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Apple iPad Pro (M1) Vs. Microsoft Surface Pro X

We compare Apple’s new M1 iPad Pro with the updated Surface Pro X 2-in-1, featuring Microsoft’s Arm-based SQ2 processor.

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iPad Pro Vs Surface Pro X

After years of claiming that the iPad Pro is a worthy replacement for a laptop, Apple has finally set out to prove it—outfitting the new iPad Pro with an actual laptop processor, the M1. The Apple M1 processor is the same Arm-based chip found in the latest MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, and promises to offer a major boost on speed for the new iPad Pro 2-in-1 tablet models. But Apple isn’t the only device maker that’s looking to distinguish its tablet lineup using custom-designed CPUs. With the Surface Pro X, Microsoft is offering custom Arm-based processors of its own—including the Microsoft SQ2 chip, which launched in the updated Surface Pro X last fall (and was co-developed with Qualcomm). The M1 iPad Pro and latest Surface Pro X are aiming to stand apart based on more than just performance, though. Both 2-in-1 tablets promise vivid displays, strong battery life, premium keyboards and a portable form factor—while offering a number of differences from each other, too. (Among them is the fact that the Surface Pro X runs a full PC operating system, Windows 10, while the iPad Pro runs a less-versatile mobile operating system, iPadOS 14.)

Which of the two devices is the best fit for your needs? What follows is our comparison of Apple’s iPad Pro (M1) vs Microsoft’s Surface Pro X on specs, features and price.

Display and Keyboard

For the iPad Pro, you’ll have to choose between two display sizes—11 inches or 12.9 inches. The Surface Pro X is comparable in size to the larger iPad Pro model, with a 13-inch display (which also makes it notably larger than the standard Surface Pro line of tablets, which feature a 12.3-inch display). The Surface Pro X screen features resolution of 267 pixels per inch (ppi), and uses Microsoft’s vibrant PixelSense display technology. The resolution is nearly identical on both of the new iPad Pro models, which feature resolution of 264 pixels per inch. In terms of display technology, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro offers Apple’s new “Liquid Retina XDR” display, which is based on mini-LED display technology. The display on the 12.9-inch model includes 10,000 LEDs to create a more-realistic, “stunning” viewing experience, according to Apple. The display can also reach up to 1,000 nits of brightness, while the 11-inch model can reach up to 600 nits. Both are brighter than the Surface Pro X display, which has a maximum of 450 nits.

Both Apple and Microsoft tout their tablets’ compatibility with sturdy keyboards, featuring deep and comfortable keys. The detachable keyboards are sold separately from the tablets. For the iPad Pro, the Magic Keyboard (with a trackpad) is available—as is the prior-generation keyboard design with no trackpad, the Smart Keyboard Folio. The Surface Pro X also has two keyboard choices—the Surface Pro X Signature Keyboard, which features Alcantara fabric around the keys, as well as the standard Surface Pro X keyboard. Both detachable keyboards for the Surface Pro X include a trackpad.

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