If you blinked In the middle ofon Oct. 2, you might have missed the Surface Pro 7 announcement. Squeezed between the new and Microsoft's future dual-screen Android phone and dual-screen tablet with software for dual-screen devices, the Pro 7's staid update didn't stand out. It was also overshadowed by the , a 13-inch tablet running Windows on a Microsoft-custom version of a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, the .
Microsoft'sgets a bump up to the of their predecessors and the higher-end models running Core i5 and i7 processors have Intel Iris Plus Graphics -- a boost over the base Intel UHD integrated graphics in the . The Pro 7 also has a USB-C port in place of Mini DisplayPort. It is not, however, .
Those changes should be enough to keep it competitive with other Windows 10 two-in-one devices. But is it enough to keep people from going with an iPad Pro to use as laptop replacement instead? The current hardware is nearly a year old, however Apple just released , an updated iPad version of .
The feature that generated a lot interest when iPadOS went into beta was the addition of Bluetooth mouse support. While that might sound like a big step toward, the reality is a bit of a letdown, as CNET's Scott Stein discovered while testing the iPadOS beta. That feature is hidden deep in the accessibility menu, and for good reason -- it's not a traditional mouse implementation, more of an extra pointing and clicking device for those who have trouble with touchscreens.
That means comparing the iPad Pro to Microsoft's Surface Pro 7 to see which is the better laptop alternative or tablet is still a pitched battle. There is certainly some feature overlap, but there are also things that could definitely push you one way or the other.
||iPad Pro (12.9-inch, 2018)||Surface Pro 7 (2019)||Surface Pro 6 (2018)|
|Price||Starts at $999, £969, AU$1,529||Starts at $749, £799, AU$1,249||Starts at $799, £784, AU$1,349|
|Optional keyboard||$199, £199, AU$299||$129, £125, AU$200||$129, £125, AU$200|
|Optional stylus||$129, £119, AU$199||$99, £60, AU$140||$99, £60, AU$140|
|Display||12.9-inch Retina display, 2,732x2,048 resolution (264 ppi)||12.3-inch PixelSense display, 2,736x1,824 resolution (267 ppi)||12.3-inch PixelSense display, 2,736x1,824 resolution (267 ppi)|
|Processor||A12X Bionic||10th-gen Intel Core i3, i5, i7||8th-gen Intel Core i5, i7|
|RAM||Not disclosed||4GB / 8GB / 16GB||8GB / 16GB|
|Storage||64GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB||128GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB||128GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB|
|SIM card support for cellular model||Nano-SIM; eSIM||None||None|
|Wireless||802.11ac, Bluetooth 5.0||802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6), Bluetooth 5.0||802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1|
|Ports||USB-C, Smart Connector||USB-C, Surface Connect, Surface Type Cover port, MicroSDXC, USB-A, 3.5mm headphone jack||Mini DisplayPort, Surface Connect, Surface Type Cover port, MicroSDXC, USB 3.0, 3.5mm headphone jack|
|Cameras||Front: 7-megapixel TrueDepth with support for Portrait mode and Portrait Lighting, rear: 12-megapixel||Front: 5-megapixel with support for Windows Hello, rear: 8-megapixel||Front: 5-megapixel with support for Windows Hello, rear: 8-megapixel|
|OS||iPadOS||Windows 10 Home||Windows 10 Home|
|Dimensions (HWD)||11 x 8.5 x 0.23 inches||11.5 x 7.9 x 0.33 inches||11.5 x 7.9 x 0.33 inches|
|Weight||1.4 lb, 0.63 kg||1.7 lb, 0.77 kg||1.7 lb, 0.77 kg|
|Battery life||Up to 10 hours||Up to 10.5 hours||Up to 13.5 hours|
The Surface Pro 7, regardless of what's inside it, is going to get you a true desktop experience as it's running full Windows 10 and behaves like a traditional laptop. The iPad Pro, even with the improvements in iPadOS, can't handle workflow the same way as Windows 10 and still is best as a tablet.
Multitasking, for example is improved and the iPad'sgives you access to local and cloud-stored files now. The updated OS makes it possible to connect external drives and open, copy and save files on the iPad like PDFs, videos, photos and documents. But the experience still pales in comparison to Windows 10.
The Surface Pro is also more flexible when it comes to connecting to peripherals like an external display, mouse and keyboard. Again, despite the hidden mouse support, iPadOS still has a mobile interface that doesn't work with a mouse. Maybe eventually Apple will be able to pull off something like, but iPadOS isn't there yet.
Performance is tricky
Microsoft's tablet might seem like a no-brainer for performance, especially with its new Intel processors, but the fact is the iPad Pro's A12X Fusion chip is designed for intensive tasks -- from 3D modeling to 4K video editing. The hardware is optimized for App Store apps and, regardless of the current iPad Pro you buy, you're going to get the same performance, which can't be said for the Surface Pro and its multiple configurations.
Not everyone can live by apps alone, however. While you can now have a, you might find yourself missing the desktop versions of other software before long, especially if you need them for getting work done. Also, we haven't tested the Surface Pro 7 yet, so there's the possibility it could hold its own against the iPad Pro.
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The Surface Pro 7's updated components and new USB-C port will likely keep it a top two-in-one pick.
The iPad Pro is in many ways the pinnacle of tablet hardware design, but its high price and software limitations narrow its appeal to creatives willing to bend to its current compromises.