Head-To-Head: Apple iPad Pro Vs. Microsoft Surface Pro

Tablets For Pros

Most major PC vendors have an offering at this point for a tablet-keyboard combo aimed at professionals, also known as a 2-in-1. However, the products that probably matter most are Microsoft's pioneering Surface Pro and Apple's answer to it, the iPad Pro. Notably, both devices got a big refresh this summer. Which of the updated devices is a better fit for your needs? In the following slides, the CRN Test Center compares the new Apple iPad Pro with the new Microsoft Surface Pro on specs and price.

First Things First

Apart from the obvious differences in operating system -- the iPad Pro runs iOS 10 (and soon iOS 11), the Surface Pro runs Windows 10 -- there are more models to choose from with the iPad Pro. Apple is offering a 10.5-inch model of the tablet (replacing the former 9.7-inch version) along with a 12.9-inch model. The iPad Pro is also available in Wi-Fi-only versions, as well as in LTE + WiFi versions.

By contrast, the Surface Pro only has one size (12.3 inches) and is not available in LTE. Microsoft did say that an LTE model of the new Surface Pro will be arriving in 2017, but the company hasn't revealed a date yet.


As mentioned, the Surface Pro has a 12.3-inch display that's right in between the two sizes of the iPad Pro, 10.5 inches and 12.9 inches. The Surface Pro uses PixelSense LCD technology for its display, while the iPad Pro uses Apple's Retina display. Both display technologies are bright and colorful, so neither one is likely to disappoint. The Surface Pro offers a similar amount of pixels on its display as the larger iPad Pro, with a resolution of 2,736 x 1,824. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro has a display resolution of 2,732 x 2,048. As for the 10.5-inch model, it's a tad lower-res at 2,224 x 1,668.

Battery Life

Microsoft says it put some serious effort into boosting the battery life on the new Surface Pro. The result is that the tablet promises up to 13.5 hours of battery life on a charge (a 50 percent increase over the Surface Pro 4). The iPad Pro doesn't have quite as much to offer here, with Apple promising up to 10 hours of battery life when on Wi-Fi. Using the tablet over LTE will drop that battery life estimate down to nine hours.

Ports, Keyboard And Pen

For both the iPad Pro and Surface Pro, a keyboard and digital pen are sold separately. The Smart Keyboard for the iPad Pro is $169 (for the 12.9-inch model) or $159 (for the 10.5-inch model). Microsoft offers two Type Covers for the Surface Pro -- a basic Type Cover for $130, and a "Signature" edition for $160 that comes with Alcantara fabric around the keys and touchpad. And speaking of the touchpad, the iPad Pro Smart Keyboard doesn't have one, which could cause headaches for some users.

In terms of digital pens, the iPad Pro works with the $99 Apple Pencil and the Surface Pro works with the $100 Surface Pen.

And as for ports, the Surface Pro has a USB-A port and a Mini DisplayPort, along with microSD and Surface Connect ports (for power and docking). The iPad Pro just has Apple's Smart Connector, which can connect to the Smart Keyboard and third-party accessories. The iPad Pro also has a Nano-SIM tray that supports Apple SIM.


Apple uses its own processor for the latest iPad Pro models, the A10X Fusion. The company says the chip is 40 percent faster than the previous-generation processor. That suggests a clock speed of about 3GHz for the 10.5-inch iPad Pro and of about 3.14GHz for the 12.9-inch model.

Microsoft goes with Intel processors for the Surface Pro, and has three available options. Those are the Core m3 processor (clock speed of up to 2.6GHz), Core i5 (up to 3.5GHz) or Core i7 (up to 4GHz).

Thickness And Weight

Without factoring in the keyboards, both of the iPad Pro models are lighter than the Surface Pro. The 10.5-inch iPad Pro weighs a pound and the 12.9-inch model weighs 1.5 pounds, compared with a starting weight of 1.69 pounds for the Surface Pro.

Both iPad Pro models are also thinner. Again without the keyboards, the iPad Pro models measure 0.24 of an inch thick (for the smaller model) and 0.27 of an inch thick (for the larger model). The Surface Pro without Type Cover measures 0.33 of an inch thick.

Storage And Memory

The Surface Pro is more generous in terms of storage options, as well as with the maximum possible amount of storage. The tablet comes with 128 GB of storage at the base level, and can also be configured with 256 GB, 512 GB or 1 TB. The iPad Pro, by contrast, has a starting level of 64 GB of storage, with options to go up to 256 GB or 512 GB.

Apple doesn't disclose how much RAM is in the iPad Pro. That means that, at the very least, the amount is fixed and can't be customized for the user. Benchmark tests suggest that both of the iPad Pro models come with 4 GB of RAM, however. That's the base level for RAM on the Surface Pro, but the tablet can also be configured with 8 GB or 16 GB of RAM -- which could be a big advantage in terms of productivity on the tablet compared with using the iPad Pro.


Both the Surface Pro and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro have the same starting price, $799. For that price you'll get 64 GB of storage on the iPad Pro and twice that amount on the Surface Pro. However, it's worth noting that the iPad Pro does have more display space to offer and a faster processor at that level. The 10.5-inch iPad Pro has a lower starting price, of $649.

It's also worth pointing out that with the attachable keyboards, the starting price of the Surface Pro is actually $959 (with the Signature Type Cover) while the 10.5-inch iPad Pro with keyboard is $958 and the 12.9-inch model with keyboard is $968.

The Surface Pro has a wider number of configuration options because its processor and RAM are adjustable, unlike on the iPad Pro. For instance, for a Surface Pro with 256 GB of storage, 8G B of RAM and Intel Core i7, you'll pay $1,599. While you can get a 12.9-inch iPad Pro with 256 GB of storage for a lot less -- $899 -- its processor and memory can't be configured to be as high as what's available on the Surface Pro.