Today, I get to eat a little crow: contrary to my publicly stated intentions, I did not return my iPad Pro. The short version is that my old iPad Pro more or less died on me. 

In my previous post, I wrote that I could do everything I needed on an iPad with pen and paper. The thing is, I didn’t inventory my work on iPadOS until after I wrote that post. (This was stupid of me.) That was when I thought to myself: Shoot, I do a lot of iPad-only stuff when I’m working on wireframes.” I’ll frequently grab screenshots of apps and websites and place them alongside my sketches. I tend to iterate on ideas from left to right, duplicating old ideas, erasing what didn’t work, and sketching more (as though I were duplicating art boards in Figma). 

On top of that, a lot of my clients are long-term clients, and the work that I do months or years prior might (and has) become useful again, even if it were disregarded prior. I do not want to keep stacks of draft paper filed away for months or years at a time.

At that point, I made a decision: I still don’t need this new iPad, but I do need my old one.

So I booted up my 2017 10.5” iPad Pro, which I had previously formatted for trade-in, and set it up again. I had a bit of work to do, so once Freeform was ready, I got to it.

That was when I noticed the smell.

The iPad had this faint smell of burning plastic, but only when I held my face near it (which I tend do while drawing; please do not judge me and my weird habits). I’m no engineer, but I know that anything resembling the smell of fire in a battery-powered product was bad, so I shut the iPad down, and made a new plan.

Clearly, my 2017 iPad Pro was kicking the bucket.

So, in an effort to get the best bang for my buck and make the new one last, I would keep the 2024 iPad Pro, and trade in the 2017 iPad Pro.

A day or two later, I brought the 2017 iPad Pro to the Apple Store to trade it in. I explained what I just wrote, but the Apple Genius seemed nonplussed. Does the device power on?” he asked. I said yes. Does the screen work?” he asked. I said yes again. Finally, he asked if Touch ID worked and there were any large dents or scratches. I said yes and no, respectively, but I added that the battery only lasts an hour and may or may not be swelling. He again, said this wasn’t an issue and they would check all that during their diagnosis.

So he used whatever fancy tool Apple has for this, signed off on everything, and gave me a refund of $100 towards the 2024 iPad Pro (which felt pretty generous, all things considered).

Then he got me to wipe the 2017 iPad Pro, and something happened.

The iPad froze after I entered my password to disable Find My on the iPad. Oh yeah, this happens all the time,” the Genius said. On every product, not just iPads. iPhones and Macs all freeze here too. Don’t worry.” 

Then the iPad unceremoniously shut down. 

I asked if we should have seen an Apple logo with a loading indicator below it (we should have), and the Genius said yes. But then he added nonchalantly, Who knows though? I’ll be back.”

He spent a few minutes helping other customers before he returned. My iPad still hadn’t rebooted.

You said the battery doesn’t last, right?”

I said yes.

He took about thirty seconds to find a Lighting charger buried somewhere in the deep recesses of the store and plugged the iPad Pro in. It still didn’t turn on. 

The Genius’ brow furrowed. I think your iPad is dead.” Seeing my immediate look of concern, he added, but we already gave you the money for the trade in, so it’s our problem now.”

I spent another several minutes with him while he tried every troubleshooting method I knew of and a couple I didn’t. Eventually, the iPad rebooted long enough just long enough for us to see the iOS welcome screen. There. Your data’s been wiped,” he confirmed. 

Then the screen turned off again as the iPad shut down, while plugged directly into an outlet.

And that, dear reader, is how my old iPad Pro died the moment after Apple gave me my trade-in value for it. As my father-in-law pointed out to me, it is rare in life for a system like that to work in your favour, so cherish it while it lasts.

I did, however, return the Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro, which only served to help me procrastinate on the iPad before returning to my Mac. I replaced it with the Smart Folio cover, which is totally fine.