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iPad 3 VS Microsoft Surface Tablet

Ardjuna Seghers


Apple iPad VS Microsoft Surface Tablet

From a niche sector that no-one was very interested in, tablets have evolved to become a hotter property than even the average laptop. They’re arguably the new smartphone in terms of momentum, with the most powerful X86 models able to completely replace a laptop.

They come with Android, iOS and even Windows 7. There are 10in, 7in and 5in models. Some have keyboard docks, others pressure-sensitive styli. In short, there’s a lot of variety, but a few stand out. Most recently there’s been the Google Nexus 7, a quad-core stunner that competes with Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet. However, in all the fuss about this super-affordable yet powerful 7in Android tablet, it’s important not to forget about the massive tablet announcement that preceded it: Microsoft’s Surface.

Read the full review for the Apple iPad 3/New iPad

and our preview of the Microsoft Surface tablet

Being a 10-inch tablet, the Surface’s most obvious competitor is the iPad. But which one should you get if you’re considering a premium tab? One might argue that they’re aimed at different markets, but this is simply not true, at least when comparing the iPad to the Surface RT - which is the more affordable ARM-based version, and as such the one we’ll be mainly comparing against.

However many third-party keyboard accessories are available for Apple’s tablet, the company itself does not sell a portable one in any kind, shape or form. Though Microsoft hasn’t gone all-out and given its Surface tablet a true keyboard dock like the Asus Transformer Pad 300, it will offer no fewer than two different keyboard covers – one with touch ‘keys’, the other with actual physical ones.

This, along with decent connectivity, make it a far more flexible and productivity-oriented solution than the iPad. However, turning the tables around, there’s little the iPad can do that Microsoft’s tablet doesn’t have the potential to do just as well – even if none of it will look as nice as on the New iPad’s gorgeous Retina display. Of course, the question remains whether app support for Windows RT will match up… With all that in mind, we’re pitting the iPad versus its Microsoft Surface counterpart to see just how they compare in the details.

iPad Versus Surface: Design

From the front both these tablets look very similar – but then the same can be said for 10in tablets in general. What does stand out sharply is the white Windows logo on the front of the Surface, which we feel is a nice touch.

However, from what we’ve seen so far there’s little doubt the iPad is the sleeker- and better-looking tablet overall. That’s not to say the Surface is unattractive, but it sports a somewhat executive look that’s more in tandem with the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet than the Transformer Prime.

Mind you, we’re all for form over function (within reason), and quite frankly, a more utilitarian body seems like a small price to pay for the extra connectivity and kickstand – the latter being a feature that anyone who has ever tried to watch a movie on their tablet without some kind of case propping it up will doubtless appreciate.

Thanks to its use of a magnesium alloy, the Surface RT is reasonably light at 676g. However, thanks to the extras it packs in it's a wee bit heavier than most ARM tablets out there. For example, the Transformer Prime weighs 586g, the iPad 2 comes in at 601g, while the New iPad packs the flab at 652g for the Wi-Fi version. On thickness the 9.3mm Surface RT is more impressive, but it still beats the 9.4mm iPad 3 by a kitten’s whisker.

Verdict: Surface Scores

The iPad might be prettier and a little lighter, but the Surface is thinner, packs in more connectivity and an integrated kickstand. Oh, and its magnetic smart cover is also a keyboard, which is a really clever design touch.

New iPad Versus Microsoft Surface Tablet: Connectivity

This one’s pretty straightforward. The iPad (and Google’s Nexus 7, for that matter) simply doesn’t stand a chance. As you may know, aside from its headphone jack the iPad only has a single, proprietary connector. Using an expensive adapter you can hook this up to HDMI for output to a TV/monitor, and using yet another adapter you can read an SD card – but only Apple-approved file formats and you can’t use it to expand storage. As for USB sticks or peripherals, forget it: they just won’t work.

The Surface tablet, on the other hand, has a MicroSD port that can be used to expand its internal memory by 64GB, or to read memory cards from your phone. There’s a microHDMI (mini-DisplayPort on the Surface Pro) port to output to an external display. It also sports a full-size USB 2.0 port (USB 3.0 on the Surface Pro) to hook up keyboards, mice, memory sticks or whatever. When at home you can plug in a hub and easily connect to your desktop setup.

Verdict: Surface Slam-dunks

The iPad will let you connect a few bits, but only with expensive adapters. With Microsoft’s Surface you can hook up all the essentials and then some.

sandy Yoost

July 7, 2012, 5:59 am

Couple other aras to compare:
1) price: iPad price is known, Surface is not
2) ship date: iPad ship date is yesterday, Surface not known
3) battery life: iPad is known, surface is not

Which one wins now?


July 7, 2012, 9:02 am

1. Why don't you use the WART (Windows ARM RT) acronym? It is very convenient?
2. Are you kidding me? You compare two products:
a. One which has been shipping for months.
b. One which you have spent 2 minutes touching.

Trusted? Methinks not.


July 7, 2012, 1:36 pm

You say yourself that for all three we don't know what the surface will have, so how can you compare. You certainly can't call a winner based on those criteria.


July 7, 2012, 1:40 pm

Convenient perhaps but not actually accurate.

It's an early speculative article based on our first impressions. That much is made clear and the conclusion reflects this.


July 7, 2012, 3:45 pm

How can you compare two items, one of which has been shipping for months and the other is pure vaporware. Reviewers' at the Surface 'hands-on' demo weren't even allowed to touch the things particularly the flat keyboard.

Utter pap.


July 7, 2012, 11:52 pm

Hilarious... Your review is just like Bomber's product - complete vaporware - non-existant - mist - LIES!!

You can't review a product that doesn't exist!!! You certainly can't do a COMPARISON ANALYSIS against a product that actually has sold MILLIONS OF COPIES versus Z E R O !!! ZERO.

Your review is a JOKE.


July 8, 2012, 4:06 am

Have any of you actually read the article fully before commenting?

I quote from the Conclusion: "It might be TOO EARLY to call a winner, but it's certain that IF Microsoft can launch its tablet AS PRESENTED and with everything working smoothly, it WILL HAVE one heck of a contender on its hands." [emphasis added]

@Winski - It's not a JOKE or LIES, - or a REVIEW for that matter, where does it say that? - it's a speculative comparison based on what we know.

Among other things it's meant to inform readers who want to make a tablet purchasing decision but aren't sure whether they should wait for Surface or go for iPad now.


July 8, 2012, 3:33 pm

Guys please try to quote the right specs, especially when your statements depend on them.

The Surface RT weights in at 676g - not 576g - so it's not very light and actually heavier than the iPad.. see the real specs at https://www.microsoft.com/glob...


July 9, 2012, 2:11 pm

Humble apologies, and thanks for pointing that out. Article has been amended.


July 9, 2012, 9:37 pm

At least at this review goes, the name of the website should be changed from "Trusted Reviews" to "Wishful Thinking"

Steve Pye

July 9, 2012, 10:27 pm

Umm... I would say that the fact that this article is on a site called "Trusted Reviews" makes it a review by default. Your own words in your comment that it's a "speculative comparison" necessitates that your conclusion at the end is really only a guess.

I'm also a little puzzled by some missing research. You claim that Apple makes no keyboard accessory for the iPad, but Apple released a keyboard dock on day 1 with the first iPad. Furthermore, it works with their bluetooth keyboard. Those are, by definition, keyboard accessories for the iPad, and Apple does indeed make them.


July 10, 2012, 12:01 am

What nonsense. So Burger King shouldn't sell anything but burgers? The URL and all the page titling clearly suggests this is a 'feature' or opinion piece.

Point taken that Apple has released keyboard accessories of a sort. It perhaps should've been clearer that we were thinking of portable/case accessories - something that you'd actually take with you on your travels. Apple's two solutions aren't really suited to this.


July 10, 2012, 12:05 am

As a general point, we take onboard the idea that perhaps our templates for opinion pieces/features don't make it clear enough that they aren't reviews. This wasn't a deliberate decision to fool anyone, merely that because our reviews have the word 'review' plastered all over them, it seemed clear to us that those pages without these markers wouldn't be interpreted as reviews. However, this clear isn't the case. We're looking at redesigning our feature pages so will definitely take into account this point.


July 10, 2012, 1:01 am

I would like to speculatively compare something too – app pricing using a popular game like Fifa 13 as an example.

Fifa 13 will be released for multiple platforms this Autumn. The Xbox and PS3 versions will be about £40 and the PC version £25. The IOS version will be at most £4.99 judging by Fifa12 and it looks very good.

What do you think the Surface version would be priced at if released? An RT version would surely have to be about £4.99, but what about the Surface Pro? Will the PC version work and you have to pay £25 or will there be a separate version. If it is the same price as RT, why would anyone using Windows 8 pay for the full desktop version, and if it isn't why am I paying £1000 for a tablet and then getting shafted on apps as well?


July 15, 2012, 1:55 am

"Trusted Reviews" Apparently "trusted" meaning BS and "reviews" meaning more BS.

F Leghorn

July 15, 2012, 4:50 pm

"However many third-party keyboard accessories are available for Apple's tablet, the company itself does not sell one in any kind, shape or form."

Except for these:


Get a clue before you write an article.


July 26, 2012, 12:20 am

Wow, what a bunch of malarky (and I run on Windows). Come on guys, did Microsoft pay you for this? Or give you advertising in return or something?

The idea of comparing a functioning product you can buy, use and measure with something that your author hasn't used, doesn't have specifications for, no journalist has gotten to touch while it was powered on (a select few only got to fondle the Surface while it was off, briefly), don't have a price for and that may or may not get released by the end of the year - seems like something you can't actually do if you are being intellectually honest with yourselves.

Ed, when looking for a large bold headline title for this article since it isn't a review - I'd vote for "Comparison created by Microsoft PR Department".

I think the best part of this "comparison" was this - "It might be too early to call a winner".... Really? Ya think?

Can you really compare something that is actually real to something that is vaporware, that you haven't gotten to use, at all, and you don't know the details for?


July 26, 2012, 3:07 pm

@beezillia & Sasparilla & everyone else who's apparently hating this:
Appreciate the feedback, but...

Seriously, it's not like we (or many other tech sites, for that matter) have never published speculative articles before. Why no hatred for the pieces comparing to the iPhone 5 - which less is known about, incidentally? Why reserve the vitreol for this?

All the main specs of this Microsoft's tablet are known, so there is certainly valid ground for comparison. We know what it looks like, what connections it has, and mostly what's under the hood.

RE this not being a review, we publish news, opinion pieces (which this is) previews, hands-ons and various articles, none of which are reviews... we've done this for years. As Ed says, you might as well claim Burger King should only sell burgers as require us to only write reviews because of our name.

@F Leghorn:
Read the article before you post a clueless comment.
"third-party keyboard accessories are available FOR APPLE's TABLET". Those keyboards you link to are just Apple's standard wireless keyboard which it sells for its Mac line etc.

I'm obviously talking about a peripheral designed specifically for the available iPad(s) (and not the iPad 1's dock) which would turn it into a 'laptop' equivalent.

No (sigh), we didn't get bribed, paid, or anything of the sort. We didn't get advertising, and didn't communicate with Microsoft or any of its partners before or after writing this piece. We just happen to like innovation and good design, which is why we gave the Transformer Pad 300 10/10. As presented, the Surface is similarly flexible.

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