Both mobile devices with a touch screen have decent internal hardware, great displays and are lightweight and portable. But which one is the best? To answer that question, we face the $ 399 dollar Surface Go with the $ 329 iPad in a classic face-to-face: iPad vs. Surface Go
The Apple iPad 2019 looks what is, at this point, the classic iPad design. It seems almost imperceptible to its predecessors and, although that is not a bad thing, it means that it has relatively thick bezels compared to most of its contemporaries. However, the Surface Go is not much thinner around the edges. The general appearance of both devices is superior, but not the most advanced in terms of design. They feel resistant and solid in the hand, although the iPad is a bit lighter.
When it comes to external connections, Surface Go offers a USB-C port, a headphone jack, a Surface Connect port, a MicroSDXC card reader and a port for the Surface keyboard case. The iPad is much more restricted in its connectivity options, with only a headphone jack and a Lightning port. Both Surface Go and iPad require an adapter if you would like to connect USB-A devices.
The software on both systems is where the real differences develop. In WWDC 2019, Apple present iPadOS, a new operating system based on iOS but designed specifically for iPad. We did a review and we have been quite impressed by what Apple has done to incorporate features that really use the iPad's use form and cases.
However, Surface Go can run a full installation of Windows 10. Although factory default comes with Windows 10S, which restricts users to only Microsoft Store applications, you can run a full installation of Windows 10 with a few clicks. . That broad support for applications outside Microsoft's enclosed garden gives the Surface Go an advantage over the iPad in that regard. However, it is clear that for a long time we had the Microsoft tablet, that Windows 10 is still more suitable for touch control of the keyboard and mouse. While you can get the full Windows experience, its tablet mode lacks some key features to find on the iPad, and it's not that intuitive.
Both devices have optional keyboards to provide you with a more comfortable input method, but neither is particularly good compared to a suitable desktop keyboard. The iPad also has a very limited mouse control: while you can control the iPadOS system with a mouse, it is a shadow of the desktop experience.
One of the most important aspects of any tablet is the screen, and both the iPad and the Surface Go have touch screen panels of excellent appearance. The Apple tablet has a 2,160 x 1,620 pixel Retina display that looks sharp and has a good color. It's not as black as we would like, but for less than $ 330 dollars for the base model, it's an impressive display. The Surface Go has a lower resolution screen at 1,800 x 1,200 with a noticeably reduced pixel density (264.7 vs. 216.3 pixels per inch), but it still looks good on the 10-inch form factor.
Under their glossy surfaces, the two tablets offer quite different hardware sets. The iPad has Apple's A10 Fusion core, with a built-in M10 coprocessor. Combine that with 2 GB of RAM and a choice of 32 GB or 128 GB of on-board flash storage space. The Surface Go includes one of Intel's Pentium Gold 4415Y dual-core processors (with hyperthreading) with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. However, there are options for up to 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. On paper, that should give you significant advantages of memory bandwidth on the iPad. However, in our tests, the iPad performs approximately twice as fast in the benchmark Speedometer 2.0, which simulates the responsiveness of the web application.
The biggest differentiator between the two is in the graphic performance. While the Pentium chip has Intel's HD 615 graphics chip, that doesn't give it the ability to do much more than handle very lightweight 3D rendering applications like Powerpoint. While the iPad is barely designed for serious games, it is much more capable of handling anything you can launch from the App Store.
The iPad is also available with full LTE connectivity. While it is not yet a possibility with the Surface Go, we are told that it will be in the future.
At 1.07 pounds (or 1.09 pounds for the cellular model), the iPad comes a little lighter than the Surface Go, which weighs 1.15 pounds, or 1.17 pounds for the 4G version. It is also a bit more compact, although the two devices are very similar in terms of size.
Battery life was another suspicious issue. Apple declares up to ten hours of general use per full charge and we discover that this is not correct. In our video tests it only lasted four hours and 35 minutes. Meanwhile, the Surface Go only lasted four or five hours in productivity, depending on your use case, however, it lasted about eight hours in our video cycle test.
Even so, in general use the battery life is better than in a continuous video cycle test, which means that the iPad will last you much longer in daily use.
iPad knows its strengths
The Microsoft Surface range has been growing over the years, giving us fantastic hardware such as the Surface Book 2 and the Surface Pro X. While the Surface Go makes a brave attempt to resurrect the part of that range of convertible tablets from low cost, but it does not do well enough to supplant its main rival. The Apple iPad has a lower base cost, a higher resolution screen, a better battery and more impressive graphic options. While the Surface Go may have higher productivity features with its option for a full Windows 10 operating system, that is not what the average person generally wants to sacrifice for better accessibility.
The Surface Go is a worthy competitor to the crown of the entry-level iPad, but fails to overcome it. At least, not yet.