How Apple's iPad Could Learn a Thing or Two From Lenovo’s Tablets

It needs some serious competition

  • Lenovo’s Tab Extreme is a high-end Android tablet.
  • Apple’s iPad has gone largely unchallenged since its 2010 debut.
  • The iPad could do with a few basic extras.
Lenovo Tab Extreme


The iPad might be the best-known and best-selling tablet, but Lenovo's new Yoga tablet could teach it a thing or two. 

Lenovo's ThinkPad notebooks are the laptops Mac users would buy if they had to use Windows. Beautiful hardware that's well-built and looks good. And the same goes for its tablets vs. the iPad. The new Lenovo Tab Extreme is a good example. It looks a lot like the iPad Pro, right down to its cantilevered keyboard-and-trackpad case, but it offers several features that iPad users would love to get their hands on. 

"It is absolutely about time that Apple's iPad sees a contender, as there simply hasn't been one to inspire new designs or developments," Kyle MacDonald, VP at mobile device deployment company Mojio, told Lifewire via email. "The key feature Apple should be working towards implementing in their iPads is absolutely dual-USB ports—perhaps one on each side."

Lazy Apple

One of the perils of unchallenged success is that you get lazy. Take a look at the difference between the iPhone, which is locked in a deadly race with Android, and the iPad, which has pretty much owned its market since day one. The iPhone keeps adding great software features like Dynamic Island, and the camera gets noticeably better each year.

The iPad, on the other hand, has barely changed since it first appeared in 2010. The bezels have shrunk, it got a high-res display, and the Pro versions transplanted Apple’s fastest chips into its body, but these were just hand-me-downs from the iPhone and the Mac. The only place Apple has really gone to town is in the iPad’s accessories, the excellent Magic keyboard with trackpad, and the Apple Pencil. 

An iPadPro on a Magic Keyboard stand.

Daniel Romero / Unsplash

Meanwhile, the iPad’s software has struggled to keep up with the power of Apple’s in-house chips, from the 2018 iPad Pro to today’s M2-powered model.

Might this have been different if the iPad had faced some serious competition?

The Competition

What is the competition for the iPad? It comes from two directions. One is the cheap junk tablet market. One might argue that the iPad isn't even part of the picture here, as the goal is to get something cheap. 

The other end is Microsoft’s Surface lineup, which is amazingly diverse. It runs from huge desk-based drafting tablets to a range of neat convertible touch-screen laptops/tablets. The problem with attracting iPad users is that these tablets run Windows, so you’d have to leave all those great iPad apps behind. 

Unfortunately, Lenovo’s tablets run Android, but their hardware is at least close to the iPad. And the new Lenovo Tab Extreme has some genuinely neat features that Apple should totally copy. 

Extreme Ideas

Let's start with the built-in basics. The Lenovo is a tablet, but it can also act as a dumb screen for another device via USB-C or HDMI. That means it could be an extra display for your iPad (ho ho), expand your laptop, or act as an on-the-go screen for your Nintendo Switch. The iPad can theoretically be used as a screen for the Mac, but if you can make it work reliably, it's still Mac-only. 

The Lenovo Tab Extreme


Speaking of USB-C, Lenovo has two, double the number Apple has managed to put in the iPad. This alone would make the iPad more versatile, especially for pro users like musicians, who plug a lot of gear into their computers. Ditto the microSD card slot, useful for quick sneaker-net transfers and storage expansion alike. 

And even Lenovo's knockoff keyboard-with-trackpad is better than Apple's. It has a detachable kickstand that attaches independently to the tablet with magnets, plus a row of function keys above the number row, so you can control screen brightness, audio volume, and more without having to tap the screen and find the control you need.

"I have been an avid iPad user for the better half of the last decade," Troy Portillo, iPad user and director of online learning platform Studypool, told Lifewire via email. "The only changes I wish were implemented during that time would be an updated version of keyboards for the Folio add-on, with function keys and increased accessibility options."

Apple certainly got a lot right with the iPad, but there's definitely still plenty of room for improvement, as Lenovo has shown.

Looking for more 2023 CES coverage? Check out all of Lifewire's CES news right here.

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