I bought iPad Air, less than 1 year ago.
I wanted to replace laptop and iPhone.
iPad came out to be an hybrid that can not replace iPhone.
It can only replace laptop for simple office use. Some graphics tool are available in light version for iPad but it is not enough. These Adobe tools were conceived in a hurry with a lot of bugs and are not intuitive as they should. With IPad you mainly work with fingers. The pen is additional only for artistic design. The keyboard is only for long writings. The mouse is useless. The telephone never worked. IPad misses a global charging system and a proper case integrating all pieces.
Connection to music Bluetooth and to Apple Watch is not as immediate as in iPhone. Last, taking pics with iPad is not comfortable for dimensions. iPhone can be Handled in any way with both right and left hand. It is true that the quality of sounds, videos and pictures in iPad is higher, but the tool itself is not comfortable enough and not integrated with all accessories for video making and music products.
For all these reasons, iPhone 12 PRO max is the best choice for a digital startupper.
IPad mini would have a chance if properly integrated with accessories and with SIM for independent wi-fi. It also need a handwriting system as Remarkable to be really competitive.
iPad mini would then challenge iPhone Max.
On the other side, a small iPhone would challenge Apple Watch if it had heartrate, fitness package and proper case for wrist. This is true also because Apple Watch does not support sport apps with tracking, local music management, stopwatch and Laps management. At least it should work as an old iPod and it should easily track laps. Voice recording is missing. Small pics photo shooting is not available.
So people could really choose the best tool according to lifestyle.
All apple products should come out with a set of basic app comprised in the price. Simplified Adobe including Adobe scan and PDF, Fitness tracking program.
Summing up, What apple could do, would then be to make 2 iPhones 1 iPad 1 MacBook. 2 iPhones: a small one for simple use and watch and a big one for all use . 1 Apple Watch only if independent and lasting at least 3 days with a charge.
In tech devices a key competitive factor is dimension combined with tech integrated features.