Tablet Comparison: The iPad 3 vs. Windows 8 Surface Tablet

The Windows 8 Tablet was just announced last week from Microsoft called "Surface." Immediately, the tech world exclaimed how the iPad had finally met its rival. But for consumers, it is not immediately clear whether the device is worth purchasing over the iPad 3. This article will compare the Microsoft Windows Surface Tablet with the Apple iPad 3 in several key areas: price, design, specs, and ecosystem (OS, apps, etc.). Keep in mind that this article is being written as of June 19, 2012, so any information may become outdated as new products are released.

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Price

The Surface tablet was just released this week and an official price has not been announced. However, there are a number of analysts that expect it to launch in $599 and $699 options for the 32 GB and 64 GB models. However, this is purely speculative. The current iPad selling prices are $599 and $699 for the WiFi versions of the 32 and 64 GB models. Hopefully, Microsoft will price the Surface competitively with the iPad.

Winner: None - until Microsoft releases some price points, it is impossible to compare the tablets on price alone.

Design

Design and aesthetics and an often subjective concept. However, Microsoft has an arguably amazing product with the Surface, one that has been praised highly for its design. Perhaps its most distinguishing feature is the kickstand that folds into the back of the tablet. The iPad lacks any form of upright support and requires an additional case for self-support. This is not a deciding factor for many people, but would certainly come in handy when watching movies or videos.

Additionally, Surface seems far more situated to become a laptop replacement as it is designed from the ground up to have attachable keyboards. While there are many iPad keyboards, they are not as seamless as the Surface's. The Surface's keyboard attaches magnetically to the bottom of the tablet providing a seamless transition.

The Surface appears to have a boxier casing whereas the iPad has rounded edges curving back. The iPad, on first glance, looks as if it would better fit the contours of the hand, although the Surface looks easy to hold as well.

The iPad is slightly thicker than the Surface, although only by a mere tenth of a millimeter (9.4 vs 9.3).

Winner: Surface - the Surface is newer and rightfully has a superior design (although that is my opinion). With competition, hopefully the iPad and Surface will challenge each other to advance on each new version.

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Specs

As a newer tablet, the Surface has some amazing specs that give the iPad a run for its money.

The Surface comes in an RT and Pro version. I will be comparing the Pro version with the 64 GB iPad model.

Screen: Surface: 10.6 in 1920x1080; iPad: 9.7 in 2048 x 1536
Processor: Surface: Intel Core i5; iPad: Apple Dual Core A5
Ports: Surface: USB 3.0, Mini Display Port, Micro SDXC; iPad: Micro-SIM
Storage: Surface: 32, 64, 128 GB Models; iPad: 16, 32, 64 GB Models

Winner: Surface - The Surface packs a powerful punch and is obviously an attempt by Microsoft to bridge the gap between tablets and ultrabooks. The iPad, with its own decent specs is not quite ready to challenge this hybrid market.

Ecosystem

Perhaps the most revolutionary concept of the new Surface is that the tablet will be running a fully-functional operating system (the Pro version is running Windows 8) rather than an adapted mobile operating system (iOS). This will allow the user to make seamless transitions between the tablet and a laptop or desktop running Windows 8. It will also enable developers to spend less time working on modifying their applications as Windows 8 apps will work on both the tablet and desktop environments.

However, we need to compare the current market for applications. The Surface, which will run Windows 8 applications will undeniably become a challenger for Apple as many users will be Windows desktop users (especially in corporate environments) and the tablet will make the transition much easier. But right now, the iPad has the clear iOS advantage of having been on the market for several years. There are literally millions of applications in the Apple App Store, providing a rich experience for anyone looking for tools, productivity apps, or games.

Again, personal preference plays a big part here, but the Surface will eventually tie in with Microsoft's Cloud as the iPad works with Apple's own Cloud services. The iPad is clearly designed to work seamlessly with OS X on the desktop whereas the Surface will work with Windows 8.

Winner: iPad - The current set of apps for the Windows Surface tablet do not offer a considerable challenge to the iPad. This will most likely change after the tablet is released and able to run any Windows 8 application, but for now, Apple has the upper hand.

Conclusion

Overall, our winner is the Microsoft Surface. The tablet has an amazing design and desirable set of specifications that make it superior to the iPad. Add in the fact that it will be able to run Windows 8 applications including Microsoft Office, and the tablet is a clear winner of Windows users. However, users of Macs would likely benefit from an iPad 3 rather than waiting for the Surface. For everyone else, wait for the release, it won't disappoint!

Reader's Decision

Would you prefer the iPad 3 or the Microsoft Surface?

  • iPad 3
  • Surface
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Comments 3 comments

iefox5 profile image

iefox5 4 years ago

Apple iOS and Android OS are in front of Windows tablet, so I'm not very positive about the future of Window OS tablets.


forlanda profile image

forlanda 4 years ago from US of A

The iPad battery run time is around 10 hours. Did Microsoft mention anything about the Surface's battery life?

If the Surface's battery life sucks, it will most likely fail in the market.

Note also that the Surface has a ways to go when it comes to apps. Without apps, it will be difficult for this tablet to really catch on. Remember, apps costs significantly cheaper than what Microsoft is used to charging.

There is one promising thing about the Surface--that Microsoft is touting it as a platform for producers. Which basically means, as you alluded to, it could become a laptop replacement.

Thanks for posting this interesting comparison.


xnotion profile image

xnotion 4 years ago Author

@iefox5 - it certainly is far behind and has a long way to catch up.

@forlanda - battery life is a huge issue and I'm not sure of MS's claim just yet. I'm sure once they make a release, we'll get some real numbers to compare.

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