Apple iPad Pro vs. Microsoft Surface Pro 4: Which is Better for Business?

Business.com / Computers / Last Modified: March 16, 2017

Both of these productivity-focused tablets might be a fit for your business. Here's how to tell which works better for you.

Both Apple's iPad Pro and Microsoft's Surface Pro 4 are geared toward businesses and productivity. They share many of the same features and functionality, but there are some important differences. Which brand of tablet is right for your business depends heavily on your preference. 

Portability

In the bid to replace your laptops, both the iPad Pro and the Surface Pro 4 save space in their bag. The iPad is the lighter of the two, weighing in at 1.57 pounds, while the Surface Pro tips the scales at 1.73 pounds, meaning that both of them weigh less than ultrabooks. The iPad Pro is also thinner than the Surface Pro, measuring just 6.9 mm thick, while Microsoft's offering measures 9.1 mm thick.

The Surface Pro 4 has a slightly smaller screen, at 12.3 inches, compared to the iPad's 12.9-inch display. That will make viewing larger documents or spreadsheets easier on Apple's model. But the iPad Pro's display has a slightly lower resolution than Microsoft's tablet. 

Neither comes with a keyboard, but both are compatible with snap-on docks for typing. The Type Cover keyboard for the Surface Pro 4 ($130) features an accurate touchpad and a built-in kickstand. There's also a special version of the keyboard that comes with a fingerprint scanner, but that one will cost you an extra $30.

The iPad Pro's Smart Keyboard ($169) provides well-spaced keys that similar to Microsoft's keyboard. There's no touchpad or kickstand. A fingerprint scanner is embedded on the keyboard.  

Apps and OSes

For decades, Apple and Microsoft were fairly insular brands, and users were unable to access files and applications from one brand on another's device. But that's changed dramatically and the two brands continue to increase their compatibility. Microsoft's programs, such as Word and Excel, are available on Android and Apple devices, and there are plenty of free alternatives, such as G Suite, that run on any device. Add to that the introduction and adoption of software as a service and open source options, users are no longer tied to a single platform. You'll also find that there's an ever-growing library of available apps on both platforms, including plenty of productivity apps and business tools.

That said, these two tablets run dramatically different operating systems. Surface Pro 4 users will get the full desktop version of Windows10, which means you can run any desktop PC software you already use at the office. Meanwhile, the iPad Pro runs iOS, which is Apple's mobile operating system. It cannot run traditionally desktop software unless there is a mobile version available in the App Store. 

Specs and Performance

Apple's iPad Pro only features Lightning ports. The Surface Pro 4 boasts a full-size USB 3, a Mini DisplayPort and a microSD card slot, which can be helpful for productivity. However, the iPad has a significantly longer battery life, at 10 hours, over the Surface's 6 hours.  

The iPad Pro is available with 32GB for $799, 128GB for $899 or 256GB for $999. There's also the option to get a cellular plan for connectivity. The 128GB model with cellular is $1,029 and the 256GB version is $1,129. It comes with Apple's own A9X CPU and 4GB of RAM. 

The Surface Pro 4 comes with 128GB of storage for $799 or 256GB for $1,199. You can also up the CPU and the amount of RAM your Microsoft tablet comes with. That's important for those who will be using it for demanding tasks such as video editing. It comes in Intel Core m3, Intel Core i5 and Intel Core i7 versions, and can be had with 4GB, 8GB or 16GB, but the higher the specs the higher the cost. The most tricked out version will cost you $1,499, and that model comes with the Surface Pen. 

Bottom Line

Apple and Microsoft picture you using their professional-grade tablets differently. The Surface Pro 4 is a full desktop experience with support for mice and keyboards. The iPad Pro is better for an avid apps user that already lives in the Apple universe of devices. Both support good pens and offer plenty of power to get work done. 

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