The Pros, battling it out for supremacy, is a pretty sight to behold for the customers. And that is exactly the type of kerfuffle that the latest iPad Pro and Surface Pro guarantee. While both the tablets offer the best possible specs, it’s time for sketch artists, logo designers, and other creative professionals to learn all the differences to pick the right tablet for digital art.
I understand that it is virtually impossible to pick one by merely glancing through the features. That’s why I shall take every aspect of the Apple iPad Pro 12.9 and the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 into consideration to present a Kong vs. Gorilla scenario. Every feature relevant to these high-end tablets will be compared.
And yes, there will be a worthy winner at the end of each segment. Also, you must know that the verdicts will be released, keeping the drawing-specific aspects in mind. So let us get down to the business without beating around the bush:
Surface Pro vs iPad Pro: The Key Differences
Pressed for time? Well, you can quickly look at the key differences between the Surface Pro and iPad Pro to better understand their artist-relevant offerings:
iPad Pro 12.9 vs Surface Pro 8 for Artists [9 Aspects Compared]
1. Display & Color Accuracy
The 13-inch QHD panel featured by the Surface Pro 8 assumes a native resolution of 2880 x 1920 pixels. Complementing the same is the 104% sRGB color palette followed by 453-nits of peak brightness. But then, the iPad Pro is still better with an OLED-like mini-LED screen. The XDR display is certainly one of the highlights to consider for the designer within you.
And while the color accuracy stands out with the iPad offering over 200% sRGB color gamut, it is the peak brightness at 1600 nits that makes several heads turn. The colors exhibited by the iPad are punchier, with the HDR mode and DCI-P3 palette making a compelling case.
Finally, the 120Hz screen refresh associated with both (Surface Pro and iPad Pro) makes scrolling and stylus usage both fun and inventive.
2. Stylus Experience
Let’s get into the Apple Pencil vs Surface Pen battle to know which one is a better pick for artists.
The Apple Pencil 2 is replete with features, including 9ms latency, palm-rejection support, 4096 pressure sensitivity levels, gesture shortcut feature, and fast charging functionality. While Microsoft has two different series of pens, i.e., the regular Surface Pen and Surface Slim Pen.
While the regular Surface Pen falls a bit short compared to the Apple Pencil, the Surface Slim Pen competes well, mainly due to the availability of an eraser on the top and a multifunctional button at the side. When it comes to other features, the Apple Pencil offers a better grip and takes lesser time to charge.
3. iPad Pro vs Surface Pro for Drawing
Both these tablets can run apps like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and even SketchBook with relative ease. But if I were to place bets on the performance, the apps feel a bit smoother on the iPad. And it is mostly due to the flowy display and the smooth pencil.
The Surface Pro 8 runs a wider range of applications that can take your digital arts to a whole new level. The Windows 11 on offer runs the likes of MediBang Pain, Concepts, Affinity Designer, and even Krita without breaking a sweat. While the Procreate is an obvious choice for drawing on the iPad Pro, it also supports other drawing apps.
In simpler words, if you are a designer, sketch artist, or even a Manga creator, you have more chances of finding the app you like in the Windows ecosystem.
4. Connectivity & Inputs
This is where things get really interesting. The iPad brings two highly resourceful connectivity specs into the mix, including the ultra-fast Thunderbolt 4 port and Wireless AX standard. The Type-C port is capable of connecting 6K panels and data hubs without any lag whatsoever.
The Surface Pro 8, on the other hand, is hinged on numbers. It includes two Thunderbolt 4 Type-C ports and a 3.5mm jack, making it one of the better tablets for listening to music. While both of them offer Wi-Fi 6, the Surface Pro gives a slight edge in Bluetooth connectivity with the latest BT 5.1 as opposed to BT 5.0 on the iPad Pro.
5. Design & Build
If you have a thing for aesthetics, read on. The Surface Pro 8 is made of magnesium, weighs 1.96 pounds, and measures 9.06 x 12.22 x 1.97 inches. Well, that seems manageable, right! Yes, it is but don’t count your chickens just yet. The iPad Pro 12.9 measures 11.05 x 8.46 x 0.25 inches. And it is made of aluminum and weighs close to 1.50 pounds.
Therefore, it is obvious that the iPad Pro feels lighter and a lot slimmer than the Surface Pro. But that doesn’t mean the Surface Pro 8 is not good. It still manages to put together a more practical layout, mostly bolstered by the less-protruding camera arrangement.
6. Battery Life & Charging
Coming to the theoretical figures, Apple claims to offer about 10 hours of battery life, whereas the Surface Pro claims for 16 hours. However, if the charging time is to be looked at, the iPad Pro takes almost 4 hours to replenish a fully depleted battery. It does offer fast charging support but requires an additional investment.
The Surface Pro 8, on the other side, can charge over 80% in an hour, making it a better pick for the designers who are mostly on the move.
7. OS & Ecosystem
The Surface Pro 8 runs the new and refined Windows 11 right out of the bat. Just like other Windows tablets, you get access to a laptop-like experience. Plus, there will be a sense of continuity when it comes to third-party app support if you feel like keeping all the options open.
The iPadOS 14 is packed with features but can be a new and overwhelming ecosystem to work with. However, the stylus compatibility is excellent, and the 120Hz refresh rate and 9ms of software latency while using the Apple Pencil do help with adoption.
8. Hardware & Performance
Both iPad Pro and Surface Pro bring forth high-end end processing components. Windows evangelists get the Intel Core i5 processor. Complementing the 11th Gen processor is the Intel Iris Xe graphics.
Also, you can pick models with 8GB RAM + 128GB / 256GB / 512GB of SSD, depending on the level of storage you seek. I feel that 8GB RAM and 256GB storage is a sweet sport and should be fine for most artists out there. And just to make things clear, both the tablets don’t offer an SD Card slot.
Suggested Read: Tablets with SD Card Slot
The iPad Pro, however, scales beyond everything with its resourceful and one-of-a-kind M1 chipset. The 7-core Apple GPU might not sound like much, but it takes good care of the visuals and graphics needed to create the best designs.
You can choose between 8GB and 16GB variants if you want to pick something keeping the system memory in mind. And while the storage variants start at 128GB, you can go as high as 2TB but without external upgradability.
The prices are more or less aligned, with the base price of the iPad Pro 12.9 fixed at $999. While the Surface Pro 8 starts at $899 and the 8GB RAM + 256GB variant costs $999. There are other variants too, but for artists, I won’t recommend going beyond the 8GB RAM + 512GB SSD variant.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, the iPad Pro is an excellent pick when it comes to catering to artists. And the reasons for the same include a highly compatible and responsive stylus and the best-in-class display with a 200%+ sRGB color gamut.
Yes, the Surface Pro 7 or even 7+ is a great asset for an artist, especially if the focus is on persisting with a Windows-powered secondary laptop. Plus, the Intel-powered processors and GPUs make it easier for traditional artists to wrap their heads around the specificities of drawing apps like Illustrator, Photoshop, and more.
Both these tablets are great if you want to pursue digital art professionally or even as a hobby. While the iPad is appropriately faster, the Surface Pro tab is easier to use. However, if you only want to choose depending on the artistic performances and outputs, the high-end Apple Pencil 2 makes the iPad a better choice.
As mentioned previously, the Apple Pencil is a better bet for artists, courtesy of low latency, better grip, palm-rejection support, and the ability to maximize the brilliance of the 120Hz ProMotion tech by speeding up drawing and scrolling, alike.
Not really! You can’t run Procreate on the Surface tablets as Procreate is exclusively available on Apple iPads.
Both iPad Pro and Surface Pro 8 are among the best tablets for artists. However, if you are a professional designer, tattoo artist, or even a sketch artist using Procreate who hasn’t previously used a Windows tablet, the iPad Pro seems like a better choice. Also, if you prefer quick designs and zero lags, the iPad is still a better option.
But then, if you are into Windows laptops and apps like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and more, the Surface Pro 7 is a tad ahead. Also, if you want your tablet to feel more like a laptop or even a 2-in-1, I would recommend getting the Pro 7 or the Pro 7 Plus.
However, regardless of which tablet you pick, your designs are expected to come out state-of-the-art, novel, and extremely appealing.
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