Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (9315) vs. Surface Pro 9: Which premium Windows tablet is for you?
Dell and Microsoft have both made fantastic large format Windows tablets, but which one should you buy?
Dell is once again making a premium Windows tablet, and the resulting XPS 13 2-in-1 (9315) is positively gorgeous and checks all the right boxes on paper. Stumbles in the display and battery life may not make up for its solid pricing, though.
- Stunning design
- Reliable performance
- Great pricing, even with accessories
- Average display quality
- Disappointing battery life
Microsoft's long-running Surface Pro line has come so far since its inception, and the latest and greatest Pro 9 packs powerful hardware and all the features you need in a svelte package. Like most Surfaces, though, it's an expensive machine.
- Best-in-class hardware
- Solid performance and battery life
- Fantastic accessories
- Accessories are also pricey
If you're in the market for a fantastic, premium Windows tablet, two devices that are practically guaranteed to make the list are the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (9315) and Microsoft Surface Pro 9. While both aforementioned devices share a form factor, there are plenty of differences between them to help inform any buying decision.
With both the XPS 13 2-in-1 and Surface Pro 9 counting among the best Windows tablets you can buy, here's what you need to know before making a decision.
XPS 13 2-in-1 vs. Surface Pro 9: Quick specs overview
On paper, the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (9315) and Microsoft Surface Pro 9 appear pretty similar, but the specs alone scarcely begin to tell the whole story. Experience-wise, these devices are quite different. Still, here's a quick overview of the key specifications for each device, so you can get a quick rundown of their capabilities.
|Category||XPS 13 2-in-1||Surface Pro 9|
|Processor||Intel Core i5-1230U / Core i7-1250U||Intel Core i5-1235U / Core i7-1255U / Microsoft SQ3|
|Graphics||Intel Iris Xe||Intel Iris Xe / Microsoft SQ3 Adreno 8CX Gen 3|
|Memory||8GB / 16GB LPDDR4x||8GB / 16GB / 32GB LPDDR5 (8GB / 16GB LPDDR4x w/ SQ3)|
|Storage||512GB / 1TB||128GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB (Intel only)|
|Display||13-inch, 3:2, 60Hz, 2880 x 1920||13-inch, 3:2, 120Hz, 2880 x 1920|
|Cameras||1080p, 30FPS IR front-facing / 4K, 30FPS rear-facing||1080p IR front-facing / 10MP, 4K rear-facing|
|Audio||Dual 2W speakers / dual-array microphones||Dual 2W speakers / dual far-field microphones|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 6E / Bluetooth 5.2 / 5G (optional)||Wi-Fi 6E / Bluetooth 5.1 / 5G (SQ3 only)|
|Ports||2x USB Type-C Thunderbolt 4||2x USB Type-C Thunderbolt 4 / Surface Connect (2x USB Type-C Gen 3.2 / Surface Connect / nanoSIM w/ SQ3)|
|Accessories||XPS Folio / XPS Stylus||Type Cover / Surface Slim Pen 2|
|Dimensions||292.5mm x 201.2mm x 7.4mm||287mm x 208.3mm x 9.4mm|
|Weight||736G||879G (Intel) / 878G (SQ3 w/ Sub-6) / 883G (SQ3 w/ mmWave)|
XPS 13 2-in-1 vs. Surface Pro 9: Form or function
One of the easiest ways to differentiate the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (9315) from the Surface Pro 9 is with the age-old argument of form over function. The Surface Pro 9 may not have the perfectly symmetrical, beautifully squared chassis of the XPS 13 2-in-1, but it does feature an integrated kickstand and subtly hidden vents for superior thermal performance in its busier design. It may not have the slim, even bezels all around the display, but its chunkier top and bottom bezels do make space to magnetically prop up the Type Cover keyboard, securely stash away and charge the Surface Slim Pen 2 and include a higher quality front-facing camera.
The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 may be slimmer and lighter, but sacrifices performance, battery life, and features to deliver that industry leading design. I personally prefer the look and feel of the XPS 13 2-in-1, but that alone isn't worth the compromises you'd have to accept. The spec sheets may appear similar, but there's basically only one area in which the XPS 13 2-in-1 is actually better than the Surface Pro 9, and that's with the inclusion of a fingerprint sensor in the power button in addition to the Windows Hello-equipped front-facing camera.
In all other areas, the Surface Pro 9 is either just as capable, is objectively superior, or includes an extra feature that the XPS 13 2-in-1 lacks. In two areas the Surface Pro 9 is dramatically better, with a far higher quality 120Hz display and significantly longer lasting battery life (in both Intel and ARM variants). The Surface Type Cover and Slim Pen 2 also hold some key advantages over Dell's comparable XPS Folio and Pen, like a more comfortable all-around typing experience and better stylus integration.
Even when it comes to design, in which the Dell's victory is entirely subjective, the Surface Pro 9 offers more colorways, including blue and green, and its Type Covers can be purchased in a wide variety of fun colors. Having additional configuration options like the efficient ARM-based Microsoft SQ3 processor and more RAM on the Intel models are also reasons to consider the Pro 9 over the opposing Dell.
At this point, it may seem easy to choose the Pro 9 over the XPS 13 2-in-1 every time, but outside of hardware there's one major difference between these two devices that largely justifies the XPS 13 2-in-1's relative shortcomings. The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (9315) is much, much cheaper.
XPS 13 2-in-1 vs. Surface Pro 9: A matter of price
In its most affordable configuration, the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (9315) starts at USD $949.00. The Surface Pro 9, on the other hand, starts at $999.99. This may not seem like a huge difference, but these base configurations are not the same. Both models come equipped with an Intel Core i5 and 8GB of RAM, but the XPS 13 2-in-1 has 512GB of storage while the Pro 9 only has 128GB. That's a huge difference in storage, and the XPS 13 2-in-1 is $50 cheaper.
The discrepancies only widen as the configurations become more expensive. Configured to an identical spec (Intel Core i7, 16GB of RAM, 512GB of storage), the XPS 13 2-in-1 is just $1,199.00 for the tablet on its own, while the Surface Pro 9 is $1,899.99 — a whopping $700 difference. Want to double that storage to 1TB? Dell will charge you a mere $150 extra, but Microsoft will layer $300 on top of that already beefy price tag.
You want 5G? The 5G-enabled Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 with an Intel Core i7, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB storage will run you $1,649.00, while the Surface Pro 9 with a Microsoft SQ3 ARM chip and the same RAM and storage retails for $1,899.99. Here's the kicker, though — the 5G version of the XPS 13 2-in-1 always comes with the XPS Folio keyboard (all previous comparisons were just for the tablet by itself), while you'll still need to add the $179.99 Surface Type Cover to the cost of the Surface Pro 9. Get the gist?
Even Dell's accessories are more affordable. The XPS Folio is an even $100 where the Type Cover is $179.99. The XPS Stylus is also $100 even, where the Surface Slim Pen 2 retails for $129.99 — and that's with no charger in the box, as the Pro 9 has no onboard way to charge the Slim Pen 2 without the matching Type Cover, unlike the XPS 13 2-in-1. Want the bundle? $200 for the XPS 13 2-in-1, $279.99 for the Surface Pro 9.
Microsoft's premium Windows tablet is always more expensive than the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (9315). While sales on the Surface Pro 9 seem more frequent, and you can save when you bundle accessories like the Type Cover and Slim Pen 2, the gap is wide enough that the XPS 13 2-in-1 is still always the more affordable machine. Even though the Surface Pro 9 is better, whether it's worth the added cost is up to you.
XPS 13 2-in-1 vs. Surface Pro 9: Which should you buy?
You should buy the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (9315) if ...
- You need a premium Windows tablet without breaking the bank
- You much prefer the symmetrical, squared design of the XPS 13 2-in-1
- You don't need extra features like an integrated kickstand or high refresh rate display
You should buy the Surface Pro 9 if ...
- You want the very best Windows tablet you can buy
- You don't mind paying a lot extra for the complete package
- You want an ARM-powered option
I genuinely enjoyed my time with the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, but blow-for-blow the Microsoft Surface Pro 9 is simply the superior Windows tablet. After all, there's a reason it's one of our top picks among the best Windows laptops. That quality and refinements comes with a staggeringly high price tag, though, which is where the XPS 13 2-in-1 excels. While its Windows tablet experience is compromised due to the display and battery life, it still offers a fantastic overall value that could potentially save you hundreds.
If money is no object, I recommend the Surface Pro 9. There are more options for configurations, including fun colors and Type Cover designs, and it's simply unbeatable as a premium Windows tablet. If you want this form factor (crossing the other members of the Dell XPS family off your list) but without paying that admittedly high cost, though, the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 (9315) gives you most of the experience of the Surface Pro 9 for far, far less.
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Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.