Every now and then we receive a question from our customers and partners about which mobile devices we recommend for business users. And since professional tablets are already being touted even as PC replacements we decided to take a closer look at two main competitors in the enterprise tablet ring – Apple’s iPad Pro and Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s get ready to rumble!
We’ll start with an overview of essential hardware stats that can’t really be disputed. Surface Pro 4 features a 12.3 inch screen, with a resolution of 2736 x 1824 pixel at 267 pixels per inch (PPI). Its storage capacity starts at 128GB and can be expanded up to 1TB. The device can be purchased with 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB RAM configurations combined with Intel’s Core M3, Core i5, or Core i7 processors. The entry-level Surface Pro 4 starts at $699 at the top-tier model comes at $2599.
iPad Pro comes in two screen sizes – 12.9 and 9.7 inch. The display resolution of 2732 x 2048 pixel and 2048 x 1536 respectively translates to 264 PPI ratio for both versions. The display size is the only significant differentiator between Apple’s two pro tablets. The available storage options for both models are 32, 128, and 256GB. All of these also utilize 4GB of RAM paired with the A9X processor. The 9.7 inch iPad Pro starts at $599 and the top 12.9 inch version totals at $1129.
From a quick rundown of the hardware specs alone it can look like the Surface Pro 4 outperforms the iPad Pro, as it comes in many more configuration options and packs laptop/desktop-grade internal components. Surface also incorporates an array of hardware connectors, including a USB 3.0 port and a MicroSD card slot. Apart from a standard 3,5mm headphone jack you’ll only find Apple’s Lightning connector in iPad Pro. However, what they might be lacking in hardware connectivity, iPads make up for (at least partially) with cellular connectivity, which is still not available for Surface Pro 4.
The glaring difference between Surface Pro 4 and iPad Pro however, becomes apparent once you examine the operating systems on each device. The Surface runs a full-featured Windows 10 Professional, just like a typical enterprise laptop or desktop would, explaining the need for its more powerful internals. On the other hand, iPad Pro utilizes iOS – still a mobile operating system (even though with numerous features enhanced to enable higher productivity, e.g. multitasking) that requires significantly less raw processing power than Windows.
Furthermore, Windows is originally a robust desktop system, traditionally controlled with a mouse and requires more maintenance. So, even if iOS doesn’t allow users to access the device’s local file system, removing much of the complexity enabled Apple to make users more productive (especially in the field) as they can focus less on keeping the system running and more on the job at hand. Users are familiar with iOS for years now, but running a full-fledged Windows operating system on primarily touch-based devices is still far less common.
Going with the Surface Pro 4 will probably considerably appeal to company IT departments, as Windows is still a backbone of a vast majority of enterprise IT networks. Hence, deploying devices with the same operating system should result in fewer possible complications and users well accustomed to Windows from desktops and laptops will face less challenges adapting to their new device. Still, over the past years, Apple has added numerous features that simplified integration of their devices with standard business systems. And with iPhone replacing Blackberry as the business phone of choice, countless companies have already incorporated iOS devices into their IT structures. Therefore, an addition of iPad Pro shouldn’t present any major issues.
And everything in-between
Other considerable factors that might skew the decision one way or the other is the battery life and the accessories available. Surface Pro 4’s battery should last up to 9 hours, whereas on iPad Pro users should be able to work at least an hour more, the battery lasting for 10 full hours.
As for the accessories, if you go with the Surface, you’ll find a stylus packed with the device itself. The Apple Pencil is sold separately and adds an extra $99 to the iPad Pro’s cost. Both Microsoft and Apple offer external keyboards that also act as covers. In this area, the Surface’s Type Cover ($129) exceeds iPad Pro’s Smart Keyboard Cover ($169 and $149 for the 9.7. inch version), as the former is backlit, features a built-in touchpad and can be tilted for a more comfortable writing experience. On the other hand, Smart keyboard Cover’s fabric design makes it much less sensitive to spills and splashes, but it also takes some time to get used to.
In the end, if you’re looking for a complete laptop replacement with a touch control, Surface Pro 4 is the way to go at the moment. However, if ease of use and portability are of main concern, no professional tablet will provide a better user experience than the iPad Pro (also thanks to its availability in two different sizes). Whichever you choose, you can be rest assured that Resco Mobile CRM will run on either of them flawlessly – just as on any other iOS, Windows, and Android device.