11 reasons to avoid iPad as a computer science student?

iPad is the best tool to take notes for a computer science student or any field. but when it comes to programming or computers science is a terrible tool to use.

So why?

Here are the 11 reasons why the iPad is to avoid as a computer science student.

1 – price

iPad is an expensive tool the pro version of the iPad costs $1100 it doesn’t come with any accessories. That is to say, you will only have an iPad without a keyboard or pencil. So if you want to transform your iPad into a laptop for programming you need to spend an additional $500 for the all accessories.

in other words, to transform your iPad into a laptop the total cost will be around $1600. You can see the details in the table below.



Apple laptop 

Windows laptop


$1100 pro version

$1200 Macbook pro13 inch

$800 average







you don't need

you don't need

 Screen Protector


you don't need

you don't need


$50 the cheepest one

you don't need

you don't need









as you’ve seen $1670 is the total cost to transform an iPad into a normal laptop for programming. This budget is able to bring you the best laptop or computer desktop for programming in the market like MacBook or windows.

But in the next paragraph, you will discover how this investment is so bad, especially for computer science students

2 – iPad doesn’t support programming IDE

iPad doesn’t support any of the famous programming IDE which means you won’t be allowed to use it in college for programming like your colleagues.

if we pick the most famous IDE used by software developers or computer science students we find that iPad doesn’t support them. As a computer science student using an iPad you can’t program in:

  • eclipse
  • Microsoft visual
  • NetBeans
  • IntelliJ IDEA
  • Aptana studio
  • PyCharm
  • WebStorm
  • RubyMine
  • Komodo IDE
  • Octave (free alternative to MATLAB)
  • Julia
  • Prolog
  • Haskell
  • Racket
  • Oracle VirtualBox

so transforming an iPad into a laptop for programming will be the worst thing for computer science students. it will be more costly by 50% than a desktop computer or laptop and also not be able to use any famous programming tool.

The solution is to use some cloud services that some of these IDEs provide but they are slow and so limited. In addition, you need to stay connected to the internet to use them. So it will be so embarrassing.

3 – Storage

if pick and compare between iPad pro and any desktop computer storage we will find a huge difference. The iPad pro version begins with $1100 for 128GB storage.

While if take the Mackbook 13-inch version for only $1199 for students, the standard version has 512 GB which means 4 times more than the iPad.

If we go away from apple products, with $1100 you can get a good quality laptop or desktop computer that can reach up to 2TB of storage. In other words 20 times more than an iPad that doesn’t come with any accessories.

In addition, the iPad doesn’t have an SD card extension which means you aren’t able to plug your SD card in. If you want to extend your iPad memory you have to buy an external hard drive, the cheapest one costs $100 for 2 TB and is not for sure SSD. So the data transfer will be 20 times slow.

if you want an external SSD 2TB for iPad you need to invest $700 more. So the apple prices are shocking.

4 – less powerful

The iPad Pro version is regularly powerful compared to other oldest versions, but it is still not quite within the reach of software or computer science students. We will list the 2 principal shortcomings of the iPad as compared to other $1100 budget laptop programming.

  • Storage
  • Ram

==> storage: iPad has limited storage as we noticed in the preceding paragraph, it comes with 128BG standard SSD storage. The customized iPad version with 2TB of storage costs $1800. So as we’ve seen, you can find the market 2TB SSD storage for only $1000.

==> Ram: $1100 iPad version has 8 GB of ram while the MacBook pro 13 inch has a double 16 GB of ram. for students, the MacBook pro costs $1199 so almost the same price as the double ram, and has numerous advantages over the iPad.

for the graphic or processor iPad has a good processor called M1 and good graphic quality to keep things fair.

5 – Small screen

for programming using an iPad screen is not enough at all nor well MacBook 13 inch. Is not impossible but not feasible and software developers don’t use small screens at all in their work.

software developers prefer to use wide screens of at least 24 inches because they test a lot of time and compile programs. So they use a split-screen option to analyze a code on one side and test it on the other side as you see in the image below.

many times software engineers use more than one monitor, it could be 2 or even 3 monitors, it depending on the work and natural task they have. you could read this article if you are interested to know more about Dual monitors for stem majors(8 things to know about).

6 – File management

iPad remains a terrible device for file management, it doesn’t have the basic tool to edit or work in pdf or docs. It is so limited as a user you will feel so stretched.

it pushes you every once to find innovative solutions for regular or simple tasks on laptops. Sometimes you have to make 10 times efforts to run a simple document with an iPad as you want.

If you can’t use an iPad to manage files comfortably here is why:

  • you can’t edit pdf
  • it is hard and so manually to fill out documents
  • you can’t print pdf
  • is hard to convert documents like pdf to Docx
  • you can’t download a document directly for the email box you have to open your email box in safari
  • can’t import your signature for official documents
  • you can’t preview the app before sending it

to sum up, we found that using the iPad for managing files is a terrible choice, if you want more freedom you have to do web browser apps they are not good that much but still a little better.

But the worst thing about using a web browser app is iPad doesn’t support java and flash player. So you won’t be able to read any content based on these 2 plugins.

So you can imagine a computer science student who has an iPad dealing with these all iPad limitations. It’s so frustrating.

7 – Is not good for programming multi-tasks

computer science students need to do multitasks at the same time when they learn to code.

For instance, at minimum, you will need to have two pages one page for coding and the other for asking questions and exploring solutions from forums like Stackreflow or any other source.

switching between tabs is not great using the iPad, because the iPad doesn’t allow you to run more than 2 tabs or apps at the same time.

it is not like MacBook or PC where you can open multiple tabs and run them at the same time. The coder needs that. It is impossible to go back and forth between tabs while you code it so draining and time-consuming.

8 – you can’t do machine learning with iPad

for students who think to do machine learning on the iPad, they are wrong, the iPad doesn’t even support the basic apps for machine learning like.

  • Panda
  • lumpy
  • scikit-learn

Basically, the apps that are famous for coding with iPad are:

  • Pythonista
  • Pytho
  • Juno
  • carnet

Pythonista and pytho don’t cover the basics of machine learning, so they won’t be useful for this task. So it left Juno and Carnet. Juno is actually paid you cant get access to it for free.

The last app that is left is Carnet is good but it is still limited compared to other famous IDE used for machine learning. So as a computer science student counting to one app for coding is not something that you would like to do.

9 – you can code with an iPad But

it is not impossible to make some coding stuff with an iPad. But, to clarify for students the limitation that you will face are obnoxious compared to PC or MacBook. you will be able to work with limited and fewer available apps with an iPad.

But let’s say that is ok and see how things need to be done with an iPad. before doing that you have to know these 5 things:

  • you have to be online most apps work online
  • look for alternative apps
  • connect iPad to monitor for bigger screen size, the 12.9 won’t be enough
  • using the keyboard which cost $280
  • using a mouse so add $50 or more, up to $80(apple mouse version)

you can go back and see the comparison that we made between a laptop and iPad for computer science. So the question does it worth do spend $400 or more on accessories and using limited apps for programming ?.

10 – Apple doesn’t want you to code with iPad

Even with the promising iPad capabilities, the number of iPad sales is declining and the reason is clear the software limitation.

Apple is marketing that iPad is the best replacement for a laptop but if we look behind the scenes, apple doesn’t want you as a computer science student or a programmer to use the iPad for coding.

Simply because it will automatically drop the sales of MacBook and desktop apple computers. Apple tries to diversify its revenue resources by creating the maximum number of products and keeping each product competitive with others for a specific task.

For Example, if you want to take notes you have to buy an iPad pro for $1100 because it has a touch screen.

But if you want to program or do serious stuff you have to buy a MacBook for $2400.

so you will need to spend $3500 as a total. If Apple makes one general product that covers all the positive things of iPad and MacBook and asks you to buy you won’t accept it, it will seem too expensive.

This is a pure marketing strategy and an intelligent way to raise the dividends of a company, for this reason, we find students using iPad and MacBooks at the same time and can’t give up any one of them.

11 – iPad doesn’t have ports

as a computer science student, you have to understand the iPad doesn’t have ports. In other words, you don’t have:

  • hdmi port
  • Ethernet port
  • USB
  • Sd card slot
  • headphone jack

iPad has only USB-c So you will be obligated to buy a converter that can cost you $150 more to have these features, Apple is always dragging people to spend more.


it is still an ok to use an iPad for taking notes but not for coding, it will be a terrible idea. Apple says that it has introduced the powerful M1 chip processor on its iPads but the question is:

What is the goal to use a powerful chip processor in a limited software device like ipad


Yassin ajanif is a physics graduate and electromechanical engineer width more than 5 years in the field. My goal and my team are to share our experience to help you succeed in your career as a stem major. we talk about all tips, problems, and struggle STEM students face in their career and how to overcome them.