Pro Tablet Showdown: Microsoft Surface Pro 4 vs 12.9” iPad Pro

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Want to invest in a tablet but unsure with the huge range to choose from? Laptop Outlet are here to help. We’re determined to provide you with all the information you need on your desired device, making sure it’s right for you; before investing in something only to be disappointed.

The iPad Pro and Microsoft Surface Pro 4 both come at a hefty price, so be sure to know everything before taking the plunge and purchasing one. Rivalling one another and providing similar features can make the decision tricky, so hopefully our comparison will help you come to a decision.


Graphics & Screen

iPad Pro:

Whilst the quality of Apple devices is constantly proclaimed, the iPad Pro backs this claim as it features undeniably good visual quality. With a screen resolution of 2048 x 2732, a 12.9” retina display, 5.6 million pixels and the best LCD panels seen on any tablet or laptop, you’re guaranteed to be impressed. It also has a large colour gamut which enables the screen to yield a wider range of colours thus covering more of the spectrum, to satisfy your viewing pleasure. The oxide thin-film transistor also further enhances colour display and overall elevates your visual experience. It also eliminates the risk of patchiness and blotchiness that you might find with other tablets, such as the Amazon Kindle.

The TrueTone feature ensures that brightness, colour tones, saturation and exposure alter depending on your surrounding lighting. You’ll be able to work and play without the hassle of fiddling around with brightness levels to find something that suits you, as it’ll be done automatically! On the downside, the screens glossy finish is quite reflective, so when working in bright or intense lighting you may face some difficulty.

The visual quality ensures a great gaming experience, but the gaming quality is no match for the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 which has Intel Iris graphics. However, iOS games are especially tailored to Apple devices, so there’s still a definite advantage. With 80% more viewing space than its 9.7” equivalent, the bigger screen ensures bigger visuals and viewing ease/pleasure. A bigger screen also means bigger keys, so greater ease when touching and typing.

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Microsoft Surface Pro 4:

The 12.3”, PixelSense™ display provides great visuals for both a cinematic experience on the go and flawless gaming quality. The resolution of 2736 x 1824 and 267 pixels per inch ensure immense detail. Microsoft claims to have covered the entire SRGB colour spectrum, but in reality covers 95% – still very impressive. This means you can experience in more colour with a greater range of tones. However, in terms of the Adobe RGB colour space-standard, the score is a little disappointing. As a design tool, it should ideally cover 90% of the spectrum, but falls short by covering a mere 68.3%. Those who aim to use the tablet for design purposes might want to consider other options, but for those who simply want to work and play, it’s more than adequate. For films and gaming in specific, several graphic tests prove it to be of high quality; and in line with other high end tablets of its price range.

The preceding Surface Pro 3 faced a lot of criticism due to various problems, most of which have been addressed in the features of the latest model, but there have been several re-occurring problems. Whilst the screen is of pretty good quality, many users reported that the Intel HD graphics driver had a habit of randomly crashing and from time to time the screen would be dead whilst the tablet was on.


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Portability & Aesthetics

iPad Pro:

Super lightweight and a mere 6.9mm thin, the iPad Pro is easy to carry around without weighing you down. However, this tablet is rather big in size so you can’t hold it singlehandedly, and using it for the whole day means it is a little uncomfortable even when using it with two hands.

Supposedly being faster than 80% of portable PCs, this device seems like the ideal investment for working on-the-go. Whilst its price may be off putting and it may not be the most portable choice, the iPad Pro is aimed at professionals and semi-professionals and/or those that handle design and graphics; so for use it is especially worth purchasing for them. Especially with accessories like the Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard, it facilitates on-the-go designing and graphics tasks with ease. In terms of stability, this tablet is a winner. When the keyboard is attached you can work with ease, and the magnetic hinges are a lot sturdier than you’d expect. The device can also be used comfortably for desk work, or while resting on your lap. When balancing on your lap the stand ensures it stays in place, so it doesn’t overheat at all on your legs, and the fan doesn’t get blocked.

Apple are always acclaimed for their slick, elegant designs and the iPad Pro is no exception. Available in silver, space grey and gold, all of which look clean-cut and polished, this device is a great work companion. The home button as per usual is dual functional, working as a finger print scanner to unlock the device. This is a great security feature, ensuring work stays safe.


Microsoft Surface Pro 4:

Super slim and lightweight at only 786 grams, you’ll have no problem travelling with this tablet. It is also accompanied with a built-in kickstand, so unlike other tablets, you don’t need to carry the keyboard with you to stand your tablet up. This definitely puts the Surface Pro 4 at an advantage point over other tablets and especially the iPad which can only be placed in one mode even with the keyboard. The previous model faced a number of design issues that have been taken into consideration in the Surface Pro 4s design. The magnetic lock is significantly stronger and the pen firmly stays in its designated holder. Another point scored over the iPad, is that this tablet makes ensures that the stylus is safe, and won’t be lost or broken when in your bag.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 has a handsome exterior. It has a metallic grey, magnesium finish and is slick and thin with a black border running around the perimeter of the screen, which gives it a luxurious look. It’s suitable for those who aim to use a tablet for work, because it has a professional clean-cut look. Alongside this, the keyboard comes with a range of colour options and casing, so you can choose something which fits your style. (See keyboard section for more information).



iPad Pro:

The iPad Pro is equipped with a 1.2 megapixel front camera and an 8 megapixel rear camera; providing you the opportunity to snap precious moments in great detail, and facetime with immense clarity. However, the sheer size of this tablet makes it a little hard to point and capture, so most would settle for using their phone or camera to take a picture in the heat of the moment.


Microsoft Surface Pro 4:

With a 5 megapixel front camera and 8 megapixel rear camera with autofocus, this tablet has to win. Whilst sharing the same rear megapixel quality, the front camera quality on the Surface Pro 4 is significantly better. So you can capture scenic shots and switch over to the front camera to take a great selfie with an amazing view in the back.

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Operating System & Performance

iPad Pro:

Utilising Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 9, you’ll have the ability to get everything done with ease. The dual-core A9X chip shows 40% more productivity than the iPad Air 2, alongside 2.26GHz and 4GB RAM, so a productive day is guaranteed with this device. The oxide TFT also halves the refresh rate from 60Hz to 30Hz, providing greater power, efficiency and battery life. With the option to split screen, you can have your browser open, do research and write a report at the same time; allowing you to take full advantage of the big screen. However, the split screen feature does have some limitations, as it’s only applicable to certain apps and programmes; it doesn’t work with video streaming apps.


Microsoft Surface Pro 4:

Pre-installed with Windows, this tablet will be easy to use for everyone! The undisputed operating system, familiar to the majority, allows you to customise your homepage, so whatever you need most will have quick access. Even for first-time users, it’s user-friendly and you’ll never waste time searching for apps, programmes and tools again.

The powerful 6th generation Intel Core processor will allow you to get work done with ease. Use power draining programmes, start-up and switch between apps quickly, and run multiple programmes/apps simultaneously. Everything runs smoothly as long as graphics are not on the highest setting, as performance speed can slow down a little with this.



iPad Pro:

With storage options of 32GB, 128GB and 256GB, and also with the choice of an SD card reader (at a higher price), storage won’t be much of an issue. There are no USB ports so connecting to an external storage drive will be a little tricky. However, with Apple’s online back-up and storage software iCloud, you can save things online and have them backed up as a safety precaution. For those who intend to use their iPad Pro for photo/video editing and graphic design, we recommend the 128GB or 256GB model, as the 28GB model will not have the capacity to hold such storage-consuming software.


Microsoft Surface Pro 4:

With the choice of three different storage options (128GB, 256GB, 512GB), you can find a suitable storage option for you. However, as stated before with the iPad Pro, we suggest opting for larger storage if you plan to use your tablet for graphics, as the design software takes up a lot of storage space. This tablet holds the upper hand in terms of storage with its inclusion of the USB 3.0 port. As seen with many tablets, the slim design sometimes prevents the incorporation of a USB port, the iPad Pro also doesn’t have it; despite the fact that USBs are still widely used. So if you need to transfer files quickly or run out of space, the USB port included in Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is sure to come in handy.


Battery Life

iPad Pro:

This definitely enhances the portability of the iPad Pro, as it has up to 10 hours battery life, although the battery life is very much dependent on the task at hand. At maximum brightness and 50% volume, the iPad lasts 6 hours; which is impressive considering most people won’t use maximum brightness, or have the speakers on continuously for 6 hours. For those who plan to use the iPad for editing, 3D gaming and other power-consuming tasks, the battery does struggle a little with the pressure. 3D gaming sees the battery percentage fall by up to 19% every hour and with no power saving mode, it’s up to you to adjust the brightness accordingly.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4:

Battery life is again dependent on the task you’re doing. Trials show battery life to drop 13% – 17% per hour when streaming videos, and by iPad and Android standards this isn’t great. When gaming we see a decrease in battery life of 18% – 25% per hour.

After the device was released there was an overflow of complaints, as the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 was plagued with bug reports. It was nothing too dramatic, just several minor bugs, one of which was the power being drained when the tablet was on sleep mode. However, they now offer a range of updates that come with quick fixes for these minor problems. Aside from that, the battery life should last up to 9 hours, with enough charge to work and play on-the-go for an entire day.




iPad pro:

All the standard connectivity is there. Various wireless connection options: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth etc. Although the iPad does fall short with the absence of a USB 3.0 port which eliminates the use of USBs –which are still widely used by many. It also limits connectivity to other external storage drives, as well as other devices like phones, cameras etc.

Microsoft Surface Pro 4:

The Surface Pro 4 comes with all the expected connectivity features you’d want and need, but will have you pleasantly surprised with the inclusion of the USB 3.0 port. Most tablets disregard this port and tend to focus on making the device as thin as possible, but Microsoft really have pleased users with this feature. With most other tablets quick transfers, saving onto USBs or charging your phone quickly just couldn’t be done as there was no USB port, so you’ll be happy to know all of that is possible on this device.



iPad Pro:

Equipped with 4 stereo speakers, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the audio quality on this tablet, which equals, if not rivals, many speakers seen on laptops in recent years. All 4 of the speakers deliver bass sound, whilst only 2 provide high and mid-range sound. The sound alters depending on how you hold the tablet, but it provides an astoundingly balanced sound. A fault seen with many tablets is the lack of volume, and fuzziness at louder volumes; but this tablet is a real game changer. You can watch a film with high-quality sound, and even listen to music at great sound.


Microsoft Surface Pro 4:

The speakers are adequate and provide a decent bass but nothing high-end. They provide good sound quality for films, but not so much music. When positioned directly in front of the tablet the sound quality is adequate, but moving further away or not sat in front of the device leads to a drop of sound quality due to the lack of clarity.




iPad Pro:

We’ll be honest, it’s nowhere near as sensitive as the stylus that accompanies the Wacom graphic tablet or the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, but it’s still very impressive. Carefully innovated to mimic a pencil, you can hold it at an angle to shade and colour in; so it’s great for digital sketching; ensuring immense precision, accuracy and detail. It’s also highly responsive, ensuring no lagging between touch and the desired effect. The Apple Pen is great for those who indulge in artistic hobbies or require digital sketching tools for work, it eliminates the need for pen and paper and enhances work productivity with numerous features. There are numerous apps and programmes available via the Apple App Store that utilise the Apple Pen, however only 2 of them (Paper 53 & Sketchbook) use all of its features. Priced at £79, you’d surely want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth and using it to its maximum potential. Whilst the Apple pen isn’t a necessity, for those who work with digital designing or happen to dabble in the arts of virtual sketching, the Apple Pencil is definitely worth investing in; you can add on a bunch of great features for £79.

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Microsoft Surface Pro 4:

This model is significantly better than the previous Surface Pro 3, and an instant advantage is that the pen is included in your purchase! It’s catered more towards those who work with digital graphics so it isn’t a necessity. For the most part, it’s very pressure sensitive so is great for drawing. Microsoft have also released a range of different nibs that you can easily switch between, that mirror the effect of different HB pencils. Palm detection allows you to use the pen with ease, so you can lean on the screen without it interfering with what you’re doing. It also has various buttons on the side that provide further functions and control. Whilst being fairly responsive, the stylus doesn’t always guarantee precision and accuracy, especially on apps like Krita, GIMP and Anime Studio which are used for graphic design; an area of work that requires immense detail. Some users have reported that the pen will stop mid-task or briefly malfunction at times; so consider wisely before investing in this device if you intend to use it for work that requires detail and accuracy.




iPad Pro:

Well, there’s no time wasting with the hassle connectivity via Bluetooth, the keyboard attaches magnetically and you can immediately start typing. The magnetic attachment is surprisingly strong and it’s quick to attach. You can pretty much snap the keyboard in and start typing instantly. Another advantageous feature is that it doesn’t have to be charged, so once your tablets charged up, grab your keyboard and you’re good to go.

The keys are covered in a tactile layer of fabric and there’s no gaps between the keys, so you’ll no longer face the hassle of crumbs. By chance, if you do spill coffee on your keyboard one morning, you have nothing to worry about, as the custom-woven fabric and gapless keyboard design ensures no damage. To be extra safe you can run it under the tap to wash it out because it’s water resistant, and there’ll be no coffee stains because of its stain resistant finish. We have to applaud Apple for the brilliant durability features seen on the keyboard.

The keys are nicely spaced out to provide accuracy, they have a low profile but a certain springiness to them that lets you know when you’ve pressed a key. And it’s great for working late nights, in the office, school etc. because it’s noiseless. However, a minor disadvantage is that the keyboard is not backlit, so typing in low-light might be difficult.

The keyboard provides a remarkable amount of stability with the triangular fold design. Unfortunately, the screen only rests in one position and it’s quite laid back which is great for typing but not for a movie marathon in bed; other hybrids are at an advantage by offering various modes (The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 provides a kickstand that gives the option of several positions).

Another point worth mentioning to those who are considering buying an Apple Pen, is that the keyboard does not cater to it, so there’s nowhere for you to place it; on the other hand, the Surface Pro 4 makes provision for the pen.

The CREATE keyboard by Logitech is compatible with the iPad Pro and is cheaper and chunkier so it emulates the functionality and feel of a proper laptop; a good alternative if you aren’t willing to spend £139 on the Apple Keyboard.

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Microsoft Surface Pro 4:

The standard type cover is priced at £109.99, whilst the type cover that comes with fingerprint ID is £134.99. Now, whilst fingerprint ID is a great security feature, it’s already included on the iPad and you wouldn’t have any extra charge as it’s located on the home button.

The keyboard itself is good, lightweight, easily attachable and detachable from the screen, and gets the job done. One amazing feature about the keyboard is its amazing aesthetic. You can keep it simple, sleek and office appropriate with black, or add a pop of colour with the choice of dark blue, bright blue, red or green.

For those who love luxury, Microsoft has also catered to you! The premium type cover is priced at £134.99 and is made from a two-toned grey Italian fabric that grows darker with age.

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Now you know everything, you can hopefully choose between the two devices! Hopefully our review of them both has helped end your search. If you’re still unsure, we have a wide range of tablets to choose from so visit our website, you’ll be sure to find something that suits your needs and budget.


For more helpful reviews, useful top picks and tech related news, check out our blog.

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