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.
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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