Mobile Technology

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 vs. iPad Pro

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 vs. iP...
Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (left) and Apple iPad Pro
Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (left) and Apple iPad Pro
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Battery
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Battery
Camera megapixels
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Camera megapixels
Cellular option
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Cellular option
Processor
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Processor
Desktop apps
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Desktop apps
Dimensions
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Dimensions
Display resolution
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Display resolution
Display size
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Display size
Facial recognition login
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Facial recognition login
Fingerprint sensor
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Fingerprint sensor
Keyboard accessory
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Keyboard accessory
MicroSD
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MicroSD
Mouse support
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Mouse support
Starting price
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Starting price
RAM
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RAM
Release
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Release
Software
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Software
Split-screen multitasking
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Split-screen multitasking
Storage
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Storage
Stylus
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Stylus
Trackpad
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Trackpad
USB 3.0 port
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USB 3.0 port
Video out port
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Video out port
Weight
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Weight
Build
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Build
Color options
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Color options
Kickstand
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Kickstand
Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (left) and Apple iPad Pro
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Gizmag compares the features and specs of the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (left) and Apple iPad Pro

Apple's iPad Pro is the company's most direct answer to the Microsoft Surface. Let's see how Apple's first 2-in-1 compares to the Surface Pro 4.

Size

Dimensions
Dimensions

It's a little strange that Microsoft and Apple sell their keyboards separately, as both devices make for gigantic tablets. Unless you're also using it as a laptop (or for art purposes), that size isn't going to make much sense.

The iPad Pro measures 5 percent longer and 10 percent wider than the Surface Pro 4. The iPad, though, is 18 percent thinner.

Note that the size difference looks a little bigger than it actually is in these images, since this shot has the Surface leaning back at an angle (we're only working with the official press shots that have been released).

Weight

Weight
Weight

Weights vary a bit, with the Core i5 and i7 versions of the Surface coming in heavier than the Core M version, and the cellular iPad Pro weighing a bit more than the Wi-Fi only one.

Build

Build
Build

Both machines have premium, all-metal bodies.

Built-in kickstand

Kickstand
Kickstand

Apple's first 2-in-1 doesn't have a built-in kickstand, instead relying on its separate keyboard accessory to prop up the tablet in laptop mode.

Colors

Color options
Color options

The Surface only ships in a silver color option, while Apple will sell the iPad Pro in three different hues.

Display size

Display size
Display size

The iPad Pro's screen gives you 14 percent more real estate than the Surface Pro 4's does.

Display resolution

Display resolution
Display resolution

Pixel densities are very close, and this shouldn't be a deciding factor either way.

Stylus

Split-screen multitasking
Split-screen multitasking

Each machine has its own stylus: the Surface Pen and the Apple Pencil.

Microsoft includes its Pen in the box with every Surface Pro 4 purchase, while the Apple Pencil is a separate US$99 buy.

Keyboard

Keyboard accessory
Keyboard accessory

As we mentioned, both tablets have "optional" (but likely essential) keyboard accessories that you'll need to factor into your upfront price.

The Surface keyboard starts at $130, while Apple's Smart Keyboard rings up for $169.

Keyboard trackpad

Trackpad
Trackpad

There's a big difference here, though, as the Surface's glass trackpad will make it function more like a traditional laptop when its keyboard is attached. There's no trackpad on the iPad Pro, so you may be reaching towards its screen quite a bit.

Mouse support

Mouse support
Mouse support

You can't use a mouse with the iPad Pro either. Only fingers and Pencil allowed here.

Facial recognition login

Facial recognition login
Facial recognition login

The Surface Pro 4 supports Windows 10's Hello feature, which lets you securely log into your machine using your face – no password typing required.

Fingerprint sensor

Fingerprint sensor
Fingerprint sensor

This option could be a little redundant on the Surface due to that last category, but if you prefer, Microsoft sells a ($30 more expensive) version of its keyboard with a built-in fingerprint sensor.

Like other recent iPads and iPhones, the iPad Pro has a Touch ID fingerprint sensor in its home button.

Cellular option

Cellular option
Cellular option

Apple gives you the option of buying an LTE-capable iPad Pro (128 GB only), but no such luck for the Surface.

Desktop apps

Desktop apps
Desktop apps

If you were using these devices exclusively as tablets, then this wouldn't be a huge deal, but remember that the laptop form factor evolved alongside desktop software – in many ways, the two still fit like hand in glove. Not everyone's workflow is going to make sense on an iOS-running laptop where everything it runs comes from the App Store.

In addition to years worth of Windows desktop software, the Surface gives you goodies like file system access, command level control and non-sandboxed apps – none of which is possible on the iPad Pro.

Split-screen multitasking

Split-screen multitasking
Split-screen multitasking

New to the latest iPads in iOS 9, you can run two apps side-by-side – similar to Windows' "Snap" feature that you'll find on the Surface.

Processor

Processor
Processor

The 6th-generation Core i5 and i7 Surfaces are likely to have the most raw power, but Apple's A9X system-on-a-chip (a variant of the one found in the latest iPhones) should blaze through iOS without any hitches.

There should be a big dropoff in performance from the 2nd-tier Core i5 Surface to the entry-level Core M model. Though the Core m3 Surface is lighter and fanless, we'd recommend most people pay the extra $100 to get a more powerful Core i5.

RAM

RAM
RAM

The Surface Pro 4 ships in three different RAM configurations.

That 4 GB of RAM in the iPad Pro is unconfirmed, but a since-deleted reference in an Adobe blog post appears to have unofficially spilled the beans.

Storage

Storage
Storage

Considering the iPad Pro's 96 GB leap "only" costs $150, that could make for a tempting upgrade at purchase.

Though their costs start snowballing quickly, the Surface's storage options go all the way up to 1 TB.

MicroSD

MicroSD
MicroSD

The Surface's storage advantage gets even wider when you consider that it has a microSD card slot.

Battery

Battery
Battery

Apple is estimating an extra hour of video streaming for the iPad Pro, but you'll want to take these estimates with many grains of salt. Stay tuned for battery tests in our reviews.

USB port

USB 3.0 port
USB 3.0 port

The Surface has a single USB 3.0 port, so it will work directly with most desktop PC accessories (external hard drives and the like) without the need for adapters.

Video out

Video out port
Video out port

The Surface has a Mini DisplayPort for video out. You'll need to buy a Lightning to HDMI adapter to mirror your iPad Pro's display on a bigger screen.

Though we didn't list it in this visual, Apple TV owners can also use AirPlay to wirelessly beam their screens to TV sets. Similarly, the Surfaces support Miracast streaming to an Xbox One or any TV with a Miracast receiver plugged into it.

Camera megapixels

Camera megapixels
Camera megapixels

We can't picture many people hoisting these gigantic slabs to use as cameras, but the option is there if you want it.

Software

Software
Software

The Surface Pro 4 joins the Surface Book as Microsoft's first flagships to launch during Windows 10's reign. The iPad Pro runs iOS 9.

Release

Release
Release

The Surface Pro 4 officially launches on October 26. All we know about the iPad Pro's release date is "November" (Apple hasn't announced any pre-order info yet).

Starting price

Starting price
Starting price

Pricing isn't as cut-and-dry as it is with some devices, as you have to factor add-on accessories into the mix. The Surface includes the Surface Pen in the box with the tablet, while its (essential) keyboard costs an extra $130 (add another $30 to that if you want the fingerprint sensor version).

The iPad Pro's $799 starting price only gets you the gigantic tablet itself. Its (likely essential as well) keyboard costs an extra $169, while the (probably not quite as essential) Apple Pencil tags another $99 onto that.

Just remember that the entry-level Surface gives you the same amount of internal storage (plus microSD slot) as the top-level iPad Pro. While the iPad Pro will be the most work-friendly iPad yet, the Surface's (if nothing else) extra storage, trackpad and ports will make it behave much more like a traditional laptop.

Experience, though, always has the potential to tell a different story from specs and features. Stay tuned for Gizmag's full reviews of the Surface Pro 4 and iPad Pro.

13 comments
A-thought
One of the better comparison reviews I've seen, FINALLY highlighting important differences in these "pro" labeled devices like desktop apps and trackpad. Two other things that should've been pointed out though: - Under "Split-screen multitasking", the surface can split screen up to 4 apps or put many more in cascaded Windows. IPad pro can ONLY do two at once, no more. - the surface pen has a working eraser and a 1-year battery life; the apple pencil has no eraser and only a 12-hour charge. All in all, pretty embarassing for the iPad Pro. Can't understand why anyone would buy this "Pro" device. But I think they'll sell, because people buy what most other people buy, and ultimately they all buy the hype.
A-thought
Also one other huge difference - the surface pro can extend it's display onto a second (and third) screen, whereas the iPad Pro can only duplicate its screen onto a second display.
RichDavis
I just went to Microsoft's website and when I looked at what they have available, they only show i5 and i7 versions. They start at $999, not $899. Also, can the i5 version that's priced similar to the iPad Pro do 4K video editing as well? I believe that the power of the A9X is more comparable to the i7, which is considerably more expensive. As far as how many apps one is going to use in a 13inch screen, MOST people use one or two apps on the screen at the same time, not much room to be usable with more applications than that. Being able to run more than 2 apps on the screen at the same time is done so rarely on a 13 inch screen, it's hardly worth even mentioning. That to me is hyping Windows with something that's simply not done that often, if at all. No hands on comparison between the stylus, so which one performs better? Just because something has a full blown OS doesn't mean it's better, most people just simply want to use an app and not have to play around with a file system, because there is not much need for it anymore due to Cloud computing. People can still run powerful enough applications on an iPad and if they want to run a more powerful application, they'll be using a REAL workstation class computer. The Surface Pros are more like notebook, they aren't even classified as Ultra Books or even a full fledged Laptop. I don't think IBM and other major corporations are buying into the hype, they are buying iPad because they are easier to deploy, support and they do what the users want/need without overcomplicating the product with a bloated OS that's just not as easy to use. Ever look at IBM's latest comparison on what they have with IT Support? Only 5% of the Apple users at IBM need IT support, whereas 40% of the Windows users need IT support. IBM has 130,000 Apple devices and they only need 24 people to support them. That can't be done with Windows, it's a much more support oriented product.
zr2s10
RichDavis - "I don't think IBM and other major corporations are buying into the hype, they are buying iPad because they are easier to deploy, support and they do what the users want/need without overcomplicating the product with a bloated OS that's just not as easy to use. Ever look at IBM's latest comparison on what they have with IT Support? Only 5% of the Apple users at IBM need IT support, whereas 40% of the Windows users need IT support. IBM has 130,000 Apple devices and they only need 24 people to support them. That can't be done with Windows, it's a much more support oriented product." Me- Where are you getting these stats from? And you have to look at usage of the product. I highly doubt employees use their iPads to do any real work. Even is they're using macs, I've never seen anyone doing drafting, etc on Apple products. And any coding guys I know mainly use Windows desktops, with some Linux thrown in for good measure, lol. When I went to AT&T for my latest phone, the reps all carried around 2 iPads. They carried 2, because they switched back and forth when one would freeze up. Not exactly confidence inspiring... Now as for Surface Pro 4 vs iPad Pro, I would definitely go with the Surface (I'm sure you already guessed that). It's a true PC substitute. I'm hoping I can talk my company into one (or the Surface book) for my next PC. I doubt iPad Pro can handle Inventor Pro.
minivini
I don't really understand comparisons between iOS devices and full blown systems from MS and Apple. iOS is awesome at what it does best - presenting a "computer lite" experience. It compels companies to create software that can exploit its strengths while having to mitigate the weaknesses. I use iOS devices (6 Plus and iPad mini), and enjoy them thoroughly. I also use a Surface Pro. The devices just don't compare well in terms of versatility. I'd even go so far as to say that my Surface was a far superior tool even in the college learning environment. Everything from note taking to doing assignments to logging in to complete assignments was far easier and less restrictive in the full blown operating system than on the limited iOS. That said, when companies to step up and really do the work to fit into iOS, the results can be pretty amazing. Adobe is still evolving their PS suite for use in iOS, but five minutes in PS Fix will show anyone just how much can be done on the platform. What is happening, though, is a virtual pile of specific process apps that do the work of a single piece of computer software. I currently have PS Sketch, Fix, Mix, Lightroom, Express, Touch, beHance, Revel, and Creative Cloud on my phone and iPad. There is some overlap in these apps, but I can do more than all those combined with PSCC and LRCC on my Surface Pro. This is a good example of different horses for different courses. I imagine I'll always have a need for both types of devices, though I can't see ever needing the "Pro" version of an iPad. That's just me, though.
Lbrewer42
Easy decision. I have wasted way to much money and more than way too much time with Microsoft software incompetence in the past. Apple is too expensive - always - upfront that is. They last longer, are more useful longer, and the time/effort/frustration I have saved these last ten years of only using Microsoft when I absolutely have to - thankfully less and less as time goes on - pays me back for the money spent on the initial outlay. And... I am presently using a 10 year old Mac that is STILL capable of the latest upgrades and is still powerful enough to be used as my primary machine. In 10 years I would spend double upgrading Windows platform machines when comparing to the initial outlay of my Mac. Let's see - easier to use, more reliable, much less frustrating, and overall I do save money. Nah - let's dump the common sense and go back to Micro(brain)soft. I have always tried to keep an open mind and hope Microsoft will produce something worthy of being called anything other than a frustration system. And I will continue to do so. Been doing it since before Windows 95 - nothing yet. And, BTW - Apple is far from perfect also. They are just the light-years-ahead option between the two, Unfortunately their software is becoming more and more Micro(brain)soft-like since Jobs is not there to correct them anymore.
Greg Elmassian
Comparing a high powered general purpose computer (surface) to an overgrown cell phone (iPad) is just plain stupid. They do not service the same application space, perform the same tasks, etc. The only way you can compare these if you live your life with only a browser and angry bird type games. If you only need this, then why not a quad core atom-based tablet for half the price of the iPad? Apples and oranges. I work for a living and I use more than a browser, no overgrown cell phone for me thanks.
Chan Boriratrit
I think iPad Pro will be a huge success just because it will be the first ever biggest screen tablet that run on App Store and everyone knows that App Store is just so much bigger, better, and have more variety than Google Play.
JerryRioux
RichDavis "I believe that the power of the A9X is more comparable to the i7..." Yes, Rich, and 1 in 4 Americans believe that the sun revolves around the earth. Believing doesn't make some things true. Wait until the benchmarks come out for the iPad Pro and tell us whether you still believe that the A9X is as powerful as the i7 in the Surface Pro 4. Here are some benchmark comparisons between the lowly i5 Surface Pro 4 and iPad Air 2 from Anandtech. (Yes, the iPad Pro will do better than the Air 2.) WebXPRT 2015: SP4 - 326; Air2 - 164 (higher is better) Google Octane V2: SP4 - 30,064; Air2 - 10,457 (higher is better) Kraken 1.1: SP4 - 1,178.9; Air2 - 2,367.0 (lower is better) Plus, the average GeekBench scores for the iPad Air 2 are 1809 and 4528 (Single and Multi-Core, respectively). For comparison, the current Geekbench scores for the i5 Surface Pro 4 range from 2975 to 3211 (single core) and 6264 to 6759 (multi-core).
shaahp2
Was waiting for iPad Pro to be released and later decide if I should buy iPad Pro or Surface Pro 4, looked at multiple reviews, most favoring Surface Pro 4. Below review was a decent comparison between the two. Surface Pro 4 has desktop-class processors ranging up to the Core i7 vs. the iPad Pro’s mobile ARM processor RAM up to 16GB vs. the iPad Pro’s 4GB maximum Storage up to 1TB vs. the iPad Pro’s 128GB maximum USB port for easily connecting a broad array of industry-standard devices Dedicated docking solutions that dramatically expand peripheral support Multi-monitor support up to two external monitors (a total of three independent workspaces) Built-in microSD card support with support for external application installation Complete support for all third-party input devices, including keyboards, mice, trackpads, joysticks, etc. My decision was just made easier, thank you for all the informative reviews.