Microsoft Surface Pro 3 vs Apple iPad Air Comparison

Instead of being compared to Apple’s iPad Air – Microsoft are comparing their third generation of the well-reviewed Surface Pro to Apple’s best-selling MacBook Air line-up.

Both the Surface Pro and Pro 2 got five star reviews across the board. Both were praised for their hardware, size, weight and touch-friendly Windows operating system. They brought a new era to Microsoft where portable computing was no longer compromised. If you wanted it all, you could have it all.

As it stands, the 64GB Surface Pro 3 comes with an Intel i3 processor and will set you back £639 ($799). The iPad Air 64GB WiFi-only model stands £559 and the 128GB variant at £639.

Microsoft Surface Pro

Display

The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 has a 12.1 inch screen and is bigger than the Air’s 9.7 inch display. The iPad however has an edge over pixels per inch as well as a greater resolution of 2048 x 1536 compared to 2160 x 1440 respectively.

Processor

The Surface Pro 3 has a choice between Intel Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 processors all of which have ample power to run full Windows applications whereas the Apple A7 processor is standard across all iPad Air models and restricted to the iOS, mobile interface.

Memory

The iPad Air comes with 1GB RAM whilst the Surface Pro 3 can be configured up to 8GB to take on the most demanding tasks.

Storage

The iPad Air base model comes with a small 16GB partition of flash storage, comparing to the Surface Pros 64GB entry model. The iPad can be configured up to 128GB and the Pro to 512GB – however the iPad does benefit from a much lower entry price.

Design

Microsoft have described their new tablet as “the thinnest Intel Core product ever made” (yes, it is much thinner than the MacBook Air). The iPad however, weighs only 469g compared to the Surface Pro at 800g minus all accessories. The Surface Pro 3 is also 1.6mm thicker at 9.1mm and 7.5mm respectively.

Software

Apple’s iPad Air runs on iOS 7, while Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 runs a full version of Windows 8.1 which provides access to more powerful applications including the touch optimised version of Photoshop and Office applications. Such applications are also available for the iPad but they are miles behind the versions designed for laptops and desktops of which the Surface is capable of running.

Accessories

First of all, both sets of official accessories are over-priced. However, the Surface Pro 3’s accompanying keyboard does double as a case and includes a touchpad allowing you to leave tablet territory and completely enter the world of desktop computing on the move. The Surface Pro 3 also has a stylus and a kickstand whereas the iPad has support for only 3rd party Bluetooth accessories.

As a side, the Surface Pro 3 also features USB 3.0, MicroSD card slot, MiniDisplay Port and various other hardware advantages over the static iPad Air tablet.

What’s Better?

The Surface Pro 3, of course. Not only is it a year younger it is built for power on the move. The iPad is a tablet, the Surface Pro 3, like it’s predecessors is a full-on laptop/tablet hybrid. It features much more powerful hardware and can get a lot more done – in fact it could quite easily replace your home desktop setup – but all of this comes at a price. It really depends on what you need – a tablet or a laptop that looks like a tablet.

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