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(Pocket-lint) - Last year we had a brand new entry-level iPad and a second-generation entry-level Microsoft Surface. How do they compare?

So how does the entry-level iPad 10.2 (8th generation) compare to the Surface Go 2, which looks like a Surface Pro but cheaper? Well, to help you figure it out, we've compared all the specs and pitted the two against each other.

Both the Surface Go 2 and iPad are available in versions with just Wi-Fi as well as Wi-Fi and Cellular (4G LTE). 


  • Both have metal constructions and rounded corners
  • iPad has silver, space grey, and gold colour options
  • Surface Go 2 is the bigger and heavier device

The iPad and Surface Go 2 feature similar designs in that they're both tablet designs, even if the Surface Go is regularly seen with a Type Cover attached (an optional extra). 

The iPad offers a premium metal construction with rounded edges and corners and Touch ID on the front beneath the screen. On the rear, the Apple logo is positioned in the middle, as usual, while the rear camera lens sits in the top left corner. It also has a central Lightning port.

Surface Go 2 also has a metal construction with rounded corners, but it has a built-in kickstand, a USB-C (non-Thunderbolt) port, a Surface Connect port (yes, Microsoft is still persisting with it), and a microSD slot under the kickstand.

In terms of size, Surface Go 2 is a 544g touchscreen tablet without the Type Cover that's 8.3mm thick and 245 x 175 mm, while the iPad measures 251 x 174mm and weighs 483g or 493g, depending on the model.

And finally, iPad 10.2 comes in silver, space grey, and gold colour options. There are no other colour options for Surface Go.

  • Surface Go has a 10.2-inch display with a 3:2 aspect ratio
  • iPad has a 9.7-inch display with a 264ppi

Both have larger displays than their predecessors - Surface Go 2 has a 10.5-inch display up from 10-inch and the iPad now has a 10.2-inch display having moved up from the 9.7-inch display that the iPad utilised for many generations (it's worth noting the 7th generation was also 10.2 rather than 9.7).

Both devices have touchscreens, that can be used with the Apple Pencil (1st generation) or Surface Pen respectively. Both of these accessories cost extra. 

The iPad has Retina display, which means an LED-backlit screen with 2,160 x 1,620 resolution for a pixel density of 264ppi.

Surface Go, on the other hand, has a lower-resolution 1,920 x 1,280 (220ppi) PixelSense display with a 3:2 aspect ratio.

  • Surface Go 2 has 8MP rear, 5MP front camera
  • iPad has 8MP rear, 1.2MP 720p front camera

The iPad sticks with the same specs as you get with the previous generation. There's an 8-megapixel rear camera with a f/2.4 aperture and 1080p Full HD video recording capabilities, while the front-facing camera resolution sits at 1.2-megapixels. There is no flash on either camera. 

Surface Go 2, meanwhile, has a front-facing 5-megapixel camera (with Windows Hello face recognition) and a rear autofocus 8-megapixel camera. Again, we're looking at Full HD video recording. 

If we're just looking at specs, the selfie snapper on the Surface Go is a clear winner, aimed at giving good quality video calling. 

  • iPad has A12 Bionic chip and embedded M12 coprocessor
  • Surface Go 2 has Intel Pentium Gold and Core m3 options

The iPad has an upgraded A12 Bionic chip and an embedded M12 coprocessor - a step up from the A10/M10 that its two predecessors had. Surface Go 2 adds a Core m3 option to the range alongside a new version of the lower-end model that uses a slightly upgraded Intel Pentium Gold Processor (4425Y rather than 4415Y).

Both devices have stereo speakers and cite around 10 hours of battery life.

The iPad comes in 32GB and 128GB capacities, while Surface Go 2 is available in 4GB of RAM/64GB of eMMC storage or 8GB of RAM/128GB SSD storage. These figures aren't changed versus their predecessor devices. 

  • iPad runs iPadOS 
  • Surface Go 2 has Windows 10 Home in S Mode or Windows 10 Pro

The iPad 9.7 runs iPadOS, meaning you'll get an almost identical experience as you do on an iPhone, with additional functions such as split-screen multitasking and the Home app for any HomeKit-enabled devices.

Schools and students can order the iPad with new education apps, such as School Manager, which enables schools to manage multiple users - and Apple IDs - on a single device. 

As for the Surface Go 2, you can get it with Windows 10 Home in S Mode (upgradable to Windows 10 Home). Alternatively, business and education users can get Windows 10 Pro if they want. 


The decision between iPad 10.2 and Surface Go 2 will come down to what you want your new tablet for or what you have to spend on it. The iPad is cheaper and is a brilliant tablet that offers a solid, consistent performance. It also supports Apple Pencil.

Surface Go 2, on the other hand, costs a bit more, but it comes with full Windows 10 and supports Surface Pen - as well as running full apps. It runs Windows and its desktop apps well on its lower-power hardware though we recommend the Core m3 version rather than the Pentium Gold model. 

Writing by Dan Grabham and Maggie Tillman. Originally published on 9 July 2018.