Microsoft has unveiled the Surface Pro 4 today, and there is absolutely no doubt which existing device it will be competing with. The Apple iPad Pro was a massive tablet announcement earlier this year, with the 12.9-inch offering charged with boosting the iPad range for Apple. Microsoft is clearly placing the Surface Pro 4 in the same serious, productivity niche as the iPad Pro, thus comparing the two devices is extremely logical. Ultimately, the performance of the Surface Pro 4 as compared to the Pad Pro will determine the success of this tablet release.
The Surface Pro 4 is large enough to almost represent an entirely new category of computer. Described as a tablet, but large enough to be considered a laptop, the Surface Pro 4 is targeted at a new category of consumers who expect tablets to possess much of the functionality of laptops and even desktop machines.
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Surface Pro 4 vs iPad Pro – Processor
So with this in mind, the most significant change in the Surface Pro 4 is its entirely new chipset. The Surface Pro 4 features a G5 chipset that has been specially designed by Microsoft itself. Unfortunately, in line with major hardware releases of this nature, we don’t actually know much explicit information about the processor itself, as Microsoft has declined to release the details. What the software giant has stated is that the processing unit will allegedly be 50 percent faster than a Macbook Air, and 30 percent faster than a Pro 3.
It is therefore difficult to directly compare the Surface Pro 4 with the A9X chip with 64-bit architecture and M9 motion coprocessor included in the iPad Pro. What can be said with some confidence is that comments from Microsoft certainly suggest that the Surface Pro 4 will be a powerful performer.
Apple is not known for packing its devices with outstanding specifications, as the consumer electronics giant has always relied on its unique combination of proprietary software and hardware in order to deliver outstanding devices. With this in mind, the iPad Pro features of 4GB of RAM memory, which certainly sounds significantly less than the amount included in the Surface Pro 4.
Microsoft has stated that the Surface Pro 4 will include “up to 16GB of RAM”. This is naturally potentially four times more than the iPad Pro, but the key phrase here could be ‘up to’. There was little detail regarding what the entry-level memory of the device would be, and so we will have to wait until Microsoft reveals more details before we can be certain what “up to 16GB” actually means. It is fair to say that the Surface Pro 4 will almost certainly feature significantly more memory than the iPad Pro series, although whether this can be translated into superior performance remains to be seen.
Again, according to the Microsoft presentation, the Surface Pro 4 will pretty much blow the iPad Pro out of the water in the storage department. Microsoft states that at least one model of the Surface Pro 4 will feature 1TB of solid-state storage, although again it is not clear what’s portion of storage will be included in entry-level devices. By comparison, the iPad Pro features a maximum of 128GB of storage. This is generally considered to be adequate, even though it could be argued that it is a little on the small size considering that the iPhone series also offers a 128GB variant. It certainly sounds as if Microsoft intends to up the ante significantly with the specifications of the Surface Pro 4.
Cameras are never considered particularly important with tablet computers, but the Surface Pro 4 features an 8-megapixel rear camera for the record. This is identical in megapixel rating to the iPad Pro, and means that there is extremely little to choose between the devices in this department.
Apple is renowned for producing attractive electronic devices, and it seems based on the specifications released by Microsoft that the Surface Pro 4 will not replace the iPad Pro as the most attractive device in the tablet niche. Although it is notable that this is an extremely bezel-light device, the Surface Pro 4 nonetheless has a smaller screen than the iPad Pro, but also is significantly thicker.
Although the Surface Pro 4 has been slimmed down to 8.4mm, from 9.1mm for the Surface Pro 3, this still does not compare favorably to the iPad Pro, which is incredibly sleek at just 6.9 mm.
Although the display in the Surface Pro 4 is slightly smaller than the iPad Pro, it does compete well in terms of screen resolution, even though Microsoft has yet to release the full details of this element of the tablet. But according to Microsoft, the Surface Pro 4 has a resolution of 267ppi; precisely three pixels per inch more than the iPad Pro. It is also notable that the Gorilla Glass protecting this particular tablet is the slimmest ever, at 0.4mm.
Nonetheless, considering that the iPad Pro screen is slightly larger, the two devices appear to be extremely similar in this department in terms of quality.
It is difficult to directly compare features as they can differ so markedly, but Microsoft has included a new Surface Pen stylus, advanced docking station, updated surface tablet cover, fingerprint reader and backlit keyboard with this tablet. The early reception for the features included in the Surface Pro 4 were positive, and the general impression of the unveiling is that Microsoft has an impressive device on its hands.
The Surface Pro 4 is available in multiple models, with prices starting at $899. By comparison, the most affordable iPad Pro unit is $799, but this is for a 32GB device; significantly less storage than offered by any of the Surface Pro 4 models. The full pricing breakdown for the Surface Pro 4 in the United States is as follows:
128GB 6th Generation Intel Core M3 with 4GB of RAM – $899
128GB 6th Generation Intel Core i5 with 4GB of RAM – $999
256GB 6th Generation Intel Core i5 with 8GB of RAM – $1,299
256GB 6th Generation Intel Core i7 with 8GB of RAM – $1,599
256GB 6th Generation Intel Core i7 with 16GB of RAM – $1,799
512GB 6th Generation Intel Core i7 with 16GB of RAM – $2,199
This compares reasonably with the iPad Pro series, but at the same time Microsoft has little advantage in this department, if any.