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?

Features & OS

 iPad Pro 10.5Surface Pro
OSiOS 11Windows 10 Pro

Setting aside their looks and hardware, the biggest difference between the two devices is their operating system. The Surface Pro contains Windows 10 Pro, a fully fledged desktop OS. Previously, the iPad had iOS 10 but this has been upgraded to iOS 11 - it's a leading mobile operating system but it can't compete in the laptop environment.

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This will, obviously, have a huge impact on what tasks you'll be carrying out. You can expect to have the same exact experience with the Surface Pro as you would with a traditional Windows PC or laptop. The iPad, on the other hand, simply can't provide the same utility as macOS.

The iPad does have some noteworthy qualities, however, such as the inclusion of a 'Split View', which helps enormously with multitasking, and it has access to a good-sized library of third-party apps. Despite this, due to its 10.5in screen size, there isn't enough space for the device to scale each app with a 50/50 split. Instead, apps will rather annoyingly appear as a 75/25 split or vice versa, which is a little frustrating - the iPad 12.9 is capable of the 50/50 split.

The launch of iOS 11 has substantially improved the capabilities of the iPad as a business device, including an app switcher, drag and drop content sharing, improved document scanning and new Siri functions. You can read more about iOS 11 here but it's definitely a step toward bringing the mobile OS more in line with its macOS counterpart.

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The Surface Pro wins this round - only just - purely because iOS 11 lags a little behind Windows 10 Pro in terms of functionality on these devices.

Verdict: Surface Pro

Price

Both devices have a range of price options available depending on the configuration you want. The iPad Pro starts at 619 for the WiFi only 64GB model, rising to 709 for 256GB and 889 for 512GB. For the 4G+WiFi model expect to pay 749, 839, and 1,019 respectively. The only difference between the models is the storage on offer.

However, the Surface Pro offers a range of customisable specifications outside of storage that result in a much wider spread of prices. The cheapest model is available for 799, offering an Intel Core m3 with 128GB SSD and 4GB RAM. There are also two i5 versions, one with an i5 processor, 128GB SSD and 4GB RAM for 979, with the other offering a 256GB SSD and 8GB RAM for 1,249. The top end i7 models range from 1,549 to 2,699, depending on the internals.

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More choice is always a good thing, and it's nice to see Microsoft allowing customers to pick precisely what they need. For the iPad to offer only a choice of storage sizes and colours feels far too limiting, particularly as a device looking to pick up a discerning business audience.

Final verdict: Surface Pro

While both devices are great in their own right, only the Surface Pro is capable providing that all-round hybrid experience that customers want from a laptop replacement.

The iPad remains first and foremost an Apple tablet, a device capable of performing perfectly well without optional extras. It has an excellent screen, great build quality, and a healthy selection of apps. However, the inclusion of a keyboard provides only a quasi-laptop experience, which is handicapped by its mobile OS. It has the power, but little to back it up.

Compare that to the Surface Pro, with which a keyboard becomes a necessity to get the most from the device. That excellent type-cover offers the sort of typing experience you would expect from a top-end ultrabook, and at a desk you will soon forget you are using a tablet sat on its side. And with the potential for some serious hardware configurations, backed up by a full Windows 10 experience, it is by far the better option for replacing a laptop.

Verdict

While both devices offer compelling cases as laptop replacements, only with the Surface Pro do you get a complete package that is worth the asking price, but is more likely to be a device you would use exclusively. The iPad, while admittedly powerful, can't compete against the full Windows 10 desktop experience, or the excellent detachable keyboard offered by the Surface Pro.

 iPad Pro 10.5Surface Pro
Dimensions250 x 174 x 6mm292 x 201 x 9mm
Weight469/477g (WiFi/4G)786g
Screen size10.5in (Retina display)12.3in (PixelSense)
Resolution2,224 x 1,668, 264ppi2,736 x 1,824, 267ppi
sRGB coverage96%94%
Max brightness528cd/m2437cd/m2
Contrast ratio1,504:11,297:1
CPU6-core A10X, 2.36GHz7th gen Intel m3 - i7, 2.6GHz - 4.0GHz
RAM4GB4/8/16GB
Storage64/256/512GB128/256/512GB/1TB
Battery12 hours 59 mins11 hours 30mins
OSiOS 11Windows 10 Pro
PortsLightning port, headphone jack1 x USB 3.0, 1 x mini DisplayPort, headphone jack
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