Surface Pro 3 vs iPad Pro: What Apple's copied, what it does better

A keyboard and stylus. Whoa, Apple. But its real advances give us more to think about as we look ahead to the Surface Pro 4.

After launching a larger iPhone 5 Plus last year that mimicked phablets like the Lumia 1520, Apple has taken another page from Microsoft’s playbook with the Apple iPad Pro—which now includes a Surface-like keyboard and stylus.

Apple’s new iPad Pro—available from $799 to $1079, with storage ranging from 32GB to 128GB—will be available this November, a bit after the reported introduction of the Surface Pro 4. But for right now, the comparisons between it and the Surface Pro 3 are undeniable.

Two elements—the so-called Smart Keyboard and the Apple Pencil—are going to have Microsoft Surface fans whooping with glee. (They be sold separately, as is the case with the Surface Pro 3's accessories.)

ipad pro keyboard

Doesn’t this Apple Smart Keyboard look familiar?

Because the iPad still lacks a kickstand, the Smart Keyboard copies the foldover “origami” keyboard of Amazon’s tablets. Like the Surface, it connects to the tablet through three metal bumps, which transmit data as well as power. Unlike Microsoft’s Type Cover, the keyboard lies flat on the tabletop; and, like the Touch Cover, it’s made of fabric as well—an improvement over typing directly on glass, but probably not much. The keyboard will be available for $169, in November.

apple pencil 3

The Apple Pencil in action.

And then there’s the Apple Pencil, a $99 stylus that’s really long—about the length of an ordinary #2 pencil, it appears. It’s far longer than the stylus that ships with the Surface Pro 3 tablets, and it appears to lack a loop or even a docking port to connect to the tablet. It does, however, include a Lightning connector for charging.

Apple’s Schiller claimed that the iPad Pro and the new Pencil worked together to give the impression of nearly latency-free inking, supporting different levels of inking pressure. It has the precision to “touch a single pixel,” Schiller claimed.

ipad pro multitasking

Oh boy, multitasking! But not quite in...windows.

To support his claims, Schiller brought on stage executives from Microsoft—to show off Office for the iPad—and Adobe, which demonstrated apps like Adobe Fix, allowing graphic artists to manipulate images digitally on the iPad.

ipad pro summary specs

Where the iPad Pro does better

In other ways, the iPad Pro jumps ahead of the Surface Pro 3. For starters it's slightly larger, at 12.9 inches versus 12 inches. Apple hasn’t said how much memory is inside it, but Apple senior vice president of product marketing Phil Schiller said that the tablet includes a more powerful 64-bit A9X chip that’s faster than 80 percent of the PCs shipped in the last 12 months, and 90 percent more powerful, graphically.

The display boasts a higher resolution than the Surface Pro 3 as well: 2732x2048 pixels versus the 2160x1440 display offered by the Surface Pro 3. The battery life is a tad higher: 10 hours, versus 9 hours for the Surface Pro 3. Apple even showed off multitasking, dividing the screen between two different windows that could run different tasks.

For now, the iPad Pro's hardware specs are arguably a tad superior to the Surface Pro 3's. But while Apple may claim to have “reinvented” the idea of a productivity tablet with the iPad Pro, Surface owners know where Apple found its biggest ideas. We expect Microsoft to one-up Apple yet again with the Surface Pro 4

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Surface ProiPad Pro

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

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

Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?