It’s like the 1980s all over again. But this time Microsoft and Apple are battling it out on a new device front–the prosumer tablet. Each has released its respective powerhouse tablets in recent weeks. For Apple, this is the iPad Pro and for Microsoft this is the Surface Pro 4. But more than being JUST a tablet, each device also purports to be the only device users need – that’s right, each claims to kill the need for an additional laptop or desktop.
But does that claim bear out in real life? And just how do the two tablet hybrids compare against each other? Let’s take a look.
iPad Pro vs Microsoft Surface Pro 4: Design and Specs
Microsoft Surface Pro 4
Display: 12.3-inch 2736 x 1824 pixel at 267 pixels per inch
Storage: 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB
Processors: Intel Skylake Core M3, Core i5, or Core i7
RAM: 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB
OS: Windows 10 Pro
Cameras: 8MP front, 5MP rear
Connectivity: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 3.0, microsSD
Size: 292 mm x 201 mm x 8.45
Weight: 786 grams
Display: 12.9-inch 2732×2048 pixel at 264 pixels per inch
Storage: 32 and 128GB
Processors: 64-bit A9X and M9
OS: iOS 9.1
Cameras: front 1.2MP 720p HD camera and a rear 8MP 1080p HD camera
Connectivity: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, optional 4G
Size: 305 mm × 220 mm × 7 mm
Weight: 710 grams
Look, I’m going to be honest from the get go and say I’m a HUGE Apple fan. I think the iPhone and the Mac are some of the best computing devices you can buy. That being said, from a quick rundown of the specs alone it really does look like the Surface Pro 4 handily beats the iPad Pro if you are looking for a tablet/hybrid device that will allow you to do away with carrying around a separate laptop.
The biggest difference between the two is that the Surface Pro 4 comes in many more options that the iPad Pro. The iPad Pro essentially gives you three options: one 32GB sized model and two 128GB sized models (one without 4G and one with). All three models have 4GB of RAM and the same A9X chip (although that is supposed to be INSANELY fast).
But the Surface Pro 4, on the other hand offers three chip options (a relatively weak Intel Skylake Core M3 or Core i5, and a much more powerful Core i7). But the Surface gives you the option of an insane amount of storage to: 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB. And RAM? You’ve got the option of 4GB, 8GB, or a crazy 16GB.
The Surface Pro also gives you plenty of more ports including a full sized USB 3.0 port and a microSD card slot. That being said, what the Surface doesn’t give you is a cellular connection–yep, there’s still no 4G option.
Finally, on the camera front, both the iPad Pro and Surface Pro 4 have 8MP rear cameras, but the Surface Pro also offer a 5MP front camera where the iPad Pro only gives you 1.2MP.
On the design front, however, the iPad Pro wins: it’s both slimmer and weighs less than the Surface Pro. That being said, the Surface Pro needs to be thicker because it needs to pack in room for those extra ports–like USB 3.0.
iPad Pro vs Microsoft Surface Pro 4: Display
The display of the iPad Pro is physically larger at 12.9-inches, compared to the Surface Pro’s 12.3-inches. Both come in at a similar pixel density of 264 and 267 ppi, respectively. But the iPad Pro has a slightly higher resolution at 2732×2048 pixels versus the Surface Pro’s 2736 x 1824.
iPad Pro vs Microsoft Surface Pro 4: OS
This is another area where–if you are comparing the iPad Pro and Surface Pro as hybrid “we don’t need no laptops anymore” devices–then the Surface Pro wins hands down. That’s because it runs Windows 10, a full desktop OS along with desktop-class apps. The iPad Pro runs iOS 9–while there’s a lot of apps for that, it doesn’t compare to being able to run a full desktop OS like Windows 10 or OS X on the Mac.
iPad Pro vs Microsoft Surface Pro 4: Accessory Support
Again, were’ looking at these two devices as laptop replacements–and again the Surface Pro wins here. That’s because it supports an insane amount of accessories. The iPad Pro works with Apple’s new Pencil Stylus and Smart Keyboard Cover (both will cost you extra), but that’s it. The Surface Pro includes the stylus when you buy it and also offers an optional keyboard cover. However, it’s keyboard cover also features a glass trackpad–meaning you can use the Surface as you can a laptop, that is: how you’re used to. The Surface Pro also supports mice (just plug it into the USB port or connect via Bluetooth).
iPad Pro vs Microsoft Surface Pro 4: Price & Verdict
As a laptop or desktop replacement, the Surface Pro 4 blows away the iPad Pro. It is a TRUE laptop replacement because it runs a desktop class OS and apps and offers a wide range of accessories and ports.
That being said, if you opt for a Surface Pro 4 over an iPad Pro you’re going to be paying for it.
The iPad Pro costs £679 for the 32GB Wi-Fi model, £799 for the 128GB Wi-Fi model, and £899 for the 128GB Wi-Fi + Cellular model. UK pricing has not been announced for the Pixel C yet, but in the Us is costs $499 (about £329) for the 32GB model and $599 (about £399) for the 64GB model.
The Surface Pro ranges from £740 for the relatively weak entry level model (128GB, Intel Core m3, 4GB RAM) all the way up to £1799 for the top of the line model (512GB, Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM). For that amount of money, the Surface well better be both a true top of the line tablet and also a laptop replacement.