Trusted Reviews is supported by its audience. If you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Surface Go 3 vs iPad 9: Which tablet should you get?

Microsoft unveiled the latest update to its affordable tablet line – the Surface Go 3 – at its September event, just one week after Apple announced the new iPad 9 during its own livestream. 

The Surface Go 3 and the iPad 9 are the cheapest current generation tablets available from their respective companies, making them the best options if you’re want a tablet for school or entertainment that won’t cost a fortune. 

So, what’s the difference? And, which tablet should you opt for? Read on to find out how the Surface Go 3 compares to the iPad 9. 

Two different operating systems 

One of the biggest differences between the Surface Go 3 and the iPad 9 is their operating systems. 

The Surface Go has been upgraded to Windows 11 this time around, with updates including the new Snap feature for rearranging windows, the presence of Android apps and a built-in Microsoft Teams feature. Meanwhile the iPad 9 runs iPadOS 15, which takes advantage of new multitasking features to arrange windows and move between apps, SharePlay in FaceTime and widgets on the Home Screen. 

It’s also important to note that the Surface Go 3 runs the more restricted version of Windows 11 – S Mode. 

Ultimately, the decision comes down to which OS you prefer. If you’re a diehard Apple user with an iPhone and a Mac, the iPad will fit seamlessly into your life. If you prefer your Windows PC and have a phone filled with Android apps, then the Surface Go 3 makes much more sense for you. 

The Surface Go 3 has a bigger display 

The Surface Go 3 features a 10.5-inch PixelSense touchscreen with a resolution of 1920 x 1280, whereas the iPad 9 has a 10.2-inch LED touchscreen with a 2160 x 1620 resolution and Apple’s True Tone technology. 

This makes the Surface Go 3 the larger of the two displays, while the iPad has a higher resolution. Both tablets appear to have similar sized bezels on the sides, with Apple having slightly larger spaces at the top and bottom to make room for the camera and the Touch ID button. 

Both displays feature pen support for sketching and note-taking, and both can also be considered 2-in-1 devices thanks to their attachable keyboards. However, the Surface Go’s Type Cover is the more affordable at £124.99, while the Smart Cover for the iPad 9 costs £159. 

Intel 10th Gen vs A13 Bionic 

Another major upgrade the Surface Go saw this year was an update to Intel’s 10th Gen processors. You can choose between Intel Pentium Gold 6500Y and Intel Core i3-10100Y CPU. This means the Go 3 is 60% more powerful than its predecessor, the Surface Go 2

The iPad 9 on the other hand runs on Apple’s own A13 Bionic chipset – the same one found in the iPhone 11 series. 

It’s difficult to say how either performs without having tested them yet, but it’s safe to say the Surface Go 3 has been given a significant performance boost for 2021. 

The iPad 9 appears to be better for video calls 

One thing tablets have proven ideal for throughout 2020 and 2021 is holding video calls. So, how do the cameras compare? 

The Surface Go 3 features an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front camera. Both cameras are capable of capturing video at 1080p, while the front camera also provides support for Windows Hello face authentication for faster log-ins. 

The iPad 9, meanwhile, takes advantage of an 8-megapixel rear camera with features including Panorama, digital zoom, HDR for photos and Burst mode. On the front, there’s a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera with a 122-degree field of view. Both cameras can record video at 1080p, but the iPad 9 does not support Face ID, opting instead to stick with Touch ID.

The iPad does, however, include support Centre Stage, a feature that ensures you stay in frame during video calls by panning the camera as you move throughout the space. This, combined with the higher megapixel front camera, makes the iPad seem like the better choice for video calls and virtual meetings. 

The iPad is cheaper 

Another major deciding factor when it comes to buying a new piece of tech is price. 

Prices for the Surface Go 3 start at £369 with the Intel Pentium 6500Y chip, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage and Wi-Fi. The iPad 9, meanwhile, starts at £319 with the A13 Bionic chip, 64GB of storage and Wi-Fi. 

This makes the Apple tablet £50 cheaper than its Windows counterpart.

Why trust our journalism?

Founded in 2003, Trusted Reviews exists to give our readers thorough, unbiased and independent advice on what to buy.

Today, we have millions of users a month from around the world, and assess more than 1,000 products a year.

author icon

Editorial independence

Editorial independence means being able to give an unbiased verdict about a product or company, with the avoidance of conflicts of interest. To ensure this is possible, every member of the editorial staff follows a clear code of conduct.

author icon

Professional conduct

We also expect our journalists to follow clear ethical standards in their work. Our staff members must strive for honesty and accuracy in everything they do. We follow the IPSO Editors’ code of practice to underpin these standards.

Trusted Reviews Logo

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the best of Trusted Reviews delivered right to your inbox.

This is a test error message with some extra words