Comparing The Surface 3 to The iPad Air 2

Microsoft’s announcement today of the Surface 3 has been by all indications well received.  It is certainly at a great price point at the entry level and given it is running full Windows 8.1 (with an upgrade to Windows 10 later), gone are the days of RT and not being real clear where things were going with it.

I thought it would be interesting to do a comparison of the new Surface 3 to that of the Apple iPad Air 2 because there are a few rumbles on Twitter about the $499 entry price being too expensive.  I think when you look at it and compare it to what is arguably the most popular tablet out there, the iPad Air 2, you find that the Surface 3 makes a lot of sense both from a specification and price perspective.

I’ve put together the chart below to give you a high level comparison of the base Surface 3 and the base iPad Air 2.  I’ve also highlighted in blue the better stat on either device.

  Microsoft Surface 3 Apple iPad Air 2
Size 10.52 x 7.36 x .34 in 9.4 x 6.6 x .24 in
Weight 1.37 lbs .96 lbs
Display Size 10.8″ 9.7″
Resolution 1920 x 1280 2048 x 1536
PPI 221 264
Battery Life 10 Hours 10 Hours
Ports USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, MicroSD Card Reader Lightning Connector
Power Connector Micro USB Lightning Connector
Front Facing Camera 3.5MP 1.2MP
Rear Racing Camera 8MP 8MP
Processor Quad-Core Atom x7-z8700 1.6GHz, 2.4GHz Burst Quad-Core Apple A8 2.6GHz
Storage 64GB 16GB
Price $499 $499

What I tried to do here is a real comparison, not a fan boy comparison. Let’s be honest, there are some thing about the iPad Air 2 that are better than the Surface 3.  That said, I think when you look at this table you get a good indicator of the focus from both Microsoft and Apple.  Microsoft is positioning the Surface 3 as a potential laptop replacement where Apple is positioning the iPad Air 2 as a complementary device to your MacBook.

I think you also have to look at the base Operating System of these two devices to really see which one is going to fit your needs best.  With the Surface 3 running Windows 10 and coming with Office 365, it is going to be more than just a “triage” device for email and web surfing.  It could be a laptop replacement for many.  Having come from the Apple world I can tell you that trying to replace a laptop with an iPad for more than a day or two is painfully difficult.  Part of that is the underlying lack of options you have in iOS when compared to OS X.  With the Surface 3, you won’t necessarily have that problem.

The biggest different and advantage for the Surface 3 is the 64GB of storage.  To get that in an iPad Air 2 you are going to spend $599, the same price as the Surface 3 with 128GB of storage.

Finally, I did highlight the fact that the Surface 3 comes with a Micro USB connector, an industry standard connector.  I think this is a subtle but important difference between these two devices.

So which one is best?  That is really a matter of how you are going to use the device.  If you are looking for a true laptop replacement option with the power of a full featured OS, the Surface 3 is your device.

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