On Monday, I popped into a local tech shop to try the new iPad Pro and iPad Air.

I wanted to see what the new pencil was like and how the Air’s screen held up. Why? Well, I’d love to replace my current iPad with its multi-year-old white spot on the screen and Apple Pencil 2.

At the same time, I don’t have unlimited money to drop on any old tech purchase I want. So if an M2 iPad Pro or Air fits my needs, then that’s far better for me. (Of course, either would. My current iPad is fine and I could do my little sketches with any device, so it’s not really a question…and yet.)

Apple pencil issues

I picked up the Apple pencil straight away and… nothing.

My guess was the pencil wasn’t charged so I clipped it on and tried another iPad (the Air this time) — the same issue.

I went back to the first iPad thinking the pencil would be ready now. NOPE!

Eventually I managed to use the pencil on the 13" Air but it was a real hassle and I’ve heard similar pairing issues from other users. I don’t know if this is caused by the new magnet position but it’s not something I’d expect from a display iPad with 100% charge in the pencil.

What screen difference?

I know the Pro’s have an amazing screen and I’m sure John Siracusa can spot that instantly…but I couldn’t point to a difference. (Although I’ll walk this back in a second)

I was really expecting to notice the slower screen refresh especially with the pencil but I didn’t pick up on it with the Air. It seemed great quality and responsive.

Now, I didn’t really get to try the Pro (the pencil didn’t work) and I didn’t really stretch or directly compare the two screens. I’m 100% sure that if I had, I would have noticed the difference. But from just casually picking the iPads up and having a 10 minute play around in procreate, I didn’t spot any weaknesses in the Air.

Where’s the home button

I found my muscle memory kept searching for the homebutton on the side of the iPad — but there was none.

I know I’d unlearn this habit within a day or two but it’s amazing how ingrained these things become. And while swiping up from the phone felt very natural, the iPad didn’t seem as natural to me.

So what will I get?

Honestly, I think I’m not going to get one…yet. BUT if my iPad died today and I had to get a new one…I’d probably buy an iPad Pro M2. The new features sound great, but I don’t need the power of the m3 and I’d sacrifice the pencil pro’s benefits for the faster screen refresh of the Pro.

I’m sure if I played with the m3 pro more, justified it as a business expenses, and if the next iPadOS adds some extra advantages of the m3 or new iPads, then that might change. But as for now, I’m still happy (ish) with my current iPad.