Laptops

Microsoft Surface Book vs. iPad Pro

Microsoft Surface Book vs. iPa...
Desktop and mobile worlds are colliding, as Gizmag compares the Surface Book to the iPad Pro
Desktop and mobile worlds are colliding, as Gizmag compares the Surface Book to the iPad Pro
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Battery
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Battery
Build
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Build
Camera megapixels
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Camera megapixels
Color options
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Color options
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
Graphics
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Graphics
Desktop and mobile worlds are colliding, as Gizmag compares the Surface Book to the iPad Pro
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Desktop and mobile worlds are colliding, as Gizmag compares the Surface Book to the iPad Pro
Cellular (LTE) option
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Cellular (LTE) option
Stylus (Surface Pen or Apple Pencil) input
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Stylus (Surface Pen or Apple Pencil) input
Starting price
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Starting price
Primary mode
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Primary mode
RAM
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RAM
Release
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Release
SD card slot
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SD card slot
Software
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Software
Split-screen multitasking
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Split-screen multitasking
Storage
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Storage
Trackpad
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Trackpad
USB ports
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USB ports
Video out
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Video out
Weight
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Weight
View gallery - 27 images

The iPad Pro isn't quite a laptop and the Surface Book isn't quite a tablet, but there's still enough overlap there to make the two potential rivals. Let's compare Microsoft's and Apple's latest.

Primary mode

Primary mode
Primary mode

The Surface Book is a laptop with a slide-off screen that you can use in short bursts as a huge tablet (or "Clipboard").

The iPad Pro is a huge tablet that you can attach a keyboard accessory (sold separately) to, in order to turn it into a faux laptop.

Size

Dimensions
Dimensions

Sizes are pretty close, with the Surface Book measuring 5 percent taller and 2 percent wider.

The Surface Book is much thicker, but keep in mind that this measurement includes its screen folded over on top of its keyboard. The iPad's thickness is for the tablet only.

In Clipboard mode (screen only), we measured our Surface Book review unit at 7.14 mm thick – or just 3 percent thicker than the iPad Pro.

Weight

Weight
Weight

In tablet mode, weights are very close, but the Surface Book adds much more heft once you dock it onto its keyboard base.

Build

Build
Build

Both machines have premium, all-metal bodies.

Trackpad

Trackpad
Trackpad

The iPad Pro should make for a better faux laptop than any previous iPad, but it still earns the "faux" moniker, as its keyboard doesn't have a trackpad. For that matter, iOS doesn't even support mouse input of any kind.

Stylus

Stylus (Surface Pen or Apple Pencil) input
Stylus (Surface Pen or Apple Pencil) input

The Surface Book includes Microsoft's latest version of the Surface Pen, while Apple will sell its "Pencil" separately.

Colors

Color options
Color options

The Surface Book is only sold in one silver color option, while Apple has three iPad Pro colors up for grabs.

Display size

Display size
Display size

The Surface Book's screen is 5 percent bigger than the iPad Pro's. Both are much bigger than more traditional tablets in the 10-inch range, like the iPad Air 2.

Display resolution

Display resolution
Display resolution

Resolutions are similar, and dense enough that both devices will still look sharp even in tablet mode (where they'll sit closer to your eyes).

Desktop apps

Desktop apps
Desktop apps

The App Store has come a long way in terms of productivity apps, but if you want the iPad Pro to replace your laptop, keep in mind that you'll be more limited than on a machine that runs full desktop software.

That means all iPad Pro apps are sandboxed and come from the App store, there's no direct access to the file system and you can't make any command-level tweaks. It's app-centric and cloud-centric: the world Apple has devoted the last decade to pushing us into (with considerable success).

Split-screen multitasking

Split-screen multitasking
Split-screen multitasking

Starting in iOS 9, Apple's mobile OS joins Windows in supporting two apps running side-by-side.

Facial recognition login

Facial recognition login
Facial recognition login

Microsoft's new Surfaces have Windows Hello-friendly cameras that let you securely log into your machine just by sitting down in front of it. It's super-fast, and the easiest password replacement yet.

Fingerprint sensor

Fingerprint sensor
Fingerprint sensor

That last category voids the need for a fingerprint sensor on the Surface, but Apple's Touch ID gives you a similar quick login option on the iPad Pro.

Touch ID also has the added bonus of working with some third-party apps and extensions, like password managers and note-taking apps.

Processor

Processor
Processor

We haven't yet seen any benchmarks for the iPad Pro's A9X, but the standard A9 chip that it's a variant of (found in the iPhones 6s and 6s Plus) scores about 20 percent slower (single core) or 33 percent slower (multi core) in Geekbench 3 compared to the entry-level Core i5 Surface Book.

RAM

RAM
RAM

Apple hasn't officially announced this, but signs are pointing to 4 GB of RAM for the iPad Pro.

Graphics

Graphics
Graphics

The iPad's GPU is part of its A9X system on a chip, while the Surface Book gives you integrated Intel graphics in all models, with the bonus of a discrete Nvidia graphics card (stashed away in the keyboard) in some of the more expensive models.

Battery

Battery
Battery

The Surface Book has two batteries. Since only the smaller one lives inside its screen, its tablet mode is only good for an hour or two of standalone uptime per charge (at least if you have the brightness cranked up).

This is the single biggest reason that tablet mode is more of a secondary way of using the Surface Book.

USB ports

USB ports
USB ports

The Surface Book has two USB 3.0 ports.

Storage

Storage
Storage

In terms of internal storage, the entry-level Surface Book matches the max-level iPad Pro at 128 GB.

SD card

SD card slot
SD card slot

The Surface Book also has an SD card slot.

Video out

Video out
Video out

The Surface Book's Mini DisplayPort can mirror the laptop's display on a TV or external monitor. You can achieve a similar setup with the iPad Pro's Lightning port, but you'll need an adapter.

Cellular option

Cellular (LTE) option
Cellular (LTE) option

There's no cellular Surface Book, but you can buy the 128 GB iPad Pro in an LTE variant.

Camera megapixels

Camera megapixels
Camera megapixels

We don't see many people using either device for much photography, but they do both have 8 MP shooters on the rear.

Software

Software
Software

It's Windows 10 Pro vs. iOS 9, which – it's worth repeating – means desktop and mobile apps on the Surface but only mobile apps on the iPad.

Release

Release
Release

The new Surfaces launched in October (though the Surface Book has been back-ordered since launch), while the iPad Pro should be launching soon.

Starting price

Starting price
Starting price

Even after adding Apple's keyboard and Pencil accessories, the Surface Book starts at US$432 more expensive.

Keep in mind, though, that the entry-level iPad Pro only gives you 32 GB storage with no way to expand that after the fact. For the 128 GB iPad Pro, the one that's equivalent to the entry-level Surface, the iPad Pro (with accessories) gets a little closer, at $282 cheaper.

We'll have more on the iPad Pro soon. You can read Gizmag's Surface Book review right now.

View gallery - 27 images
4 comments
Teral
Surface Book is a laptop, Ipad pro is a tablet, period.
Is like compare a Ford F150 against a Toyota Prius, is completely S T U P I D, should have some sense if where against the Surface pro 4.
JonathanLui
Why do people even compare them
WilliamClyde
Microsoft lost the mobile space period. They don't have any way to compete with Apple and Google. Microsoft is trying to use Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 to get some traction, but here is the problem. When you have a device that can run run both desktop apps and touch apps developers are only going to write the desktop version of the app. Why go through the extra effort of making a touch app when you know that users are always going to have access to a keyboard and stylus (or track pad)? Apple was able to completely eliminate the stylus on the iPhone and then when the time was right and there were a sufficient number of apps in the app store, they released a really big iPhone (iPodTouch actually) and called it the iPad. Developers were then able to scale up the iPhone apps into something that could capitalize on the extra screen real estate. As a result the app store filled up with iPad apps that were able to have more functionality than the iPhone apps. What Microsoft is trying to do is have developers take their desktop apps and strip them down to less useful mobile apps. Microsoft should just pack it in and go home.
OsanaLowell
This is an iPad Plus. Period.