Microsoft Surface Pro 7 vs Apple iPad Pro 12.9: What’s the difference?

Microsoft announced the Surface Pro 7 last year alongside the Surface Laptop 3, Surface Pro X and the Surface Neo and Surface Duo which won't be with us until late 2020 or possibly early 2021. 

So let's compare the Surface Pro 7 - Microsoft's power tablet - with Apple's high-end model from early 2020, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro

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 5.9 mm, 631g

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. It has a slightly larger footprint, 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 LED-backlit retina display is the largest iPad available in the company's line up. It's a little larger than Microsoft's option. The pixel density is almost the same, as well. 

Both the Surface Pro and the iPad Pro 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: A12Z Bionic with M12 co-processor, 64GB, 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB storage, Wi-Fi and 4G LTE 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 64-bit A12Z Bionic processor with built-in M12 coprocessor. The upgraded processor is the key difference between the 2020 iPad Pro and the 2018 version it replaces. It is offered in storage options of 64GB (not recommended) and upwards and also features 4G LTE on some models. 

The iPad Pro 12.9 features dual rear cameras: 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 the older iPad Pro. 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.

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, iPad mini and iPad Air. 

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, recently introduced, 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 the more expensive of these two devices, but it is also likely to be the better choice for those actually after a 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, will be a fantastic entertainment device, whilst also offering working-on-the-go capabilities, though perhaps not to the same extent as Microsoft's offering.

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. If working on the move is your priority, the Surface Pro 7 should meet most needs with its full desktop apps rather than mobile apps like iPad Pro. 

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