Microsoft has announced two tablets that will enter the market in a few months’ time. The higher-end Surface Pro is a more distant prospect, but the ARM-based Surface will be taking on the iPad in the near future. Good luck with that.
To see if Apple has much to worry about, we’ve put together a simple comparison of the two devices – iPad and Surface – and their features, to see how they match up.
Physical build: The two tablets are similar in terms of size and weight. The Surface is marginally slimmer at 9.3mm compared to 9.4mm: that’s too minute a difference to be noticeable. Apple’s third-generation iPad with Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity weighs 662 grams while the Surface tablet weighs in slightly heavier at 676 grams.
Screen: Microsoft hasn’t given full details of the Surface’s screen. We do know it’s larger than the iPad’s, at 10.6in rather than 9.7in; and is called a ClearType HD Display but how it compares in pixels per inch to the iPad’s 2,048 x 1,536 Retina display is not yet known.
Processor: The iPad has an Apple A5X dual-core processor based on the ARM Cortex A9 architecture with quad-core graphics. It’s a powerful chip that makes the Retina’s blockbuster visuals a possibility. The Surface remains an unknown quantity in this area, but we know its processor will also be ARM-based and manufactured by nVidia.
Storage: The iPad comes in three storage options, 16GB, 32GB and 64GB, with no expansion available via card slots. Microsoft has opted for only 32GB and 64GB models, but the tablet has a microSD card slot for extra space.
Cameras: Both tablets have dual cameras. The iPad has a 5Mp rear-facing camera and a VGA-quality front-facing counterpart. The Surface has two ‘LifeCam’ cameras, but Microsoft has not given any details of these.
Connectivity: The Surface boasts USB 2.0, MicroHD Video and a 2×2 MIMO antenna for Wi-Fi. Microsoft hasn’t mentioned Bluetooth connectivity. The iPad has 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.
Software: This could be the biggest difference between the tablets. We are all fans of iOS, of course; it’s a honed, user-friendly platform with a huge ecosystem of third-party apps. But the Surface has an appealing OS of its own.
Windows RT is a version of Windows 8 designed for ARM processors; it includes the new touch-friendly Metro-style interface, as well as a limited version of the traditional Windows desktop for running Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office.
Battery: On paper the iPad is ahead on battery capacity, rated at 42.5Wh – which translates to a battery life of 10 hours – to the Surface’s 31.5Wh. Microsoft has yet to offer a figure for the Surface’s battery life.