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iPad Air vs Surface Go 2: Which affordable tablet is right for you?

The Surface Go 2 is finally available to buy. The second iteration of Microsoft’s affordable 2-in-1 looks to be a nifty little device, but how does it hold up against it’s biggest rival? We pitted the two against one another to find out who wins in the affordable tablet fight: it’s the iPad Air vs Surface Go 2. 

Apple’s lightweight tablet sits between the iPad Pro and the iPad Mini 5 in the iPad line-up, establishing itself as an excellent all-rounder for the tablet-buyer on a budget.

You can pick up a 64GB iPad Air right now for £479, while Surface Go prices start at just £399.

Related: Surface Go 2 review

iPad Air vs Surface Go 2 – Display

The Surface Go 2 has been given a slightly bigger display at the expense of its predecessor’s chunky bezel. The 10.5-inch screen is now on par with the display on the iPad Air, meaning there is little between the two in terms of size.

Where the two touch displays really differ is in resolution. The Surface Go’s PixelSense screen has a 3:2 aspect ratio and a 1800 x 1200 resolution, while the iPad Air’s True Tone display boasts a more impressive 2224 x 1668 resolution.

iPad Air vs Surface Go 2 – Specs

The iPad Air is powered by Apple’s A12 Bionic SoC – the same chip used in the iPhone XS, iPhone XR and the iPad Mini, and a step down from the A12Z Bionic found in the most recent iPad Pro. The Surface Go 2, on the other hand, has received a 64% performance boost from its predecessor thanks to new 8th Generation Intel Core M options – though you may have to pay out for this chipset.

Both tablets are compatible with Wi-Fi and LTE, and the iPad Air works with Bluetooth 5.0. The original Surface Go was compatible with Bluetooth 4.1, but there’s been no word on whether its successor will get an upgrade in this area.

The Surface Go 2 comes in 64GB and 256GB variants, while the iPad jumps from 64GB straight to 256GB. The iPad Air features Touch ID for fast signing in and making purchases with Apple Pay. The original Surface Go came with Windows Hello face authentication, so we assume this will also be present in the Surface Go 2.

The Surface Go also had a battery life of up to 9 hours playing video on Wi-Fi and up to 8.5 hours on 4G. Microsoft claims the new Surface tablet has undergone some improvements in this area so we would expect the battery life to either match or surpass the up to 10 hours available on the iPad Air.

Read our review of the iPad Air (2019)

iPad Air vs Surface Go 2 – Camera

The iPad Air features an 8MP ƒ/2.4 rear camera with 1080p HD video and slo-mo and a 7MP ƒ/2.2 front camera for Facetime. The 2018 Surface Go had a matching 8MP rear camera capable of capturing 1080p footage, and we assume the Surface Go 2 will have a similar setup. The rear camera will also have a new Camera app that makes scanning documents and whiteboards a simpler process.

The Surface Go 2 features a 5MP front camera capable of producing sharp images even in low light. The Microsoft 2-in-1 looks to have been designed with video chats in mind, with the addition of dual-microphone solution Studio Mics to improve clarity and minimise background noise in calls.

iPad Air vs Surface Go 2 – Keyboard

Both tablets can effectively be turned into laptops with the addition of a detachable keyboard – at an additional cost to you, of course.

Apple charges £159 for its Smart Keyboard, a lightweight keyboard and stand that folds into a cover when not in use. Microsoft encourages users to personalise their Surface Go with its own Type Cover keyboard stands available in a variety of colours, including Platinum, Black, Poppy Red and Ice Blue. Type Covers are priced at £124.99 each.

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