Surface Pro 8 vs. iPad Pro

Surface Pro 8 Reco
Surface Pro 8 Reco (Image credit: Microsoft)

On paper, the Surface Pro 8 and iPad Pro come from the same form factor family, and are direct competitors with each other. But, if you take a closer look at each, the Surface Pro 8 and iPad Pro actually couldn't be more different. They're both 2-in-1 tablets, but the way they approach the form factor is different. One focuses on productivity and versatility, whereas the other focuses on consumption and ease of use. One is a better laptop, the other a better tablet.

Be sure to check out our list of best Windows tablets too.

Surface Pro 8 vs. iPad Pro: Specs

The Surface Pro 8 and iPad Pro are comparable in the specs department. While the processor in the iPad is more powerful on paper, this is something you're not really going to notice a difference with between the two. The iPad is more energy efficient, meaning you'll get better battery life out of the iPad, but the Surface Pro 8 has a bigger, sharper screen and subjectively nicer design.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Surface Pro 8iPad Pro
OSWindows 11iPadOS 15
Processor11th Gen IntelCore i3-1115G4Core i5-1145G7Core i7-1185G7Apple M1
RAM8GB, 16GB, 32GB8GB, 16GB
Storage128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB
Display13 inches2880x1920267 PPI3:2 aspect ratioUp to 120Hz (60Hz default)Touch11 inches (2388x1668) 264PPI12.9 inches (2732x2048) 264PPIPro Motion 120HzTouch
Ports2x Thunderbolt 4 USB-CSurface Connect3.5mm headphone jack1x Thunderbolt 4 USB-C
AudioDual-speaker audioFour-speaker audio
ConnectivityWi-Fi 6Bluetooth 5.1Snapdragon X20 LTEWi-Fi 6Bluetooth 5.05G/LTE
KeyboardSurface Pro KeyboardMagic Keyboard
PenSurface Slim Pen 2Apple Pencil 2
SecurityWindows HelloFace ID
BatteryUp to 16 hoursUp to 10 hours
Dimensions11.3 x 8.2 x 0.37 inches(287mm x 208.3mm x 9.4mm)11-inch9.74 x 7.02 x 0.13 inches(247.6mm x 178.5mm x 5.9mm)12.9-inch11.04 x 8.46 x 0.25 inches(280.6mm x 214.9mm x 6.4mm)
Weight1.96 pounds (891g)11-inch Wi-Fi: 1.03 pounds (466g)11-inch LTE: 1.03 pounds (468g)12.9-inch Wi-Fi: 1.5 pounds (682g)12.9-inch LTE: 1.51 pounds (684g)
ColorPlatinumGraphiteSilverSpace Grey

The iPad Pro features Mini LED technology for its display, which provides more contrast with deeper blacks, which makes the picture really pop. The Surface Pro 8 features a normal IPS display, which makes the iPad Pro's display the best choice for photo editing or movie watching.

Surface Pro 8 vs. iPad Pro: Design

Microsoft PowerPoint iPad

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

The designs of both the iPad Pro and Surface Pro 8 are similar, yet different. The Surface Pro 8 features a built-in kickstand, which can prove super handy to have if you want to watch a movie and don't want to hold the device the whole time. It's also what makes the Surface Pro 8 a great laptop, as it provides a much sturdier experience compared to when the "stand" is built into the keyboard accessory.

The iPad Pro features a minimalist and simplistic design, which looks fantastic. It has rounded corners on the display, four speaker grills flanking the top and bottom sides, and even bezels around the display. Both devices feature an aluminum chassis, and are relatively thin. The volume and power buttons around each device are also nice and clicky, adding to the overall premium feel of the devices.

Both devices feature facial unlock, with the Surface Pro 8 featuring Windows Hello and the iPad Pro featuring Face ID. Both are equally secure and very fast. The Surface Pro 8 features a Type Cover connector with magnets along the bottom for adding an external keyboard accessory. The iPad Pro features a connector on the back, paired with magnets that allow you to connect a Magic Keyboard down the line as well.

Surface Pro 8 vs. iPad Pro: Keyboard

Surface Pro 8 Hero Profile

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

The keyboard accessories for these devices might be what makes or breaks either one of these products for you. The Surface Pro 8 is compatible with Microsoft's Type Cover accessory, which protects the display when closed, and provides a full keyboard and trackpad experience when open. The keyboard itself has magnets that allow you to lift the keyboard up for an even more sturdy and comfortable typing experience too.

The iPad Pro has the Magic Keyboard, which is much more of a "case" and less of a cover. You dock the iPad Pro into the case using magnets, and then the device can be opened and closed like a laptop. The keyboard experience is small, with the trackpad especially being slightly short in regard to height. The keyboard lays flat, as there are no magnets that allow you to prop it up for a more comfortable typing experience.

In our testing, we'd say the Type Cover for the Surface Pro 8 is a more comfortable laptop experience, especially when on a lap. The Magic Keyboard is too rigid and not adjustable enough to be comfortable in every position. Thanks to the Surface Pro 8's kickstand, you can adjust the angle of the device and keyboard to any degree you like. The same cannot be done with Apple's iPad Pro and the Magic Keyboard.

Surface Pro 8 vs. iPad Pro: OS

Windows 11 Start Menu

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

The biggest difference between these two devices is with the OS they both run. The Surface Pro 8 features a fully fledged PC OS, designed for productivity and work-related tasks. The iPad Pro runs iPadOS, an upscaled version of the same OS that runs on the iPhone, which means it's much more simplistic, but designed for touch first and foremost.

This is ultimately what you should be basing your purchasing decision on. iPadOS is a great tablet-first OS, providing a clean and simplistic touch-first experience, but at the expense of a less robust laptop or productivity experience, even with the Magic Keyboard attached. On the flipside, Windows is a great laptop and productivity experience, but at the expense of a less robust touch-first and simplistic UX experience.

So, it comes down to what you need. Do you want something that's good at being a laptop, or do you want something that's good at being a tablet? If you want the best laptop, get the Surface Pro 8. If you want the best tablet, get the iPad Pro. If you want something that can do both, either choice is great, just make sure you know which is the best for what before deciding.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter and Threads