iPad Pro 10.5 vs Surface Pro head-to-head review

Both devices want to be a laptop killer, but which one is worthy of the title?

Stylus

 iPad Pro 10.5Surface Pro
Price9999

Microsoft Surface Pen has been given a beefy upgrade with the refresh, now boasting 4,096 levels of pressure. Although it feels thicker than the previous Pen, its magnet for attaching to the Surface Pro has been significantly strengthened. While we can't really say how good it is for artists, the combination of the stylus and PixelSense display, along with superb palm detection and accuracy, make this one of the best writing experiences we've had with a tablet.

The iPad Pro's stylus is similarly impressive, able to take advantage of a rich suite of design apps available through iOS. It is also superbly accurate and responsive, and now shines with the ProMotion 120Hz display of the iPad Pro.

The biggest issue here is that for both machines, an optional pen adds nothing to the laptop experience, particularly at 99 each. While they both perform admirably, they don't allow for the finesse that artists or designers will want, and without a reliable means to store them, they will most likely get in the way.

Verdict: iPad Pro 10.5

Keyboard

 iPad Pro 10.5Surface Pro
Price159.99149.99

For devices that are wanting to convince you to ditch your laptop, it's baffling that both sell a keyboard separately. What is particularly jarring are the asking prices - 124.99 for the basic Surface type cover and 159 for the iPad Pro's.

With this annoyance aside, their potential as a laptop replacement hinges on the performance of the keyboard, and fortunately both devices provide compelling detachable type covers.

The iPad Pro opts for a keyboard that doubles as a traditional tablet case, and, as mentioned above, is needed to prop the screen up. It is covered in a tough fabric that is easy to clean and robust enough to be weather resistant, though feels a little strange when you first use it and may require some getting used to.

Attached to the cover is a full low profile Querty keyboard, which due to some nice key spacing and decent travel time makes typing an absolute breeze. The issue is that it's a fairly unremarkable board at 159, and in fact has a number of issues that make it seem heavily overpriced. It only has one screen angle, which is too laid back for our liking, making typing overly difficult if you don't have access to a table. It also lacks a touchpad, which is somewhat of an oversight, and no backlighting.

These limitations are accentuated next to the Surface Pro type cover, which is the product of years of trial and error. The keyboard is essentially identical to the Surface Pro 4's excellent type cover, only now with soft Alcantara covering as a standard. The board itself is thicker and sturdier than the iPad's. It also has an excellent track pad that takes advantage of Microsoft's Precision Touchpad software for an incredibly smooth experience.

While both devices opt for a magnetic strip for attaching a keyboard, the Surface Pro attaches in a way that angles the keyboard up so that you have an elevated surface from which to type. It's a lovely piece of design that makes typing a more comfortable experience, akin to traditional laptops and keyboards.

Like other laptops within this price range, the Surface keyboard is also backlit with some beautiful white LEDs, whereas this is missing on the iPad's board. Not only does this make it possible to type in the dark, but it also adds that extra lick of luxury. There's also a range of colours available, whereas the iPad's keyboard is only available in black. 

Verdict: Surface Pro 4

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