Surface Pro 7 vs iPad Pro: What’s the difference?

On the market for a new convertible? Then you’re likely considering picking up Microsoft’s sparkly new Surface Pro 7 or an iPad Pro, and for good reason.

A few years ago we’d have recommended Microsoft’s Surface Pro to anyone looking for an all-in-one portable device that can double as a tablet and laptop.

But things have since gotten a little complicated with the arrival of Apple’s iPad Pro line of tablets. The iPad Pro line had most of the trimmings of a Surface – featuring an Apple Pencil Stylus and attachable keyboard cover – but with the added benefits of Apple’s lightweight iOS operating system. The only downside is that, by running a mobile OS, it doesn’t match the freeware and enterprise application offering of Windows 10.

This makes knowing which device is best for your specific needs a little tricky. Here to help make sure you pick the right device we’ve broken down how the new Surface Pro 7 and iPad Pro 11 12.9-inch compare, revealing each device’s specific strengths and weaknesses.

Scroll down to learn everything you need to know about the tablets-come-laptops.

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The iPad Air 2019 looks a lot like a first gen iPad Pro

Surface Pro 7 vs iPad Pro – Specs and features

The Surface Pro 7 and iPad Pro have completely different hardware, and are fundamentally very different devices. The easiest way to explain the difference between the Surface and iPad Pro lines is that the former is a laptop-first device while the latter is primarily a tablet.

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This remains the case with the new Surface Pro 7 and iPad Pro on both a hardware and software front.

On a hardware front this is reflected by the Surface’s inclusion of a full-sized USB port and use of a dedicated Intel 10th Gen Ice Lake CPU. The iPad Pro 11 12.9-inch, by comparison, uses distinctly mobile parts, being limited to single USB C inputs and powered by Apple’s tablet-focused A12x Bionic chip.

The same is true when comparing both devices’ software. The iPad Pros’ iPadOS features optimised apps for the hardware – specifically configured for touch – and Apple Pencil inputs. For creatives these include things like Affinity Designer and Procreate.

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The lightweight OS and optimisations mean the iPad Pro will almost certainly offer a more streamlined, simple user experience and significantly better battery life than the Surface Pro 7. So if you’re a casual sketcher, or a student looking for a mobile essay station, it may be a better bet.

But for more serious users the Surface’s hardware and use of Windows 10 could make it a better bet. Windows 10 isn’t as optimised as iPadOS, but it’s also a lot less locked down and will let you download any app you like.

This means you can take advantage of stellar freeware suites that aren’t part of the official Windows Store, like Blender, GIMP and Krita, as well as full-fat desktop services from the likes of Adobe. It could be a better choice for power users that primarily run desktop services, as a result – though we won’t be able to confirm this until we’ve tested the new Microsoft device.

You can a full breakdown how the Surface Pro 7 and iPad Pros compare in the table below.

Spec Surface Pro 7 iPad Pro 11-inch iPad Pro 12.9-inch
Display 12.3-inch, 2736 x 1824, LCD 11-inch, 2388×1668 resolution, 264 ppi, ProMotion, True Tone 600 nits max brightness 12.9-inch, 2732×2048 resolution, 264 ppi, ProMotion, True Tone, 600 nits max brightness
Dimensions 5.33mm thick 248 x 178.5 x 5.9 mm  281 x 215 x 5.9 mm 
Weight 762g 468 grams Wi-Fi / 468 g LTE  631 g Wi-Fi, 633 g LTE 
CPU 10th Generation Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 A12X Bionic chip A12X Bionic chip
RAM 4/8/16GB Undisclosed Undisclosed
Storage SSD 128/256/512 and 1TB 64GB/256GB/512GB/1TB 64GB/256GB/512GB/1TB
Camera 5MP front and 8MP rear 12-megapixel 

ƒ/1.8 aperture rear camera, 7-megapixel ƒ/2.2 TrueDepth front camera

12-megapixel 

ƒ/1.8 aperture rear camera, 7-megapixel ƒ/2.2 TrueDepth front camera

Fingerprint scanner No Yes Yes
Stylus Yes Yes Yes
Battery 10.5 hour claimed “all-day battery” 29.37-watt-hour, 10 hour web browsing on Wi-Fi 36.71-watt-hour, 10 hour web browsing on Wi-Fi
OS Windows 10 iOS 12 iOS 12

Surface Pro 7 vs iPad Pro – Price

Neither the Surface Pro 7 or iPad Pro are cheap. The Surface Pro 7 price starts at $749 in the US. But don’t expect a fair dollar to pound conversion.

The Surface Pro 6 was actually cheaper to buy in dollars. At launch, prices for the Surface Pro 6 range started at £879 and went all the way up to £2149, depending on how much storage you picked and which processor you went for.

This puts it on a par with the 64GB 11-inch iPad Pro, which retails for £769. The base 12.9-inch iPad Pro costs a staggering £969.

You’ll have to shell out more if you want to grab a keyboard case or stylus for both devices.

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iPad Pro

Surface Pro 7 vs iPad Pro – Early verdict

Without more information about the Surface 7 Pro’s specs, or any time with the device, it’s too early to tell how the new Surface fairs against the iPad Pro. But if history is anything to go by then it’ll be a bit like comparing apples and oranges.

From what we’ve seen it’s the same story as past years. The Surface Pro is a laptop first, tablet second. The iPad Pro flips this round and is a tablet first, laptop second. So the answer to which is better for you will likely be informed by what you want to do with them.

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