Head-To-Head: Surface Pro 4 vs. iPad Pro

Pro vs. Pro

With the Surface Pro 4, Microsoft brings to market a tablet that strikes the right balance between work and play with the business-friendly Windows OS and first-class keyboard. And with the iPad Pro, Apple takes a giant step at making its iconic iPad not just a PC accessory, but a genuine productivity monster with its huge screen and dynamite keyboard.

Which is a better fit for you? What CRN found was the battle between the Surface Pro 4 and the iPad Pro don't just fall along OS party lines – iOS vs Windows. There are real feature differences that could sway Apple loyalist to the Surface Pro 4 and vice versa.

Here is how the two tablets stack up against each other.

iPad Pro: Specs vs. Specs

Apple's iPad Pro monster 12.9-inch-screen tablet doesn't just redefine the iPad in the workplace, it begins to blur the line between a tablet and a MacBook Pro or notebook PC. But it's not alone.

The iPad Pro's 2,732 x 2,048 Retina display is a significant change for Apple, which had previously offered a 9.7-inch iPad Air 2. The tablet itself measures 12 by 8.68 inches, 0.27 inches thick and 1.5 pounds. Additional specs include Apple's new A9X third-generation chip with 64-bit architecture, an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 1.2-megapixel front FaceTime camera. Battery life is 9 to 10 hours depending on usage, according to Apple. Also important to note is that the iPad Pro does not have the 3D Touch technology introduced with the iPhone 6s models.

Starting price for the iPad Pro is $800.

Surface Pro 4: Specs vs. Specs

The new Surface Pro 4 will have a 12.3-inch display, an upgrade from the Surface Pro 3's 12-inch screen. The Surface Pro 4 has a starting price of $800 with 16 GB of storage, but can be configured with up to 1 TB of storage. Microsoft claims the Surface Pro 4 is 30 percent more powerful than the Surface Pro 3. The tablet will feature Intel’s 6th Generation Core m3, Core i5 and Core i7 processors.

One huge difference is, Apple gives you the option of buying an LTE-capable iPad Pro (128 GB only), but as of now the Surface Pro 4 does not offer an integrated cellular modem.

A9X Chip Vs. Intel Core i5 Chip

Apple claims that the new A9X processor is a desktop-class processor that runs faster than the Surface Pro 4 family of processors that include 6th Gen Intel Core m3, i5, or i7.

There is no question the A9X is a big step up from the previous generation AX8 chip. Apple claims the chip is 2 times faster than the A8X and faster than 80 percent of portable PCs released in the past year. Just keep in mind, a good deal of last year's laptops were priced considerably less than the average price of Apple's iPad Pros.

Apple also claims the A9X is up to 70 percent faster overall compared with the A8X and 90 percent faster in processing graphics. These are bold claims, but no independent testing has been conducted, so we'll have to take Apple's claims with a grain of salt until it's tested.

Intel's comparable sixth-generation i5 runs at 1.1GHz (with Turbo Boost Technology up to 2.7GHz) with Intel HD Graphics 515. At the high-end of the Surface Pro 4 SKU is the $1,500 model that features Intel's sixth-generation i7 runs at 1.2GHz (with Turbo Boost Technology up to 3.1GHz). Intel boasts its Core M processors help systems wake faster, have integrated graphics that support 4K screens and support True Key security allowing you to use your face, fingerprint or multi-factor authentication.

Display Size And Quality Smackdown

The iPad Pro is not only bigger than other iPads -- it's a lot bigger. Compared with the screen on the iPad Air (which measures 9.7 inches diagonally), the iPad Pro's screen is more than 3 inches larger. Compared with the Surface Pro 4's 12.3-inch display, the iPad Pro has 7 percent more display area.

The iPad Pro's screen has 5.6 million pixels in a 2,732-by-2,048 resolution (versus the 2763-by-1824 resolution of the Surface Pro 4), making it the highest-resolution Retina display Apple says it has ever produced.

As mentioned before, the iPad Pro does not feature the 3D Touch technology introduced with the iPhone 6s models. So, if pixels matter, the iPad Pro is the winner here.

Surface Pro 4, Surface Pro 4 Type Cover

The Surface Pro 4 has a new keyboard (compatible with Surface Pro 3) that has a trackpad that is 40 percent larger than the Surface Pro 3 model. Microsoft said the Surface Pro 4 has a redesigned mechanical keyboard that delivers more fluid typing. A pro version of the Surface 4 also includes a fingerprint reader.

iPad Pro: Keyboard

The iPad Pro's $170 Smart Keyboard is like an oversized iPad Smart Cover. The Smart Keyboard can double as a stand for your monster 12.9-inch-screen tablet and, when folded, a perfect keyboard.

The Smart Keyboard connects magnetically to the iPad Pro via a strip of three metal contacts called a Smart Connector port. The Smart Connector powers the keyboard and acts as a data port, allowing the keyboard to run independent of Bluetooth.

Surface Pen Vs. Apple Pencil

Apple's first stylus for the iPad Pro is called simply Apple Pencil and costs $100. It comes packed with some pretty cool tech, including several sensors on both its case and the tip that can detect the position, pressure, angle and orientation of your strokes. Two sensors on the tip work with Multi-Touch display to detect whenever you're tilting the Pencil to create a shading effect.

The Apple Pencil has a Lightning connector at the eraser end of the stylus. Apple boasts a 12-hour battery life for the Pencil. Run out of juice? Apple claims charging the Pencil for 15 seconds will give you 30 minutes of battery life.

Microsoft calls its active capacitive pen simply the Surface Pen, which is included in the price of the Surface Pro 4. Sold separately, the Surface Pen will run you $60. Microsoft says the stylus supports 256 levels of pressure sensitivity and uses palm-blocking technology so you can draw, take notes and mark up documents. Unlike the Apple Pencil, Surface Pen uses disposable batteries to power the stylus. The Surface pen docks with strong magnets to the sides of the tablet.

Port Play

For some, ports are extremely important when it comes to relying on your tablet as a 2-in-1-class notebook. After all, the 2-in-1 form factor appeals to people who want the best of both tablet and notebook worlds. The Surface Pro 4 has a single USB 3.0 port, a Mini DisplayPort and a microSD slot that supports up to 128-GB-capacity cards. Microsoft adds what is called a Surface Connect port that links the keyboard cover snuggly to the tablet.

As for the iPad Pro, it has a Lightning connector, a Smart connector and a headphone jack. The port to keep an eye on with the iPad Pro is the Smart connector. Apple said that third-party accessory makers will be able to create their own accessories for the Smart Connector. Accessories maven Logitec is one such manufacturer that says it will be coming out with accessories based on the Smart Connector this November.

The Surface Pro 4 has the clear advantage when it comes to ports. Not only does Surface Pro offer more ports, but it supports adding either a Bluetooth mouse or a USB mouse. lack of mouse support for a business-class tablet is likely a deal breaker for many.

Apps Support

The Surface Pro 4 tablet has one foot in the Windows software world and another in the Microsoft Store full of touch-friendly tablet apps. Apple's iPad Pro depends on Apple's App Store with 725,000 apps.

The Surface Pro 4 might have a stronger appeal to those who need the Windows ecosystem to run business-critical applications that are just not available on the iOS. Then there is Microsoft's Office Suite of software that for some run best on the Windows OS as opposed to using an iteration of the software on an iOS device. For those in this camp the Surface 4 is a no brainer.

Then there is Apple's iOS and its access to over 720,000 touch-friendly apps designed for use on an Apple tablet. Apple takes it a step further for iPad Pro users and has opened up a dedicated Amazing Apps for iPad Pro store that has apps optimized for the large format iPad, such as office productivity apps and an Adobe Photoshop Sketch. And for goofing around, the iPad Pro trounces Microsoft when it comes to cutting loose and having fun on your iPad Pro.