The iPad is undoubtedly the king of tablets. With each iteration and each new iOS version Apple keeps pushing the boundaries of what a tablet can do. Android tablet makers are in the space as well, but other than Google Pixel C and a handful of other models there aren’t that many that can match the performance, look and feel of an iPad.
Microsoft thought they could change that with the Surface Pro 4, but several users have complained of problems with battery life and USB connectivity. The current model runs on Intel’s Skylake processors, but the Surface Pro 5 is expected to run on Intel’s new Kaby Lake processors that are already getting rave ratings from tech reviewers such a Tech Radar.
Obviously, the processor should be out soon if rumors of the Surface Pro 5 releasing next month are true, but sources still show the processor’s release date as “before the end of 2016.” The new Surface Pro will also feature better USB connectivity with a Type C connector that works more efficiently on charging as well.
But are these improvements good enough for the Surface Pro 5 to compete with the iPad Pro 9.7-inch version or the 12.9-inch variant? To begin with, let’s have a look at how the Surface Pro 4 compares with both iPad Pro options in terms of specs. The table below comes to you courtesy LaptopMag.
As you can see the Surface Pro 4 has a much lower battery life than either of the iPad Pro models, and weighs the most – not a big deal if you’re using it as a hybrid but it does matter when it’s held in the hand from long periods of time. The Surface Pro 4 is almost as big as the massive 12.9-inch iPad Pro but users swear that it’s a lot easier to hold. The built-in kickstand also means you won’t have to spend on a separate case/stand for stationary use. With the keyboard the Surface Pro 4 is definitely the heaviest, but again, the slighter profile makes it much easier to hold than the bigger iPad Pro.
As for the Surface Pro 5 release date, Microsoft may well push the launch into early 2017 because they’ll need to get comfortable with Kaby Lake’s architecture. They’re not going to want to rush things, especially since this will be one of their most iconic products and the market is already expecting great things from the Surface Pro 5.
As for the Surface Pro 5’s specs, we’ve already seen that it could come with the USB C connector, which will add to the audio jack, a microSD slot for memory expansion, a Mini DisplayPort for video out and the older USB 3.0 port as seen on the Surface Pro 4. One source also claims that the new Surface Pro will come with a 2K and a more expensive 4K display options.
We might also be seeing the first time Microsoft uses a 16GM RAM that pretty much makes it as good as a decent laptop. We could also see better WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, as well as a camera upgrade that would be most welcome. One interesting feature is that the Surface Pro 5 Pen could come with a rechargeable battery that charges wirelessly when attached to the tablet.
Here’s what Patently Mobile has discovered about the Surface Pen patent application from Microsoft.
As such, the Surface Pro 5 can definitely compete for stardom against both versions of iPad Pro, but Apple’s devices are as much about branding as they are about looks and performance. Microsoft doesn’t yet have that advantage in the premium tablet segment, but they’re almost there with the Surface Pro 4. Hopefully the next-gen tablet with be a much worthier competitor to the dominant position that iPad Pro holds in the market.
It’s not likely that we’ll see the Surface Pro 5 before 2017, and we may not even see the Surface Phone or Surface Cardinal all-in-one PC this year. Microsoft is taking a page from the master of mystery – Apple Inc. – and playing its cards close to its chest. What we do know is that the entire family of Surface devices is critical to the whole Windows 10 multi-device environment that Microsoft is attempting to popularize. If their devices fail this time around like what happened with smartphones after the Nokia acquisition, the company may not get a third stab at the device market.
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