Microsoft released the Surface Pro 3 last year with the intention of replacing your laptop and tablet. That ambition came at a price though. This year’s Surface 3 is a more affordable option, bringing it in line with Apple’s iPad Air 2. Naturally, the only thing to do is compare the two.
While the Surface 3 is smaller than its predecessor, it dwarfs the iPad Air 2. It is 10 percent taller (187mm vs 170mm) and 11 percent longer (267mm vs 240mm) than the iPad Air 2, though Apple’s tablet is thinner (8.7mm vs 6.1mm).
Some might notice the difference when carrying their tablet around in their hands or in a backpack. But those who hope to work on the go may consider it a small price to pay, as you get some extra oomph and a suite of fully-fledged Windows applications.
You also get a larger display. The Surface 3 offers a 10.8-inch display with a resolution of 1920 x 1280 pixels, making it perfectly suited for getting things done. The iPad Air 2’s display meanwhile is crisper, meaning it has the slight edge when it comes to gaming and watching movies.
The two tablets are quite similar in many aspects. But their specs are quite different. The Surface 3 comes with a quad-core Intel Atom x7-Z8700 processor and either 2GB or 4GB of RAM. It’s as powerful as some tablets on the market and it runs Windows 8. This means that you can install and use any Windows apps on the tablet, including full versions of Microsoft Office and Adobe’s Photoshop.
It’s great for general productivity, though if you need enough power for high-end video- and image-rendering processes, you may need to look at the Surface Pro 3.
Unfortunately, the iPad Air 2 isn’t quite as powerful. But at the same time, it’s no slouch. It packs a speedy A8X 64-bit processor, paired with an M8 motion co-processor that handles the sensors.
The Surface 3 is clearly more geared towards productivity. Its storage options start at 64GB, while the iPad Air 2’s starts at 16GB. If the Surface 3’s storage capabilities aren’t quite enough, you can also use a microSD card for additional space. You will have to choose correctly first time with the iPad Air 2, as it doesn’t support microSD cards.
If, for some reason, photography is one of those things that you consider when it comes to purchasing a tablet, the two are somewhat similar. The Surface 3 has an 8 megapixel camera on its rear, and a 3.5 megapixel camera for selfies and video calls. The iPad Air 2 has 8 megapixel and 1.2 megapixel cameras respectively.
Interestingly, for a tablet that targets those who want to work on the go, and therefore need to keep their work safe and possibly free from prying eyes, the Surface 3 doesn’t have a fingerprint scanner for added security. It does, of course, offer password protection. The iPad Air 2 was the first tablet that Apple implemented its Touch ID system into.
As the price of the Surface Pro 3 was a sticking point, the price of the two tablets is an important consideration. The iPad Air 2 is available in 16GB, 64GB, and 128GB with either WiFi or WiFi and 4G. The 16GB costs either €509 or €629; the 64GB variant costs €609 or €729; and the 128GB model costs €709 or €829.
Meanwhile the Surface 3 starts at €609.99 for the 64GB model and comes with a bonus Windows Display Adapter worth €69.99 (for a limited time period), while the 128GB model costs €729.99.
If you’re looking for a tablet to whittle away some time either will do the job perfectly. The iPad Air 2 is slightly sleeker and its display is slightly better for gaming and video.
But if you want to do work on the go, or you’re looking for a replacement for your laptop, the Surface 3 is the way to go. You get apps like Microsoft Office and Photoshop, while many elements are geared towards those who need to get work done. Plus, you get the Surface Pen included and can pick up the excellent Type Cover.
In Short: If you’re considering a tablet upgrade, two tablets are vying for your attention: the iPad Air 2 and the Surface 3. Here we compare the two.