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 PC World 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

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

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.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?