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Microsoft Surface Pro 11 vs iPad Pro M4: What’s the difference?

Microsoft has revealed its AI-powered Surface Pro 11, hot on the heels of Apple’s release of the new iPad Pro M4 range. The question is, what’s the difference between the two?

Obvious differences aside – like the Microsoft Surface Pro 11 running Windows 11 and the iPad Pro M4 running Apple’s iPadOS – there are a few key differences between the two tablets, not only in terms of hardware but also software capabilities and even pricing that could sway your vote one way or the other.

With that said, here’s how the Microsoft Surface Pro 11 and iPad Pro M4 compare on paper for now, with an in-depth insight coming once we’ve fully reviewed both tablets in the next few weeks. 

The Microsoft Surface Pro 11 has CoPilot+ AI capabilities

One area where the Microsoft Surface Pro 11 differentiates itself from the iPad Pro M4 is with the use of AI – for now, anyway.

The headline feature is that the Surface Pro 11 comes with an upgraded form of Microsoft CoPilot dubbed CoPilot+, powered by either the Snapdragon X Plus or Snapdragon X Elite depending on the variant you opt for. Regardless of chipset specifics, both put a heavy focus on AI and on-device AI in particular, with the Surface Pro 11 able to handle up to 45 trillion operations per second.

Microsoft Recall
Microsoft Recall

That means that the Surface Pro 11 can do some pretty cool things. That includes Recall, allowing you to “describe how you remember something” that you did or saw at some point on your device to find it instantly. 

There’s also Cocreator, an app that allows you to draw simple sketches using a Microsoft Paint-esque UI and then use on-device GenAI to turn them into an artistic masterpiece, as well as support for features like AI image fill in Photoshop, auto-generated captions in video calls and more. 

However, the Apple M4 chipset within the iPad Pro is more than capable of handling on-device AI, and with Apple’s WWDC 2024 just around the corner, we could soon see Apple’s on-device AI offering revealed to the world. 

The iPad Pro M4 is available in more sizes

Despite the Pro 11 branding, both the Surface Pro 11 and iPad Pro M4 come with a 13-inch screen. It’s larger than most tablets, but it maximises screen space for those who want to use the tablet as a primary work machine. However, Apple goes a step further by also offering a more compact 11-inch iPad Pro for those who need a more portable tablet.

iPad Pro 11 and iPad Pro 13
Apple iPad Pro 11 and iPad Pro 13

It’s not just that the iPad Pro M4 is available in two sizes either; it also offers OLED, or more specifically, its proprietary double-stacked Tandem OLED tech, for all the usual benefits of OLED – deep blacks, vivid colours – while managing to be brighter than much of the OLED-enabled competition, with a maximum brightness of 1600nits.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 11 also has an OLED screen, but that’s only if you pay a premium, with the OLED variants starting at £1,549, £500 more than the LCD variant – and at 900nits, the OLED screen isn’t quite as bright either. The iPad Pro, on the other hand, comes with its unique OLED technology as standard on both the 11- and 13-inch models.  

The iPad Pro M4 is thinner and lighter

Nobody’s about to say that the Microsoft Surface Pro 11 is a particularly thick and heavy tablet – at 9.3mm and 895g, it’s a pretty portable bit of kit, especially when you consider the level of power on offer.

However, it seems Microsoft has lost this battle because Apple’s latest iPad Pro M4 range is not only the thinnest iPad Pro to date, it’s actually Apple’s thinnest product ever. The 11-inch iPad Pro measures in at a slimline 5.3mm, while the 13-inch variant takes that even further at just 5.1mm.

iPad Pro width
iPad Pro 13

It’s a similar trend when it comes to overall heft, weighing in at just 444g and 579g respectively. 

Comparing the like-for-like 13-inch iPad Air and Surface Pro 11, Apple’s tablet is 316g lighter than Microsoft’s tablet, and it’s a whole 4.2mm thinner too.

That doesn’t include accessories for either tablet, with the accompanying keyboard cases adding extra bulk to the overall setups, but it’s still impressive just how much thinner and lighter Apple’s Pro tablets are. 

The Microsoft Surface Pro 11 could last longer

Apple has always aimed to deliver 10 hours of battery life with its iPad collection, and that’s true whether you pick up the budget-friendly iPad 10 or the top-end 13-inch iPad Pro M4. 

More specifically, that’s 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi-Fi or watching video, with more power-intensive tasks harming overall battery longevity.

Microsoft Surface Pro 11
Microsoft Surface Pro 11

Still, most iPad owners will attest that, with sporadic use, the tablet will last for days on a single charge.

However, the Microsoft Surface Pro 11 and the extremely power-efficient Snapdragon X Plus and X Elite chipsets deliver impressive power efficiency, so much so that Microsoft claims that the hybrid tablet can last up to 14 hours when watching video – a whole four hours longer than the iPad Pro. 

That said, it offers the same 10-hour estimate when it comes to web browsing, so as with the iPad, battery life will very much depend on what you’re doing on the Surface Pro 11. 

The iPad Pro M4 is cheaper – kind of

When it comes to pricing, things get a little complicated – especially when you take Microsoft’s various SKUs into consideration.

That said, the iPad Pro M4 is cheaper than the Microsoft Surface Pro if you want to opt for the smaller 11-inch iPad Pro, which starts at £999, while the 13-inch iPad Pro starts at £1,299.

Now, the Surface Pro with a 13-inch LCD display and the Snapdragon X Plus starts at £1,049, cheaper than the competing iPad Pro by a decent margin. However, if you want a comparable setup with an OLED screen and top-end Snapdragon X Elite chipset, that starts at £1,549, £250 more than the 13-inch iPad Pro. 

The iPad Pro M4 is available to buy now, while you can pre-order the Surface Pro 11 from Microsoft now ahead of release in mid-June. 

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