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Surface Pro vs iPad Pro 12.9 Best 2-in-1 Tablet PC in 2018

Microsoft may have failed at the mobile game, but the company’s enterprise-oriented products are as strong as ever, and the Surface Pro tablet is among them. In this comparison, we pit the Surface Pro against the 12.9-inch iPad Pro to see which of these two large convertible tablet PCs is more versatile and better performing overall.

Product Brand Name Price
MicrosoftMicrosoft Surface ProBuy on Amazon|$884.49(Price as of 12/14/2018 13:59 ET)
MicrosoftMicrosoft FMM-00001 Type Cover for Surface Pro - BlackBuy on Amazon|$49.99(Price as of 12/14/2018 15:00 ET)
AppleApple iPad Pro (128 GB, Wi-Fi, Gold) - 12" DisplayBuy on Amazon|$1050(Price as of 12/14/2018 13:59 ET)
MicrosoftMicrosoft Surface DockBuy on Amazon|$125.99(Price as of 12/14/2018 15:00 ET)
AppleApple Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro 12.9Buy on Amazon|$72.95(Price as of 12/14/2018 15:00 ET)
MicrosoftMicrosoft Surface PenBuy on Amazon|$55(Price as of 12/14/2018 15:00 ET)
JETechJETech Bluetooth Keyboard Case for Apple iPad ProBuy on Amazon|$20.99(Price as of 12/14/2018 15:00 ET)
AppleApple Pencil for iPad Pro, WhiteBuy on Amazon|$94.88(Price as of 12/14/2018 15:00 ET)

* Links in this table contain affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. Thank you for your support. For more details, please visit our Privacy policy page.

Design and Build

A laptop may be ugly and clunky, but as long as it performs well, comes with a great display, and has comfortable input devices the less than perfect build quality isn’t too hard to overlook—unless you want your electronic devices to be representative. The situation is different with tablets. Because they are more tactile, typically held in hands and controlled with the finger, things like design, build quality, and comfort matter a lot.

Having a slightly larger display (12.9 inches versus 12.3 inches), the iPad Pro is also larger overall than the Surface Pro. It weighs either 677 grams or 692 grams, depending on whether you choose the Wi-Fi only version or the LTE version. The Surface Pro is heavier, starting at 768 grams for the version with Intel’s m3 processor.

Both tablets have excellent displays, but the iPad Pro has the upper hand because it supports ProMotion technology, which automatically adjusts the display to the movement of the content and allows for refresh rates of up to 120 Hz for greater responsiveness and smoother motion content. Thanks to this technology, UI animations are butter smooth and games are as fluid as they are on high-end gaming PCs.

The iPad Pro also comes with a superior audio setup. It has one speaker in each corner, and the four speakers together produce clearer and louder sound than many laptop speakers do. The Surface Pro has only two speakers, but they also sound better than many laptop speakers—just not as good as the iPad Pro.

Performance and Price

The Surface Pro is available with three different processors (Intel 7th Gen Core m3, i5, or i7) and with up to 16 GB of RAM. The iPad Pro always comes with the Apple A10X Fusion chipset and 4 GB of RAM. A low-powered Surface Pro with an Intel m3 processor and 128 GB of storage space costs roughly the same as the basic iPad Pro with 64 GB of storage space.

On the other side of the performance spectrum, the top-end Surface Pro (an Intel i7 processor, 16 GB of RAM and 516 GB of storage space) costs almost $1,000 more than the iPad Pro with the same amount of storage space.

As you can see, the low-end models are comparable in both their price and performance. But the situation is radically different when you decide to spend more money. The Surface Pro with an Intel i7 processor and 16 GB of RAM has the performance of a full-fledged laptop, which it essentially is.

This performance is noticeable even when doing OS-agnostic tasks, such as browsing the web, but it becomes apparent the most when you start using more demanding applications, which brings us to the next chapter of this comparison.

Operating System and Apps

The iPad Pro may have a slightly larger display than the Surface Pro, but it still runs essentially the same operating system as iPhones do, iOS. On the other hand, the Surface Pro runs Windows 10 Pro, making it possible to use software such as Photoshop, Microsoft Office, Google Chrome, VLC, or Steam.

In addition to traditional desktop applications, the Surface Pro can also run applications built on the Universal Windows Platform (UWP), which can be found in the Windows Store and are the closest equivalent the Surface Pro has to iOS apps. Last year, the number of UWP applications has reached 600,000, whereas the number of iOS apps has exceeded 2.2 million.

For people who want a tablet mostly for content consumption, the iPad Pro seems like a better choice as it offers a large number of curated apps, most of which are polished to the highest degree and meticulously optimized for touch. Editing the occasional Word document or Excel spreadsheet is still entirely possible on the iPad Pro, and the same can be said about photo and video editing, music production, and many other tasks.

But if you depend on desktop applications, the Surface Pro allows you to be productive everywhere without hauling a heavy laptop or sitting behind a desktop computer.

Input Devices and Connectivity

As is so typical for Apple, the iPad Pro has just one Lighting port, so you should be prepared to buy and carry all sorts of adapters if you want to connect to an external display, wired internet, or add an SD card reader. The Surface Pro has far better connectivity options, offering a Mini DisplayPort for an external monitor and a full-size USB 3.0 port for traditional input devices, printers, memory card readers, flash drives, or just about anything else.

You can also easily hook up the Surface Pro to the Surface Dock and instantly add two additional Mini DisplayPorts, one Gigabit Ethernet Port, four USB 3.0 ports, and one audio out port.

Neither of the two convertible tablets comes with a keyboard, but both Microsoft and Apple offer one. Microsoft’s Type Cover is available in several different colors and costs around $100. Apple’s Smart Keyboard is slightly more expensive even though it doesn’t feature backlighting and has very low key travel. Fortunately, alternatives to the Apple’s keyboard cover do exist, including this excellent $50 keyboard case from JETech.

For people who do a lot of drawing or hand-writing, Microsoft and Apple also sell styluses: the Apple Pencil and the Microsoft Surface Pen, both costing around $100.

Verdict

The result of this comparison is clear: both the Surface Pro and the iPad Pro are excellent 2-in-1 tablet PCs, but each is suitable for a different type of user. The Surface Pro has an enterprise heritage and offers excellent performance and the ability to run desktop applications for Windows. The iPad Pro is perfect for creative people who want to take advantage of its large screen and the optional Apple Pencil, and it also works greate as an entertainment device for casual users.

Product Brand Name Price
MicrosoftMicrosoft Surface ProBuy on Amazon|$884.49(Price as of 12/14/2018 13:59 ET)
MicrosoftMicrosoft FMM-00001 Type Cover for Surface Pro - BlackBuy on Amazon|$49.99(Price as of 12/14/2018 15:00 ET)
AppleApple iPad Pro (128 GB, Wi-Fi, Gold) - 12" DisplayBuy on Amazon|$1050(Price as of 12/14/2018 13:59 ET)
MicrosoftMicrosoft Surface DockBuy on Amazon|$125.99(Price as of 12/14/2018 15:00 ET)
AppleApple Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro 12.9Buy on Amazon|$72.95(Price as of 12/14/2018 15:00 ET)
MicrosoftMicrosoft Surface PenBuy on Amazon|$55(Price as of 12/14/2018 15:00 ET)
JETechJETech Bluetooth Keyboard Case for Apple iPad ProBuy on Amazon|$20.99(Price as of 12/14/2018 15:00 ET)
AppleApple Pencil for iPad Pro, WhiteBuy on Amazon|$94.88(Price as of 12/14/2018 15:00 ET)

* Links in this table contain affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. Thank you for your support. For more details, please visit our Privacy policy page.

One Comment

  1. I hate it when people always think that Apple products are for creatives. The only reason the Mac because associated with creative types was in 1984, the Mac introduced true type fonts and desktop publishing to the masses. Now, there is nothing a Mac can do that cannot be done on Windows. In fact, Adobe products are optimized for Windows and run better.

    So, why is the iPad Pro perfect for creative people? The Surface Pro can fun full creative apps, which the iPad Pro cannot. The Surface Pro Pen is better in my opinion that the Apple Pencil. If a creative is buying the iPad Pro, they should have their brains checked. Other than sketching, I would go insane having to do anything like photoshop on this device.

    Actually, the iPad Pro is great for business in that it runs near flawless and it take a second for it to turn on. The iPad Pro is excellent for field worker giving them a stable platform with a long battery life. It is great for video conferencing, note taking, Office 365, etc.

    In short, the iPad Pro is a better business device than it is a creative device.

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