Earlier this week, Microsoft unveiled the $399 Surface Go to take on the 6th gen iPad. Budget laptops and tablets are becoming increasingly popular among students in the United States which is why both Microsoft and Apple are competing with each other in this market.
Microsoft’s Surface devices have generally catered to the higher end of the market, so with the $399 Surface Go the company is expanding its potential customer base and targetting young students. The Surface Go is slightly expensive ($399 vs $329) than the 6th generation iPad. But then the latter runs a mobile OS while the former runs a full-fledged version of Windows 10.
For a student on a budget, both tablets sound like an attractive proposition. Many might prefer to buy the iPad simply becasue of the way Apple has been aggressively pushing its devices among students. So how does Microsoft’s $399 Surface Go tablet compare to the 6th gen iPad? Let find out in our comparison table below.
Microsoft Surface Go vs iPad 6th Gen Specs Comparison
|Basis of Comparison||Surface Go||iPad (6th Gen)|
|Dimensions||245 x 175 x 8.3 mm||240 X 169.5 X 7.5 mm|
|Weight||Starts at 1.15 lbs||1.03 Pounds|
|Display||10” PixelSense Display
/ 1800 x 1200/217 PPI resolution with Corning Gorilla Glass 3
|9.7-inch Retina display with 2048×1536 resolution, 264 PPI|
|Chipset||Intel Pentium Gold Processor 4415Y @ 1.60 GHz||Quad-core A10 Fusion chip|
|GPU||Intel HD Graphics 615||6-core custom GPU|
|Storage||eMMC drive: 64GB
Solid-state drive (SSD): up to 256GB
|Rear Camera||8MP autofocus camera with 1080p HD video||8MP f/2.4, Full HD recording|
|Front Camera||5MP front-facing camera with 1080p Skype HD video||1.2MP, 720P Recording|
|Speakers||2W stereo speakers with Dolby Audio Premium||2 speakers|
|Ports||1 x USB-C
3.5 mm headphone jack
1 x Surface Connect port
Surface Type Cover Port
MicroSDXC Card Reader
Compatible with Surface Dial
|Sensors||Ambient light sensor, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer||Ambient light sensor, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer, Barometer|
Bluetooth 4.1, optional LTE connectivity
|Wi‑Fi b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.2, GPS, optional LTE connectivity|
|Battery||Up to 9 hours of video playback||9-10 Hours of Usage|
|Pen Support||Yes (Surface Pen)||Yes (Apple Pencil)|
|Keyboard Support||Yes||Yes, Bluetooth Only|
|Others||Windows Hello face authentication camera (front-facing), Windows 10S||Touch ID, iOS 11|
Intel’s Dual-Core vs Apple’s A10 Chip
The $399 Surface Go does with the 6th gen iPad, but the important thing to note here is that the performance of its dual-core processor is still not known. With a 4.5W TDP, it is unlikely that the Intel chip inside the Surface Go is good enough to run Windows 10 S with heavy apps and games smoothly.
In comparison, Apple’s A10 chip inside the 6th gen iPad has exceptional performance, and with iOS 11 being considerably light on resources compared to Windows 10 S, Apple’s offering clearly has an advantage.
However, if one is willing to spend the moolah, they can upgrade the Surface Go and buy a variant with more RAM and storage that should help improve its performance to a great extent. There’s no such option available on the iPad. While one can buy a higher variant with more storage, Apple does not offer a variant of the 6th gen iPad with more RAM.
Windows 10 S vs iOS 11
The biggest advantage of Surface Go is that it runs on Windows 10 S. While this version of Windows is limited to installing apps from the Microsoft Store, one can upgrade to the full-fledged version of Windows 10 for free. In comparison, iOS 11 on the iPad feels severely limited. Sure, it might have better apps for certain tasks but the OS overall feels greatly limited compared to Windows 10.
In terms of quality of apps (and even quantity), the iOS App Store is far ahead of the Microsoft Store. However, many users might just be more comfortable using apps on the Surface Go since they are not limited by its iOS as is the case on the iPad. The 2GB RAM on the latter is also a major issue as it heavily limits the multitasking capabilities of the tablet. And unlike the Surface Go, there’s no option for potential iPad customers to upgrade the RAM on their tablet.
If you are someone who likes to play casual games though, the 9.7-inch 6th gen iPad makes a lot more sense since it has a higher quality of games available for it.
The 6th gen iPad is priced at $329, while the base variant of the Surface Go starts from $399. The base variant of the iPad comes with 32GB storage which is clearly insufficient in this day and age. This means that most consumers will end up buying the 128GB version of the iPad which is priced at $429. This means that for most customers the $399 Surface Go is going to be cheaper than the $429 iPad.
However, things change considerably if one decides to buy the LTE version of the tablets. While the 6th gen. iPad with LTE connectivity can be had for $459, the same is not true for the Surface Go. Firstly, Microsoft has not released the LTE variant of the Surface Go yet, and it is slated to debut later this year. Whenever it does go on sale though, I’d expect it to cost upwards of $500 which makes it pretty expensive.
Keyboard and Stylus
It is important to remember that both devices — Surface Go and 6th gen iPad — do not ship with a keyboard. You will have to shell out extra for the keyboard as well as Apple Pencil/Surface Pen. Since the 6th gen iPad lacks a Smart Connector, it is not compatible with Apple’s official Smart Keyboard. Nonetheless, Logitech does offer a smart keyboard accessory for the 6th gen iPad which is priced at $99.99. As for the Apple Pencil, it is priced at $99. Microsoft’s Surface keyboard also starts from $99, with the Surface Pen available also available at the same price.
In this department, both Apple and Microsoft are evenly matched, though ideally since these products are aimed at students, they should be offered at discount to them.
Between the two devices, which one would you prefer: the 6th generation iPad or the Surface Go? For content consumption purposes, I’d prefer the 6th gen iPad as it has some quality apps available for it. The same stands true for artists as well as the Apple Pencil and the 6th gen iPad is a better combination in this regard. However, if you are someone who creates content, the Surface Go is a better device due to its more powerful OS and set of apps.