Microsoft Surface 3 vs. iPad Pro 9.7: The similarities aren't even skin-deep

Apple thinks its new 9.7-inch iPad Pro is a perfect replacement device for the millions still using years old laptops. Despite the obvious jabs at Windows, Apple did, at least, bring down the entry price to its new Pro range of tablets, first launched in late 2015.

The new one is smaller and cheaper than the existing 12.9-incher. Which sounds a lot like the Windows 10-powered Surface 3. The Surface 3 is a smaller version of the Surface Pro 3, a tablet that can replace your laptop.

On size and price alone, these two become competitors. So how do they match up? Here's what we know.

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CategorySurface 3iPad Pro 9.7
OSWindows 10iOS 9
Display10.8-inches 1920x12809.7-inch 2048x1536
ProcessorIntel Atom X7Apple A9X
Storage64/128GB SSD32/128/256GB
RAM2GB or 4GBunknown
LTELTE version availableLTE version available
Front camera3.5MP5MP
Rear camera8MP12MP
Battery28 Wh27.5 Wh
Dimensions10.52 x 7.36 x 0.34 in(267 x 187 x 8.7 mm)9.4 x 6.6 x 0.24 in(240 x 169.5 x 6.1 mm)
Weight1.37 lbs (622 g)0.96 lbs (435 g)
PortsFull size USB 3.0, miniDP, microUSB, 3.5mm headsetLightning port, 3.5mm headset
PenYes ($59 extra)Yes ($99 extra)
KeyboardYes ($129 extra)Yes ($149 extra)
Pricefrom $399from $599

Much of the story remains the same as when we looked at the Surface Pro 3 next to the bigger iPad Pro. The biggest difference comes at the top: Windows 10, a full desktop operating system or iOS 9, a mobile one.

And the smaller iPad Pro is still fantastically expensive. The tablet alone is $200 more than the current basement price for the Surface 3, with half the internal storage. The iPad Pro does pull ahead in other areas — it's lighter, thinner, has a better camera, and will probably get longer battery life — but those are secondary stats after you've already made a much bigger decision about the approach you want your tablet of choice to take.

Surface 3

To get the 'full' iPad Pro experience with the new 9.7-inch model you'll be spending around $850 (if you get Apple's own keyboard) compared to around $590 if you get everything from Microsoft. With these two, there's a clear winner on price, and it's the Surface.

We'll be able to talk more decisively about the iPad Pro 9.7 when it goes on sale. But given what we know of its big brother and what we see here, there are some very big key difference between it and the Surface 3.

The iPad has a higher resolution screen, better cameras, a option larger internal storage and is smaller and lighter all around. But the Surface 3 is a full Windows computer that also has an optional keyboard and pen and costs significantly less. There's still a lot to be said for a full desktop OS against iOS.

So, what say you? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!

More: Hands-on with the iPad Pro 9.7 at iMore

Richard Devine
Managing Editor - Tech, Reviews

Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at