iPad Pro vs. Surface Pro 3: Two sides of the same coin

The two pro-grade tablets are really aiming at different audiences.

Apple took a major step in the evolution of its iPad lineup Wednesday when it announced the iPad Pro, a new tablet with a 12.9-inch display that packs a serious punch when it comes to processing power.

The comparisons between Apple's new device and Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 are easy: both can be used with a cover that doubles as a keyboard, along with a pressure sensitive stylus. And they obviously both have "Pro" in their respective names. But ultimately, they seem to be aimed at solving different problems.

Right off the bat, the biggest difference between the two tablets has to do with their respective operating systems. The Surface Pro 3 runs the full version of Windows 10, which means users can interact with apps built for a Windows desktop environment, even when the tablet doesn't have its Type Cover accessory attached.

The iPad Pro, meanwhile, only runs iOS. While the app catalog for Apple's mobile operating system is much deeper than the apps only available through Microsoft's Windows Store, that decision still limits users to running apps that are built for the iPad, or using tools like Amazon's WorkSpaces virtual desktop client.

While iOS 9 includes a number of features that make the iPad more useful as a laptop replacement, like improved support for external keyboards and the ability to use the on-screen keyboard as a trackpad, it's still missing the customizability and functionality of a full-blown Mac. I'd argue that's intentional, since Apple has its ultraportable MacBook available for people who want a lightweight computer.

A Surface Pro 3 running Windows 10 Blair Hanley Frank

A Surface Pro 3 running Windows 10

The Surface Pro 3 is really a slimmed-down laptop that has a detachable keyboard, complete with fans and a processor that's also found in in other portable computers. It's thicker and heavier than an iPad Pro -- both concessions that likely came as a result of the hardware packed into its case. It boasts some additional benefits like a built-in kickstand, unlike Apple's iPads, which still require a case or cover to stand up independently.

Meanwhile, it seems as though Apple wants to make the iPad Pro the best way to get work done on an iPad, but doesn't want to compromise and actually allow it to run a desktop-oriented operating system.

That's not to say it's the wrong move, it's just a fundamentally different tack than Microsoft is taking. It will be, however, interesting to see if Apple's commitment to iOS for the iPad Pro makes it less appealing to businesses that have desktop applications they still want to give workers access to.

Apple's announcement comes at a tough time for its iPad business and the tablet market in general. While CEO Tim Cook has said that he remains confident about the future of selling tablets, sales of the iPad aren't growing like they used to, while the tablet market at large has stagnated. Time will tell whether the iPad Pro will be a shot in the arm that differentiates Apple's tablet offering at a premium price, or if it's still not enough to drive growth.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags AppleMicrosoftiPad

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Blair Hanley Frank

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?