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Pro tablet face-off: 9.7-inch iPad Pro vs. Galaxy TabPro S vs. Surface Pro 4

Gordon Mah Ung | March 23, 2016
After Apple's latest dig at PC users, we find out how the new iPad Pro really stacks up against Pro PC tablets.

From my experience, the battery life on the Surface Pro 4 is good. You get about 6.5 hours of 4K UltraHD video playback on the Core i5 model.

On the small iPad Pro, I’d expect battery life to easily exceed the Surface Pro 4’s time, given its power-sipping A9X CPU. Apple rates the device at 10 hours of video playback. Of course, it doesn’t specify the video resolution or the brightness setting, but iPads have always been known for great battery life so it’s probably pretty respectable.

Again, the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S is a wild card. With its Core m3 CPU and Super AMOLED panel, it’ll give you just shy of nine hours of run time with 4K Ultra HD video. That’s pretty phenomenal considering the battery size.

Under most circumstances, I’d call this category for the iPad, but judging by Apple’s own numbers, there’s a good chance the Galaxy TabPro S could force a tie.

Winner: TBD, but a tie between the iPad Pro and Galaxy TabPro S seems likely.

Keyboard

I haven’t actually touched the new iPad Pro’s keyboard, but I have used the big iPad Pro’s enough to know that it feels weird and is louder than galloping horses when typing. Chances are good it’s the same keyboard.

While it’s likely just as serviceable as the Galaxy TabPro S’s keyboard, both lose handily to the Surface Pro 4.

It’s really too bad that the Galaxy TabPro S’s keyboard wasn’t more of a contender. It looks like a clone of the Surface Pro 3’s keyboard, but all of the keys have a rattling, loose feel to them. The only thing I’d give the Galaxy TabPro S’s keyboard over Apple’s unsatisfying option is the former’s ability to hold the screen at an adjusted, lower angle. The iPad Pro has just one orientation.

Winner: Surface Pro 4

Pen

Of the three contenders, I’ve only used the Surface Pro 4 and the big iPad Pro in stylus mode. The new 9.7-inch iPad Pro uses the same pen technology found in the larger model. Pen computing was a long time coming on the iPad, but Apple’s implementation is pretty awesome and most people, including artists, simply love it.

Microsoft’s N-trig pen on the Surface Pro 4 is well-liked, too, but most users give Apple’s pen the edge. Go with what works best for you. If you’re like me and just need to sign an NDA electronically or jot a few notes, there’s really no difference.

Samsung’s Galaxy TabPro S has pen support but the pen isn’t yet available to test, so it loses by default.

Winner: Beyond my capability to say, and if you saw my handwriting, you’d understand.

 

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