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How does the new Surface Pro 6 stack up with the iPad Pro?

Microsoft just unveiled the latest version of its new tablet/laptop combo gadget, the Surface Pro 6, and it’s set to take on Apple’s premium tablet, the iPad Pro yet again.

The Surface Pro line has some of the best hardware Microsoft ever produced and the Surface Pro 6 is no exception. You might say that it’s an incremental upgrade but the Surface 6 is 67 percent more powerful than its predecessor and Microsoft refreshed its display with the highest contrast ratio in any Surface gadget yet.

Microsoft claims to have managed to optimize its cooling system to support its new quad-core 8th generation Intel processors, a first in machines with a very thin tablet form factor. And unlike the Surface Pro 5, which only came in silver, the Surface Pro 6 also comes in a stunning matte black finish.

The entry-level point for the Surface Pro 6 has also gone down compared to the Surface Pro 5. The Surface Pro 6 with Core i5 will start at $899 and it is the lowest priced launch Surface Pro ever. 

The Surface Pro 6 does look impressive compared to its older Surface Pro 5 brother but how does it stack up against the current iPad Pros? Let’s go and find out.

Note: Keep in mind that the iPad Pros are likely to get a refresh soon. Better wait for the next updates before splurging on these old models. As usual, when the new iPad Pro models are released, the old ones could get a price cut too.

Form factor

The Surface Pro and the iPad Pro lines may be colliding head-on in many aspects, but they have many distinct differences too.

For one, the Surface Pro line is marketed primarily as a tablet/laptop hybrid and it comes with its own built-in kickstand. Combined with a Surface keyboard, (sold separately), this turns the Pro into a full-blown Windows 10 laptop. The iPad Pro, with its iOS operating system, is still mainly a mobile tablet albeit you can use cases and covers if you want to prop it up.

The Surface Pro, with its magnesium build, is slightly heavier than the iPad Pros, which are constructed with aluminum. The Surface Pros are also thicker than the iPad Pros. However, Microsoft stuck with a squarer 3:2 aspect ratio and that’s easier to operate with one hand, regardless of orientation, than the iPad Pro’s 4:3 display.

Fun Fact: 300,000 first generation iPads were sold the day it was launched.

Performance

Although the iPad Pro comes in two sizes, they’re outfitted with the same processor — the A10x Fusion. The Surface Pro 6 comes with Intel’s 8th-generation Core i5 or i7 chips, which are more efficient than their predecessors. You can’t really compare these two chips directly since Apple’s mobile chips are always designed hand-in-hand with and optimized for its mobile operating system, iOS.

On the RAM side, the Surface Pro 6 can be outfitted with 8GB or 16GB RAM while the 10.5-inch iPad Pro has 2GB and the 12.9-inch has 4GB. Again, iPad Pros are optimized for mobile while the Surface Pro has a full-blown Windows 10 operating system running it, so you can’t compare both experiences directly simply based on the amount of RAM.

So with the iPad Pro’s more consistent specs, all you have to worry about is the storage capacity whereas with the Surface Pro, the more expensive it gets, the better its performance will be.

On the hardware side, both tablets support their own respective styluses, the Pencil for the iPad Pro and the Surface Pen for the Surface Pro, and they basically have the same handwriting and drawing functions.

Operating system

With its iOS operating system, the iPad Pro is strictly a mobile device and its apps and interface reflect that. The reverse is true with the Surface Pro 6 — with Windows 10, it’s laptop first, tablet second. Because of that, the Surface Pro 6 can run full desktop applications side by side with tablet-focused Windows 10 apps. Since Windows 10 powers the Surface Pro 6, it has better multitasking and file management features, too.

COMPARISON CHART

For a quick comparison of the Surface Pro 6 and the iPad Pros, here’s a chart with all the specs that matter:

Price Screen size Screen Resolution Battery Life Storage RAM Processor Weight Dimensions Ports
Microsoft Surface Pro 6
Starts at $899
12.3 inches
2,736 x 1,824
Up to 13.5 hours
128GB, 256GB, 512G, or 1TB
8GB or 16GB
8th-gen Intel Core i5 or 17
1.71 lbs. (i5), 1.75 lbs. (i7)
11.5″ x 7.9″ x 0.33″
Mini DisplayPort, Surface Connector, microSD slot, one USB-A port, headphone jack
2017 Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch
Starts at $799
12.9-inches
2732 x 2048
Up to 10 hours
64GB, 256GB or 512GB
4GB
A10X Fusion
1.57 lbs.
12.04″ x 8.68″ x 0.27″
Lightning port, Smart connector, headphone jack
2017 Apple iPad Pro 10.5-inch
Starts at $649
10.5-inch
2224 x 1668
Up to 10 hours
64GB, 256GB or 512GB
2GB
A10X Fusion
1.03 lbs.
9.87″ x 6.85″ x 0.24″
Lightning port, Smart connector, headphone jack
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