The Dumbphone Experiment: Is size everything?

It’s been a couple of days, and I think I’ve got things pretty much under control in my iPad + dumbphone experiment. There are some things I’m still struggling with, but overall, this works, the trade-offs are reasonable thus far, I think. Yesterday, after driving to the summer home (that really is an all-year home), I did start to think about iPad sizes, though. I’d like to share those thoughts with you.

📵 This post is a part of the Dumbphone Experiment, where I put my iPhone aside to rely on a dumbphone, and my iPad. You can read all posts here →

My primary iPad is a 12.9” M1 iPad Pro with 2 TB of storage, and cellular on top of that. I want the larger model for, well, several reasons — from doing sketches and design (sometimes in Figma these days, no less), to taking notes, writing on a properly sized Magic Keyboard, and doing web development. At the same time, I don’t like carrying around backpacks or bulky bags, not one bit, which is why I’ve been using a Peg & Awl Hunter’s Satchel for a long time. It fits the iPad Pro, along with my small pouch of cables, adapters, and more, but barely.

The thing is, my agency, Divide & Conquer, recently moved into an office. It’s sometimes a noisy affair, so I’d like to bring my AirPods Max for when I need to focus. There’s just no way they’ll fit in the Hunter’s Satchel. In fact, I’m not sure what bag I can get that doesn’t end up feeling bulky if those are a part of my daily gear.

Interestingly enough, this realization didn’t actually spark thoughts of larger bags, but rather reminded me that the 12.9” iPad Pro sitting in the Magic Keyboard is bloody heavy. My girlfriend reminded me of that when we packed her MacBook Air, my iPad gear, and the AirPods Max in my old, bought for a 16” MacBook Pro, messenger bag, to take with us on our trip to the house yesterday. That bag got heavy, and the bulkiest, heaviest device on there, was my 12.9” iPad Pro.

And I didn’t like that.

I’ve got a 2020 11” iPad Pro with 1 TB, also cellular but currently without an active SIM card. This is one of my beta iPads (I’m running the beta on a 2018 12.9” iPad Pro too), and I figured I’d try to use it as my primary one for a bit. Sure, it doesn’t have the swanky M1 chip, but it’s still plenty fast, and the Magic Keyboard is smaller than I like, but it’s still a wonderful device. I always struggle with what iPad size should be my primary one, but luckily, Apple made it easy for me with the 2021 models, since the Mini-LED is only on the 12.9” model.

So now the experiment has evolved a bit. I’m now using the 11” iPad Pro as my primary one for a bit, and the iPadOS 15 beta on it as well, something I wouldn’t do if I didn’t have a stable iPad to roll back to should something crucial break. Using the 11” around the house is one thing, but tomorrow, when we’re back in the city, running errands, going to the office, that sort of thing, that’s when I’ll know if the difference in size and weight warrants the smaller screen for this particular setup. After all, using a dumbphone rather than an iPhone is, at least in part, because of size and weight, so maybe this makes sense. All I know is, I like the portability of the iPad as a platform, and the 12.9” model isn’t taking advantage of that when it’s sitting in the (heavy) Magic Keyboard. We’ll see how it goes.

📵 This post is a part of the Dumbphone Experiment, where I put my iPhone aside to rely on a dumbphone, and my iPad. You can read all posts here →