Apple iPad vs Microsoft Surface RT tablet – Battle for Glory!

There’s much discussion going around as to which tablet is better – Microsoft’s Surface RT or Apple’s iPad. Well, let me be honest with this, every device has its own specialty and performs well within its own territory. While iPad was the first of its kind to be launched, it captured the imagination of the consumer. But today there are many options and choices and the Surface could well emerge as the choice of a general user, a businessman or a professional due to the several features that it offers. The iPad can be good for entertainment purposes, reading mail, surfing and playing games, but if you are looking for more, it could be the Surface that may meet your requirements.

Apple iPad vs Microsoft Surface RT

Apple iPad vs Microsoft Surface RT

Build and design

The Apple’s iPad looks dated now, as compared to the Surface. The first impression you get when you look at Microsoft Surface – the device seems to have been designed to rest on desk unlike the iPad which wants to be held. That said, Surface is strong and sturdy and you can work carrying it in your hand too. It has been constructed from Magnesium and slapped with Corning Gorilla Glass. The computing machine feels tough. Remember Steven Sinofsky, Windows Chief, using Surface Skateboard style??


Size & Weight

Microsoft Surface is long and narrow, but slightly thicker than iPad. It’s certainly so, because it has a USB port. Also, the Microsoft tablet is heavier (682g) in comparison to iPad weighing only 662 g.


The iPad 4 beats Surface when it comes to resolution and pixel density. iPad has a higher resolution (2048X1536, 264pixel/inch) when compared to Surface (1366X768) However, there’s a catch here. Surface’s ClearType (subpixel rendering) display makes the display look sharper than its above-average resolution would suggest. Here’s an explanation to prove my point.


Screen resolution is one component of perceived detail. The true measure of ‘resolvability’ of a screen is called Modulation Transfer Function (MTF), not Pixels. MTF is a combination of both contrast and resolution and there are over a dozen subsystems that effect this MTF number.

Most folks just focus on one number out of dozens of items that effect perceived detail. Without good contrast resolution decreases. Basically, as resolution/DPI increases the eyes becomes less sensitive. So as a result, the amount of light in a room and the reflections off the screen have a huge effect on the contrast of the display.

In fact, a small amount of reflection can greatly reduce contrast and thus the perceived resolution of the display. With the ClearType Display technology Surface takes a different approach to maximize that perceived resolution. It has the best pixel rendering technology (cleartype 1.0 and 2.0) exclusive and unique to Windows hence, it smooths text regardless of pixel count. So, while you may find iPad good for watching high-density pictures, you will certainly enjoy all your HD movies easily on Surface RT as well.


This is another space where Apple’s iPad takes a beating. Surface features a nVidia Tegra 3+ Quad Core 1.3GHz chip, for lag-free operations whereas the iPad (New iPad) runs Apple A5X (Dual Core) processor. Malware designed to run on current Windows computers generally won’t work on Surface.


Since Surface features quad core processor for lag-free operations expect the battery to last lesser as compared to the iPad. While the Surface will give you 8hrs, the iPad may give you 10.


Every mobile device offers less available storage than what’s advertised – including the iPad. Windows 8 and Surface’s usable free space falls well short of the advertised 32GB. After the OS, Office RT and a bunch of apps, you get somewhere around 20GB. Although less, it’s good since Windows 8 RT + Office RT + few apps, may be all built-in apps, taking about 11-12 GB of space.


The iPad (Apple New iPad) users had heating issues with their devices. The factor responsible for this was poor heat-sink management. Surface for Windows 8 comes with a high-end configuration. Microsoft has perfectly balanced the overheating question in Surface, by incorporating a groove that extends around the outside of the case. This groove allows perfect air flow, that is uniformly distributed across the tablet.


Support for other devices

Surface takes a lead in this department too. It has USB ports that you can use to connect a printer, regular sized keyboard and even charge a cell phone. Surface also has the support for Bluetooth headsets? It has built-in dual digital mics, stereo speakers in the device and front/rear facing HD cameras. So, you can use a Lync or Skype client on Surface with Plantronics headset to make conference calls or chat with family.

Surface USB

Memory Expansion

Surface wins again! Both Surface for Windows RT and Surface for Windows 8 have a microSDXC card slot for storage expansion. This card slot provides extra space up to 64GB in addition to the built-in storage. Certainly, one of the biggest advantage of Microsoft Surface over Apple iPad!

Other factors

  • The Surface RT comes with Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 RT. The iPad can run only OneNote.
  • The iPad allows for only a single account. The Surface RT lets you create multiple accounts.
  • The Surface RT offers multi-tasking and lets you snap two apps side?by?side. The iPad can only display one app at a time.
  • iPad only works with AirPrint-enabled printers. The Surface RT works with most printers.
  • iCloud on the iPad gives you less free cloud storage than SkyDrive on the Surface.


The 32 GB model (Wi-Fi) of Surface costs $499. You get 16 GB model of iPad (Wi-Fi only) at the same price. There are more expensive models to with 3G and 4G LTE support.

Final Thoughts

If you are a  looking for a mobile device to work and play with, then Microsoft Surface RT should be your ultimate choice. But if you simply need a tablet primarily for reading mail, watching movies, playing games, etc, then you could consider the iPad, as it is slightly lighter and offers a couple of hours of extra battery life.

Additional reading:

  1. iPad vs. Surface comparison chart
  2. Features of Surface which make iPad look dated
  3. More Amazing Features of Microsoft Surface tablet
  4. Microsoft Surface Pro Tablet Specifications
  5. Microsoft’s Surface RT Tablet: Technical Specifications, Features & Impressions
  6. Windows Surface RT vs Windows Surface 8 Pro tablet. Which one is right for you?
  7. Windows Surface vs New iPad vs Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 vs Nexus 7
  8. Reasons Why Surface Could Beat iPad.
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Anand Khanse is the Admin of, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.

One Comment

  1. Sarah

    This article is deceptive because it doesn’t state which iPad and which surface pro are being reviewed. Also, no discussion of battery life, apps, sync, sound, pens, etc. a side-by-side view front, back, edge, screen resolution is essential. Poor reporting! Also three year old articles should be archived and have date written and updated at top.

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