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New iPad Pro vs. Surface Pro 6: Which Should You Buy?

Apple's new iPad Pros feature slimmer bodies, a faster processor and a GPU that can compete with consoles, making them a worthy opponent to the Microsoft Surface Pro 6. Now that we’ve gotten our hands on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, we're eager to see how Apple's claims fare against our favorite detachable 2-in-1.

Here's how these premium speed demons stack up.

Surface Pro 6 vs. iPad Pro 2018: Specs Compared

Microsoft Surface Pro 6Apple iPad Pro (11-Inch)Apple iPad Pro (12.9-Inch)
Price$899$799$999
Display12.3 inches (2736 x 1824)11 inches (2388 x 1668)12.9 inches (2732 x 2048)
CPU8th Gen Core i5, Quad-Core i7A12X Bionic (8-Core)A12X Bionic (8-Core)
RAMUp to 16GBN/AN/A
GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics 620 (i5), Intel UHD Graphics 620 (i7)A12X Bionic (7-Core)A12X Bionic (7-Core)
SSDUp to 1TB SSDUp to 1TB FlashUp to 1TB Flash
PortsOne USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, 3.5mm audio jack, Surface Connect, microSD card slotOne USB Type-C, Nano SIM slotOne USB Type-C, Nano SIM slot
ColorsMatte Black, PlatinumSilver, Space GraySilver, Space Gray
Size11.5 x 7.9 x 0.33 inches9.74 x 7.02 x 0.23 inches11.04 x 8.46 x 0.23 inches
Weight1.7 pounds1.03 pounds1.39 pounds

Design

Each tablet is fashioned with stunning aluminum built around a slim body that comes in a couple of colors.

The Surface Pro 6 offers its usual Platinum design as well as a revival of the slick black-matte finish from the original Surface. The new iPad Pros come in the tablet's standard Silver and Space Gray options.

We’re impressed by how Apple nearly made the iPad Pro all screen by tossing the home button, flattening the sides and curving those slim corners. While the Surface Pro 6 can learn a thing or two from the iPad's slim bezels, the metal kickstand and matte finish on the back is quite neat.

The Surface Pro 6's Type Cover keyboard is covered in a stunning Alcantara fabric that looks as good as it feels and comes in Black, Platinum, Burgundy and Cobalt Blue. The iPad Pro's Smart Keyboard Folio is more compact (there's no touchpad) and only comes in a rubbery, Charcoal Gray color.

While the Surface Pro 6 is relatively close in size to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, the 11-inch iPad Pro is much smaller. The Surface Pro 6 measures at 1.7 pounds and 11.5 x 7.9 x 0.3 inches, which is thicker and heavier than the 11-inch iPad Pro (1.03 pounds, 9.74 x 7.02 x 0.2 inches) and 12.9-inch iPad Pro (1.39 pounds, 11.04 x 8.46 x 0.2 inches). Despite the 12.9-inch iPad Pro having a larger display, its still thinner and lighter than the Surface Pro 6.

The iPad Pro is sleek as a tablet, but not so much with the keyboard. Meanwhile, the Surface Pro 6 is the opposite, but it still manages to look and feel good in both categories.

Winner: Surface Pro 6

Ports

The iPad Pros are stripped from their headphone jacks and left with just one USB Type-C port and a Nano SIM card slot.

Meanwhile, the Surface Pro 6 has more ports, but lacks USB Type-C. It has connections for one USB 3.0 port, a Mini DisplayPort, a 3.5mm audio jack, a Surface Connect port and a microSD card slot.

Winner: Surface Pro 6

Display

The Surface Pro 6's 12.3-inch display lands in between the iPad Pro's 11-inch and 12.9-inch panel, so you have an alternative if the new iPad Pros are too big or small for your liking. However, the iPad Pro's bezels are much thinner than those of the Surface Pro 6.

While the Surface Pro 6 technically has a lower resolution (2736 x 1824), the 12.9-inch iPad Pro's 2732 x 2048 panel is only slightly ahead due to its wider frame. The 11-inch iPad Pro does have a lower resolution, at 2388 x 1668, but both the iPad Pros have smooth 120Hz panels compared to the Surface Pro 6's 60Hz.

On our tests, the Surface Pro 6 covered 136 percent of the sRGB color gamut, while the 12.9-inch iPad Pro reproduced 128 percent. We haven’t tested the 11-inch yet, but the previous 10.5-inch hit 122 percent.

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro crushed the Surface Pro 6 in terms of brightness, with the iPad averaging 484 nits and the Surface achieving 408 nits. Despite that, the iPad didn’t meet Apple’s claim of 600 nits of brightness. The previous 10.5-inch did come close to that, at 555 nits.

Compared to the Surface Pro 6, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro is brighter, has thinner bezels and has a silky smooth 120Hz panel, which is well worth a couple points of color.

Winner: iPad Pro

Keyboard and Pen

The Surface Pro's Type Cover ($129) offers 1.3 mm key travel, which we found to be incredibly comfortable to type on, especially due to the soft-touch Alcantara fabric.

Meanwhile, Apple's latest Smart Keyboard Folio ($199) has a measly 0.7 mm of key travel, and it’s pretty inconvenient that it doesn’t have a touchpad. And no touchpad means no palm rest, which makes it even more uncomfortable. We also thought that the integration between the OS and keyboard could be better by letting you automatically search for apps by typing from the home-screen.

The Surface Pen ($99) offers 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity along with tilt functionality for shading and comes in Black, Platinum, Burgundy and Cobalt Blue, similar to the keyboard. It has three customizable buttons, including an eraser button. The Surface Pen is incredibly useful when annotating in apps like Microsoft Edge or Word.

In contrast, the Apple Pencil 2nd Generation ($129) only comes in white. Apple's pen can attach magnetically to the iPad Pro, similar to the Surface Pen, but can also wirelessly charge at the same time, whereas the Surface Pen requires you to replace the battery.

The Apple Pencil is certainly an improvement from its previous generation due to its flat edge design. There are simple shortcuts you can use like double tap and quick tap, which can pull up the eraser or take you straight to the Notes app even if the screen is off. The only downside is that this model is not backwards compatible with previous iPad Pros.

Overall, the Surface Pro 6 has a better keyboard, but the iPad Pro has a more convenient Pen.

Winner: Draw

Performance

While we didn’t get to test the 11-inch iPad Pro, the 12.9-inch’s A12X Bionic CPU is a straight-up laptop killer, blowing the Surface Pro 6’s Intel Core i5-8250U processor out of orbit.

On the Geekbench 4.1 overall performance test, the iPad Pro scored a phenomenal 17,995, blazing past the Surface Pro 6’s 13,761.

The iPad Pro is also a speedy video and photo editor as well. It took 7 minutes and 47 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p using Adobe Rush, which is a far cry from the 31:54 that the Surface Pro 6 took.

The gap was tightened when the machines converted 50 RAW photos to JPG in Adobe Lightroom. The iPad Pro completed the task in 59 seconds, whereas the Surface Pro 6 finished in 1:35.

Winner: iPad Pro

Battery Life

We were thoroughly impressed with the 12.9-inch iPad Pro’s new battery life, as it lasted 13 hours and 14 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test (continuously surfing the web over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness). That's nearly 4 hours better than the Surface Pro 6’s 9:20 runtime. Last year’s 10.5-inch model also beat the Surface, at 10:04.

Winner: iPad Pro

Value

The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $799 and comes with a A12X Bionic CPU/GPU and 64GB of flash storage, and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at $999 with the same specs. The Surface Pro 6's starting price, at $899, lands in the middle of the iPad Pros and comes with an 8th Gen Core i5, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, which is double the iPad Pro's starting storage at a faster speed.

The maxed out versions of the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro (1TB of storage and Cellular) cost $1,699 and $1,899, respectively, while the Surface Pro 6's souped up configuration runs for $2,299 and upgrades you to a Core i7, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. The Surface Pro 6 may be $600 more when maxed out, but that's mostly due to the 1TB SSD.

Those prices don't include each device's essential accessories, though the Surface offers a better deal in that regard. The cheapest Surface Pro Type Cover costs $129, while Apple's Smart Keyboard Folio will charge you a whopping $199 for the 12.9-inch and $179 for the 11-inch. The Apple Pencil 2nd Generation costs $129 and the Surface Pen runs for $99.

The iPad Pro charges a lot for accessories and even more for storage compared to the Surface Pro 6.

Winner: Surface Pro 6

Overall Winner

While we can’t attest to the 11-inch iPad Pro, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro completely wrecked the Surface Pro 6 in terms of raw power and battery life, which officially marks its victory over our favorite Microsoft detachable.

Microsoft Surface Pro 6Apple iPad Pro (12.9-Inch)
Design (10)98
Ports (10)63
Display (15)1013
Keyboard/Pen (10)77
Performance (20)1518
Battery Life (20)1418
Value (10)53
Overall (100)6670

The iPad Pro’s slim body has a cleaner face accompanied by a much brighter and smoother panel than the Surface Pro 6. However, the Surface Pro 6's Type Cover keyboard can be especially hard to beat due to its cheaper price as well as generous travel and intuitive touchpad. And while the iPad Pros have USB-C on their side, the Surface Pro 6 has more ports.

Overall, the iPad Pro is a powerhouse tablet that can easily replace a laptop or detachable like the Surface Pro 6.

As soon as Rami Tabari sprung out of the College of Staten Island, he hit the ground running as a Staff Writer for Laptop Mag. He reviews every shape and form of a laptop as well as all sorts of cool tech. You can find him sitting at his desk surrounded by a hoarder's dream of laptops, and when he navigates his way out to civilization, you can catch him watching really bad anime or playing some kind of painfully difficult game. He’s the best at every game and he just doesn’t lose. That’s why you’ll occasionally catch his byline in Tom’s Guide, taking on the latest Souls-like challenge.