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Microsoft Surface Tablet vs Apple iPad

If you’re looking for a tablet, our top two picks are the Microsoft Surface RT and the Apple iPad (4th Gen).Of course there are those who will only use Apple products, but the Surface RT has some iProduct fans in our office thinking about switching to Microsoft… Take a look at this in depth comparison and then decide for yourself!


The 4th Gen iPad has the same dimensions as the “old” 3rd Gen, so there aren’t any surprises for current Apple users. The Surface RT has the same thickness as the iPad, but an oblong 16:9 aspect ratio. It is primarily a landscape tablet, so the portrait mode may look a bit off to those converting to this tablet.


Surface: 1.5lbs (680g)

iPad: 1.44lbs (653g)

The Surface is slightly heavier than the iPad, but not enough to be a deal breaker for those looking for a light weight tablet.


Surface: 10.6-inch LCD, 1366×768, 148px per inch

iPad: 9.7in LCD, 2048×1536, 264 px per in

The iPad’s display  is about an inch smaller than the Surface, but it does have 3x the pixels of the Surface’s display. Just by judging the numbers it would seem that this is a definite advantage for the iPad.

Sensing that consumers might come to this conclusion, Microsoft has a renowned display expert take a look at the specs and they said, “The Surface’s ClearType display tech will make its resolution appear sharper than it is.”

We’re not sure that ‘sharper than it is’ will equal the Retina Display available on the latest iPad, but it should still be one of the best displays on the market.


Surface: NVIDIA Tegra 3, quad core, 1.4GHz

iPad: Apple A6X, dual core (quad core GPU), 1.4Ghz

The Surface’s Tegra 3 is one of the better-performing mobile chips available and should handle tasks quite well.

The A6X chip is a big upgrade in the iPad, and is a variation of the A6 SoC in the iPhone 5. It is a dual core processor, but has quad core graphics that drive the Retina Display. Early benchmarks show that Apple’s claims of twice the speed and twice the graphical performance of the 3rd Gen iPad are right on cue.


Surface:  2GB

iPad: 1GB

This is an easy win for the Surface as the 4th Gen iPad stays at 1GB of RAM


Surface: 32GB & 64GB, microSD slot

iPad: 16, 32, & 64 GB models, but no SD slot

Microsoft has taken some grief for pricing Surface RT on even ground with the iPad, but the tablet does offer more storage. For the same US$500, the base model of Surface gives you twice the internal storage as the iPad does.

Wireless Capabilities

Surface: Wi-Fi Only

iPad: 3G/LTE + Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi only

Surface is, at least for now, a Wi-Fi only device. The iPad 4 is available in Wi-Fi only and Wi-Fi + 3G/LTE models.

Apple also added new carriers for the 4th-gen iPad, including Sprint in the US.


Surface: 31.5 W-h
iPad: 42.5 W-h

Although the iPad has a higher powered battery, it also has to power a display with 3x the pixels. The actual usage times could end up being similar.


iPad: 5MP Rear (1080p video), 1.2MP front (720p video)

The exact specs of the Surface’s camera (front and rear) are unknown, but Microsoft is saying that they’re capable of 720p video. Since the iPad’s front camera is capable of the same quality video, it’s likely that the Surface’s camera will be around 1.2 MP

Little Extras

Surface: Add-on Keyboard, namely the Touch Cover

One of the most innovative mobile tech inventions of 2012: think of an iPad Smart Cover, only with touch-sensitive keys and trackpad. The price is a little steep at $120, but it can be bundled with the Surface for a little less – $100.

iPad: Lightning Connector

Apple’s making a switch in the connector for all of its mobile devices, and that includes the 4th Gen iPad. It’s tiny and reversible, but it does require purchasing a $30 adapter to use all the current Apple accessories.

Software: Apple’s App Store doesn’t need to be introduced, and it won’t go unnoticed. the iPad runs iOS6 and has access to all of the Apps and features the operating system is famous for.

The Surface on the other hand is using the Windows RT version of Windows 8 with no access to legacy Windows Apps. All of the software is tied to the Windows Store… which will have to catch up eventually. Right?

Apps aside, the Surface does come with the RT version of the Microsoft Office suite at no additional cost. We have to believe this will be a large factor in choosing a tablet – Microsoft Office for Mac wouldn’t be available if current Apple users didn’t want it…

So what do you think, iPad or Surface? If you’re still undecided you can check out these videos for some side by side comparisons. They’re long videos, but worth it if you’re going to be making a purchase soon:


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