Best Tablet for Your Business: Surface Pro 4 vs. iPad Pro

Posted by Andrea Baker on

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The new breed of professional tablets are true hybrids, with functionality and power more akin to personal computers than smartphones. Business owners, from mega-chains to mom and pop shops are catching on to the advantages of integrating tablets into the customer experience. How does the new Surface Pro 4 stand up to the infamous iPad Pro? Which should you consider for your business?

Check out our opinion of the iPad Pro 9.7" version.

Surface pro 4 Can the Surface Pro 4 compete with the iPad Pro?

Microsoft’s Surface Pro series has led the way in productivity-focused hybrid tablets since the launch of the first Surface Pro. The 2016 launch of the Surface Pro 4 continues that tradition; the latest model is undoubtedly a versatile, fluid piece of tech, and a slight upgrade from the 3.

Evolution from Surface Pro 3

The Surface Pro 4 is certainly evolution rather than revolution when compared to its predecessor. There are small upgrades on the processor and RAM, but nothing which deliver more than a marginally improved user experience. This is a bonus for situations in which customers are streaming video or for the use of multiple software apps. The screen resolution is also somewhat improved and the 4 is slightly lighter. The Surface Pro 4 is an upgrade but not a huge one. With the notable cost difference, there is certainly an argument that from a business point of view the Pro 3 now offers excellent value for a slight downgrade.

Surface Pro 4 vs iPad Pro: Software

The iPad Pro also offers Microsoft Office 365. For a long time, Apple pushed their alternative productivity suite, iWork, but appear to have now accepted that the best approach to positioning the iPad Pro as a direct alternative to Windows laptops is to embrace Microsoft’s Office suite.

While Windows 10 has gone a long way in integrating smoothish compatibility between touch screen tablet mode and mouse and cursor mode, when being used as a tablet the iPad’s iOS 9, built specifically for fingers and thumbs, still has the edge. However, because the Surface Pro 4 runs fully-fledged with Windows 10, it can do everything a laptop can do.

Surface Pro 4 vs iPad Pro: Hardware

The fact that the Surface Pro 4 has a USB 3 port, a microSD slot, and DisplayPort output means that a mouse can be easily used, you can connect to printers or projectors and share files easily. The iPad’s Lightning port means that the same things require either adaptors, compatible peripherals, or the cloud.

Again, as a laptop replacement the Pro is the clear choice in this respect.

Also as a POS tablet stand, the iPad Pro gets the advantage.

iPad Advantages

As would be expected from an Apple product, the iPad Pro is a fantastic machine for anyone who wants to use creative software to sketch, draw and design. As a result, creative professionals will find the iPad Pro to be the better machine for their needs. As a tablet, the iPad Pro is also the clear winner.

iPad Pro iPad Pro, the pinnacle of tablet design.

User Reviews

The general opinion among respected reviewers is that the Surface Pro 4 is, while not a huge improvement on the 3, a great machine. TrustedReviews.com give it 4 and a half stars out of 5 with the single caveat that it misses key features that would appeal to designers that the iPad Pro has. Laptopmag.com narrowly gives the faceoff to the iPad, ranking it better in 6 different categories, with the Surface 4 superior in 5. The general consensus is highly positive with the Surface Pro 4 widely considered to be the best laptop replacement hybrid to date, and a good tablet. For retailers, the Pro 4 is a highly functional option, with more power and adaptability to suit a range of uses to engage customers. The iPad Pro is still an incredible option, and while it includes less RAM and connectivity options, it also comes at a lower sticker price.

Surface Pro 4 iPad Pro (12.9 inch) iPad Pro (9.7 inch)
Price (with keyboard&pen) $899 ($1028) $799 ($1067) $599 ($847)
OS Windows 10 iOS 9.3 iOS 9.3
CPU Core m3, Core i5/i7 A9X A9X
RAM 4 GB, 8 GB, 16 GB 4 GB 2 GB
Storage 128 GB, 256 GB 32 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB 32 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB
Display 12.3 inch, 2736 x 1284 pixels 12.9 inch, 2732 x 2048 pixels 9.7 inch, 2048 x 1536 pixels
Ports USB 3, Mini Display Port, MicroSD card Lightning Lightning
Cameras (back/front) 8 MP/1.2 MP 8 MP/1.2 MP 12 MP/5 MP
Battery Life 6:05 10:04 10:53
Size (inches) 11.5x7.9x0.33 12x8.7x0.27 9.4x6.6x0.24
Weight (w/ keyboard) 1.73 lbs (2.37 lbs) 1.57 lbs (2.33 lbs) 0.96 lbs (1.72 lbs)

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