Ever since the unveiling of the iPad Pro last September, headlines have been all about the “Battle of the Pros”, with the iPad Pro often going head-to-head with Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 as the “tablet that can replace your laptop”. With the smaller and more affordable iPad Pro added to the lineup, the “iPad Pro versus Surface Pro 4” debates have inevitably resurfaced.
I myself have recently decided to possibly venture into a Pro of my own, and I have no idea whether to go with an iPad Pro or a Surface Pro. Both have their obvious “pros” and cons (hurr hurr), and after plenty of research and countless “Surface Pro 4 versus iPad Pro” articles, I have come to the conclusion that no matter how hard you try to compare the two they are simply uncomparable to each other.
I won't go into which one is “better” than the other, because as far as I can tell they each best each other in various ways. The 9.7-inch iPad Pro ultimately costs you less money than the Surface Pro, accessories included. At the same time, that marginally cheaper price tag could end up costing you the ability to be more productive depending on your needs. The Surface Pro 4 runs on a full version of Windows 10, a PC operating system, while the iPad Pro runs on iOS, a mobile operating system. However, cheaper or not, who is to say that iOS is any less useful? While it is ultimately limited in comparison with Windows 10, people who would prefer a lighter operating system, or perhaps just a unified one with other Apple gadgets that they own, may find better use out of the iPad Pro over the Surface Pro 4.
Truly the only similarities between the two are that each can take the form of a tablet, and each have the ability to connect to corresponding keyboards and styluses.
You can try and get into how they perform against each other, but again, it is very difficult to do. The Surface Pro 4 will be able to run any software made for PC, but how well the Surface Pro will run the programs ultimately depends on which model you purchase as the specs vary between models. You can buy the most basic version that will run simpler programs with no problems, but will have issues running more graphic intensive software or multiple programs at one time; alternatively, you can opt for the higher-tier models which can handle more powerful programs. On the other hand, the only varying factor between 9.7-inch iPad models is the amount of storage you get (32, 128, or 256GB) so while the iPad Pro can only run apps made for iOS, performance will not vary from model to model.
In short, the iPad Pro is the tablet of all tablets, and the Surface Pro 4 is a laptop with tablet-like qualities.
My advice is that if you're in the market for a “Pro” of your own, the question to ask yourself is not, “Is the iPad Pro better than the Surface Pro 4?” (or vice versa) but rather, “Do I want the option of using my tablet as a full-fledged laptop, or would I prefer an optimized tablet experience with the ability to run iOS apps?” because the answer to that question will ultimately make your search for the perfect Pro for you a lot easier. Once you figure that out, the best thing to compare the Surface Pro 4 to would be other hybrids that run on Windows 10, and the best thing to compare the iPad Pro with would be other iPad models.
Readers, do you think Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 and Apple’s iPad Pro are comparable, or are they each a league of their own?