Apple products continue to dominate the mobile device market. The estimates from Strategy Analytics show that last year the iPhone captured 79.2 percent of global smartphone profits. The new MacBook has also outperformed other major laptop developers like Asus and Lenovo. But in terms of smart tablets; Microsoft’s fifth-generation Surface Pro is giving Apple’s 10.5-inch iPad Pro a run for its money.
Both Apple and Microsoft are keen to demonstrate that their tablets are viable laptop replacements. The new iPad Pro, which maintains the same look of the original iPad; is larger and has several hardware upgrades and enhanced iOS features. Similarly, the Surface Pro builds on its highly successful predecessor with huge improvements to processing power, battery life, and design.
Tech enthusiasts and workers looking for a lightweight computer should definitely consider either of these devices. But which one comes out on top? We’ve pitted them against each other to help you pick which is the better laptop killer.
The iPad Pro’s new design has a similar look and feel to the previous 9.7-inch version. It still has the traditional home button, curved, edges, and front and rear cameras, with the key differences being the screen size and a slightly heftier frame. Maintaining the same look isn’t necessarily a bad thing since older iPad designs were already comfortable and easy to use.
Meanwhile, the Surface Pro received some noticeable changes. To house much larger hardware components; the new design is thicker and weighs 786g (roughly 300g heavier than the iPad Pro). Despite the extra weight, it does come with a built-in kickstand that can easily hold the device at any angle. This is a feature that’s lacking in the iPad Pro, which requires users to purchase the detachable keyboard to prop it up.
One of the most noteworthy enhancements with the iPad Pro is the display. The larger LED Retina display features 2,224 x 1,668 resolution, rich contrast ratio, and a 120-Hz refresh rate. This makes images, videos, and apps look a lot crisper and feel more responsive than other tablets currently on the market.
The Surface Pro also made some significant display upgrades with a 12.3-inch PixelSense screen that renders visuals at 2,736 x 1,824 resolution; narrowly beating the iPad’s display — though given that both devices offer such high resolutions, it’s hard to tell the difference. But, the Surface Pro has a lower contrast ratio and screen refresh rate (60Hz), so we’ll give the point to the iPad.
Under the hood, both devices offer powerful computing capabilities. The iPad Pro packs a punch with 4GB of RAM, up to 512GB of storage, and the new A10X processor that boasts operating speeds of around 2.36GHz. Essentially, this means that the device easily handles demanding tasks like managing huge spreadsheets, photo editing, and 3D modelling. It’s also important to remember that the hardware is optimised for Apple Store applications, so if many of your business applications are built for iOS, the iPad Pro is a no brainer.
The Surface Pro’s hardware comes in multiple configurations, each offering different amounts of RAM, storage space, and processing power. For example, if you’re looking for a low-end tablet; you can choose a Surface Pro with only 4GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a 2.6-GHz Intel Core processor. But if you require something more robust; you can opt for a model with a whopping 16GB of RAM, 1TB of storage, and a 4.0-GHz Intel Core processor.
With that much computing power; the Surface Pro is capable of handling advanced business and creative functions like data analytics and rendering high-resolution videos. Generous amounts of RAM also allow users to have multiple applications open without experiencing performance drops.
As for battery life, the iPad Pro does have a slight edge. The Surface Pro runs for about 12 hours away from a power socket, while the iPad Pro lasts for as long as 13 hours; not a significant advantage when you consider just how powerful the Surface Pro really is.
Apart from its stellar hardware capabilities, the Surface Pro comes with Windows 10 Pro; which allows users to run full versions of Windows, Flash, Java, and other platforms that you would normally run on a desktop or laptop. For those who are looking to replace either of those with a full-featured tablet; the Surface Pro can essentially provide the same experience — if not, better.
People who expect a desktop or laptop experience from the iPad; however, will be disappointed. The iPad Pro runs with iOS 10 rather than the macOS, which means you’re limited to the mobile apps available in the Apple Store. Also, unlike Windows 10, iOS can’t have more than two apps open on one screen.
Although a more improved iOS 11 is set to be released soon; the Surface Pro still wins purely because of the broad range of apps it will run.
If the software or the hardware hasn’t convinced you to lean one way or the other, the keyboards and styluses might. When comparing the Apple Pencil and the Surface Pen, both have excellent palm detection, accuracy, and responsiveness, but it’s the former’s “comfortability” that wins the day.
As for the keyboards, the Surface Pro is the clear winner with its precision touchpad, adequate key spacing, and backlit keys, while the iPad Pro isn’t nearly as sleek.
Keep in mind that accessories are sold separately, so if you’re choosing between the iPad Pro and Surface Pro; make sure you’re comfortable with the peripheral devices on offer as well.
Winner: Surface Pro
While both devices are great in their own right; the iPad Pro does suffer from its redesign as simply a beefier mobile tablet. The Surface Pro on the other hand offsets its display shortcomings by the sheer fact that it can perform just as well as any mid- to high-range laptop.
The Surface Pro may be our pick for the best laptop-tablet hybrid, but we understand that needs and preferences may vary. Talk to Empower IT for all your tech-related questions and issues.