The Surface Pro 4 has Competition – and it is NOT the iPad Pro!

by: - Last updated on: January 7th, 2016

How is this when compared to the iPad Pro?

We wish there was a way to monetize all the times we have been asked that question today. Ever since Microsoft officially released the Surface Pro 4 and Pro 3 in India today at prices close to that of the iPad Pro, the air is thick with comparisons between the tablet-ic best of Cupertino and Redmond.

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On the surface (pun thoroughly intended), there seem to be valid grounds for this comparison. Both the iPad Pro and the Surface Pro 4 (we will be considering the Pro 4, as it is pretty much the star of the show – there is only one variant of the older Pro 3 in the market) are large-ish tablets with displays in excess of 12 inches. Both boast very good hardware. Both come with expensive keyboards that attach magnetically to them, and both also sport styluses that allow users to scribble on them. Oh, and both cost a fair bit as well, much more than your run of the mill mid-segment notebook – the iPad Pro’s 128 GB model costs Rs 79,990, while the Surface Pro 4 starts at Rs 89,990.

But scratch the surface (pun intended – oh this is fun!), and you will start seeing the fault lines in this rationale. Even Microsoft seem to realize this, for in their presentation today, the only Apple device that was mentioned was the MacBook Air – the Surface Pro 4 was stated to be 50 per cent faster than that worthy. The iPad Pro was not mentioned by name, but just hinted at. But take your eyes off Cupertino for a while and you will see what we think is the real competition that the Surface Pro 4 faces, which is actually closer to home – just about every touchscreen notebook with a Core i5 processor and above and 4 GB RAM and above, running – note this – Windows 10.

For, as we pointed out in an earlier article, the Surface Pro 4 claims to be the tablet that can replace your notebook. The iPad Pro however sticks to just being a bigger, more powerful and productive iPad – it does not come with USB ports and runs iOS, which has been designed for Apple’s mobile devices (Apple would be committing high class suicide if it positioned the iPad Pro against notebooks, as the first targets would be its own MacBook, MacBook Air and MacBook Pro devices). And the Surface Pro 4 is not targeted at tablets but at notebooks – we kept hearing people say on stage how they were no longer missing their notebooks ever since they switched to the Surface. So which notebooks can the Surface Pro 4 replace? Well, obviously those from the Apple camp, but also those that run Redmond’s own OS, Windows.

And actually that has been the case all along. No matter how much the fanboys might like to make the Surface an iPad rival (oh the joys of another Microsoft vs Apple battle, just like the eighties and the nineties and the… you get the idea!), the fact is that Microsoft’s tablet’s biggest challenge has come from its own Windows-running brethren. The iPad has never had any threat from other Apple computers because they were (before the Pro) at much higher price points and always ran a very different operating system. Even the Pro, for all its ability to step into the shoes of a notebook (as our iPad Only Diaries showed), is not a classic notebook replacement for most people simply because it does not run a proper desktop OS or support full desktop apps and does not have connectivity options like USB ports and SD card slots.

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The Surface, now, is a very contrary beast. It runs Windows 10, which is available on hundreds of computer models all over the world, some of them stunningly well-crafted (ask Raju PP about the 2015 Dell XPS 13 if you believe us not). And once again, no matter what the fanboy brigade (and it is a vocal one) says, the fact is that Windows 10 has not been designed only for touch, but for touch and type, unlike iOS, which is totally touch-oriented. Yes, Microsoft might have called the Surface a tablet and we have seen our share of users who using a Windows 10 device as a tablet, but the staggeringly vast majority of Windows 10 PC users employ a keyboard to get more out of the OS. Let’s be blunt – you are more likely to see a Windows 10 PC user using a hardware keyboard than an iOS one. And well, if you want iOS on a large screen, you have no choice other than an iPad, but if you want Windows 10 on a similarly large display, well, there is a whole sea of options from just about every brand at different price points, from Rs 25,000 to Rs 1,50,000. No, not all of them will be as powerfully specced and well-designed as the Surface, but many will.

Which is where the Surface faces its stiffest challenge in India. Yes, it will be compared with the iPad Pro by many (us included) and will be found superior or wanting depending on perspectives and need scenarios, but its real battle is going to be against its own numerous Windows brothers and sisters. There is a new candidate for Sheriff in Windowstown. But ah, not Tablettown.

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  1. Oh brother… well I intimated you’re biased during the iPad only diaries articles, and now you’ve proven me to be correct.

    This article reads like “the surface Will have competition from notebooks, therefore the iPad is pro is great.” Seriously, your best argument for the iPad Pro which costs the same as a notebook is that it’s a “tablet” in that it doesn’t have a full-fledged OS, doesn’t have USB and other connectivity options? Seriously? Because it has limitations, it can therefore claim to be a pro “tablet” and be immune from being deemed a lesser value then competitively priced pro detachables/notebooks? Are you kidding?

    The world needs less writers with bias goggles and tablet-label filters. We need objective writers Who simply evaluate cost-to-capability. You would do us a service if you choose to be one.

    1. OMG… the MS crybabies are here. They are so insecure that any mention of iPad or Apple make them go berserk. It doesn’t matter WHAT exactly someone is talking about.
      “the surface will have competition from notebooks, therefore the iPad is pro is great.”
      Seriously? Author implies that? In fact he is implying how Surface is a better notebook than iPad Pro can ever be, he’s saying it’s suicidal for Appple to pitch iPad Pro as a notebook.

      If you’re hurt by his assertion that Windows 10 is a touch-and-type OS, then I can’t help. It’s a simple fact.

      1. 8 negative-leaning statements against surface as a tablet, one slightly positive but then qualified statement for it, and the rest are neutral statements. The title of the article is “Surface Pro us competition”, the focus is Surface and its potential shortcomings, not the iPad’s positioning. Sorry but your assessment doesn’t agree with the data presented by the article. (Note I use an iPhone every day, in addition to my windows tablet. Bias blinders are not leading the charge in my case.)

        Some people present data. Others attack character and call people names. You have shown which one you are. I won’t go there with you, but just know it makes your argument look weak and makes you look immature.

  2. I read this article thinking it would give examples of competitive devices other than the iPad pro… Sadly it turned out to be an advert for the iPad pro. Misleading title, misleading article. Trash “journalism”.

    1. Yep..that’s been my complaint against this writer and his recent articles, as you can see below. Sadly, I’ve borne the blunt of his and others’ name-calling and insults lately (an example below from Sumit) for doing so.

      Seems that a growing number of people on the Internet, both bloggers and writers, are responding to objective criticism with character attacks and insults. Good luck escaping unscathed.

  3. Precisely put. iPad Pro is no match. It’ just a over-glorified tablet. To be fair, Apple doesn’t make claim it to replace notebook, so I don’t understand the brouhaha of people here. Surface Pro’s real competition are Lenovo’s Yoga, Dell XPS and the likes, and not other ‘tablets’.

    1. Check the news since its release – Apple CEO claimed precisely that. Hence the “brouhaha”. Apple has invited the critique.

      1. That’s his foolishness then. That doesn’t change my assertion that real competitors to surface are the likes of Lenovo Yoga and dell xps etc, which is what the author is saying as well.

        1. I’m not commenting on the real competition with surface pro’s. I’m commenting specifically on your statement that Apple doesn’t claim iPad Pro can replace a notebook. To which I responded, the Apple CEO says it can. So that part of your assertion is inaccurate.

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