In the wake of Microsoft’s Surface 2022 reveal event, we now know what the next tablet in the tech giant’s Surface line will be: the Surface Pro 9.
We enjoyed some hands-on time with the new tablet and liked what we saw. There’s no doubt that the Surface Pro 9 will secure a place in our best Windows tablet rankings, and could even break into the list of best tablets overall – something Microsoft has struggled for in the past.
However, there is some stiff competition in the form of the iPad Pro, Apple’s flagship tablet for professionals. It sits at the top of our best tablets guide, and it’s going to take some serious work from Microsoft to remove it.
Could the new Surface Pro 9 be the best tablet? Microsoft sure seems confident, but with Black Friday fast approaching we could see some serious deals on the iPad Pro. Surface Pro 9 starts up Oct 25th (or November 8 if you’re in the UK), which means you’re not likely to see any significant price cuts for this year’s sales events.
As we like to say, new technology is always exciting, but it’s not always better. Is the Surface Pro 9 really superior to the current iPad Pro, a device that is now over a year old? lets take alook.
Surface Pro 9 vs. iPad Pro: Price
- Surface Pro 9 price starts at $1,000 / £1,099 / AU$1,649
- iPad Pro starts at $799 / £749 / AU$1,199
- Keyboard and pen sold separately
Let’s start by saying that none of these devices will make it to our best cheap tablets list. While on paper the starting price of the Apple iPad Pro makes it a clear winner in this category, it’s worth noting that you’re literally getting a device for a lot less for the starting price of $799 / £749 / AU$1,199.
Unlike the Surface Pro 9, the iPad Pro is available in two sizes; the full-size 12.9-inch model and the cheaper 11-inch model. The larger version starts at $1,099 / £999 / AU$1,649, which actually makes it more expensive than the Surface Pro 9 in some markets.
Of course, the price fluctuates a lot once you start customizing the components, but the top-tier models of these two tablets also close in price at $2,399 / £2,149 / AU$3,549 for the top-spec iPad Pro and $2,599 / 2, £599 / AU$4,149 for the most powerful Surface Pro 9.
Surface Pro 9 has a variety of models available; While every iPad Pro can be purchased with 5G support thanks to the Apple M1 chip that powers it, you’ll need to buy a non-Intel version of the Surface Pro 9 that uses the new Microsoft SQ3 CPU if you want your Windows tablet to have 5G connectivity.
The iPad Pro has a variety of SSD sizes (ranging from 128GB to 2TB), while the Surface Pro 9 can be purchased with more RAM (up to 32GB versus a maximum of 16GB in the iPad Pro).
Finally, both the Surface Pro 9 and iPad Pro are best used with the accompanying keyboard cover and stylus; This is the Type Cover and Surface Slim Pen 2 from Microsoft, the Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil from Apple.
We’d just like to take a moment to say that’s too bad, especially since both manufacturers are keen to tout the laptop capabilities of their tablets. There are no winners here, but there is a loser: the consumer.
Surface Pro 9 vs. iPad Pro: Performance
- Surface Pro 9 has the powerful 12th generation Intel chipset
- The Pro 9 5G will feature the new Microsoft SQ3 processor
- The iPad Pro rocks the excellent M1 chip, but less RAM in the higher-spec models
This is a somewhat difficult category to judge, because the iPad Pro and Surface Pro 9 use completely different operating systems. This means we don’t really have exact performance numbers for comparison purposes, but we’ll work with what we have.
For starters, Windows 11 is inarguably a more versatile and powerful platform than iPadOS. This doesn’t spoil Apple’s tablet OS, but it’s just a fact: Windows allows for more flexibility and a wider range of installable software.
In terms of raw performance, the waters are a bit murkier. Most Surface Pro 9 models are Intel-approved, which means they have ultra-fast wake-up time and generally great performance on productivity workloads. There’s going to be a lot of difference in performance between the models, though — with three different potential chips (i5, i7, and SQ3) plus a variety of RAM options, the Surface Pro 9s can give you very different results.
On the other hand, the iPad Pro has been using Apple’s M1 chip since 2021, which is fine. The M1 means that both sizes of iPad Pro should perform nearly identically, with a small amount of difference depending on whether you choose the 8GB or 16GB memory configuration.
As close as we could get to real-world comparative numbers were some of the Geekbench 5 results, but even those were shaky. The M1 iPad Pro scored 1704 in the single-core test and 7207 in the multi-core test. Meanwhile, decent Geekbench numbers on the chips in the Surface Pro 9 aren’t available on the Geekbench site, but the Core i7-12700K scored significantly higher than the M1.
However, the i7-1255U chip in the Surface Pro 9 is a mobile CPU that clearly won’t perform at this level, and we have absolutely no clue as to how well the new Qualcomm-developed Microsoft SQ3 chip will perform. We’re still giving the win here to the Surface, but only because it’s rocking a better operating system — and better battery life, too.
Surface Pro 9 vs iPad Pro: Design
- The Surface Pro 9 only comes in one size; iPad Pro is available in two versions
- The iPad Pro’s display is arguably the best
- The design of the structure comes down to personal preference
Ultimately, which of these two products is “better designed” is a personal question; Some will prefer the lightweight and compact design of the 11-inch iPad Pro, while others will prefer the screen’s narrow bezels and the variety of color schemes offered by the Surface Pro 9.
For the sake of fairness, we’ll primarily be comparing the 12.9-inch version of the iPad Pro to the 13-inch Surface tablet exclusively. Even with matching screen sizes, the iPad Pro is significantly thinner and lighter than its Microsoft competitor; Most likely because the Surface still requires more internal cooling.
We prefer the Surface Pro 9’s productivity-focused 3:2 aspect ratio over the iPad Pro’s 4:3; renders the screen feelings Bigger, stuffed with more text in a Google Doc or more images on a webpage. We realize this won’t be the same for all users, though.
The same display panel outperforms the iPad Pro, with a significantly higher contrast ratio and better maximum brightness. Not many users will notice or care, but digital artists and photo editors are better served by Apple’s tablet screen. The iPad Pro also has better cameras, with a 12MP main lens compared to the Surface’s 10MP camera — though both are capable of recording 4K video.
In terms of physical ports, they’re pretty much the same; Since the death of the Lightning connector, the iPad Pro uses the same USB-C port as the Surface Pro 9, though the latter also has Thunderbolt 4 support and a Surface Connect slot if you want to charge the device while using the USB-C port.
Finally, we have to discuss accessories. The Microsoft Type Cover keyboard for the Surface tablet line is great overall, with its soft Alcantara texture and magnetic charging slot for the Surface Slim Pen 2. However, this stylus doesn’t just compare to the great Apple Pencil — and with that deciding factor, this roundup goes to iPad Pro.
Surface Pro 9 vs iPad Pro: Which should you choose?
It’s a tie! But it is not. Basically, the Surface Pro 9 and iPad Pro are two completely different devices; The former is better suited to a traditional office environment, while the latter is more at home in the hands of creative professionals.
When choosing between these two aspiring laptops, it’s important to consider your personal needs. If you want a very lightweight device that you can easily fit into a small bag and take with you everywhere, then the 11-inch iPad Pro is the best choice. If you like the idea of a tablet that can double as a laptop for work, the Surface Pro 9 is the one for you.
It’s also about intimacy. We fear what we do not understand, after all; If you own an iPhone, you won’t have any trouble navigating the iPad Pro software. If you’re used to working on a Windows desktop computer, the jump to iPadOS might feel unbearably messy — the clean, familiar feel of Windows 11 on the Surface Pro 9 might be your speed.
We love both devices, and it’s almost unfair to compare them when both excel in completely different areas. We’re sure you’ll love them too – just make sure you pick the one that works for you You are want from a tablet.