If you're looking for a tablet that doubles as a laptop, the two best options right now are Apple's iPad Pro and Microsoft's Surface Pro X. Both devices have ultra-slim bezels and support optional pen and keyboard accessories.
Microsoft Surface Pro X is the newer of the two devices, though you might be wondering how it holds up against the latest iPad Pro. This guide compares design, performance, and portability to help you choose the right guide for you.
In terms of design, both the iPad Pro and Surface Pro X are super slim and offer a large, impressive display. There are some notable differences, however.
First, the bezels on the iPad Pro are much thinner and more even all round. The bezels on the Surface Pro X are similarly narrow on the sides, but the top and bottom bezels are thicker.
Both devices have high-resolution screens. The Surface Pro X has a resolution of 2880 x 1920 (267 ppi), while the iPad Pro has a resolution of 2732 x 2048 (264 ppi). The Surface Pro X also has an aspect ratio of 3: 2 while the iPad Pro has an aspect ratio of 4: 3. That makes the Surface Pro X a better option for productivity, while the iPad Pro feels a bit more square, resulting in a nicer tablet experience.
The Pro X also has slightly more pixels per inch than the iPad, but the iPad Pro has a brighter 600-nit 120Hz true-tone display that makes scrolling smoother and more responsive. The Surface Pro X lags a bit behind with a dampened 450 nit 60 Hz panel, which is common on most Windows devices.
Importantly, the Surface Pro X benefits from the built-in stand, which makes it easier to use the device on a flat surface (no pun intended).
Next up there is a connectivity that is also different between the two tablets. The iPad Pro has a single USB-C port, a keyboard port, and a nano-SIM slot.
The Surface Pro X doubles that. It has two USB-C ports, a nano-SIM slot, and Microsoft's proprietary Surface Connect port for charging. You can also find the connection for the keyboard on the long, button-free edge. Both devices do not have a headphone jack. So you need to buy a dongle or use wireless headphones. Since there's no SD card slot either, you'll need to pick a storage option that suits your needs, even though the Surface Pro X has removable SSDs.
Finally, both devices offer a keyboard cover option. Apple's new Magic Keyboard is based on scissor switches and costs a whopping $ 299. It includes a built-in trackpad, a USB-C port for pass-through charging, and a unique hinge that “floats” the tablet and angles it backwards for optimal viewing. The cheaper Smart Keyboard Folio doesn't include a trackpad.
The Surface Pro X, meanwhile, supports an optional $ 140 cover. In terms of comfort, we've found it's essentially the same as what we experienced with the Surface Pro 6, but it now also houses a special space on top for the Surface Pen – which we'll get into later . Note, however, that Pro X does not support older Microsoft Type Covers because the connector is different.
Microsoft also sells a "signature" version of the keyboard that comes with the Slim Pen for $ 270. This keyboard has a surface covered with Alcantara, whereas the standard model does not.
Apple's iPadOS offers a better software solution for multitasking and productivity than in the past. However, the full version of Windows 10 on the Surface Pro X is better known to most Windows PC owners.
Ultimately, the iPad Pro is the better tablet, but the Surface Pro X is the better laptop replacement.
Unlike previous Intel-based devices, Microsoft worked with Qualcomm to develop two all-in-one processors called the SQ1 and SQ2. They are based on the 1st and 2nd generation Snapdragon 8cx chips from Qualcomm. From a technical point of view, they are also a system-on-a-chip or SoC that not only contains processor and graphics cores, but also other components such as the modem.
Both Microsoft custom chips are based on ARM's big.LITTLE design. For example, the SQ1 has four "performance" CPU cores clocked at 3 GHz and four "power-saving" CPU cores clocked at 1.8 GHz. One stack does the heavy loads (games) and one does the lite tasks (surfing the Internet). According to Microsoft, the SQ1 offers three times more performance per watt than the 8th generation Intel chip in the Surface Pro 6.
The more powerful SQ2 also has four “large” CPU cores at 3.15 GHz and four “small” CPU cores at 2.42 GHz. This chip only appeared in the Surface Pro X in October 2020.
There are some limitations to be aware of, however, as some areas of Windows 10 and 64-bit apps are not optimized for ARM-based chipsets. Still, it should be great for web browsing and other everyday activities, while other apps like Photoshop may not work quite as well.
The latest iPad Pro comes with Apple's custom ARM-based processor called the A12Z Bionic. As with the Microsoft solution, the big.LITTLE setup is used: four performance cores with up to 2.49 GHz and four “energy-saving” cores if you don't need the big guns.
Take a look at the Geekbench results and see how all three chips stack up against each other. You will find that the Apple chip significantly outperforms Microsoft's two new custom chips:
This means that whatever you download from the App Store, the iPad Pro will do at breakneck speed. However, the iPad Pro is limited to apps in the App Store as it is supported by iPadOS. The Pro X runs on Windows 10 and is compatible with traditional desktop programs, although you're limited to 32-bit apps.
In terms of portability, the Surface Pro X and iPad Pro are almost neck to neck. Here is a table to compare all three:
|Surface Pro X.||iPad Pro 12.9||iPad Pro 11|
|Height in inches)||11.3||05/11||9.75|
|Width (in inches)||8.2||8.46||7.03|
|Depth (in inches)||0.28||0.23||0.23|
|Weight in pounds)||1.706||1,418||1.043|
Of the three, the 11-inch iPad Pro is the lightest, but when comparing the two larger tablets, the iPad Pro is both the lightest and the thinnest. The Surface Pro X is larger and narrower than the larger iPad.
In terms of battery life, Apple promises up to 10 hours on the iPad Pro, although we were able to slide our iPad Pro through for several days with just a few hours of operation. The iPad Pro also supports fast charging with the optional 30-watt USB-C power adapter.
Microsoft promises up to 13 hours of battery life on the Surface Pro X with a screen of 150 nits brightness. However, judging by the fact that the Pro X is a always-on PC – which we've seen consumes up to 13 hours of battery life – this may prove to be correct. It also supports fast charging through the Surface Connect port. Microsoft claims it can get you an 80% charge in just an hour.
We'll also mention support for LTE on both devices. All Surface Pro X models have a nano SIM tray. That means you get LTE connectivity with every configuration, while with the iPad Pro you have to pay an extra $ 150 if you want a model with LTE.
The pen is finally here. The Surface Slim Pen from Microsoft is inserted directly into the Type Cover keyboard and charged wirelessly. This makes portability easier, but it's also a separate purchase worth $ 145. That's way more than the $ 129 Apple Pencil, which also charges wirelessly when magnetically attached to the top of the iPad Pro – no keyboard accessory required.
The iPad Pro retains the crown
The Surface Pro X and iPad Pro are similar in many ways, but we believe most people will be more satisfied with what Apple has to offer.
The 11-inch iPad Pro (with 64GB of storage and no LTE option) starts at $ 799, which increases to $ 1,449 when you add a maximum of 1TB of storage and LTE. If you prefer the larger 12.9-inch model, you can expect start-up costs between $ 999 and $ 1,649. It's worth noting that you need to add an extra $ 129 for the Apple Pencil and roughly $ 179 and $ 299 (base rates) for the Smart Keyboard Folio and Smart Keyboard, one at a time.
The Surface Pro X has a base price of $ 999 for the SQ1 chip, 8 GB of RAM, and 128 GB of storage. However, the rate goes up to $ 1,217 when you combine them with a keyboard and pen (when you buy them as a bundle). Yes, you get a lot more storage space in the first model than in the equivalent iPad Pro. However, you also need to check that the ARM-based processor is in harmony with the apps that you plan to use regularly.
In summary, the iPad Pro is currently the first choice. Even if you're used to working with Windows, you'll discover many of the same apps that are included in Apple's App Store. If you want to use traditional desktop software, we think Microsoft Surface Pro X is better for you.