In the wake of Apple’s keynote, there is no doubt that the Apple iPad Pro and Microsoft’s Surface Pro are going to be in direct competition with each other. While Microsoft has yet to make any formal announcement in regard to the Surface Pro 4, Apple is clearly expecting Microsoft to update its flagship tablet PC with specs designed to outshine the current version, and also, to proactively tackle a next version of the Surface Pro, likely to feature considerably higher specs, at least according to the latest rumors.
The Surface Pro 3 ships with Windows 10, and features a 12 inch screen, with a native resolution of 2160 x 1440. It’s also powered by a 4th gen Intel Core CPU, with up to 9 hours of battery life. By that token, Apple did its homework well, by one-upping the Surface Pro in nearly every aspect, starting from the screen size, whose width conveniently matches the height of the regular iPad. While that’s the official story, it’s hard not to notice the extra inch, when compared to the Surface Pro 3’s display.
Apple’s Retina display is typically hard to beat for most devices, but in this particular case, the Apple has pushed the envelope with a tablet featuring a 2732 x 2048 x 264 ppi Retina display, that is barely half inch short from being edge-to-edge.
Considering that the iPad Pro runs on iOS 9 and it’s powered by Apple’s own A9X chip, it’s hard to define the real differences in performance, between an iOS 9 product and Windows 10 tablet PC.
When it comes to connectivity, both the Surface Pro and the iPad Pro feature 802.11ac Wi-Fi, with the iPad Pro sporting updated Bluetooth 4.2 hardware.
The range of sensors available on the iPad Pro matches, for the most part, that of the Surface Pro, which includes an accelerometer, a gyroscope and an ambient light sensor. While the Surface Pro features also a magnetometer, the iPad includes Apple’s iconic Touch-ID, and a barometer.
Being a Windows PC, the Surface Pro 3 holds the upper hand when it comes to expansion ports, featuring a full size USB 3.0, a microSD card reader, a headphone jack, and a mini DisplayPort.
While the iPad Pro may not feature the same options, Apple has come up with an interesting new Smart Connector, capable of pairing the iPad Pro to a Smart Keyboard, especially designed for the iPad Pro, upon contact, without plugs, wires or bluetooth. It’s unclear yet how many accessories will be able to use the proprietary port, but a Lightning port is also available, to connect legacy accessories, and to power the iPad Pro.
Video and audio
One weak point in the Surface Pro 3, in respect to the iPad Pro, is audio/video hardware. Video recording on the Surface Pro 3 includes two 5MP, 1080p HD camera sensors, and one rear-facing microphone. Audio capabilities are delivered by Dolby Audio-enhanced dual speakers.
The iPad Pro features two sets of dual speakers on each side of the tablet, capable of automatically adjusting the quality of the sound, using the available built-in sensors.
Video recording options on the iPad Pro include a rear-facing 8MP iSight camera, with auto-focus, f2.4 aperture, and features that are very common in pro-sumer DSLR, including face recognition and image stabilization. The Panorama mode is capable of producing images up to 43MP.
A front-facing 1.2MP f2.2 aperture FaceTime HD camera is also integrated in the iPad Pro, capable of 720p HD video recording and Auto HDR.
Siri Vs. Cortana
While it’s hard to pin-point glaring similarities between Siri and Cortana, as much as there would be between Siri and Google Now, Siri’s integration into iOS reaches further than Cortana does in Windows 10, although it’s only a matter of time before virtual assistants reach a singularity in terms of their behavior and access to data and hardware.
Both these devices are priced starting at $799, which is a typical price point for most slat tablets, and certainly appropriate for a device like the iPad Pro.
It’s important to keep in mind that this comparison is between two devices that are over a year apart. The gap in tech specs is considerable, and chances that the next iteration of Microsoft Surface will feature specs set to challenge this first iteration of the iPad Pro.