On Wednesday, Apple unveiled the iPad Pro, a 12.9-inch tablet aimed squarely at business users, creative professionals, and the enterprise. Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 is its strongest competitor in that space, so let's compare the key specs and look at how the two product lines stack up.
Tablets were initially positioned as companion devices to computers. The iPad, so far, has followed that trend while the Surface was aimed at being a tablet that could replace a computer.
Within the enterprise, the iPad has been the clear market leader, in terms of both intent to purchase and devices brought into an organization by employees for work use.
"If we look at buying intentions from IT decision makers in quarterly surveys that we do, Apple iPad continues to outstrip Android devices as well as Microsoft devices," said Kevin Burden, vice president of mobility research at 451 Research.
Anecdotally, TechRepublic has heard from IT departments that like the Microsoft Surface for users who want a tablet and need multitasking and/or need to connect to legacy applications.
But, Apple continues to win overall despite its reliance on the companion model. Laptops are more portable than they've ever been with solid state drives and long battery life, Burden said, and he believes that the Surface form factor isn't that compelling for users.
"It's just not working yet," Burden said. "People are just not believing in the use case."
While the iPad has excelled in purpose-built apps, it tends to perform poorly at tasks like advanced note taking and quick typing. For example, Burden said, higher education was supposed to be a big market for tablets, but has proved too cumbersome to type on traditional tablets. However, the Surface Pro is a device that excels in that use case.
Apple's new iPad Pro keyboard will likely win over even more enterprise customers, especially now that it's built into the device's cover. Bluetooth keyboards have been available for the iPad for some time, but the clip-in proprietary keyboard could be an easier transition for most users.
Additionally, the stylus—Apple Pencil—will be a great addition for creative professionals, especially with the new integrations for Adobe products and Microsoft Office.
The iPad Pro is available with 32GB or 128GB of storage, while the Surface Pro 3 gives the option of 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB of storage.
- Pitting the Surface Pro 3 up against the new MacBook
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- Windows 10: The essential guide for business professionals (Tech pro Research)
- Apple and Cisco hook up for new enterprise partnership
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.