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4 Ways the Surface Pro 3 Beats the Apple iPad Pro



The Surface Pro didn’t kick start a revolution, but it was enough to keep customers interested until Microsoft could come up with the right Windows 2-in-1 to make a splash in both the notebook and tablet spaces. The Surface Pro 3 was the true revolutionary Windows 2-in-1 and sales have been very high, according to Microsoft. So high that we’re starting to see Windows hardware makers copy the Surface hardware formula. The iPad Pro is a Surface Pro 3 rival from the company that gave tablets the kick-start they needed to be successful.

Announced at an Apple event this week, the Apple iPad Pro is unabashedly influenced by the Surface Pro 3. It doesn’t have a kickstand, but does have an enormous 12.9-inch screen. That’s roughly the same market Microsoft aimed the Surface Pro 3 at: notebook buyers. On its own, it looks like a giant tablet, but Apple has added a port for a keyboard to snap onto the bottom, and a pen that lets users draw and navigate its refreshed iOS operating system. iOS 9 takes the rivalry beyond software, borrowing Microsoft’s side-by-side app multitasking to give iPad Pro users a way to do two things on their device at once.

iPad Pro Keyboard

The iPad Pro is certainly an interesting device, one that deserves consideration from anyone looking to eliminate their notebook and tablet in favor of having one device. Problem is, the Surface Pro 3 has been around long enough that Microsoft has identified the market and refined its approach.

Better Operating System & Apps for Professionals

The problems for the iPad Pro start with its operating system. Microsoft did an absolutely terrible job meshing a touch and keyboard experiences with Windows 8. It learned some valuable lessons though. First, to truly be considered a professional grade computing device you need to give users access to professional grade apps and fit into the work flow they have now. The Surface 3 and the Surface Pro 3 both let users install desktop programs not available in the Windows Store. With Windows 10’s Tablet Mode off, users get a Windows notebook, something they already know how to use and already have programs for.

iPad Pro WiFi LTE

Apple’s approach is very, very different. The company seems to have aired on he side of preserving its line-up without major changes. The iPad Pro does have a super gorgeous touch display and app multitasking, but it leaves behind the more productivity oriented Mac OS apps. iOS 9 supports Bluetooth keyboards, but doesn’t support Bluetooth mice.

surface pro 3 lower angle kickstand

The iPad Pro can possibly get around not having Mac OS apps, with improved apps from its iTunes Store. Not having mouse support means users have to reach up and touch what they want to select on the screen, which can get very, very tiresome. You can’t fix that with improved apps.

Better Storage Options & Hardware Features

The iPad Pro has a 12.9-inch display with a resolution of 2732 x 2048 pixels. That’s simply a way of quantifying what the naked eye will tell you when it arrives in stores: It has a huge, gorgeous display. It weighs just 1.57 pounds and is 6.9 mm from thick. Four stereo speakers pump out audio in every direction. A Lightning port on the side lets it connect with different accessories. A keyboard port on another side allows users to turn the iPad Pro into a landscape work machine. Apple Smartly added a bit more choice to its line-up. It comes in Silver, Space Gray and Gold and users can purchase a 128GB version with mobile data if they’d like for $1079.

surface pro 3 kickstand upright

The Surface Pro 3 has a 2160 x 1440 12-inch display. It’s neither as big nor as detailed as what iPad Pro users get. Anyone can get any color Surface Pro 3 they like as long as it’s silver. Apple says that the iPad Pro will last 10 hours, whereas the Surface Pro 3 lasts about 9 hours. The iPad Pro has an 8 megapixel rear-facing camera that will likely handily beat the Surface Pro 3’s rather basic 5 megapixel rear-facing camera.

Read: Surface Pro 3 vs iPad Pro: Which is Better?

The iPad Pro is lighter and has a better looking screen. Trick is, the Surface Pro 3 has some advantages professionals and anyone looking to replace their PC or Mac will enjoy. You could by expensive new iPad Pro Lightning dongles and connectors or use the USB accessories you already have for the Surface Pro 3. Have a display you like? You can keep using that too. Surface Pro 3 comes with a Mini Display Port and a full-size USB 3.0 port. A built-in kickstand elevates the display, not a separate $169.99 case, making it great for presentations or just watching a movie.

iPad Pro Size

Every Surface Pro 3 has at least 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage and an Intel Core processor of some kind. Users get all those extras – plus an included pen for $799. What’s more, they don’t have to keep an extra computer on standby since Surface Pro 3 can run apps from the Windows Store and Desktop apps.

Better & Cheaper Accessories

Finally, there’s the accessories to consider. Both Microsoft and Apple require heavy investments in extras to get the most of their machines, I’d say.

iPad Pro Stylus - iPad Pencil

The Surface Pro 3 comes with a Surface Pen, but doesn’t come with the $129 Surface Pro 3 Type Keyboard. The Surface Pen unlocks the Surface Pro 3 for quick note-taking sessions and acts as a pretty handy way of interact with programs when a touch-friendly app from the Windows Store won’t do. The Type Cover itself locks into a port on the bottom of the Surface Pro 3. Users can elevate they keyboard by pushing it slightly in on their display. This locking mechanism is great for using the Surface Pro 3 in a lap.

iPad Pro (1)

Meanwhile, the $99 Apple Pencil for the iPad Pro is just a rechargeable stylus. You can draw with it and navigate with it, but it doesn’t come included with the device. The $169 Apple Smart Keyboard has an extra, slightly wonky looking flap that props up its display for productivity. This flap doesn’t allow for as much angle adjust as the built-in freely adjustable kickstand on the Surface Pro 3. Those, it’s a actually $40 more expensive than what Microsoft offers.



At the end of the day, users have to buy the right machine for their wallet and ecosystem. If you’re already an iPad owner, you definitely have reasons to pick up the iPad Pro. You own apps, you already have an iCloud account and iTunes purchases. Your choice is clear. Get the iPad Pro this November.

If you have just an iPhone or an Android device and looking to replace a Windows notebook, the answer, I’d say, is very clear: go with the Surface Pro 3. It connects with iCloud and most of Apple’s services, you get to keep your programs and Microsoft’s many apps extend the Windows experience to your iPhone. Your getting a more robust machine if you buy the Surface Pro 3, minus a display and LTE connectivity.



  1. Jefhart

    09/12/2015 at 11:50 am

    Someone needs to edit this, it is filled with typos and bad grammar.

  2. Dub

    09/12/2015 at 4:50 pm

    I’m intrigued by the bigger display, and the thinness and lightness of the iPad Pro, but without a *much* bigger difference in price (and probably OSX support), there’s no way I’d trade my Surface Pro 3 for one. The article doesn’t mention it, but one of the best features of the SP3 is it’s docking station – I have two, so I can instantly connect or disconnect at home or office. In fact, I’ve found that I only use the Surface keyboard cover (which is pretty good, BTW) about a third of the time when I’m out and about – the other 2/3 of the time, I’m mostly checking email and doing some light browsing, so I just use the touchscreen keyboard like most iPad users do, anyway. (I recommend to friends that they buy at least one docking station and skip the Keyboard cover for a week or two to find out if they really need it.) And the ability to run real PC apps is a huge win, and the SP3 has enough oomph to run serious stuff, from serious illustration and image editing apps like Inkscape and CorelDraw to professional-grade 2D/3D CAD packages like ViaCAD Pro, and several web app development environments based on Node and Lua. (It would run the admittedly more popular Autodesk/Adobe equivalents as well, I just don’t prefer them…) The integration with OneNote is great, and as soon as OneNote doesn’t suck at image management, it’ll be my primary bucket for everything.

  3. Artamtronic

    09/13/2015 at 4:21 am

    I’m an artist looking for a mobile drawing solution. Love the simplicity of the iPad but none of the styli on the market are good options for drawing. In fact I’ve tried them all and they’re pretty terrible, except for the Surface Pro pen. It’s not terrible but I don’t love it either. I love that you can run Corel Draw or Manga Studio on the SP3 although I haven’t tried yet. I prefer the Mac OS to Windows for sure so the iPad Pro announcement was exciting but even if it’s got a great stylus, if I cant run any programs I’ll be buying a Surface Pro 4 as soon as it comes out.

    • Eric Pellegrini

      09/13/2015 at 4:53 am

      If you are into drawing on a SP3, check out Krita. It originally was a Linux (KDE) program. I recently discovered it was ported to windows. After installing the WinTab drivers from MS, pressure sensitivity works just fine. It’s a very nice program.

    • aurialLoop

      09/13/2015 at 1:09 pm

      I run Manga Studio (which has become my favourite drawing app) on my Surface Pro 3 and I absolutely love it. It works really well with the pen and with touch.

  4. Zoe

    09/14/2015 at 4:43 am

    “The company seems to have aired on he side of preserving its line-up without major changes.” The word is “erred,” but this writer spelled it “aired” because so many people mispronounce “erred” (which is spoken just as written, not as “aired”) that he misspelled it.

    I have an iPad mini, a Macbook Pro, and a Surface Pro 2. As soon as the iPad Pro and keyboard were announced I put my Surface on Ebay. I’m buying one. In theory the Surface might be great, but the functionality of the inferior touchscreen completely undoes all of that greatness. I have owned it for about a year and almost never use it. It was my one foray back to WIndows products. I will never make that mistake again. I have Windows installed on a desktop Mac via bootcamp. Works better than any real Windows pc I ever had.

    • Jefhart

      09/14/2015 at 9:13 am

      I can think of a lot of reasons why you wouldn’t like your Surface Pro depending on your preferences but to say the touchscreen is inferior is stupid. And you’re trading this in to buy a product that you have never even seen yet?

  5. astoria0128

    01/04/2016 at 2:53 am

    Thanks for sharing valuable information!!!

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