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(Pocket-lint) - Microsoft announced the Surface Pro 7 in late 2019 alongside the Surface Laptop 3, Surface Pro X and the Surface Duo. The iPad Pro 12.9 was last revised in early 2021 and so let's compare the Surface Pro 7 - Microsoft's power tablet - with Apple's high-end model. 

Both devices are similar in size, designed to work with each respective companies' stylus and they both aim to replace your laptop, but how do they compare to each other and which is right for you?

Here is how the Microsoft Surface Pro stacks up against the Apple iPad Pro 12.9 spec-for-spec.


Surface Pro 7 vs Apple iPad Pro 12.9: Design

  • Surface Pro 7: 292 x 201 x 8.5 mm, 775g
  • Apple iPad Pro 12.9: 281 x 215 x 6.4 mm, 682g

The Surface Pro 7 is heavier and thicker but smaller overall - it's over 100g more and those figures don't include extras such as the Microsoft Type Cover keyboard which is available separately. 

The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 looks similar to its predecessor, offers a solid metal body and the kickstand now folds even flatter than on early generations so it can be used like a Surface Studio at a flat angle. 

The Apple iPad Pro 12.9 also offers a premium solid metal body and - as we mentioned - is lighter and slimmer than the Surface Pro 7 but has got slightly thicker and heavier this generation because of the new display. It has a slightly larger footprint than the Surface Pro, which you'd expect because of the display.

On the iPad, there's a Smart Connector is positioned on the left shoulder that will power additional accessories, such as Apple's Smart Keyboard. There are also two extra speakers positioned at the top, offering four-directional sound for powerful audio. The Surface Pro 7 also has a connector at its base so you can connect up the Type Cover. 

The iPad is available in silver and space grey while the Surface Pro 7 is available in platinum and matte black, first introduced last year.


Surface Pro 7 vs Apple iPad Pro 12.9: Display

  • Surface Pro 7: 2736 x 1824 resolution, 267ppi
  • iPad Pro 12.9: 12.9-inch 2,732 x 2,048 resolution, 264ppi

The Surface Pro 7 has the same size screen as previous Surface Pros, meaning it offers a 12.3-inch PixelSense display. The resolution is 2,736 x 1,824 pixels, which results in a pixel density of 267ppi

Meanwhile, the Apple iPad Pro's 12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR (aka Micro LED) display is absolutely superb with supreme brightness and colours. It has the same 2,732 x 2,048 resolution as the previous-generation iPad Pros though. The new screen has caused this iPad Pro to be slightly thicker and heavier than the previous generation. Coincidentally, the 11-inch iPad Pro doesn't have the new type display, instead sticking with the retina display from the last few generations, 

The pixel density is almost the same between the Surface Pro and the iPad Pro. Both have touchscreens that measure pressure, meaning they will both work with their respective stylus. In the Surface Pro's case, this is the Surface Pen, while in the iPad Pro's case it is the second-generation Apple Pencil, not compatible with the first generation. Both allow you to draw, write and annotate.

Surface Pro 7 vs Apple iPad Pro 12.9: Hardware

  • Surface Pro 7: 10th generation Intel Core i3, i5, i7, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB storage, 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB RAM, no LTE option yet
  • iPad Pro 12.9: Apple M1, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB or 2TB storage, Wi-Fi and 4G LTE/5G option

The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 features Intel Core 10th-generation processors, with the base model offering the Core i3, an upgrade from older models. It's also configurable all the way up to Core i7 which offers a significant amount of grunt. 

In terms of RAM, the entry-level Surface Pro 7 has 4GB RAM (not recommended, it's not enough) while storage options start at 128GB SSD, through 256GB, 512GB, and even a maximum 1TB option. There is also a microSD card slot on the new Surface Pro 7 but no 4G LTE option as yet.

The Surface Pro 7 has an 8-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front camera, which is capable of Full HD 1080p video recording. It can also use Windows Hello for facial recognition when logging on. 

The Apple iPad Pro 12.9 features the latest Apple M1 processor that we've also seen deployed in new Apple Macs. Supereme power is on offer. It is offered in storage options of 128GB (no 64GB this time) and up and also features 5G/4G LTE on the cellular models. 

The iPad Pro 12.9 features dual rear cameras, the same as in the 2020 iPad Pro. This includes a 12MP megapixel wide lens (ƒ/1.8 aperture) and a 10MP ultra-wide lens (ƒ/2.4 aperture) with a 125 field of view. It also supports 4K video recording and Smart HDR. A third sensor is a LiDAR scanner for advanced ARKit apps. There's also a 7-megapixel front camera - the same as older iPad Pros. This front camera is also used for Face ID. 

The cited battery life of both is around 10 to 10.5 hours. Obviously, this will depend on use. 

Surface Pro 7 vs Apple iPad Pro 12.9: Connections and ports

  • Surface Pro 7: microSD, 1 x USB-C and USB-A, 1 x Surface Connect, headphone jack
  • iPad Pro 12.9: 1 x USB-C, headphone jack

The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 features USB-C at last in addition to the older USB-A standard and a very welcome microSD card reader. Thanks to the advent of USB-C there's no longer a Mini DisplayPort. Again there's a Type Cover port to connect up the keyboard.

This iPad also has a headphone jack, unlike some of Apple's devices, as well as the Smart Connector for connecting up accessories. There is no microSD reader though although accessories can now be added via USB-C. 

Surface Pro 7 vs Apple iPad Pro 12.9: Accessories

  • Surface Pro offers Type Cover, Surface Pen, support for Surface Dial and Surface Mouse
  • iPad Pro 12.9 supports Apple Pencil (2nd generation) and Smart Keyboard

The Microsoft Surface Pro has the option of several accessories, all of which cost extra with none included in the box.

There is a new Type Cover called the Surface Pro Signature Type Cover, which is made from Microsoft's Alcantara material and there is also a new Surface Pen. The new stylus comes in four colours and offers four times the sensitivity of its predecessor.

The Surface Pro 7 also offers on-screen support for the Surface Dial and there is also a Surface Mouse available too.

As for Apple's iPad Pro 12.9, accessories are a little more limited, though once again cost extra with none included in the box. The two options include the Apple Pencil (2nd generation) and Smart Keyboard (now available in white).

The latest-generation iPad Pro isn't compatible with the first generation Apple Pencil, which was used for older iPad Pros as well as the basic iPad and iPad mini. 

Surface Pro 7 vs Apple iPad Pro 12.9: Software

  • Surface Pro 7 comes with Windows 10 Pro
  • iPad Pro 12.9 runs iPadOS

The Surface Pro 7 runs on the latest Windows 10 Pro operating system. That means the full bevy of software - from Office to Cortana and beyond - is offered, plus it'll run third-party apps. It also offers an Office 365 30-day trial. Although Microsoft seems to be transitioning to supporting Alexa more, Microsoft's own Cortana is still present. 

The Apple iPad Pro 12.9 runs on iPadOS, offering many more laptop-like file management features and improved Apple Pencil integration. The iPad Pro 12.9 also comes with Apple's Office-equivalent programmes including Numbers, Pages and Keynote. It also comes with the company's voice assistant Siri.

Surface Pro 7 vs Apple iPad Pro 12.9: Conclusion

The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is likely to be the better choice for those actually after a Windows laptop replacement, given the processor, and storage plus RAM can be configured to suit your needs.

The Apple iPad Pro 12.9 on the other hand, is a fantastic entertainment and content creation device that also now offers Mac-level power and storage. The new display is also stunning. 

Both are powerful, well-designed devices with some good accessories. The decision between them will come down to what you want your device to do.

If it's entertainment first, working on the move second, the iPad Pro 12.9 is probably the better option especially if you're already embedded in the Apple ecosystem. If working on the move is your priority, the Surface Pro 7 should meet most needs with its full desktop apps. 

Writing by Dan Grabham and Britta O'Boyle. Originally published on 11 October 2019.