Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) vs. Apple iPad Pro (2017): Comparing specs, OS, form factor and more
The new Surface Pro has been announced, and it's a sleek and sexy hybrid that appears to bring together everything Microsoft has learned about its pioneering form factor.
In the marketing materials, Microsoft was keen to compare the Surface Pro (2017) to both the MacBook and the iPad Pro, Apple's take on the tablet-laptop hybrid. Coincidentally, Apple just announced updated iPad Pros at its WWDC 2017 event yesterday.
Microsoft placed a lot of emphasis on inking with the new Surface Pro, touting custom silicon to reduce the latency between the pen and the display, and new tilt support for the latest version of the Surface Pen.
Updated June 6, 2017: We updated this article to reflect the latest specs found in Apple's new iPad Pro.
We compared the Surface Pro 4 to the iPad Pro in the past, and as you might expect, it's hardly any contest. However, Apple won piles of praise for the inking experience with its "Apple Pencil," at least when you disregard its silly charging solution.
We already determined that the Surface Pro 4 is superior to the iPad Pro in a previous comparison, and despite the latest iPad Pro Apple recently debuted for 2017, the Surface Pro's Kaby Lake processors, new Surface Pen, and new digitizer staves off any competition from Apple's Surface-clone.
If you're looking for a side-by-side comparison, look no further.
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Surface Pro (2017) vs. iPad Pro: Tech specs showdown
|Category||Surface Pro (2017)||iPad Pro (2017)|
|OS||Windows 10||iOS 10|
|Screen Size||12.3 inches||12.9 inches (10.5 inch model available)|
|Screen Resolution||2763 x 1824 (267 ppi)||2732 x 2048 (264 ppi)|
|Processor||Seventh Gen Intel Core m3, i5, i7||Apple A10X|
|Graphics||m3 and i5: Intel HD 620; i7: Intel Iris Plus 640||Apple A10X|
|Storage||128GB, 265GB, 512GB, 1TB + microSD expansion||64GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB|
|Rear Camera||8 MP||12 MP|
|Front Camera||5 MP (With face authentication)||7 MP|
|Ports||Full USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, Surface Connect, headset jack||Lightning, iPad Smart Connector, headset jack|
|Height||11.5 inches||12 inches|
|Width||7.93 inches||8.68 inches|
|Thickness||0.33 inches||0.27 inches|
|Weight||1.69 pounds||1.57 pounds|
|Battery (listed)||13.5 hours||10 hours|
|Price||$799 to $2,699||$649 to $1,229|
Windows vs. iOS
There's really not much of a contest here, at least in our opinion. While iOS has some great inking and note-taking apps (including Microsoft's OneNote), they're a far cry from the full power of Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, which require a desktop OS like Windows 10.
iOS is a mobile OS, designed for phones and tablets. As such, the programs available are capable but relatively lightweight. Your Surface Pro would be able to run any program available on a Windows desktop, whether at work or at home. Beyond inking, the Surface Pro's beefy internals make it a moderately capable video editing machine that can leverage tools like Adobe Premier, and run developer tools like Visual Studio.
Whether you're going for the m3, i5, or i7 Surface Pro model, you'll be able to install and enjoy thousands of games on Steam and other PC gaming platforms. The Surface Pro is by no means designed as a gaming rig, but it will run Xbox 360-era games with relative ease, including Bioshock, World of Warcraft, and even some well-optimized modern games like Overwatch.
The iPad is capable of none of these things and is best thought of as a pure tablet with some word processing and inking capabilities, specifically for sketching, note-taking, and Microsoft Office. With the Surface Pro, you get way more versatility for the same price.
The iPad Pro is Apple's first attempt at the tablet-laptop hybrid, owing to its "Smart Keyboard" cover. Microsoft has been doing the detachable keyboard thing for a long time now, and as such, it should come as no surprise that Redmond is simply better at it. The Surface Pro Type Cover has superior key travel, a full-size, glass trackpad for precision navigation, and the cover isn't necessary for propping the tablet portion up, either.
In order to use the iPad Pro in "laptop" mode, you will have to fold the cover into an awkward triangle shape, and then rest the iPad Pro against it. It's nowhere near as robust a solution as Microsoft's Surface Pro kickstand, which operates independently of the cover. This makes the Surface Pro useful in the kitchen simply for viewing recipes, or while traveling on trains or planes, placing the Surface Pro with the kickstand onto a desk or tray with no cover needed.
The Surface Pro kickstand also enjoys 165 degrees of flexibility, allowing you to change its angle for long drawing sessions, or for reclining on a sofa on a lazy weekend. The iPad Pro is very much designed to be a handheld tablet, and given its size, it might prove more unweildy and less convenient than simply popping out the kickstand on the Surface Pro. The iPad Pro is a little lighter at 1.57 lbs to the Surface Pro's 1.69 lbs, however. The iPad Pro is lighter still if you go for the 10 inch option. But the trade off in weight is battery life, of which the Surface Pro boasts an additional estimated 3.5 hours over all versions of the iPad Pro's 10 hours.
Surface Pro (2017) vs. iPad Pro: Which is right for you?
Ultimately, the answer boils down to an argument of ecosystem. If you're not interested in Windows' heavy duty programs like Photoshop or the core games found on Steam, and you rely heavily on your iPhone and existing iPad apps, perhaps you'll want to stay in Apple's ecosystem.
However, if you are a serious or aspiring hobby artist, want the freedom to install any program you wish and use your device in any way you wish, the Surface Pro is the only option.
Neither device comes bundled with their respective pen tools or keyboard covers, both adding to the overall price. But given the Surface Pro's laptop-like internals, you're potentially going to get more bang for your buck sticking with Microsoft's offering, even at the low end.
Stay tuned for our full, comprehensive review on the Surface Pro, and in the meanwhile, let us know what you think of both devices in the comments.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!
By Jez Corden
- the ipad has a sequential read of 411 mb/s and a random 4k of 23.8 Although technically they use the same bus technology, the drive controller is really galaxies away. Technically the bus should allow the same power - but I would not have even known that was PCIe based, because its slower than first gen SSDs using standard sata3. Literally the first PC SSDs ever were faster. And thats the highest end ipad pro, the 9.7 benches much slower.
Aside from screen-size, larger batt, & a slightly better CPU or was it GPU (need to review it all again!). At least using Apple's poor comparison tool that’s clearly what it looked like for my needs/wants. Dang it, I recently ordered the iPad_Pro 9.7" 128GB Wifi + Cellular for that very reason!
(didn’t really need the extra screen-size, battery, or slightly better perf. silicon) Do you know of any sites that do far more detailed/technical comparative analysis of the iPad_Pros? Still defo getting a SP, my SP3 i7/8GB/512GB's getting a bit long in the tooth, but in no rush, prolly not till Oct. or later! ;)
I’d get the largest if I could, but I’m working from a tight budget as we have to get a tonne of other stuff.
I doubt the differences will be noticeable on an iPad_Pro 9.7", or do you think certain usages may show-it-up clearly? What about all the other specs/components, on paper the Pro 9.7" WiFi + Cell looks WAY better than the 12.9”, no?
Aside from the things I mentioned of course… Not sure I’ll bother with some deep diving, sounds like you already tried & came up with LOTS of vagueness.
May at least do some digging at Anandtech, it’s pretty-much the bible for all things NAND, or was, been out-of-it.
Wouldn’t be surprised if they benched & real-world tested the iPad Pros, & compared them with other devices. But that's just one component, I was hoping for a deep dive on everything, & then comparing the 2 Pro variants! :-S
Thanks mate, interesting to read some of this stuff from folks who’ve “been there, done that”! Best Regards/Goodnight (3:15am!) http://www.anandtech.com/tag/storage
Also, you can compare it to the MBP but the MacBook Pro is 250$ more expensive, thicker, heavier, does not have touchscreen, no digitizer... I am not sure it would put the MBP under a positive light 🙂
Also, they are plenty of app and even Win32 programs running just fine in tablet mode and the same Outlook app as iOS is also available on W10 by default so what are you referring to? It is a very valid comparison because my SP3 definitely replaces the iPad i gave to my wife (and replace my desktop with the dock and can be used as a laptop as well).
True, you can have the SP with 512Go of storage, 16Go of RAM (4 times more thab the iPad) and a core i7 twice as powerful as the iPad Pro but you do not HAVE to take the highest end SP, the lower end clearly compete against the iPad Pro.
Also, the SP4 is available since 18 months and the new one in 9 days so it is not like it is vaporware.
Regarding WIN32 programs, they look as good on a 12,3" SP as on a 11,6-13,3 16:9 or 16:10 laptop screen.
And the pen can replace the mouse making it a non issue to use in tablet mode. Actually, I use Adobe Premiere Element (in the Windows Store) and Capture One Pro in the train in tablet mode ans this is great.
For me, it is THE ultimate tablet as non others can do that. The bonus is that it is also my laptop and my desktop thanks to the dock.
My opinion: The Surface Pro is better :)
1. It's heavy (I already ditched the kb since I mainly use it as a tablet),
2. It only lasts me 3.5 hours
3. Windows 10 (ux) sucks so bad I really miss windows 8.1. Always paid attention to tablet world and haven't considered iPads before, until ios 11. Funny how there's big brouhaha about multi tasking and drag and dropping files, stuff windows always had since day 1. But atleast they're coming here soon and those 2 features alone might be enough to sway me to ipad pros. I'm also considering just buying a Surface book and just using the clipboard, but battery life is mediocre. After having 5 surface products, and being the most passionate surface user I know (I also love surface touch, pity they don't make them anymore), I think the iPad pros have or will be finally surpassing the surfaces as the ultimate tablet (not tablet slash laptop, which surface still wins easily). And for people like me who yearn to have a great tablet experience (and mostly uses SaaS offerings) this was a nice article but not nearly good enough because it's too biased.