Surface Pro 4 vs. iPad Pro: Which Tablet Wins?

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nb 2 top chart pro vs pro march16

Apple's iPad Pro and Microsoft's Surface Pro 4 are two of the most powerful tablets yet, but they're not designed for the same type of shopper. Aimed at creative types and those who like to play as much as they work, the 9.7-inch iPad Pro (starting at $599) and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (starting at $799) each pack a speedy A9X processor and four speakers, and work with an optional Apple Pencil and keyboard cover.

The Surface Pro 4 (starting at $899) is a laptop replacement that uses a 6th-generation Core processor to run full Windows 10. It also includes both a built-in kickstand and a stylus (the Surface Pen), and its optional keyboard is excellent. After 10 rounds of battle between these tablets from Apple and Microsoft, the iPad Pro emerged as the winner, but the best choice for you really comes down to your needs.


The aluminum 12.9-inch iPad Pro is almost ridiculously large, sporting a ginormous 12.9-inch display. Made of sturdy magnesium, the 12.3-inch Surface Pro 4 is big, too, but it's more manageable because of its more compact footprint. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro is the most lightweight of the bunch, making it easy to bring to meetings or class.

Measuring 0.24 inches thick for the 9.7-inch version and 0.27 inches thick for the 12.9-inch model, the iPad Pro is thinner and lighter than the Surface Pro 4, but the 0.33-inch-thick Surface benefits from a built-in kickstand. With the iPad, you need to attach a cover to prop it up. In addition, only the Surface sports a full-size USB port, a mini DisplayPort and a microSD card slot.

ipad pro vs ipad pro angle 2783731459374814
When you add the Type Cover, the Surface Pro 4's weight grows from 1.7 pounds to 2.4 pounds. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at a lighter 1.6 pounds and goes to 2.3 pounds when you add the Smart Keyboard. The 9.7-inch version of the iPad Pro weighs just 0.96 pounds by itself and just 1.5 pounds with the keyboard.

Winner: Surface Pro 4. While the iPad Pro is thinner and lighter — with and without the keyboard — the Surface's extra ports and built-in kickstand give it the edge.


The original iPad Pro has a larger, 12.9-inch canvas, compared to the 12.3-inch panel on the Surface. However, the Surface's display packs more pixels per inch than the iPad's (267 dpi versus 264 dpi) and is brighter than Apple's slate (382 nits versus 372 nits).

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro's screen sports a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels, giving it the same dpi as the bigger iPad Pro. It has the brightest display of the three devices, notching 423.8 nits.

Producing 121.9 percent and 111 percent of the sRGB color spectrum, respectively, the screens on the 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pros cover more colors than the Surface Pro 4 (99.7 percent). The larger iPad Pro produce slightly more accurate hues, as it notched a Delta-E rating of 0.19, compared with 0.35 for the Surface (lower is better). Both were very close to a perfect 0, but the 9.7-inch iPad Pro scored a 1.

MORE: Best 2-in-1s (Laptop/Tablet Hybrids)

When we put the two larger tablets side by side when showing the Suicide Squad trailer, the Joker's face looked a little warmer on the Surface Pro, and the "J" tattoo underneath his left eye looked a bit more detailed. Our staff was split when I loaded a 4K photo of Dubai on both slates. Some preferred the bigger iPad Pro for its brighter picture and better contrast, and some preferred the more saturated hues on the Surface.

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro has a distinct advantage over the larger iPad Pro and the Surface Pro 4: its True Tone display, which actively measures the brightness and light temperature in the room to adjust colors on the fly.

Winner: iPad Pro (9.7-inch). It has the brightest and most colorful screen of these three tablets.


It's hard for two speakers to beat four speakers on a tablet. The larger iPad Pro's quad-speaker setup produces loud and surprisingly balanced audio, whether you're streaming Pandora or immersing yourself in a flick. The two top speakers on the iPad Pro handle the mid and high frequencies, and all four deliver bass. When you flip the tablet around, the two speakers now on top handle the mids and highs. Clever.


While not as powerful, the four speakers on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro impressed us in our testing, filling a small living room with sound; we heard driving guitars but not the best bass.

Powered by Dolby Audio, the two front-facing speakers on the Surface Pro provide a pretty good sonic punch. We heard almost no distortion during our testing, but the bass was lacking compared to on the iPad Pro, and the Surface didn't get as loud.

Winner: iPad Pro. The immersive audio experience makes this round an easy win for Apple.


The Surface Pro 4's $129 keyboard is a necessity if you want Microsoft's tablet to replace your laptop. The improved design offers a more spacious layout, and the keys have an impressive 1.4 millimeters of travel, resulting in the best typing experience yet on a Surface.

Plus, the keyboard is backlit. Just as important, the Type Cover comes with a built-in touchpad, complete with a satisfying click.


ipad pro vs ipad pro keyboard
Both the $149 and $169 Apple Smart Keyboards for the 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pros, respectively, lack a touchpad, and have smaller keys with less travel. In fact, the 9.7-inch keyboard cover is really best for short messages rather than word processing. Neither iPad keyboard is backlit, either. The best thing going for the Smart Keyboard is that its fabric design makes the layout water-resistant, so it can shrug off spills.

ipad pro vs ipad pro keyboard 12.9in
Winner: Surface Pro 4.
Microsoft's keyboard is cheaper yet more functional.


The Surface Pro 4 has one immediate advantage in this round, because Microsoft includes the Surface Pen with its product. Apple charges $99 for its Apple Pencil. The Surface Pen is also the only one of the two styluses to sport an eraser on its back. Plus, you can press the eraser button to quickly launch the OneNote app. When you're done writing or drawing, you can easily attach the Pen to the side of the Surface Pro's display. In contrast, there's nowhere to put the Apple Pencil.

The Apple Pencil's chief advantage over the Surface Pen is its lack of latency and much larger selection of apps. The Surface Pen feels fairly smooth when you're writing, thanks to its 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity. Based on both my testing and impressions by our infographics artist, the Apple Pencil has even less lag. The Pencil also has special sensors to detect not just pressure (number of levels not known) but also the angle of your hand. You can also use pen input and touch at the same time.

The iPad Pro also benefits from a much wider selection of pen-enabled apps. We counted more than 300 Apple Pencil apps in the App Store, including Paper by FiftyThree (for sketching and layouts), Adobe Comp CC (for making layouts) and Pixelmator (for making fine photo edits).

Winner: iPad Pro. Although the Surface Pro 4's included Pen has an eraser and is easy to stow, the Apple Pencil offers a more precise and natural experience, and lots more apps.


The iPad Pro's A9X processor is certainly the fastest chip ever in an Apple tablet, and in our review, it had no problem editing two streams of 4K video. The Surface Pro 4 gives shoppers a wide range of CPU options, including a 6th-generation Intel Core m3, Core i5 and Core i7. We tested the Core i5 version.

Based on our testing, the Surface Pro 4 offers faster performance. For example, in the Geekbench 3 test, which measures overall performance, the Surface notched 6,811. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro scored 5,296 on the same test, while the 9.7-inch model turned in a slightly slower 5,151.

geekbench 3 v2
On the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphics test, the iPad Pro wasn't even in the same ballpark as the Intel graphics inside the Surface Pro 4. Microsoft's slate scored 60,424 — nearly double the 12.9-inch iPad Pro's 32,920. The 9.7-inch version scored a comparably low 32,413.

3dmarkice v1
It's also worth noting that the iPad Pro starts with just 32GB of storage, versus 128GB for the Surface Pro 4. You need to spend $150 more on the iPad to get 128GB.

Surface Pro 4. Apple's A9X chip is impressive, but it doesn't match the sheer horsepower of a 6th-gen Core i5. The performance delta between the Surface's Core m3 and the A9X should be narrower, though.

Battery Life

If you're on the fence between the iPad Pro and the Surface Pro 4 and endurance is important to you, the iPad Pro is the way to go. On the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, the Surface Pro lasted 6 hours and 5 minutes. Apple's 9.7-inch tablet lasted more than 4 hours longer, at 10 hours and 53 minutes. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro turned in a similarly strong 10:04.

battery life ipad surface 4
Winner: iPad Pro. You can leave the charger at home.

MORE: 10 Tablets with the Longest Battery Life

OS and Multitasking

iOS 9 may be a mobile operating system, but it offers some welcome productivity features. Slide Over lets you open the last app you were using by sliding your finger in from the right. From there, you can enter Split View mode to use two apps side by side, although the number of apps that support this feature is limited, especially compared to Windows. (Windows 10's Snap Feature supports up to four apps at once.) Last but not least for the iPad, there's Picture in Picture for viewing videos in a small window while continuing to work in another app.

iOS 9.3 adds some welcome upgrades, including Night Shift for making the screen warmer and more paperlike for reading in the dark, Touch ID-protected Notes and a more personalized News app.

With its Live Tile interface, Windows 10 is more visually busy than iOS 9, but it's also more versatile. Just having a taskbar on the Surface Book makes it easy to switch between apps. The Start menu packs more info in a smaller area than iOS, pinning your favorite apps to it. Windows 10's Action Center puts your notifications and quick-settings options in one place, whereas iOS keeps them separate.

While iOS has Siri, Windows 10 has Cortana for answering all of your queries, finding files and more. Siri is smart, and I like the new Siri suggestions for apps, what's nearby and news, but Cortana's home screen gives you more info at a glance, and Microsoft's assistant is integrated into the Edge browser.

Winner: Surface Pro 4. Windows 10 is just more robust.

MORE: Our Favorite Tablets for Work and Play


The winner of this category really depends on what you're looking to do with your device. The iPad Pro leads the way with apps that are optimized for tablets, thanks to the App Store, which has hundreds of thousands of options. There's a dedicated section of the App Store called Amazing Apps for iPad Pro, complete with sections dedicated to things like Enhanced for Apple Pencil (such as Adobe Photoshop Sketch and GoodNotes 4).

Microsoft's Office apps are also available for iOS, but they're not as robust as their desktop counterparts. For instance, although Excel offers a fair number of chart options, it doesn't have macro capability, and you can't collaborate on a document in real time on iOS as you can in Windows.

The iPad also trumps the Surface Pro 4 when it comes to games, whether you're looking to feel the Force with Star Wars: Uprising or you want to play as Lara Croft. The Surface Pro 4 lacks these apps and lots of other popular titles, including Pandora, Spotify, YouTube and Instagram.


On the other hand, the Surface Pro 4 runs all of the most popular Windows apps, including the full-fledged Photoshop and Premiere photo-editing and video-editing programs. Plus, you can run Steam on the Surface to access a wide range of games. There's also a wider range of Web browsers available, such as Chrome and Firefox — not the watered-down mobile equivalents you'll find on iOS.

Winner: Tie. The iPad Pro has more touch-friendly and pen-friendly apps, but the Surface Pro 4 has more desktop programs.


We won't judge you for using a ginormous tablet for taking photos or videos. If you do, you'll find that the 9.7-inch iPad Pro's rear 12-megapixel camera takes sharper and brighter photos. Same thing goes for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro's 8-MP shooter.


The Surface Pro 4's 5-MP front camera took fairly sharp selfies but blew out our background. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro's front 1.2-MP camera isn't as high-res, but it took a more evenly exposed selfie. The 5-MP front camera on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro is even better.

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro has other camera advantages, including the ability to shoot 4K video and snap Live Photos.

Winner: iPad Pro. Both iPad Pros simply take better-looking images.

Overall Winner: iPad Pro

nb scorecard pro vs pro march2016

The iPad Pro narrowly wins this face-off overall, 6 to 5 points. The chief advantages of the iPad Pro are its 4 more hours of battery life, superior tablet apps and how well the optional Apple Pencil works for drawing and sketching. Both the 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pros also offer better audio and superior cameras.

On the other hand, Microsoft's 2-in-1 has a more versatile design (thanks to the built-in kickstand and more ports), and it offers a more comfortable keyboard and faster performance. Windows 10 is also better for productivity and multitasking than iOS 9 is.

Ultimately, when you pit the iPad Pro and Surface Pro 4 against each other, it's not exactly comparing apples to apples. It comes down to whether you want a big-screen tablet with benefits (get the iPad Pro) or a tablet that doubles as a notebook (opt for the Surface Pro 4).

Author Bio
Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
Mark Spoonauer, LAPTOP Editor in Chief on
Add a comment
  • backflipkgo Says:

    I really think you sold out on this one, every performance chart you show had the surface ahead by miles, and then you seem to draw the conclusion in the iPads favor with charity points.

  • Kuttyjoe Says:

    The iPad Pro makes for a better tablet experience because it's better at being thin, light, smooth, and having long battery life. The Surface Pro is what you get when you need a single device to get you the most mileage. The Apple Pencil is far superior in performance to the SP stylus.

    Apps like ProCreate perform in a way that I've never experienced in decades of personal computing. Kind of amazing actually. To get great, or maybe better performance out of a Windows computer, you have to get one with 16 gigs of ram, i7 processor, etc. You can't get a "thin and light" Windows tablet with 4 gigs of ram and expect to fly through Photoshop. That's something that really needs to be understood. Just because you can install desktop programs, doesn't mean you can run them smoothly.

    Yet, the iPad Pro can't run major programs like Photoshop at all. And you can't do even simple file management on the iPad Pro. When working on my iPad, I ALWAYS want to manage files and I can't. It's super aggravating and it's the reason I never bought any kind of iDevice, until the iPad Pro. I bought the iPad Pro just for the stylus experience. I decided that I would just deal with all the limitations in order to have that wonderful stylus experience. But the truth about me is that the concept of the Surface Book is what I really want. Unlimited usability, but with the performance and form factor of the iPad Pro.

    The winner is neither. You get the one that suits your needs. I wish I had both. When I use one, I wish for the advantage of the other. For now, I have an iPad Pro, and an older Galaxy Note Pro 12.2, which has a much better "smattering" of productivity aspects than the iPad Pro.

  • Alexander Says:

    Man, already from the first sentences I don't agree.
    "The aluminum 12.9-inch iPad Pro is almost ridiculously large, sporting a ginormous 12.9-inch display".
    I absolutely don't agree that 12.9" screen even on a tablet is "ridiculously large" or "ginormous". It is SMALL for my purposes, because it's even smaller than A4 paper size which I accustomed to reading music notes (sheet music) on the music stand of my piano. And that's why I choose neither iPad Pro 12.9", nor Surface Pro 4, but Microsoft Surface Book with its ideal for my purposes screen of 13.5". Nothing on the market can offer such a screen (13.5", 3:2 which is better for me than 4:3 on iPad, 3000x2000 resolution, smaller minimum bright and higher maximum bright than on iPad Pro 12.9, as well as higher contrast, than iPad Pro 12.9"). And that's why for me Microsoft Surface Book is just no-brainer.

  • John E Says:

    Not really a good comparison. The Surface Pro can run a Full Windows OS making it one of the best at running most software out there. Not tied to a app store. But clearly it depends on what ecosystem you embrace. The Pen or Pencil is a joke, I can't tell you how many people lose these things and have to replace them. After I think the second or third gets lost you probably give up.

  • tangster Says:

    This review is a joke. ipad pro cannot even do a fraction of Surface pro do, and he gave ipad a higher score? How much is Apple paying this fanboy lol

  • Lookatbowen Says:

    Pointless review. Surface Pro 4 is a computer that can triple up as a PC/Tablet/laptop and can run apps and programs and install other operating systems such as Ubuntu or Android, while the iPad is a mobile device running apps only. The Pen is way better on the SP4, yet this silly reviewer didn't even give it a mention.

  • Kuttyjoe Says:

    It's not realistic to compare these two devices over all. The iPad is like a scaled down computer that has some advantages like battery life. The Surface products are full computers that make some compromises in order to double as tablets. If I could only have one it would have to be the full computer. But because I have a desktop PC I can cover all my bases. So I went with an iPad Pro because I don't need a full PC in a mobile situation. Still, I always lament the overwhelming limitations of the iPad. I bought it for digital art and for that it excels. But it excels at nothing else. For me, it's actually not good for anything else.

  • Mr Anonymous Says:


    Such a lame review.
    Adding plus points from two different devices (ipad pro 12 and 9.7) and comparing against a single device the SURFACE.

    Total misleading review.

  • steve o Says:

    Such a bias review, I cannot take it seriously. Is the reviewer seriously suggesting that the "apps" found on an iPad are remotely close to Office 2016 and Adobe CC on the surface?

    I have just had to review both the iPad Pro and the MS Surface for my workplace, and in productivity - you know, working rather than playing candy crush, the Surface wins by a country mile.

    This site is now unsubscribed

  • Daniel Dvorak Says:

    How is it that you state the levels of pressure in the Apple Pencil and then later say you do not know the levels of pressure? Also, the Apple Pencil shouldn't win that category because it has "Over 300 apps" to utilize it when nobody is going to use those three hundred. It can't run full photoshop, after affects, illustrator or any full desktop programs. I don't understand how you can undermine a full OS over a mobile version. Maybe Apple should develop a true laptop replacement tablet and then we can debate.

  • Diego Adan Says:

    You can't give the same weight of the score to design or keyboard than the "OS multitasking" and performance. So the winner by far is the Microsoft Surface 4.

  • Mike L Says:

    Nice iPad commercial. No comparison. Windows Desktop versus Apple tablet. Can't even run Photoshop on the tablet. Game over.

  • Michael Nak Says:

    I'd agree with this review if the SP4 was at all reliable. It is not. Please google "Surface Pro 4 - Screen won't wake from sleep". There is a thread on with over TWO THOUSAND POSTS. The February update did not fix the problem. The April update did not fix the problem. The SP4 randomly will not wake from sleep. This is a bigger deal than it sounds like. When you force restart the SP4, you get corrupted files which then lead to a host of other problems. I exchanged my SP4 at a Microsoft store today. Within three hours of use the new unit failed to wake from sleep and required a forced restart. Does that sound like MS has fixed the problem? Seriously, if this machine was reliable it would be outstanding. IT IS NOT RELIABLE AT ALL. Avoid the many, many hours of frustration and stay clear of this POS. Unless, of course, you'd rather spend more time trying to diagnose and fix problems than actually using this thing. Oh, and by the way, the battery life is horrible. Not even a little bit close to what MS advertises. If you do make the mistake of buying an SP4, be certain to keep an eye on the last date you can exchange it for a full refund. If you miss that date you will end up very frustrated.

  • Sean 1234 Says:

    I too feel the author was quite bias towards the Apple iPad Pro in the review (just my opinion).

    After reviewing both devices in the end I opted for the surface pro 4 i7 512gb hdd 16gb ram. My previous computer was a vaio z 2012 model - I feel probably one of the best pc's ever made and well ahead of its time - I also had an iPad 2. The combination of both devices served me well for years but it was time to replace them with one device. As I am an engineer the surface pro appealed to me as it can run the engineering software I use as well as autocad and small to medium Revit projects. I have gone all out with the surface by purchasing the top end model with the dock which is connected to 2 hp monitors.

    For me the surface has been fantastic, great portability for meetings - onenote works well with both the keyboard and pen. Autocad runs without an issue even on very large drawings. Full office 365 and photoshop are just some of the software I use. The only issue is the battery life isn't all that great on the go and was a bit of an issue with getting the two monitors going with the mini hdmi ports (an active converter is required).

    What I found with the iPad Pro was the keyboard didn't have a touchpad, the screen angle was not really adjustable and for me could not run the software I require. I am still unsure why Apple called it a "pro" model. It is really no different to the other range of iPads other than the pencil.

    What I did like with the Apple Pencil over the surface pen was the adjustable angle - it really does work like a real pencil. I know each device has its strengths, but for me the surface pro was leagues in front of the Apple iPad Pro. I would strongly recommend the surface pro and am extremely happy with mine

  • Daniel; technology analyst, media Says:

    The comparison of these two devices is pointless. The reality is if you need an iPad pro a Surface will probably fulfill your needs. If you need a Surface the iPad will not. There are 4elements to an average day for me and this is why only the Surface would do:

    AM. The surface connected via Bluetooth to my in home audio wakes me up and provides musical accompaniment. I can use the Universal mail and calendar apps, or Cortana to check the day ahead. On the commute the Surface Autoconnects to my phone maintain connection as i go. With a vpn and network dives i have native access to all my work on the go.

    In the office. The surface is docked in the office, connecting it to the network via Ethernet for a reliable experience. Full office 365 programs can be used at the desk meaning not just Excel an Word, but Outlook, Access and Project, alongside Tableau Editor and any other program i may need. Even without a surface hub the usb port and display port mean easy connection of two monitors, there is also support for keyboard and mouse peripherals.

    Presentation. Showing my results is key. In small meeting the surface screen is adequate to huddle around to view slides or the form factor supports being passed around. Stepping up in scale the display port and Miracast support mean I have access to full PowerPoint presentation mode (presenter and viewer modes) and desktop mirroring for other applications.

    Of an evening. Should i need to do a little more work the tablet is ready, again remote network access meaning it doesn't matter what files i need they can be reached either from SharePoint or just networked drives. Or i can relax on the balcony with a tea and listen to some music or stream a movie to watch with the lady to the television.

    That's an average day. Then there are those fun days where I can take my camera out to the park and photo edit for myself on the go or when get in touch with old university friends and boot up Unreal Tournament for old times sake. The surface is pretty much a win for me.

  • schubert Says:

    OK, this Iidiotry has gone far enuf. Ipad pro IS NOT a LAPTOP REPLACEMENT, because it runs on IOS not OSX, get this thru your heads Isheeps. While I admit it's a supercharged tablet, it's a far cry from the desktop replacement. And I wouldn't understand why people wanna buy a hybrid laptop when you can buy both a tablet and a laptop.

  • Xyberz Says:

    I don't know why the iPad Pro is getting so much praise over the Surface Pro considering this iPad Pro is NOT a laptop replacement in any sort of the word. EVERYONE and their mother, including Apple themselves even admit this. While the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 has finally earned that coveted title of "laptop replacement" when paired with the keyboard. It does just about 90% of what a majority of the population does on a computer. Or course it's no extreme powerhouse workhorse made for intense gaming or movie industry graphics, but then again nothing currently can replace desktops and extreme laptops made for those purposes. This is the MOST powerful product for it's weight/size ratio and NOTHING comes close to the capabilities of what the Surface Pro 4 can do. While there aren't as many "apps", the Surface Pro will use almost ANY program out there made for Windows. It doesn't suffer from the lack of Adobe Flash like Apple mobile products have always been suffering from since the original iPhone.

    The Surface Pro 4 is so much more capable in nearly every aspect than the iPad Pro that it's not even funny.

    I'll be getting a Surface Pro 4 soon to be able to use full versions of 3D Cad programs to do 3D printing, using the full version of Photoshop, and so much more than I will ever do on my iPad Pro. So coming from an iPad Pro owner, honestly for the same price, get the Microsoft Surface Pro. This way you can pretty much ditch your laptop and iPad and just use one device for both purposes.

    P.S. I have the 12.9" Apple Pro 128GB model. So don't even begin to say I'm an Apple hater. I'll be getting the Surface Pro 4 instead and be getting rid of this laptop and will be a much happier camper.

  • Raquel Zepeda Fitzgerald Says:

    Just read many of the comments about these tablets because I'm considering the Ipad Pro. I have worked for many years as an artist on my own projects and a paralegal in many law offices - my day job. I still, for the life of me, cannot figure out why people like using PC's. They are slow and not user friendly. Every time I use a PC product, I feel as though I've gone back 20 years into the past. Hope to own the iPad Pro soon.

  • Daniel Says:

    I think it is safe to assume that the author loves all things Apple. I feel as if he covered the iPad Pro's strengths more in depth than he did the Surface Pro's. My opinion is based on researching the specs and reading reviews for each of them on my own. I would also like to see their weaknesses be addressed as such.

  • confucius Says:

    ok ok, i can live with this review. its ok to be a little bit subjective, we're humans. but i have a strong disagreement with pen comparisons. you handed that category to apple, but lets look again. 1st, take off the pen apps out of there. you have an entire category for apps, and inside it you already brag about pen enhanced apps, so take out the apps thing from pen. (so now, imo, pen category would be a draw). 2nd, you forgot a BIG thing, surface pen works with AAA battery and lasts for a year. apple pen, while rechargeable, lasts for 12 hours which is a big big joke. so now, surface wins the pen debate.
    but other than that, i agree with your closing paragraph. it depends on user needs. its just that, a small difference is present here too. surface can do whatever ipad does(even if some of the things are better done by ipad though), yet the ipad cannot do everything surface can do(running a full desktop os, 1st. better keyboard and ports(important cuz both companies claimed these tablets to be laptop replacements),and more, 2nd).

  • Daniel Says:

    The text next to the 3D Ice Chart says "Lower scores are better" - and you claim the opposite. I think the GPU of the iPad Pro is ahead of that Core i5, or am I wrong?

  • Drew14 Says:

    This "comparison" is a joke. Really? Do you honestly consider the camera to be as important as performance on +12 inch tablets/laptop replacements? Also, nothing can beat having full access to Windows legacy apps. Have fun playing Candy Crush while I play CS:GO and Bioshock. The pen/pencil section should also be considered a tie. The Apple Pencil costs an extra $100 and the Surface Pen's eraser really helps to mirror actual drawing. There also should be much more weight to the keyboard section. You're telling me that I have to drop $169 dollars for a keyboard that doesnt even have backlit keys or a trackpad. Not to mention the keyboard itself is horrible to type on for the Ipad Pro.A good keyboard is essential to a laptop. Yes the Ipad Pro is better for drawers and is a better casual media consumption device but that's it. It only really appeals to a very niche group while the Surface Pro 4 appeals to all of those that want a 2 in 1.

  • val_berger (twitter) Says:

    I'm an illustrator and bought a Wacom Cintiq Companion 2 a year ago which was so bulky, loud(!!!) and had so bad battery life, that I returned it immediately as it wouldn't have been good enough even if I would've managed to improve it by 100% through tweaks. I realized, that the most crucial things aren't the functionality, but the ability to actually draw without too many distractions.

    Still,when MS announced the Surface Book, I got pretty excited again and thought this might be that miracle of a device that might make all my wishes come true. I could run my whole CC, Corel Painter and maybe even After Effects and Cinema 4D and draw on it.

    But when I tried drawing on it, it just wasn't accurate enough to be a first choice for illustrating plus the device that would've worked for me would've cost me around 3000 bucks (but would also have been a mobile workstation).
    So I thoiught, I'll spend half the amount of that money on an iPad Pro instead and live with the limitations of iOS at least for half a year until maybe a surface book 2 or something else gets announced and then I can still sell it.

    The thing is: Ever since I got my iPad Pro, I'm so insanely into it, I'm not thinking about giving it away anymore. There's just a reason why tablets are tablets and laptops are laptops. And I'm not even such a laptop guy. i got a desktop for a reason and for that, an iPad Pro is a pretty awesome expansion. Would it be able to replace my desktop? Of course not. But for me, having 2 computers that you need to keep organized would be a disadvantage anyways. So for me, it's more a question if someone already has a mobile computer or not. If someone wants to replace his/her old laptop, then a surface might be the obvious choice. For someone who needs some mobile drawing device, I can highly recommend the iPad Pro.
    Apps like Notability, Procreate or Astropad really make that thing to grow on you.

  • Shawn Says:

    What was the configuration of your Surface.... Not sure why I have to ask this question to be honest with you.

  • Jose B Says:

    There is Pandora for Windows 10 ;-) I have it installed in my Surface 3.

  • Richard Says:

    A mobile device IS a mobile device, while a laptop IS a laptop. iPad is a mobile device, Surface is a laptop, period.

  • Rhyous Says:

    I believe your article has a few flaws which make the iPad Pro look to almost competes with a Surface Pro, which it doesn't. It isn't even in the same ballpark. The difference is far greater than 7 to 6.

    1. Imagine instead of a checkbox, you rated the items as 0 - 10 so you can see margin of victory.

    For example, you gave the display for Surface Pro and iPad a slight edge to iPad but the surface is a 9 and the iPad Pro is a 10. That isn't much of a victory. It isn't a compelling reason to choose an iPad Pro over a Surface Pro.

    2. Mouse - iPad doesn't even have one. This is a 'major crippling flaw' in the iPad Pro that cannot be overlooked. If the margin of victory was looked at, the Surface Pro would be a 10 and the iPad Pro would be a 0. That is a very compelling reason to go with a Surface Pro over an iPad Pro.

    3. Apps vs. Applications. These are two separate categories that you lumped into one. The Surface Pro has both.
    Apps: Surface Pro 6, iPad Pro 10. Microsoft doesn't have as many apps in the App store, but they are getting them fast and their store is growing. However, on Windows many apps can be played from the Chrome browser or as web-based flash apps.

    Applications: Surface Pro 10, iPad Pro 1. Yeah they have an office-ish app. But we all know it doesn't hold a candle to Office on Windows.

    The iPad pro has zero applications. Also, flash. It still runs a huge portion of the internet. Surface Pro 4 runs it perfectly on any browser for a 10. iPad Pro doesn't even have it, for a 0.

    4. Browser
    Surface Pro: 10, iPad Pro: 5. Flash still runs many internet sites. iPad Pros are worthless on those sites. Not to mention that browser is almost always a better experience on a Windows device than a tablet. More than half the internet doesn't even adjust for mobile devices yet.

  • Ronald Says:

    I have used a Surface Pro 3 for the past 16 months. I like it but purchased an iPad pro for several one critical reasons. The Surface is buggy. I have had to call support several times because it would not open or download apps. Being able to access email while traveling is pretty important and I have had that fail. On my last trip the keyboard would not recognize so I could not use. Currently my surface is frozen on the startup screen (happened on a trip which made me much less productive). I'm sure they can walk me through a fix once I can set aside an hour to talk to support, but I don't have time for repeated support calls. I just need it to work. Other problem is trying to use kickstand on an airplane tray. Third problem with surface is the slower boot up time. I like the instant access the iPad gives me.

  • Raghu Says:

    Does the ipad pro or Surface pro 4 have USB ports?

  • Joseph Says:

    I didn't realize the parameters of the review allowed for the iPad to ask for help from its $2,000 brother in order to compete. This whole conversation didn't make a lot of sense to me until you described your day. Needing two devices and spending three times the money to match my productivity helps me better understand how the iPad was allowed to enter the compitition in the first place.

    I also appreciate the nostalgia of an apple user rolling out the virus argument. Clinging to your OS because you feel it is "easier" and "prettier" was also quite endearing. Since I am not a grandmother or an idiot I of course care about neither but it sure was precious to read. Perhaps you could use the word "Zune" in Your next post? That is also a favorite of mine :)

  • Logan Says:


    I was going to do all of those things as well, so I got my Macbook Pro 13" out of my bag and did them. I ran all of the same apps and did all of the same stuff and I realized that I was using a real keyboard and my device wasn't flopping all over the place. When I was done with all of that it occurred to me that I needed to visit a job site so I left my Macbook at my office and grabbed my iPad pro. I fired up bluebeam revu on my iPad and did some tracking to transport later to create a log. When I was done with that the GC asked me if I could get him a sketch that illustrated a connection of two water lines so I got my apple pencil out of my bag and drew it then emailed it to him while on site. The photo was available on my Macbook Pro by the time I was back at the office and after all of that this huge realization came over me, a surface tablet could never have done this because the OS is crap and it got bogged down with viruses before I got to the job site.

  • Joseph Says:

    Forgive me for not commenting sooner about the ipad Pro's superior app store. You see I was busy running Photoshop and Illustrator from the FULL Adobe Creative Suite on a Surface Pro 4 while copying some files to a thumb drive using its full size USB port.

    Later I thought I might open up SketchBook Pro and do a little drawing while listening to the 100GB of music I have stored on the Micro SD card in the expansion slot.

    I am sorry what were we talking about? I'm sorry you see I am an Engineer and I was thinking about how I need to open up the full version of Autodesk Revit to finish some 3-D modeling. I also have two other programs running at the same time right now so it's all a little distracting.

    Oh yeah, the App Store. Yes Apple has a great app store for their tablets lots and lots of really great choices they have.

    Now if you will excuse me I am going to play a little Fallout 4 before bed.

  • Timmy Says:

    Not even a fair comparison. While the A9X is comparable to a Core M3 or even slightly better. It is no match to a Core i5 or i7. RAM is limited to 4GB with 128 GB storage while a Surface Pro can be gear up to 16 GB or RAM and 1 T of storage. This means that the Surface Pro will last longer in the long run before being obsolete. The mobile iOS will end the iPad Pro sooner. With the advance in technology, there won't be any mobile OS in tablets in a few years.

  • Kuttyjoe Says:

    I was debating between the Surface Book and the iPad Pro. I went with the iPad Pro. If I needed to work on word documents and such I prefer to do it on my desktop. The tablet is ideal for drawing and that's what I was looking for. The iPad Pro beats the Surface Pro easily in this area.

  • Chris Says:

    You guys got slit of information wrong about the surface pro 4
    It has 8mp rear+ 5mp front camera
    It has 128, 256, 512, and 1tb hard drive
    It has 4,8,16 ram
    Get ur facts straight before comparing

  • louis Says:

    If you like iPad pro use it and be happy
    If you like Surface pro 4 use it and by happy
    But don't condemn each other's choice, its just low and stupid!

  • winko Says:

    I returned my iPad Pro... the minimal keyboard sucks and you can't run any real programs for use as a workstation.

  • Splov Says:

    Nice round up. Obviously you will always have the whiners - as evidenced by the copious number of idiots here spouting trash simply because of the internet's perceived anonymity - but the wrap up line was as close to a perfect summation of EXACTLY what the two machines are -based on my own extensive use of both - as any.

  • Charlie Says:

    I am so tired of seeing the iPad or being compared to the Surface Pro. The iPad Pro is not a laptop replacement, it is just a big iPad, that's it. Those trying to use the iPad Pro as such a device will quickly find out just how bad it really is. I know becasue I tried to do it, a very frustrating and frankly daunting experience. First the dual app feature is available for a very few apps and that list is growing slower than plant without water. I still can't run 98% of the apps I have insalled in the background. File or document management is still horrible as there is no central paradigm in place in which all files can be a accessed in a single place, instead the apps themselves manage their own files. When you need to open a file in a different app, a copy of that file is sent instead of the original, so files of the same name see to multiply like rabbits. This is a real problem for files that are downloaded through a browser. Talking about the browser, you still cannot choose the one you want as default or any other app that Apple has a version of as well, i.e messaging and email. Displaying the desktop on an external display is absolutely horrendous, not only is the resolution not supported but neither is the aspect ratio, to add salt on the wound, every app has different support for external displays, making the whole experience sloppy and inconsistent, plus the you can't extend, just mirror. The list just goes on and on, if your an artist or musician, I can kind of see the appeal in using the iPAd Pro for content creation, though as a business machine, in which is wha the Surface Pro is really for, the iPad Pro is just a horrible solution and should never be in the same sentence as the Surface Pro. I find this whole article down right irresponsible journalism as someone might actually believe that they could actually get by using the iPad Pro.

  • Diane Says:

    Are you serious? This isn´t a serious Test! From the first Word till the End, all is against the iPad Pro. I am a Widows User myself but this Test sucks alot.

  • Business User Says:

    You have completely left out one of the biggest factors for business people and others that use these devices outside of the office or home, and that is the LTE capabilities of the iPad Pro. This is a feature severely lacking in the Surface, and ultimately the reason that I went to the iPro.

    Yes, you can connect to a wifi source, or can tether off your phone. Good luck finding an open wifi source, and we all know that tethering is not as seamless as it is made out to be, filled with errors and latency. Nothing beats the ability to open your cover, and be instantly connected.

    Major factor that should have been discussed.

  • Russell Kinslow Says:

    You serious? The sound, picture quality, more apps etc how the heck do you score?? AND pro 4 didn't even HAVE most it does till the iPad pro came out THEN they, once again, played catch up and added stuff. And as stated below price wise ya have to go clear down to a 3 on surface to be priced almost evenly. Then it goes up 2-4 hundred each upgrade. At least when ya pay for the iPad pro ya get the best processor etc. I paid 799 for my pro with 128 gig. Add 99 for pencil, 149 for keyboard let's round up n make it 1,050 for all and to get a processor 5 surface it's like 11/1299? Wow!! But as I've stated millions of times and why I cancelled my subscription, it's always Windows, Android with you guys. You ALWAY find a way to knock apple n their products!! Even this time. By one point. You do make it close to look good but it's always the same findings. 😏😝🤓🤓🤓

  • Audiophile Says:

    I laughed so much on audio section.
    good job.
    (insert sarcasm here)

  • John Kwasi Quarchie Says:

    please am interesting in the Surface book

  • AppleFan Says:

    IPad pro beats surface pro 4 (even the core i5 version $500 more) in every benchmark there is.

  • Acex99 Says:

    Well, regarding games - I can think of the thousands of games on Steam that you can play on a Windows machine - the hundreds if not thousands of Windows over the years and XBOX games!! REAL games - not the watered down versions available at mobile app stores - and honestly, no real game lover will think the iPad can win. iPad games are OK for little kids, maybe for grandma/ grandpa - but any serious gamer will scoff at those.

  • Valasek Says:

    Hi, I would like to share my opinion for the author, I appreciate that people have passion but has he read this after he wrote it? it feels like he didnt compare tablet vs tablet but "laptop-replacement tablet" vs. "tablet". Creative people - simple minimalistic design - no ports, no kickstand, only one port for all lightning. Why do you even compare this :D just because its flat and it looks similar? its for 2 different kinds of people, i think you even mentioned this. Sorry for my English. Wish you luck.

  • Peter Sullivan Says:

    Talking about the superior App Store omg... and then comparing it with the Microsoft App Store ignoring the hundreds of thousands upon thousands of other 'apps' (programs) you can get on the surface because of windows from other retailers... I'm sorry, and I don't bash people but there are certain levels of ignorance that are inexcusable.

  • Chippi Says:

    You kill me. You rating system is totally flawed. The Microsoft operating system sucks, compare the number of apps versus and there is no comparison. How about screen size, surface loses. 6 hours battery versus 10 huge difference. Oh an let's count the number of people that buy the Microsoft crap versus Apple, not too mention the shitty pencil versus the wildly great apple pencil. My score apple 9 surface 5.

  • TrollBob Says:

    Don't forget 'apps' is short for 'applications' or programs. Same thing.
    The VAST majority of programs are written for the windows platform.
    Feature, function, compatibility, interchangeability with the Office - Windows blows all competitors away hands down.

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