iPad Air v. Surface Pro 3: Is it completely fair to compare the two devices? (editorial)

iPad Air v. Surface Pro 3: Is it completely fair to compare the two devices? (editorial)

A user who traded in their iPad Air for a Surface Pro 3 (SP3) recently wrote a review about his experiences with both devices on Reddit. The review focuses on the store experience, display, performance and thermals, design, sound, and battery life.

Microsoft has been comparing the SP3 with the MacBook Air every chance it gets, so this review surprised me. Further, it made me question if it even makes sense to compare the iPad Air with SP3.


Price may be the biggest reasons to compare two products, as it gives them a level playing field to consumers. The iPad Air is the “classic” version and the bigger one (Apple sells the Mini and the Air).

The iPad Air starts at $499, but if you want the 64GB model, it is $699. The base SP3 model comes with 64GB and starts at $799.

The 64GB Wi-Fi only model of the iPad Retina at $699 is pretty similar to the SP3 at $799 on price – close enough that someone may choose to pay the extra $100 for a machine that better fits their needs.


One of the biggest reasons I thought that you should not compare these devices is because I believed they were used for primarily different tasks. However, this review made me question this idea, and look back at how people I know user their iPads. In a college setting, it is common for students to type notes on their iPads, use them to follow along presentations, and use them to read PDF textbooks.

These tasks are all done on a SP3 much more effectively than on an iPad. The iPad doesn’t support real multi-tasking, the ability to see two applications at once. On the SP3, you can take notes while having a browser or document stacked on the right. The pen + OneNote is a killer for note taking.

On the other hand, a lot of users use an iPad for consuming. They use it for Tumblr, Pinterest, and games. This experience does not as of yet exist on Windows’s Modern UI — aside for games or 3rd party solutions.

What I learned

I realized that a significant number of users had been using the iPad as a portable supplement to their Windows computers, as it had the best features for its portability. However, for a bit more you could can now get a Surface that is potentially better suited for your uses.

If you are one of these users with a iPad, or merely, curious, I suggest you read the review (which you can access from the VIA link below).

Here’s a tidbit of the review: “Overall after owning the iPad Air for 7 months this was a nice upgrade. I compare the Surface to an Apple product because its built so well. I have never seen a PC with this quality in my life, the way Microsoft seamlessly combines analog and digital input is amazing. The surface needs a lot more recognition, this is the perfect tool especially for students or anyone really. It really just seems that people are afraid to try new things. I’m not hating on the iPad, I still think its the best ARM tablet ever but the software needs some work (actually a lot).”

I still have my reservations, as the base model of the iPad is significantly cheaper than the SP3, and I believe tablets to be highly app-centric, which iOS can fulfill currently; but, I am convinced that for some users it is completely fair to compare the iPad Air and SP3. 

What are your thoughts? Sound off in the comments below.

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