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Both Apple and Microsoft have recently made some rather big announcements, with Apple having announced the new 12.1-inch iPad Pro and Microsoft having announced the new Surface Pro 4.
Those in the market for a robust tablet might be confused as to which device to choose. Each are fantastic devices, but will suit different people with different needs. This is why we’ve gone and put the two devices head to head.
Microsoft and Apple devices have never been more alike, with Apple announcing that the new iPad Pro would have accessories like a keyboard case and the Apple Pencil to buy with their device. Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 has long shipped with a keyboard case, which is colorful and thin. The award for thinnest and lightest tablet, however, goes to Apple in this case, with the iPad Pro coming in at 6.9mm thick with a weight of 713 grams. This is quite a bit less than the 8.4mm, 766-gram device that is the Surface Pro. Sure, thickness and weight isn’t everything, but for a tablet portability is important.
Apart from dimensions, in classic Apple fashion the iPad Pro looks extremely classy. Apple is known for its attention to design detail, and the iPad Pro is no exception. Of course the Surface Pro 4 is a very well designed device in its own right, but perhaps the word “class” would be better reserved for the iPad.
Of course, if you’re looking for a laptop replacement with ports, the Surface Pro 4 might be more your thing, offering a USB 3.0 port, a microSD card reader a miniDisplay port, and a headphone jack. Then again, if you’re looking at a device this full-bodied, perhaps a MacBook Air would be more up your alley.
The iPad Pro offers a stunning 2,732 x 2,048, 12.9-inch display with a pixel resolution of 264 pixels per inch. The Surface Pro 4, by comparison, offers users an incredibly similar 12.3-inch, 2,736 x 1,824 pixel display with a resolution of 267 pixels per inch.
Really, the two devices are neck and neck. The iPad Pro’s display is a little larger, however the Surface Pro 4’s display is the smallest bit sharper. No winner here, big vs. sharp is all down to personal preference.
Under The Hood
On paper, the Surface Pro 4 offers a lot more power than the iPad Pro, backed by a serious RAM offering. Users of the Surface Pro 4 have the choice of either an Intel i5 or i7 processor with up to 16GB of RAM being available. The iPad Pro’s A9X chip is a speedy chip for sure, but it doesn’t come close to the Intel Core chip. The Surface Pro 4 is, theoretically on paper, about two times as fast as the MacBook Air, and the iPad Pro is around 1.8 times as fast.
Having said that, it’s important to consider the purpose of the two devices. It seems as though the Surface Pro 4 is designed more as a laptop replacement, while the iPad Pro is meant to be for those that already have a laptop but want to take a more hands-on approach for things like graphic design.
Hardware specs aside, here’s where it really boils down to personal preference. The Surface Pro 4 offers a full version of Windows 10, while Apple has chosen to stick with its mobile operating system, iOS 9. This is actually pretty telling, and highlights the fact that the Surface Pro 4 is, as mentioned, a laptop replacement, while the iPad Pro is not.
Unfortunately the fact that the iPad Pro runs iOS 9 means that users will be limited to mobile applications, which could be a problem for media professionals who need a full suite of graphic design software. Having said that, the list of software available on the iPad for things like graphic design is growing, and while it might not be as expansive as a desktop user, it’s definitely getting there.
Really it comes down to personal preference. The iPad Pro has a better design, the Surface Pro 4 has better specs, and both have great operating systems. One thing that is important to mention, however, is the fact that the iPad Pro is cheaper, coming in at $799, while the Surface Pro 4 starts at $899.