It has been argued that the Surface Pro 4 and the iPad Pro are two devices in direct competition with each other. While that may be true in reference to form factor, or performance, there are some considerations to be made, as these two powerful tablets are most certainly not targeted to the same type of user.
The Surface Pro 4, priced at $899 ($1,028 with the keyboard and Surface Pen), is intended to be a laptop replacement, powered by a 6th generation Intel Core processor, with support for up to 16GB of RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage, and a battery life of a little over 6 hours. The display on the Surface Pro 4 is 12.3 inches, with a native resolution of 2736 x 1824 pixels.
The iPad Pro, priced at $799 ($1067 with Apple Pencil and keyboard), has been touted as more powerful than most laptop PCs, which is not too far from the truth, if we exclude higher-end laptops. The iPad Pro is Apple’s biggest tablet ever, with a 12.9 inches display, and a native resolution of 2732 x 2048 pixels. It is powered by a A9X processor, with 4GB or RAM and up to 128GB of SSD storage. The battery life on the iPad Pro is a little over 10 hours, which makes it ideal to be used on the go, depending on the tasks performed.
Apps and OS
The iPad Pro runs iOS 9, and while it’s by all means a mobile operating system, it has many productivity features, as well as the ability to run a fairly powerful version of MS Office, minus certain collaborative features that may only be available on Windows 10.
The Surface Pro 4 runs a full version of Windows 10, which means that it can run every desktop app available on a laptop, including a the full desktop version of MS Office, Adobe CC, as well as Steam games and more. The number of apps available on the Windows Store has also grown, since the Surface Pro 4’s inception, including popular apps and games like Pandora, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Minecraft.
For those looking to plug in different peripherals, the iPad Pro falls short, compared to the Surface Pro 4, as it does not feature USB ports, mini DisplayPorts, or a microSD card slot.
When it comes to display quality, the iPad offers better color range, with 111% sRGB color spectrum, while the Surface Pro 4 provides 99.7%. The iPad Pro also offers slightly better hue accuracy with a Delta-E rating of 0.19, compared to the Surface Pro 4’s 0.35, although the difference may be almost negligible.
The 2 speaker system on the Surface Pro 4 is clearly no match for the quad speaker system on the iPad Pro, which provides a truly immersive audio experience.
Priced at $129, the Surface Keyboard offers a number of options that the iPad Pro doesn’t have, like the back-lit keys, a track pad, and a fingerprint reader. The iPad Pro’s Smart Keyboard, on the other hand is spill resistant.
The Apple Pencil is the first stylus released by the Cupertino tech giant since the Newton. This stylus is designed to work exclusively with the iPad Pro, and is able to detect pressure, the angle of the hand, and it’s also capable of detecting touch input simultaneously while using the Pencil.
While the accuracy and minimal lag of the Apple Pencil puts this stylus ahead of the Surface Pen, there are some drawbacks, such as the fact that the Pencil must be purchased as a separate accessory, and that it lacks an eraser at the back, and the ability to launch apps. Finally, there is no place to store the Apple Pencil, when not in use.
The iPad Pro’s A9X processor is capable of handling intensive tasks like editing 4K video, however, tests performed in GeekBench show that the Apple iPad Pro is not nearly as fast, and even slower than the Surface Pro 3. With that said, we have to keep in mind that iOS 9 is a mobile operating system that is optimized to work with apps, so a comparison between the two CPUs may not be as significant.
For those looking to use their tablet on the go most of the day, the iPad Pro might be a better option, with a 10 hour battery life, compared to the Surface Pro 4, which lasts only 6 hours.
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