12.9-Inch iPad Pro vs 2017 Surface Pro: Which to Buy?

The 12.9-Inch iPad Pro and the 2017 Surface Pro are capable laptop replacements this summer that will shoppers need to compare.

The iPad Pro and 2017 Surface Pro share many characteristics. Users can skip typing with on their screens and purchase a keyboard accessory. Apple’s iOS 11 update expands on the multitasking features of the iPad Pro while Windows 10 already offers robust multitasking.

Their differences make them hard to choose between though. Some 12.9-Inch iPad Pro models connect to LTE when there’s no Wi-Fi. The 2017 Surface Pro won’t have this feature until Fall 2017. iPads rely on the iTunes App Store for new apps. New touch-friendly apps are available from Windows 10’s store. Users can download the desktop programs they need from the web in addition to those available in the Windows 10 store.

The 12.9-Inch iPad Pro and the 2017 Surface Pro will allow you to stay productive and entertained with just a single device when they go on sale. To get the most out of the experience you’ll need to choose the right one for your needs.

12.9-Inch iPad Pro vs 2017 Surface Pro: Design

An iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil.

The 12.9-Inch iPad Pro is a light and thin slab of a glass and aluminum. It comes in silver, gold and Space Gray. Models that can connect to mobile data networks weigh just 1.53 pounds. The Wi-Fi only 12.9-Inch iPad Pro weighs 1.49 pounds. Every 12.9-Inch iPad Pro is 0.27-inches thick.

On the front are the 12.9-inch 2732 x 2048 resolution display it takes its name from. A TouchID fingerprint reader and 7-megapixel FaceTime camera sit above and below this display.

The 12.9-Inch iPad Pro has a 12-megapixel camera sensor with flash is on the back. This camera has auto-focus, noise reduction and optical image stabilization. It can record video that’s four times as sharp as HD video.

The headset jack, volume controls, Lightning port, power button and Smart Connector run along its edges. Four speakers pump audio out of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro’s corners. LTE models have a Nano-SIM card slot for connecting to mobile data networks.

To keep things simple, iPads lack a USB port, Display Port and Micro SD slot. Adapters for the Lightning port let buyers add accessories when they need to. Offloading music, pictures and video to iCloud when storage space gets low is possible.

The 2017 Surface Pro only comes in silver. Its least powerful model weighs 1.69 pounds and is a third of an inch thick. The more processing power you add, the heavier it becomes. A 2017 Surface Pro with Core i7 processor weighs 1.73 pounds.

The 2017 Surface Pro’s kickstand angle is more comfortable for artists.

Surface Pro buyers don’t need a case or cloud storage. Its kickstand extends up to 165 degrees. A Micro SD card slot hidden behind the kickstand lets buyers add storage. There’s an 8-megapixel camera on the back that won’t take pictures as sharp as the iPad Pro’s camera.

The 8-megapixel camera on the back of the 2017 Surface Pro won’t take pictures as sharp as the iPad Pro’s camera.

The sides of the 2017 Surface Pro have ways to connect accessories. The Surface Connect port on the right edge allows for docking. A full-size USB 3.0 port and Mini Display Port also sit on the right. Keyboard covers snap to a port on the tablet’s bottom edge. The headset jack is the only port on the left edge. Volume and power buttons are on the top edge.

The 2017 Surface Pro has no fingerprint reader on the front. Instead, Microsoft wants users to log in by gazing at the 5-megapixel Windows Hello camera above the display. iPad Pro has four speakers, but Surface Pro only has two, and they face the user. The 12.3-inch 2736 x 1824 is only slightly sharper than the 12.9-Inch iPad Pro’s display.

12.9-Inch iPad Pro vs 2017 Surface Pro: Internals & Accessories

The 2017 Surface Pro is a confusing mess of different processors, RAM, graphics hardware and storage. Finding the right 12.9-Inch iPad Pro for your needs is easy.

The cheapest 2017 Surface Pro has an Intel Core m3 processor, 128GB of storage and 4GB of RAM. 1TB of storage, an Intel Core i7 processor and 16GB of RAM are inside the most powerful 2017 Surface Pro. If you edit video or really need processing power on the go, the most expensive model delivers.

Every 2017 Surface Pro has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1. A gyroscope lets them detect motion for games. An accelerometer lets the tablet know which way to orient the display. The tablet adjusts display brightness on its own thanks to a light sensor.

Compare that complicated line-up to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro’s simpler offerings. No 12.9-Inch iPad Pro outperforms the other. Buyers just pick a color, storage size and LTE connectivity.

Apple’s A10X Fusion chip handles processing. Bluetooth 4.2, 802.11 AC Wi-Fi and a digital compass come in each. They all have an accelerometer and gyroscope for motion gaming. A light sensor adjusts display brightness depending on how bright the room is. The built-in barometer lets apps detect altitude.

Accessories

Any tablet hoping to replace a laptop needs a keyboard. The 12.9-Inch iPad Pro and 2017 both have one.

The Smart Keyboard costs $169.99 for the iPad Pro. It locks into place and provides all the power it needs. Every key is woven into the fabric of the cover. Unfortunately, buyers need to move the entire tablet to get a better view of the display. The cover has one angle for typing.

iPad accessory makers offer their own covers that solve key problems with the Smart Keyboard. The $139 Zagg Slimbook Case has more than one angle. Logitech’s Slim Combo Case adds a laptop-like keyboard deck, a place to store the Apple Pencil and backlit keys with travel for $129.

2017 Surface Pro with Type Cover and Pen.

Buyers can leave the $129 Surface Type Covers flat on a desk, or add a slight angle with a row of magnets that clamp to the bezel of the device. The cover’s plastic keys glow in the dark. A glass trackpad lets users navigate Windows without touching their screen. The kickstand adjusts up to 165 degrees for better viewing angles. Only the $69.99 Moko Surface Pro 4 Keyboard is a credible alternative to Surface Type Covers.

Artists and fans of handwritten notes need a digital pen. Again, both devices have one you can buy separately.

The Apple Pencil lets users take notes and draw on their iPad. Artists can tilt the pen to get a better angle and press harder to create wider strokes. iPad Pro can charge the $99 accessory in 15 seconds for thirty minutes. Fully charged, it lasts for 12 hours.

Apple Pencil

Surface Pen comes in black, platinum, burgundy and blue for $99. Pen strokes don’t show up as fast as they do with the Apple Pencil and 12.9-inch iPad Pro. It can detect 4,096 different levels of pressure and it knows when users are tilting it. That cap acts as an eraser and shortcut to launch apps.

12.9-Inch iPad Pro vs 2017 Surface Pro: Battery Life & Software

The 12.9-Inch iPad Pro battery lasts for 10 hours of video on a single charge. Models with LTE data last for 9 hours of web browsing. Compare that to the 13.5 hours of video that Microsoft says the 2017 Surface Pro is capable of and you have a clear winner. At least, on paper, you have a clear winner.

For other activities, it’s hard to tell whether the battery will hold up. Buyers rely on programs from the web on Surface devices because the Windows Store doesn’t have many apps. Programs aren’t as touch or battery friendly as apps are. There are millions of powerful desktop programs though.

iOS has better touch apps today. These apps don’t have as big an impact on battery life as Windows programs do. The iTunes Store offers millions of apps. Your favorite iPhone apps should work on the iPad Pro already.

The 12.9-Inch iPad Pro and iPhone 7.

This fall’s free iOS 11 update adds new ways to move files and work with more than two apps at the same time. Split-screen multitasking is available today though. Windows 10 lets users multitask with as many programs and apps as they want.

Read: iOS 11 vs iOS 10: What’s New in iOS 11

Apple gifts iPad owners its iWork apps for creating documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Buyers that don’t have Microsoft already can rent it for $6.99 a month or more.

12.9-Inch iPad Pro vs 2017 Surface Pro: Pricing

The 12.9-Inch iPad Pro and 2017 Surface Pro cost as much as a high-end laptop once buyers add their keyboard covers.

Going with the 2017 Surface Pro gets shoppers double the storage of the entry-level iPad Pro. On the other hand, buyers can get a 256GB 12.9-inch iPad Pro with 256GB of RAM and LTE connectivity for $200 less than a Surface Pro with the same storage. Surface Pro LTE models dont arrive until this fall.

12.9-Inch iPad Pro 2017 Surface Pro
$799 – 64GB of Storage $799 – 128GB of Storage / Intel Core m3 / 4GB of RAM
$929 – 64GB of Storage / LTE Connectivity $999 – 128GB of Storage / Intel Core i5 / 4GB of RAM
$899 – 256GB of Storage $1,299 – 256GB of Storage / Intel Core i5 / 8GB of RAM
$1,029 – 256GB of Storage / LTE Connectivity $1,599 – 256GB of Storage / Intel Core i7 / 8GB of RAM
$1,099 – 512GB of Storage $2,199 – 512GB of Storage / Intel Core i7 / 16GB of RAM
$1,229 – 512GB of Storage / LTE Connectivity $2,699 – 1TB of Storage / Intel Core i7 / 16GB of RAM

 

iPad Pro Accessories Surface Pro Accessories
$169 – Smart Keyboard for 12.9-Inch Pad Pro $129 – Surface Type Cover
$99 – Apple Pencil for iPad Pro $99 – Surface Pen

2017 iPad Pro vs 2017 Surface Pro: Which Should You Buy?

The 2017 Surface Pro’s Type Cover has some good features. The multi-angle kickstand and laptop-like keyboard are great. Its Mini DisplayPort, Micro SD card slot and USB 3.0 port make adding storage, moving pictures from a camera and a display easier. Windows 10 gives users access to millions of powerful desktop programs. More expensive configurations get you more processing power for video and photo editing.

Everything isn’t great though. You certainly won’t get a touch-friendly experience from desktop programs, and they’ll harm the tablet’s battery life. The touch and battery friendly apps that are present in the Windows Store are hardly as good iPad apps. LTE isn’t available on Surface Pro today.

The 12.9-Inch iPad Pro has some issues of its own too. Not having a way to change the display’s angle when you need to type is bad. Using software tricks and dongles to connect to displays and printers isn’t convenient.

Those things don’t ruin all that’s right about the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. It’s thin and light. Buyers will hardly notice in their bag. The iTunes Store has lots of productivity and entertainment apps that are already on your phone. Mid-range models have lots of storage. LTE is available today. Buyers can count on reliable battery life.

If you need software that’s only available in Windows and lots of processing power, the 2017 Surface Pro is the best choice for you. Everyone else is better off with the iPad Pro.

Shoppers can place their 12.9-Inch iPad Pro pre-orders today at Apple.com. The tablet launches on June 15th. The Microsoft Store has 2017 Surface Pro pre-orders now. It also launches on June 15th.

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