On 23 May 2017 Microsoft unveiled a new model in its Surface line of Windows-based tablets – the main rivals to Apple’s iPad Pro devices in the high-end laptop-replacement tablet market. Technically this is just called ‘Surface Pro’, but most tech fans are carrying on calling it the Surface Pro 5, so we’ve decided to do likewise.
In this article we compare the design, specs, performance, features and price of the new Surface Pro 5 and the iPad Pro. Since the new Surface Pro has a 12.3-inch screen we’ll primarily be comparing it to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, but where useful for comparison we’ve included some relevant details that apply to the 9.7in model. Read next: iPad buying guide 2017
Here’s what the two devices look like.
They’re both nice designs. Apple’s is starting to feel a bit dated, having stayed much the same, with variations in scale, since the iPad Air 1; the Surface 5 is arguably a little less sleek than its Apple rival (and is indeed a bit thicker, despite having a smaller screen).
Surface Pro 5…
…and iPad Pro 12.9in
Surface Pro 5…
…and iPad Pro 12.9in
Let’s take a look under the hoods of these two high-power tablets.
Like the laptops it’s intended to replace, the Surface Pro is available with a range of processors; each iPad comes with one processor and one processor only.
iPad Pro 12.9in: 2.16 GHz to 2.26 GHz A9X chip with 64-bit architecture, embedded M9 coprocessor
Surface Pro 5: 1GHz Core m3-7Y30; 2.6GHz Core i5-7300U; 2.5GHz Core i7-7660U
iPad Pro 12.9in: 4GB (the 9.7in iPad Pro has only 2GB RAM, by the way)
Surface Pro 5: 4GB/8GB/16GB
iPad Pro 12.9in: 32GB/128GB/256GB
Surface Pro 5: 128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB SSD
iPad Pro 12.9in: 12.9-inch ‘Retina’ screen, 2732×2048 resolution at 264 pixels per inch (ppi)
Surface Pro 5: 12.3-inch ‘PixelSense’ screen, 2736×1824 resolution at 273ppi
iPad Pro 12.9in: 8Mp (rear-facing), 1.2Mp (front)
Surface Pro 5: 8Mp (rear-facing), 5Mp (front)
iPad Pro 12.9in: 10,307mAh; claimed battery life 10 hours (using Wi-Fi) or 9 hours (cellular)
Surface Pro 5: battery capacity unknown; claimed battery life 13.5 hours
Ports and connectivity
iPad Pro 12.9in: Lightning port, 3.5mm headphone port, Smart Connector, 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2
Surface Pro 5: USB 3, microSD, 3.5mm headset, Surface connector, 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0
iPad Pro 12.9in: Compatible with Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard (both cost extra. You can buy the Apple Pencil here and the Smart Keyboard here)
Surface Pro 5: Compatible with Surface Pen, Surface Keyboard and Surface Mouse (all cost extra. Microsoft has announced a new Surface Pen with improved tilt sensitivity, and says this works with older Surface models – but not the Surface Laptop)
The 12.9 iPad Pro model is significantly larger than the Surface Pro 5 in terms of both length and width, as you’d expect given its larger screen. But it’s also slimmer, and a bit lighter too.
iPad Pro 12.9in: 305.7mm x 220.6mm x 6.9mm and 713g/723g (Wi-Fi/cellular models)
Surface Pro 5: 292.1mm x 201.4mm x 8.5mm and 766g/786g (m3 models/all other models)
The new Surface Pro was announced in a special Microsoft event on 23 May 2017. It goes on sale on 15 June, but you can pre-order one now from Microsoft’s website.
The iPad Pro has been available for ages; the 12.9-inch model came out in September 2015 while the 9.7-inch model came along six months later. You can buy either model from Apple’s store.
In fact, we’re now looking ahead to the iPad Pro 2 (or perhaps just the 10.5-inch version of the iPad Pro), which is expected at WWDC 2017.
The two devices start at a similar price point in the UK, but the Surface tops out at a much more expensive top end if you select the highest processor, memory and storage allocations. Read next: Best iPad deals
iPad Pro UK price
- iPad Pro 12.9 (32GB, Wi-Fi): £729
- iPad Pro 12.9 (128GB, Wi-Fi): £819
- iPad Pro 12.9 (256GB, Wi-Fi): £909
- iPad Pro 12.9 (128GB, cellular): £939
- iPad Pro 12.9 (256GB, cellular): £1,029
Note that if you’re prepared to compromise on screen size, the iPad Pro 9.7in is available for a lot less: it starts at £549 (and comes with better specs in a few area, including a rear-facing camera flash).
Surface Pro 5 UK price
The entry-level model costs £799 in the UK. Here’s the full price list:
- Surface Pro 5 (128GB, Core m3, 4GB RAM): £799
- Surface Pro 5 (128GB, Core i5, 4GB RAM): £979
- Surface Pro 5 (256GB, Core i5, 8GB RAM): £1,249
- Surface Pro 5 (256GB, Core i7, 8GB RAM): £1,549
- Surface Pro 5 (512GB, Core i7, 16GB RAM): £2,149
- Surface Pro 5 (1TB, Core i7, 16GB RAM): £2,699
You can pre-order the Surface Pro from Microsoft’s website.