Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Versus iPad Air

microsoft surface

Today marked the official release of the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, so it is only natural then to do a comparison against the older technology taken from the iPad Air. It has been eight months since the release, on November 1, 2013, of the newest iPad. During its first quarter, Apple made $26 million in iPad sales, and iPhone sales reached all the way up to $51 million, setting a new company record. Many people are looking forward to the iPad Air 2 which is rumored to boast a 64-bit A8 processor, and iOS 8 as well. However, rumors are rumors and many of the companies’ fans do not ascribe to such things. There was, however, a so-called “perfect replica” floating around the Internet for a while, so that may hold a little more sway for some.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 was just released today and already has some pretty good reviews, being rated a four out of five on CNET. Doing a five point comparison of the two captains-of-industry seems fair. Beginning with hard drive space, the iPad Air packs 120GB of storage capacity into that beautiful .29 inch thin design. Next-up is the screen resolution, boasting a 9.7 inch screen the iPad Air packs 264 PPI (Pixels Per Inch), as well as a 2,048 by 1,536 resolution. Now comes the internals. RAM is where the iPad Air falls pretty flat coming up against the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, as it contains only 1GB. The processor on the other hand seems like it would fall flat, but I have never heard anything bad about it. It is a 64-bit A7 dual core ARMv8 chip that clocks in at 1.4 GHz, but it also has a separate GPU for graphics processing separately. Special features of this device include a high-speed LTE radio, for amazing connectivity anywhere, as well as an M7 co-processor that handles all the sensor data from the device separately.

Now comes the new kid on the block. The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 can run with a maximum 512GB of storage barely contained in a .36 thin magnesium case. Slightly thicker than the iPad Air. This is a dynamically beautiful 12 inch ClearType Full HD display, running at 2160 by 1440 resolution, and 216 PPI. The average gamer, or someone who uses their tablet a lot may notice the nearly 50 pixel difference. Remember that the tablets being compared are the top of the line, so these are the best that both brands have to offer currently. The inside of the Surface is something to brag about. Running 8 GB of RAM, this “tablet” can handle almost any amount of multitasking that could be thrown at a desktop PC, much less a tablet. The processor is an amazing Intel i7-4650U Quad-Core processor that clocks in at 1.7 GHz, although it reaches speeds of up to a blazing 3.3 GHz in its turbo-mode. Special features include a 3.0 USB High-Speed port and the ability to run two external monitors at 1920 by 1200 resolution each.

Clearly the top of the line got a little higher today with the release of the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, when compared against the Apple iPad Air. There is just one more thing though, whereas this iPad Air is a meager $929 USD, the Surface Pro 3 is a crazy $1950 USD. So clearly when the devices are placed side by side on the surface, they may look similar, but under that hood is a completely different story.

Opinion By Phillip Schmidt

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17 Responses to "Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Versus iPad Air"

  1. sgu   July 11, 2014 at 11:25 am

    “Surface Pro 3 compared to the iPad Air? So, we are comparing a full blown computer to a tablet that is not capable of even replacing an Apple computer?”

    Even thought Surface 3 is a tablet but functionality is almost the same as than with a real laptop. The pen is beautiful, not laggy as any bt pens with iPad air. And connectivity! It is more like do you want a toy or a working tablet irl.

    So… it your choice wich you prefer. Ipad air cost way too much, even samsung galaxy
    Notepro 12.2 is better and give more if you want to use it as a real phone too.. but if you want sonething which is similar than a laptop, get surface pro 3. If yoy want all-in-one, get notepro… if want a fancy toy, get ipad air. I own ipad air myself, and i really dont like it: it doesnt let you choose, connectivity, bt pens are laggy and even to get itnwork with macbook pro was difficult. Ok, i can surf it, play it… but still, my old note 10.1 do the same and even better.

    Im using more often windows than osx, so i would choose surface 3 nowadays and i could even replace my laptop! All im saysing, try them and think about what you really need and how to use them. One is quite restricted while other is quite flexible.

  2. RWK   June 27, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    Surface Pro 3 compared to the iPad Air? So, we are comparing a full blown computer to a tablet that is not capable of even replacing an Apple computer?

  3. Justin Martinez   June 25, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    The Intel i7-4650U is a dual core processor not a quad core processor it has 4 threads but that doesnt make it quad core and i believe you’re comparing the surface pro 3 to the wrong prodcut the suface pro 3 should be compared to ultrabooks and the mac book air not the ipad air or any other tablet for that matter

  4. Act1nup   June 24, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    Everyone, calm down! LOL. Stop bashing poor Phillip. I actually was brought to this site because I didn’t understand the difference between the two devices because on the surface (ha ha), I thought they would be similar. Silly me. Now I’ve come to realize the Surface Pro 3 is so much more than “just a tablet,” and I think I’m going to opt for that over the iPad. So for us non-techies that wouldn’t understand the difference, this review and these comments are very helpful.

  5. Preston   June 23, 2014 at 9:32 am

    A few things.. the picture you used is a surface pro 2, the pro 3 is silver not darkish black, and its aspect ratios are different. Second the i7 is a duel core, processor similar to the i5(main differences are onchip memory and video processor). The reason the ipad seems fine as far as speed is its limited to apps, the same apps that can be ran on a iphone, while the surface pro can run same apps as a windows phone it cal also run the same software as the pc (like an ipad being able to run the same software as the mac book pro). and as you point out the resolution difference you have to realize the screen of the surface pro 3, is a 2k. thats 2x that of 1080p. So I dont think getting 2k resolution on a 12″ screen is an issue (there are charts online you can fine that shows size vs distance vs resolution that show the when the human eye can tell the difference). Ipad is a great media device for casual use, it can stream your netflix, allow you to check the internet and play angry birds just like the iphone and windows phones and android phones. But try to do word documents using the ms word program with several pages of hd photos embedded within the document and you will see why its considered a mobile processor not a pc processor.

    Base line: Apple makes a device specific for ones use. Ipod is best for music, iphone is best for calls/photos, ipad is best for visual media use, and Mac books are best for computing( work, taxes, AAA games)


  6. cazwell220   June 23, 2014 at 12:07 am

    First of all… these 2 devices differ more then they are similar. You realize that there is a HUGE price and performance delta between a 512GB SSD drive compared to the 128GB flash drive on the ipad right? Probably better to compare 128GB prices between both. But either way, they are still huge differences in performance.

    Moreover… this is a FULLY working computer… that runs enterprise grade software… not just apps as the ipad does. It has a mature ecosystem of hardware and software not to mention it functions as a pretty decent tablet WITH a digitizer built in. … It’s pretty amazing what was managed to be put in this relatively tiny device.

  7. igordamiani766540905r   June 22, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    OMG, what a mess!!!! Is it clear to you that Surface Pro 3 is a full PC (you can install EVERY SOFTWARE built for Windows), while iPad is only a tablet with iOS? Why do you write this kind of very very bad review???? Simply you can’t make this comparison, trust me. Please, study these two machines and re-write this review. Your opinion, Philip, is a totally nonsense!!!

    • Phillip Schmidt   June 23, 2014 at 12:04 am

      I understand everyone has there own opinion. Out of the box the SP3 does not come with a keyboard, and therefore is not a laptop. It is called a tablet, and so that is what I will call it. Simply because it has better specs than another tablet does not mean that it isn’t still a tablet. I never said that the iPad Air was a bad tablet, I have never even heard anyone complain about one. I have heard that about the Surface however.

      • Justin Martinez   June 25, 2014 at 9:29 pm

        the asus transformer comes with a keyboard does that make it a laptop? i have never heard microsoft call the suface pro a tablet or a laptop but i have heard them call it a new category of device that merges the the laptop and tablet together and that category is called hybrid pc’s

  8. Goran Catic   June 22, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    ^^^ WORD!

    comparing a true working machine with a casual, media-oriented one is pure nonsense…

  9. Astro   June 22, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Phillip Schmidt, why do you write about things you really do know nothing? Surface Pro 3 is also a tablet, but this doesn’t allow you to compare it to iPad,and if you don’t see it, please, do you a favour and stop writing IT reviews.

  10. Phillip Schmidt   June 22, 2014 at 9:47 am

    On their respective sites they are both classed as being “tablets”. When they say otherwise then that will be a different story. Both of these tablets are top of the line from each company, which is stated in the article. I wanted to see the “best” of what Apple had verses Microsofts new “best”, and there you have it.

  11. Martin   June 22, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Why compare a Surface Pro to an Ipad Air? They are nothing alike, the Surface Pro is a full computer that can run programs like Photoshop and Lightroom plus you can actually use it for games, flash or anything that your desktop can run. The Ipad can’t do any of that. I use the first Surface Pro for my photography editing using many programs and with the built in Wacom and stylus you can do pixel editing with ease. Please write a proper review.

  12. James   June 22, 2014 at 8:31 am

    This review is terrible. First and foremost you say the sp3 is almost $2K, which is true for the highest end model. A better comparison is the 128GB i5 sp3 coming in at $1K. Furthermore you give clock speeds when comparing the processors in these devices. This is a stupid thing to state. It’s like comparing the max rpm of two cars. Sure I can rev my Honda civic higher than your mustang but which one gets more done? The mustang (sp3).I am not advertising for the sp3 either. The iPad is a fantastic device for media consumption, better than the sp3 even, but the sp3 is much better for content creation.

  13. okolo   June 22, 2014 at 5:48 am

    A portable ipad charger is the best charger that one can purchase. There are so many types of chargers for ipad, but the portable one is the perfect choice. You will be able to carry this charger with you and use it whenever your ipad runs out of battery. You do not have to miss capturing those special moments simply because the ipad is out of battery and it has been totally drained since you do not have access to a power socket. The portable ipad charger is, thus, a convenient and easy to use charger. The charger I am talking about will be fine here CHOETECH Amazon

  14. Tim Ammons   June 21, 2014 at 10:15 pm

    Surface pro 3 is dual core, not quad core i7.

  15. greg   June 21, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    Not comparable, the surface pro 3 competes with the MacBook air, not the ipad


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