iPad Pro vs Microsoft Surface Pro 4: Can iOS Take Down Windows 10?

iPad Pro vs Microsoft Surface Pro 4: Can iOS Take Down Windows 10?
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Which is the TRUE laptop replacement: Microsoft's Surface Pro 4 or Apple's iPad Pro?

Microsoft and Apple's age-old rivalry reminds us a bit of Wiley Coyote and Roadrunner; it might seem sometimes like a really easy choice on who you think is the "good guy" and who is trolling the crap out of their nemesis, but if you stick around long enough you catch yourself feeling a certain degree of sympathy and animosity towards both camps. Sometimes Wiley was being a right devious SOB and you couldn't help but root for RR, but then others it felt like the poor Coyote just couldn't catch a break, while the speedy blue avian was simply being an arrogant little douche-nozzle.

Old rivalries die hard, it seems. Microsoft and Apple are no strangers to competing with each other, but historically the two have sparred over the desktop and laptop personal computer space (as with the "I'm a Mac, I'm a PC" ads). When it comes to mobile, Microsoft was left behind, and the main contest for a long time has been between Apple's iOS and Google's Android platforms and their respective hardware.
Fast forward to today, however, and Microsoft has made a new and compellingly bold bid for the mobile space and the PC space simultaneously, and throwing hybrid devices straddling both into the mix, all via the new Windows 10 platform. It's now very much a three-way battle between Google Android, Microsoft Windows 10, and Apple iOS/OSX (which is increasingly hybridising features).
Apple's latest offering for the mobile computing space is a new iPad, so based on iOS, and aimed at the professional sector as the iPad Pro. It's got a massive display and some custom input support for a pencil stylus and keyboard, as well as support for split-screen multitasking and much more besides. However, with the advent of Windows 10, the most refined mobile-desktop hybrid iteration to date, Microsoft has introduced its fourth generation Surface Pro tablet, aptly dubbed the Surface Pro 4. Not content to be a tablet with optional plug-in keyboard, the Surface has been designed as a hybrid tablet and laptop from the get-go.
A lot has already been said about both devices from both Apple and Microsoft’s camp. Tim Cook said the Surface Pro 4 “tries too hard”, while Microsoft reckons the iPad Pro will never be more than a companion device to a laptop or hybrid machine like a MacBook, Windows 10 machine or a Chromebook.
I’m kind of with Microsoft on this one. The Surface Pro 4 is an exceptional machine with great software and excellent specs and hardware. It is both tablet and laptop rolled into one, having the benefits associated with both as well as few additional things, stylus and USB-support, thrown in for good measure.
But which is better? Let us see shall we?

iPad Pro vs Microsoft Surface Pro 4: Design and Specs

Microsoft Surface Pro 4
  • Display: 12.3-inch 2736 x 1824 pixel at 267 pixels per inch
  • Storage: 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB
  • Processors: Intel Skylake Core M3, Core i5, or Core i7
  • RAM: 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB
  • OS: Windows 10 Pro
  • Cameras: 8MP front, 5MP rear
  • Connectivity: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 3.0, microsSD
  • Size: 292 mm x 201 mm x 8.45
  • Weight: 786 grams
iPad Pro
  • Display: 12.9-inch 2732×2048 pixel at 264 pixels per inch
  • Storage: 32 and 128GB
  • Processors: 64-bit A9X and M9
  • RAM: 4GB
  • OS: iOS 9.1
  • Cameras: front 1.2MP 720p HD camera and a rear 8MP 1080p HD camera
  • Connectivity: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, optional 4G
  • Size: 305 mm × 220 mm × 7 mm
  • Weight: 710 grams
Look, I’m going to be honest from the get go and say I’m a HUGE Apple fan. I think the iPhone and the Mac are some of the best computing devices you can buy. That being said, from a quick rundown of the specs alone it really does look like the Surface Pro 4 handily beats the iPad Pro if you are looking for a tablet/hybrid device that will allow you to do away with carrying around a separate laptop.
The biggest difference between the two is that the Surface Pro 4 comes in many more options than the iPad Pro. The iPad Pro essentially gives you three options: one 32GB sized model and two 128GB sized models (one without 4G and one with). All three models have 4GB of RAM and the same A9X chip (although that is supposed to be INSANELY fast).
But the Surface Pro 4, on the other hand offers three chip options (a relatively weak Intel Skylake Core M3 or Core i5, and a much more powerful Core i7). The Surface gives you the option of an insane amount of storage to: 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB. And RAM? You’ve got the option of 4GB, 8GB, or a crazy 16GB.
The Surface Pro also gives you plenty of more ports including a full sized USB 3.0 port and a microSD card slot. However, the downside is that what the Surface doesn’t give you is a cellular connection–yep, there’s still no 4G option. But still this is hardly a deal-breaker. My Chromebook doesn't have one either and that's never really bothered me. 
Finally, on the camera front, both the iPad Pro and Surface Pro 4 have 8MP rear cameras, but the Surface Pro also offer a 5MP front camera where the iPad Pro only gives you 1.2MP. I also generally prefer the overall look, feel and design of the Surface Pro. It feels like a machine you can get stuff done on -- mostly because it is just that. The iPad Pro, conversely, looks and feels like, well... a big iPad. 

iPad Pro vs Microsoft Surface Pro 4: Display

The display of the iPad Pro is physically larger at 12.9-inches, compared to the Surface Pro’s 12.3-inches. Both come in at a similar pixel density of 264 and 267 ppi, respectively. But the iPad Pro has a slightly higher resolution at 2732×2048 pixels versus the Surface Pro’s 2736 x 1824. Overall there's not a lot in it, but you could argue the Surface is a bit more portable, while the iPad Pro has that bigger, ever-so-slightly sharper display for presenting things to people. Swings and roundabouts.
Personally speaking, I find the size and gait of the Surface Pro 4 infinitely preferable. I don’t need to buy a new satchel to fit it inside, I like the familiar, laptop-style format and it has an array of ports for connecting it to things like external monitors and other accessories. Mostly, though, the Surface Pro 4 is a machine I can do work on — it looks, feels and performs in a manner I am used to. The iPad, for me, has always been about consuming media, not creating it. I know Apple wants to change this with the iPad Pro but I just can’t see how that will happen while it is still running iOS?  

iPad Pro vs Microsoft Surface Pro 4: OS

This is another area where–if you are comparing the iPad Pro and Surface Pro as hybrid “we don’t need no laptops anymore” devices–then the Surface Pro wins hands down. That’s because it runs Windows 10, a full desktop OS along with desktop-class apps. The iPad Pro runs iOS 9–while there’s a lot of apps for that, it doesn’t compare to being able to run a full desktop OS like Windows 10 or OS X on the Mac.

iPad Pro vs Microsoft Surface Pro 4: Accessory Support

Again, we're looking at these two devices as laptop replacements–and again the Surface Pro wins here. That’s because it supports an insane amount of accessories. The iPad Pro works with Apple’s new Pencil Stylus and Smart Keyboard Cover (both will cost you extra), but that’s it.
"Apple Pencil has two emitters in the tip that enable the iPad Pro to determine the pencil nib's angle and orientation relative to the display, and adjust the pen stroke according to iFixit. iPad Pro has a digitizer that likely determines the distance from each emitter to the screen," reports Mac Rumors. "At the core of the Apple Pencil is a tiny 0.329 Wh lithium-ion rechargeable battery that holds just 5% of the charge of an iPhone 6s battery, next to a small cylindrical black and gold antenna. There is also a small ribbon cable that connects the Apple Pencil's battery with its Lightning connector for charging."
On the subject of specs, the report said: "On the other side of the battery is the Apple Pencil's tiny folded logic board that weighs just one gram, yet houses more than five components, including an ST Microelectronics low-power 32-bit ARM-based Cortex-M3 microcontroller and Qualcomm Bluetooth 4.1 chip from Cambridge Silicon Radio."
The Surface Pro includes the stylus when you buy it and also offers an optional keyboard cover. However, it’s keyboard cover also features a glass trackpad–meaning you can use the Surface as you can a laptop, that is: how you’re used to. The Surface Pro also supports mice (just plug it into the USB port or connect via Bluetooth).

iPad Pro vs Microsoft Surface Pro 4: Price & Verdict

As a laptop or desktop replacement, the Surface Pro 4 blows away the iPad Pro. It is a TRUE laptop replacement because it runs a desktop class OS and apps and offers a wide range of accessories and ports.
On the flipside, if you opt for a Surface Pro 4 over an iPad Pro you’re going to be paying for it. But given the aforementioned benefits and the fact that the iPad Pro is a first generation device -- and Apple's first generation devices are never the one you want to opt for -- then this should not be a dealbreaker for you. 
The iPad Pro costs £679 for the 32GB Wi-Fi model, £799 for the 128GB Wi-Fi model, and £899 for the 128GB Wi-Fi + Cellular model. That's without the keyboard and pen though, add those on top and you're looking at just over a grand all-in.
The Surface Pro ranges from £740 for the relatively weak entry level model (128GB, Intel Core m3, 4GB RAM) all the way up to £1799 for the top of the line model (512GB, Intel Core i7, 16GB RAM). For that amount of money, the Surface better be both a true top of the line tablet and also a laptop replacement.

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