The new Surface Pro lastly presents the iPad Pro a worthy challenger

Microsoft Source Pro top down view showing slate and keyboard.
Digital Trends

Coincidentally or not, the 2 most vital tablets of 2024 have been introduced inside a few weeks of one another. First was the up to date Apple iPad Pro, which was introduced on May 7, 2024, and started delivery on May 15, 2024. Then, on May 20, 2024, a radically new Microsoft Surface Pro was introduced and is predicted to ship in June, 2024, carrying Microsoft’s new Copilot+ designation.

The iPad Pro obtained Apple’s newest Silicon chipset, the M4, together with a brand new tandem OLED show. The Surface Pro will probably be delivery completely with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X Elite and Windows on ARM. It, too, presents a brand new OLED show. Which of those two new tablets is best for you?

Specs and configurations

  Microsoft Surface Pro Apple iPad Pro M4
Dimensions 11.3 inches x 8.2 inches x 0.37 inches 11-inch: 9.83 inches x 6.99 inches x 0.21 inches
13-inch: 11.09 inches x 8.48 inches x 0.20 inches
Weight 1.97 kilos (pill solely) 11-inch: 0.98 kilos
13-inch: 1.28 kilos
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon X Plus (10-core)
Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite (12-core)
Apple M4 (9-core)
Apple M4 (10-core)
Graphics Qualcomm Adreno Apple M4 (10-core)
Display 13.o-inch 3:2 2.8K (2880 x 1920) IPS, 120Hz
13.0-inch 3:2 2.8K (2880 x 1920) OLED, 120Hz
11.0-inch 4:3 2420 x 1668 tandem OLED, 120Hz
13.0-inch 4:3 2752 x 2064 tandem OLED, 120Hz
Storage 256GB SSD
Touch Yes Yes
Ports 2 x USB4 with Thundrebolt 4
Surface Connect
1 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
Wireless Wi-Fi 7 and Bluetooth 5.4
Optional 5G
Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3
Optional 5G
Webcam 1440p front-facing with infrared digicam for Windows 11 Hello
10.5MP rear-facing
1080p entrance going through with Face ID
12MP rear-facing
Operating system Windows 11 iPadOS 17.5.1
Battery IPS: 48 watt-hour
OLED: 53 watt-hour
11-inch: 31.29 watt-hour
13-inch: 38.99 watt-hour
Price $1,000+ $1,000+
Rating Not reviewed Not reviewed

The Surface Pro and iPad Pro each begin at $1,000. However, the configurations supplied are very completely different at that value.

There are two variations of the Surface Pro with both a 13.0-inch LCD show or an OLED panel. The LCD model begins at $1,000 for a Qualcomm Snapdragon X Plus, 16GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD. It could be upgraded to 512GB for an additional $200. The OLED model is extra highly effective and begins at $1,500 for a Qualcomm Snapdragon X Elite, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. With 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD, the Surface Pro OLED prices $2,100.

The iPad Pro is available in two variations with both an 11-inch or a 13-inch tandem OLED show. Choosing an iPad Pro is a bit sophisticated, with the 256GB and 512GB variations coming with a 9-core CPU M4 and 8GB of RAM and the 1TB and 2TB variations coming with a 10-core CPU M4 and 16GB of RAM. The 11-inch iPad Pro begins at $999 with 256GB and ramps as much as $1,999 with 2TB, whereas the 13-inch iPad Pro is $1,299 with 256GB and $2,299 with 2TB.

That places each pill at equally premium costs, with the Surface Pro obtainable with extra RAM and fewer storage and vice versa with the iPad Pro. Each must be fastidiously configured to make sure the proper chipsets and RAM are chosen.

The different factor to think about is the value of the equipment. The Surface Pro Flex Keyboard prices an astounding $350, whereas the Surface Slim Pen 2 is $100. The iPad Pro Magic Keyboard, then again, prices $299 for the 11-inch mannequin and $350 for the 13-inch measurement. The Apple Pencil prices $99.

Operating techniques and design

Side view of M4 iPad Pro
Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

Perhaps crucial distinction between the 2 tablets is their working techniques. That alone may sway you to 1 machine or one other.

The Surface Pro runs Windows 11 on ARM, a variant that’s at the moment optimized completely for Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X ARM chipsets. Windows 11 on ARM works similar to Windows 11 for Intel, with the exception that apps must both run natively on the Qualcomm chipset or by way of emulation. It stays to be seen how nicely apps run in emulation and the way nicely Windows on ARM helps the number of peripherals obtainable for Windows 11 on Intel.

The iPad Pro runs Apple’s iPadOS working system, which is extra just like iOS on the iPhone than macOS on Apple’s MacBooks. It’s a extra light-weight working system optimized for contact, and it lacks the identical file administration and peripheral help as a full-featured OS whereas operating a very completely different set of apps. Everything is optimized for Apple Silicon, nevertheless, that means there’s no concern about how nicely iPad apps will run on the M4.

The Surface Pro with the keyboard attached on a table.
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

Now that we’ve lined the fundamental working system variations, we will focus on the Surface Pro and iPad Pro designs. Of course, they’re each slates, that means that they’re merely metallic chassis fused to glass shows. From the entrance, the 2 tablets are related, with moderately skinny, black show bezels. And to an extent, they’re related on the again as nicely, with all-metal surfaces. They are available in a number of colours — Platinum, Black, Dune, and Sapphire for the Surface Pro and Silver and Space Black for the iPad Pro. Both are solidly constructed, with a number of the greatest industrial manufacturing high quality obtainable on gadgets as we speak.

The most vital distinction is that the Surface Pro consists of an built-in kickstand that pulls out from the again and extends from practically vertical to just about flat. The iPad Pro doesn’t, making the Surface Pro simpler to make use of on a floor and not using a keyboard attachment. That additionally makes the iPad Pro considerably thinner and lighter than the Surface Pro at 0.20 inches and 1.28 kilos for the 13-inch iPad Pro in comparison with 0.37 inches and 1.97 kilos for the Surface Pro. The 11-inch iPad Pro is 0.21 inches and 0.98 kilos.

The Surface Pro has a brand new removable keyboard, the Surface Pro Flex, which might now be used both hooked up to the Surface Pro or as a standalone Bluetooth keyboard. It presents an angled design for extra ergonomic typing, together with a touchpad that’s bigger than earlier Type Covers and that makes use of a haptic engine. The Apple Magic Keyboard connects magnetically to the iPad Pro and receives energy and pairing through the Smart Connector. It holds the iPad Pro at a number of angles, and the keyboard lies flat. The new Magic Keyboard, obtainable for each the 11-inch and 13-inch fashions, has a brand new aluminum keyboard deck and a haptic touchpad.

Ports and connectivity

In phrases of connectivity, neither pill can examine to a typical clamshell laptop computer. The Surface Pro has two USB4 ports with Thunderbolt 4 help, and a Surface Connect port for energy and charging. The iPad Pro has one USB-C port with Thunderbolt 4, which is the one means for charging the pill. The Surface Pro has exterior show help for as much as three 4K screens, whereas the iPad Pro helps only a single hooked up show. It needs to be famous that the Magic Keyboard provides a second USB-C port when linked.

The Surface Pro helps the newest Wi-Fi 7 and Bluetooth 5.4 requirements, whereas the iPad Pro is restricted to Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3. Both have non-obligatory 5G help, through a nanoSIM slot on the Surface Pro and an eSIM with the iPad Pro.

Finally, the Surface Pro has a 1440p front-facing webcam with an infrared digicam for Windows 11 Hello facial recognition and a ten.5MP rear-facing digicam. The front-facing digicam is wide-angle and helps AI options like auto-framing, eye detection, and

The iPad Pro has a 1080p front-facing webcam with Face ID and a 12MP rear-facing digicam.


The new Surface Pro on a table.
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

The Surface Pro is now constructed completely round Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon X, an ARM chipset designed particularly for laptop computer use. There are two variations, the Snapdragon X Plus with 10 CPU cores operating at as much as 3.4GHz and the Snapdragon X Elite with 12 CPU cores operating as much as 4.2GHz. The Snapdragon X chipset consists of the Adreno GPU. The iPad Pro makes use of the Apple Silicon M4 chipset, which options both 9 or 10 CPU cores and 10 GPU cores.

We haven’t seen benchmarks on merchandise delivery with the Snapdragon X chipset, however it’s possible that the X Elite will probably be across the identical velocity because the 10-core M4 and the X Plus across the identical velocity because the 9-core M4. GPU efficiency is totally up within the air at this level, though preliminary testing appears to indicate the M4’s GPU being considerably sooner. Because of the variations between the sorts of apps that run on Windows 11 on ARM versus iPadOS, direct efficiency comparisons will possible be difficult.

Today, it’s not sufficient to speak about CPU and GPU efficiency. With the appearance of generative AI and enormous language fashions (LLM) upending computing as we all know it, the Neural Processing Unit (NPU) that powers these capabilities has taken on a brand new significance. Apple has had its Neural Engine (NE) in its chipsets for a number of generations, and the M4 16-core NE boasts 38 trillion operations per second (TOPS). Qualcomm’s Hexagon NPU guarantees 45 TOPS. Those numbers aren’t fastidiously outlined, nevertheless, and so we don’t but know the precise real-world efficiency we will anticipate to see.


Watching video on M4 iPad Pro.
Nadeem Sarwar / Digital Trends

The Surface Pro could be configured with both a 13.0-inch 3:2 2.8K (2880 x 1920) IPS show or a 13.0-inch 3:2 2.8K (2880 x 1920) OLED panel, each operating at as much as 120Hz. The iPad Pro comes with one show in both 11 or 13 inches, and it’s a tandem OLED panel operating at 4:3 2420 x 1668 for the 11-inch mannequin and 4:3 2752 x 2064 for the 13-inch mannequin. That makes all shows across the identical sharpness, with the iPad Pro having a barely extra sq. facet ratio.

We’re sure that the OLED shows may have the identical broad and correct colours as is typical of the expertise, together with the standard inky blacks. The most vital distinction will probably be brightness, the place the Surface Pro’s OLED panel guarantees as much as 800 nits in excessive dynamic vary (HDR) content material in comparison with the iPad Pro’s outstanding 1,600 nits. The iPad Pro’s OLED show is a brand new tandem design that stacks two OLED panels, utilizing one to supply further backlighting to the opposite.

The Surface Pro’s IPS show possibility is probably going to supply higher battery life, which might be its main benefit. It can’t do HDR, although it maxes out at 600 nits of brightness. The iPad Pro is prone to be the most effective gadgets obtainable as we speak for HDR content material.


The Surface Pro keyboard detached from the tablet.
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

As mentioned above, the iPad Pro is remarkably skinny and considerably lighter than the Surface Pro. It’s additionally obtainable in a extra compact 11-inch mannequin. That makes the iPad Pro much more transportable when contemplating the tablets alone. Adding both pill’s keyboard accent will naturally add some thickness and weight. Both are very transportable gadgets that needs to be simple to make use of as tablets.

The subsequent vital consideration is battery life. Here, we’ll need to go along with every producer’s estimates till we now have an opportunity to run our personal checks. Notably, each tablets use extremely environment friendly ARM chipsets and so are extra equal on this regard than some previous comparisons.

According to Microsoft, the Surface Pro will obtain as much as 14 hours of native video looping. For the iPad Pro, Apple guarantees as much as 10 hours. The Surface Pro has a significantly bigger battery than the iPad Pro, particularly within the OLED model, which contributes to the Surface Pro’s added thickness and weight. Therefore, it’s not shocking that it will get higher battery life.

We’ll wait to render a verdict

These tablets are each very related and really completely different. The Surface Pro runs Windows 11 on ARM, a full-featured OS that’s primarily the identical because the one which runs on Windows clamshells and different kind elements. The greatest distinction will probably be app compatibility, which stays to be seen. The iPad Pro runs iPadOS, a less complicated working system absolutely optimized for contact.

The greatest questions revolve round real-world efficiency and battery life, together with when operating no matter on-device AI performance Microsoft and Apple add to their platforms. In the meantime, we’ll wait to see what shakes out earlier than making a agency suggestion.

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