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Microsoft Surface Go 2 Vs. Apple iPad Pro (M1): What’s Best For You?

CRN compares Microsoft’s second-gen Surface Go detachable tablet with Apple’s new iPad Pro featuring the M1 chip.

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Demand for tablets such as Apple’s iPad and Microsoft’s Surface has taken off during the pandemic, with research firm IDC reporting that tablet shipments during the first quarter surged 55 percent. “While vaccine rollouts and businesses returning to offices may slow down the work-from-home trend, we are still far from returning to ‘normal’ working conditions and hence the demand for tablets, especially detachables, is expected to continue for a while,” said Anuroopa Nataraj, research analyst with IDC’s Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers, in a news release.

Two of the leading producers of detachable 2-in-1 tablets for productivity are Microsoft, with its Surface series of Windows 10 tablets, and Apple, with its iPad Pro series. Among the latest launches in the Microsoft Surface portfolio is the compact-sized Surface Go 2, while Apple has also recently updated its iPad Pro lineup, with additions including the new M1 chip. While both offer vibrant displays, detachable keyboards and strong battery life, there are some big differences between the latest iPad Pro and Surface Go—especially when it comes to the processor options, portability and price.

Which of the two tablets is the best fit for your needs and budget? What follows is our look at Microsoft’s Surface Go 2 vs Apple’s iPad Pro (M1) for 2021—with a comparison on display, keyboard, processor, battery life and other specs, as well as 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 Go 2 is closest in size to the smaller iPad Pro model, with a 10.5-inch display (up from 10 inches on the first-gen model). The Surface Go 2 screen features resolution of 220 pixels per inch (ppi), and uses Microsoft’s vibrant PixelSense display technology. The resolution is well below that of the new iPad Pro models, however, 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 Go 2 display, which reportedly has a maximum of about 400 nits.

Both Apple and Microsoft tout their tablets’ compatibility with sturdy keyboards, featuring deep and comfortable keys—with 1 mm of key travel for both the iPad Pro and Surface Go 2 keyboards. 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 Go 2 also has two keyboard choices—one that features Alcantara fabric around the keys, and one that does not. Both detachable keyboards for the Surface Go 2 include a trackpad.

 
 
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