iPad Pro vs Surface Pro - A tale of two tablets

The Microsoft Surface Pro and Apple iPad Pre are two very different devices both evolving from two different concepts on computing. Where things get confusing between the two products, is in the advertising. Let's compare the Apple iPad Pro vs the Microsoft Surface Pro and get the message straight.

I've owned a Surface Pro 3 and now the 13" iPad Pro. Both wonderful devices but both very different. Between the two I enjoyed my Surface Pro much more. That thing was truly a personal computer. It was small enough to take anywhere, ran a desktop-class OS and worked with all my peripherals. In the end, both it and the Surface Pro 4 were not powerful enough to work with 4K video, something my MacBook Pro and iPad Pro do well. Maybe the next Surface Pro will be the machine for me.

Apple and Microsoft - Confusion made worse by confusing marketing.

The marketing of the iPad Pro and the Surface Pro are both well produced. The messages though are completely missing the point and what's worse, potentially confusing the consumer. Let's call out both machines for what they really are.

iPad Pro

The iPad Pro is a tablet running a mobile OS. It is not a replacement for a traditional computer. It never will be period. It's a good machine though and I get a ton of work done on it, far more than I did with the Surface Pro because the apps I need are available and run well on iOS. If the apps you need run well on iOS then they'll be awesome on the iPad Pro. Just don't expect it to be like a desktop machine. It is not.

If you need the power or sophistication of a desktop machine but still want the portability of an iPad you'll need both.

Surface Pro

The Surface Pro is a computer running a traditional desktop OS. It is not a mobile device in the sense that a smartphone is and it might not ever be that. It runs Windows 10 well but struggles with apps I need most, mainly Adobe Creative Cloud. I got some work done on it but since the work I do requires regular image processing from Lightroom or 4K content in Premiere Pro the Surface Pro really struggles here. To be fair Lightroom Mobile and Premiere Clip on iOS are not the same as the desktop versions that the Surface Pro runs but what's available on the iPad Pro does work well enough to get me through small projects start to finish. Can't do that on the Surface because it takes too long. Also, it's missing apps like Instagram and Evernote on Windows kinda sucks, both of which are important for my daily work.

The tablet experience on the Surface Pro is underdeveloped as are the apps and no, I do not care about legacy apps. At the pace that Microsoft is evolving Windows 10, I think in the future the tablet experience and the availability of mobile apps could be fantastic.

Watching the recent ads from both Microsoft and Apple will confuse anyone. In the Apple spot, you're lead to believe that the iPad Pro is a traditional computer and in the Microsoft spot the Surface is positioned against the iPad Pro as a more powerful tablet. I'm posting both below for you to look at. Remember, if you use Windows or don't need 4K video processing the Surface Pro is wonderful. If you already have a Mac or just love iOS and want the best iOS experience the iPad Pro is for you. Both devices are starting the blur the line of what a computer is but it might be too soon. I think most Apple users would be happy to know the iPad Pro is a wonderful iPad and the Windows users would probably love to know that the Surface Pro is a fantastic Windows machine. These ads suggest otherwise and in my view both miss the mark by a long shot.

I really wanted the Surface Pro to do the job but in the end, I needed both the iPad Pro and my Macbook Pro to complete what I need for my workflow today. I am hopeful that in the future I'll be using something like an iPad Pro or Surface Pro for the majority of my work. I'm open to either machine, they are both wonderful but both are coming from different ends of the computer spectrum and both need to evolve more.