 601
Jan 24, 2005
4,404
1,865
St. Louis, MO
I would LOVE a built in kickstand. I have a case on my iPad with the foldy cover, but it won't keep it propped up when I have it on the bed or sofa or other soft place if there is any movement around it at all. I've looked at buying a Surface back case off eBay and modifying it to fit the iPad so I could get a kickstand.
 
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muzzy996

macrumors 6502a
Feb 16, 2018
938
849
Surface runs Windows. A kickstand is a hardware compromise for poor design.

/thread

Right. Windows is desirable for some of us, and whether or not a design element is poor or not is sometimes subjective. The Apple Keyboard Folio is more comfortable to work with on one’s lap but sacrifices flexibility of display angle as a result. It’s all a matter of what one values in a design. I happen to prefer the prior generation Smart Keyboard design to the folio design for the ability to fold it in such a way as to not have any protrusions out the front of the ipad when standing it near vertical in landscape position, but that’s only because I value that feature more than using the keyboard on my lap.

Edit: All that said, I still vote no to a kick stand on the iPad. The two devices serve different purposes in my mind and as such should be designed differently.
 
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sparksd

macrumors 603
Jun 7, 2015
5,751
4,755
Seattle WA
Right. Windows is desirable for some of us, and whether or not a design element is poor or not is sometimes subjective. The Apple Keyboard Folio is more comfortable to work with on one’s lap but sacrifices flexibility of display angle as a result. It’s all a matter of what one values in a design. I happen to prefer the prior generation Smart Keyboard design to the folio design for the ability to fold it in such a way as to not have any protrusions out the front of the ipad when standing it near vertical in landscape position, but that’s only because I value that feature more than using the keyboard on my lap.

Windows is desirable for me, been using it since inception and I have no significant issues with it.
 

Falhófnir

macrumors 603
Aug 19, 2017
5,726
6,408
Fast charging is actually really bad for long term health of the battery and given Apple’s support cycle it’s wise for them to not support that. Especially since the upgrade cycle for iPads is way slower than iPhones. Even until this year they didn’t provide fast charging blocks in the box.
The difference it makes over the lifetime of the device for something with a big (laptop sized) battery is negligible though. There's a reason it charges to 80% in one hour and then takes almost as long again to fill the remaining 20%.
 

TopherMan12

macrumors 6502a
Oct 10, 2019
776
880
Atlanta, GA
I have a case on my iPad that enables the iPad to stand on its own. I prefer it to the built-in kickstand of the Surface Pro I used to own. But even beyond that, Windows on Surface is just clunky and feels like it is confused as far as what it is (tablet? laptop? PC?). I like Windows 10 just fine on laptops and PC, but Surface needs a dedicated OS like iPad has. Until then, iPad has Surface beat. A kickstand won't change that, imo.
 
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TomOSeven

Suspended
Jul 4, 2017
571
696
To me, it completely depends on if you use the iPad as a laptop compliment or a laptop replacement. If I could only have one device, I'd take the Surface 10/10 times. Even a terrible Surface is a better computer to me than the best iPad.

But as someone who owns a laptop, I'd much rather have the iPad as a secondary device. iOS is perfect for a mindless media consumption tablet. It's just functional enough for light office tasks like maintaining a calendar or writing half-assed e-mail replies, or to have Netflix blaring in the background whilst working on something else. Everything else, I have my laptop for.
 

secretk

macrumors 65816
Oct 19, 2018
1,376
1,022
To me, it completely depends on if you use the iPad as a laptop compliment or a laptop replacement. If I could only have one device, I'd take the Surface 10/10 times. Even a terrible Surface is a better computer to me than the best iPad.

But as someone who owns a laptop, I'd much rather have the iPad as a secondary device. iOS is perfect for a mindless media consumption tablet. It's just functional enough for light office tasks like maintaining a calendar or writing half-assed e-mail replies, or to have Netflix blaring in the background whilst working on something else. Everything else, I have my laptop for.

This is how I see it. Surface device is a great idea for me (because of having Windows and because it can replace laptop better) but they need to work on the battery life of the device. Windows actually starts up quite fast if you have SSD. I never shut down my laptop. I put it on sleep mode and it fires up for under 15 seconds. I give you that - on an iPad is faster. But it is 10 seconds faster. My workflow on an iPad is far slower compared to Windows so honestly those 10 seconds won't matter in the long run. In the end I will be faster on the Windows machine than on the iPad. This happens every time.

Also if you are not an artist Surface pen is good enough. I agree that Apple pencil is better but you don't need the best stylus out there for digital notebook.

For me what the Surface needs to improve as an device is the battery life. It needs to provide a full day of using it on battery. Something I do not think that the current devices offer.

And then price. Regular iPad currently is cheaper than the Surface you need (in terms of hardware like SSD, RAM and CPU). This is the reason why I bought the regular iPad. If you ask me to compare iPad Pro against Surface it will be a different matter though. For the price of the iPad Pro I can buy touch screen Asus portable laptop with pencil support that can be both digital notebook and laptop replacement. And man is it portable.
 
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muzzy996

macrumors 6502a
Feb 16, 2018
938
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And very undesirable for the rest of us...

I don't disagree there! My preferred machines vary by workflow and I love them all (Windows laptop, Macbook Pro, Android phone and iPad Pro). Eventually a Surface will be added to my collection and I have no preconceived notions of having it replace an iPad but rather to meet some currently unfulfilled needs.
 
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