Larger-than-life tablets: Apple iPad Pro released, how does it compare against the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and the Google Pixel C?

November 11, 2015 : TECHFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

After the iPad Pro was unveiled at the company’s iconic September event in Cupertino, the biggest thing to come out of Apple has now been released in 40 countries worldwide. At a whopping 12.9-inches, the iPad Pro joins a league of supersized tablets that dwarf their competition. Microsoft recently released the latest iteration in the Surface Pro line – the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 – and Google have gone solo with their alternative, the Google Pixel C. Size aside, Apple tablets usually trump their competition, so does the iPad Pro stand tall amongst the competing larger-than-life tabs, or does it just fail to stack up?


The Apple iPad Pro dwarfs its smaller siblings, the iPad Air and the iPad Mini (Source: Apple)

We decided to put the iPad through its paces to see if it’s worth the splurge, and if you’re tempted by the tech, we’ve included all necessary specs to truly compare all three tablets. If you’ve given the green light on buying a big tab, have a read to see which one’s for you.

Read what the International Business Times has to say about the Apple iPad Pro vs. the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and Google Pixel C.


All three tablets are going after the same market with their optional ‘keyboard integration’ design. Not quite a tablet and not quite a laptop, these devices all offer a unique dimension of portability and functionality that hasn’t been seen before.


The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 sports a classy keyboard with updated design and integrated keyboard (Source: Microsoft)

The Apple iPad Pro’s Smart Keyboard connects to the tablet via Smart Connector and carries power and data via a magnetic connection. The Smart Keyboard for iPad Pro is designed in their folio case style, where the cover folds into a stand. Where the Google Pixel C challenges here is with its impressive keyboard design – the tablet slots into a panel on the accessory and can be adjusted from 100-135°. Connecting via Bluetooth without any need for connectors and built to charge through the tablet inductively, this is one clever piece of kit. Microsoft’sType Cover for the Surface Pro 4 is much the same, but with a large trackpad and fingerprint sensor – two new features seen on the latest iteration of the keyboard that’ll also work with the Surface Pro 3.


As you’d expect, all three of these major players boast high resolution touchscreens, but which is the best? As it’s the newest of the bunch, let’s start with the Apple iPad Pro. A 12.9-inch IPS display with 2732×2048 resolution and 265ppi pixel density ensures Retina Display is a core component of the tablet’s interface. Next up, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 features a 12.3-inch display with 2732×1824 resolution which delivers a pixel density of 267ppi. Much the same in terms of the all-important pixels-per-inch ratio but delivered on a slightly smaller screen, in turn delivering a touch more clarity. So what does the Google Pixel C offer? With a much smaller 10.2-inch LCD display, 2560×1800 pixels resolution and whopping 308ppi pixel density, this tablet boasts an impeccably clear display.


Google’s solo venture, the Google Pixel C, features a state-of-the-art display (Source: Google)


At the heart of Apple lies an iconic design team – fluid lines, impeccably-crafted hardware and premium materials have positioned the brand’s collections at the top of the market in terms of style. The new iPad Pro is no different, and it boasts the same luxe aesthetic as the iPad Air 2 and the iPad Mini 4. Available in the now standard Silver, Gold and Space Grey shades, but no mention of a Rose Gold option – shame. The Surface Pro 4 comes in silver as standard but you can choose from a variety of vibrantly-coloured keyboards and other accessories. Although it’s a high quality construction, the Surface just can’t compete with the iPad. Microsoft largely centres around functionality though, and this is a good professional tab that doesn’t necessarily need the flashy aesthetics. We were most surprised by the Google Pixel C though, as the slim profile slab of aluminium inherited the design of the rest of the Pixel line. It’s sleek and sophisticated considering its price point, although somewhat clunky in build – and the lack of a trackpad is disappointing, albeit more to do with the keyboard.


Apple’s new iPad Pro comes in Gold, Silver and Space Grey (but no Rose Gold option…) (Source: Apple)


The iPad Pro is running iOS 9 which is currently upgradeable to iOS 9.1, the Microsoft Surface runs Windows 10 Pro and the Google Pixel C Android 6.0 Marshmallow. If you’re not a fan of Windows 10 on your desktop, a tablet like this likely won’t be for you. Similarly, if you’re not an iOS fan, the Pixel C could be a good choice for you, as it’s an Android-meets-Chrome hybrid and very easy to navigate. It’s difficult to predict which operating system is the best, and all three platforms are popular with developers, however iOS in notoriously good at offering an infinite app base.

Silicon Angle give a good round-up of the tech specs of the three supersized tablets.

Battery Life

As the two higher-end tablets – the iPad Pro and the Surface Pro 4 – have larger displays to power with built-in Retina and PixelSense technology respectively, the battery life is likely to be less efficient than that of the Google Pixel C. Despite this, Apple claim 10 hours of video playback on the new iPad, whilst Microsoft have backed the Pro 4 to deliver up to 9 hours of video playback on a single charge. Our slightly-smaller competitor, the Pixel C, promises 10 hours of mixed output battery life.


The Pixel C offers the longest mixed battery life, not having to power Retina Display or PixelSense (Source: Google)


An important consideration for most of us, the prices of the three supersized tabs weigh up like this – for the 32GB WiFi-only Apple iPad Pro model, you’ll be set back £679. If you’re after the top tier of internal storage, the 128GB iPad Pro, you’re looking at spending £899. The Smart Keyboard can be yours for £139, whilst the Apple Pencil retails at £79. The Microsoft Surface Pro comes straight in at £749 incl. VAT for the 128GB, Intel Core m3 model – Surface Pen included. That’s actually the entry price point, and the most expensive model comes in at £1,799 for the 512GB, Intel Core i7 model. If you’re after the keyboard too, you’re looking at an additional £109.99.

Whilst UK pricing info hasn’t been released for the Google Pixel C yet, the following prices have been released in US dollars. For the 32GB version, you’ll be set back $499, whilst the 64GB model costs $599. Add the keyboard for $149. Likely cheaper in pounds, the Pixel C is an obvious choice if you don’t want to break the bank.

As you’ve really got to purchase the accompanying keyboards with whichever device you choose, it’s not going to be cheap but that should really be expected, right? If you’re happy to invest in an external storage option or move to cloud-based storage options for most of your work, the Apple iPad Pro is actually (relatively) reasonable for creative professionals that want something more portable and interactive than a conventional laptop.


Creatives will love the Apple iPad Pro for its powerful apps (Source: Apple)

Pocket-lint consider the pricing of the tabs and weigh up the pros and cons of the iPad Pro and the Surface Pro 4.

Final Word

Whilst the Google Pixel C looks like it’ll emerge as the greatest Android tablet ever manufactured, it doesn’t offer the full productivity that Apple and Microsoft can deliver. Beyond the keyboard, this tablet isn’t built for a premium working experience. That said, it’s a viable option for those who want to use their tablet predominantly for leisure, and the lower price point is definitely attractive.

Both the Apple iPad Pro and the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 are built to redefine the contemporary tech user’s PC experience, and both aim to replace a laptop altogether. With its desktop apps, the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 has proven to be successful in that respect, and it’ll be interesting to see how the iPad Pro performs.

What Apple offers that neither of the other tablets do, though, is a solution for how creative professionals like to work, thanks to powerful new iOS apps and the Apple Pencil tool.