Why I Returned the Surface Pro 4 and Kept the iPad Pro

Discussion in 'iPad' started by bowlman2345, Nov 25, 2015.

  1. bowlman2345 macrumors regular

    Nov 9, 2015
    First off, I'd like to preface this post by saying that everyone is different and I'm not suggesting that anyone's opinion is wrong. Just writing this to post for people who were in the same situation as me and could benefit.

    I used to be a huge Apple fan, but the last few years, they lost me. Besides my rMBP, I switched from an iPhone to Android due to iOS's lack of innovation. I traded my regular iPad for an Android tablet (big mistake).

    So, what I was looking for was something that would be a laptop replacement or at least accomplish 90% of what my laptop could do. I was actually very gung ho on getting the Surface Pro 4 because I thought it would give me the best of both worlds. But since it was the holiday season, Best Buy had the return policy until January, so I bought both to try out to see which one I'd like more.

    The fact is for me, neither device could completely fulfill what I was looking for. But I definitely went into this expecting to return the iPad.

    Surface Pro 4: Overall, it's a nice device. Windows 10 is a huge improvement. The issues I had was for me, the trackpad was laggy, the battery life was subpar and it was a better laptop than it was a tablet. There are virtually no good apps and while it obviously runs desktop applications, it really works better when using it like a laptop. I could never get comfortable with it without the keyboard. It's heavier than the iPad Pro, and I didn't feel like it felt very good in my hands as a tablet.

    When I tried to use it as a laptop, I felt like I wished it were my rMBP. I bought the i5, 256GB version which was $1299 plus the $129 for the cover. So, I was spending $1428 for this package for a device that is not quite a good tablet and not quite the best laptop for that price.

    iPad Pro: Like most others on the forum, iOS is its biggest limitation, however, as far as a tablet is concerned, the apps are overall excellent and the tablet experience is fleshed out well. It was capable of doing most of the things I needed it to for productivity such as writing/editing Word docs, work on spreadsheets, photo editing and obviously email/web. Is it as good as a desktop version? No. But for me, I don't use the major advanced features often. I don't do video editing at a high level.

    For costs, I bought the 128GB WiFi model, the keyboard and pencil. So, the whole bundle was around $1200. I personally love the pencil and it's inspired me to draw for the first time in 20 years. Procreate is amazing for sketching and I feel like the tablet experience works very well for a "sketchpad". What I will say is the iPad Pro is clearly a better tablet than a laptop.

    Conclusion: I returned the Surface Pro 4. The major reason being is that it wasn't very good as a tablet and while it worked better as a laptop, I realized that if I wanted a laptop, I'd rather use a "real" one that is optimized for the things I want to do with a powerful machine. No one will convince me that the SP4 is better than my rMBP. So could I replace my laptop? No. But the iPad Pro does so many things very well for me that I haven't used my laptop since I got it. Another huge benefit for the iPad was its battery life. It was at least 4-5 hours better than the SP4 and it was lighter and I felt more portable.

    Again, this isn't for everyone. I recognize everyone's needs are different and some may disagree. I'm personally very happy with the iPad Pro and have used it more than any tablet I've used in the past. I don't think it's possible to have a perfect replacement. For me, I wanted something with great battery life, could handle my modest productivity needs and my consumption usage. I've been able to use this for web, email, drawing, document creation, spreadsheet editing, games and video. For me, that's all I need. Hope this was helpful for anyone debating between the two devices.
  2. sunapple macrumors 65816


    Jul 16, 2013
    The Netherlands
    Totally agreed. I already own a great laptop (15" rMBP), so I don't need another one. The tablet experience on iOS in general is far supirior too.

    This however could change in time if Apple decides to keep making the same products and Microsoft attracts the developers for their multi device platform. If all apps available on the iPad would be available on Windows with the same quality; their ecosystem would have lots of potential. I just don't see this happening now or in the next year...
  3. ApplePhy, Nov 26, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2015

    ApplePhy macrumors 6502

    Nov 7, 2013
    When reading reviews of the surface pro, I always see how wonderful the device is as a laptop replacement

    I've always wondered, however, how the device functions as a tablet. There are very few reviews out there that highlight the tablet experience on the device. I can't imagine it's as good as the iPad. I've held the tablet portion a few times at the Microsoft store, and it wasn't a good experience for me (too heavy, sides were not smoothed out so holding the device felt quite uncomfortable). Scrolling webpages seemed decent enough, but seemed a bit laggy overall. In this regard, I'd venture to say that it felt 'underpowered' as a tablet. With the keyboard attached, it seemed decent enough as a laptop, but a MacBook seems more polished, and better put together.

    I've also heard the battery life is not on par with the iPad.

    Seems to me the vast majority of people use it as a laptop replacement. Why then wouldn't you just get a laptop?

    The iPad pro is a tablet first (the best in the business at that), and a productivity device second. Its commitment to iOS, to me, is what makes it excel.

    Others see this as a detriment due to limited capabilities (lack of file system management, for example), but i see it as a different means to the same goal. A more efficient way of accomplishing tasks, withou the clutter of a traditional computer.

    Before the iPad (and mobile operating systems), there was only one way to accomplish tasks--and that was through a desktop OS.

    In this new age of computing, however, a paradigm shift has occurred. That is, you can accomplish (for most general consumers, anyway) most of what you need to do through a more efficient AND streamlined mobile OS. There is no need to have the complexity of a desktop OS.

    Both devices blur the line somewhere in the middle, and I'm not sure there will ever be a device out there that will perfectly marry the two experiences (tablet and laptop).
  4. shahin90 macrumors regular

    Oct 23, 2012
    I have had the same exact experience as you. The sp4 is definitely a laptop and not a tablet. The UI on iOS is very well optimized for touch, whereas the sp4 sucks for touch imo.
  5. Dave245 macrumors 603


    Sep 15, 2013
    It's like Tim Cook said, the Surface Pro devices are not the best at being either a tablet or a laptop they confused while trying to be two things. I have to say i agree with you, i have had my iPad Pro for over a week now and along with the Apple Pencil it is a brilliant device that i use daily.
  6. jimmy_uk macrumors 6502


    Oct 19, 2015
    Totally agree with your conclusion on the surface pro 4. It's well made, the stand is great design and the pen and tip offer a great stylus experience. But I owned an i5 for less than a week then returned it.

  7. tdale macrumors 65816

    Aug 11, 2013
    Christchurch, N.Z.
    its not about touch its about capability. Desktop OS you can do anything, tablet OS is just a simple subset
  8. tdale macrumors 65816

    Aug 11, 2013
    Christchurch, N.Z.
    So we all buy an iPad Pro? No. You one use case suits you, don't mess with confusing others who may want just a tablet OS, or those who want to more then read/write/play. Be fair or don't compare
  9. tdale macrumors 65816

    Aug 11, 2013
    Christchurch, N.Z.
    And iOS sucks for real work, or using the computer as you so desire as we have been doing for decades, did you forget that? This is about use, not fan-ism. And I am an Apple user BTW
  10. tdale macrumors 65816

    Aug 11, 2013
    Christchurch, N.Z.
    Seems to me like Apple fan bias. Put your iMac, rMBP ( which I have) etc away and use your iPad Pro for a month then get back to me
  11. jimmy_uk macrumors 6502


    Oct 19, 2015
    Yes and no. I wouldn't own an iPad only, I use a Windows desktop for real full fat software, so I don't think the iPad pro could be used alone as a works machine (not until it get full desktop applications). So yes a desktop os is far more capable, but while the surface advertises as tablet laptop hybrid the tablet experience is poor compared with the iPad. This makes using it a chore to with alot of compromise, when directly compared with the iPad experience, even though I could run photoshop or Lightroom. With the keyboard attached and using it like a laptop, ace (except the trackpad is still too small and two finger scrolling sucks). Using is it as a tablet for reading or YouTube etc it's clunky (did any one say display driver crash). They play in the same field as the costs are close and they can both be used the same way. But your choice is easier if you need to run full desktop software on a portable device = don't get an iPad pro.

    For me: desktop for work, laptop for on the move and flexibility, iPad for consumption and lesuire.
  12. Abazigal macrumors G3


    Jul 18, 2011
    Though not as well. I may be able to run a desktop app in tablet mode on a Surface Pro, but I will unlikely want to get any work done that way. You can give me the best apps on the Windows platform, but if the user experience sucks, I am not going to use it, plain and simple.

    In the case of the iPad, the touch interface enables its functionality. The apps may be simpler and arguably less capable, but because I am willing to use those apps in the manner prescribed by Apple, I actually end up getting more work done this way.

    And real work is, as usual, conveniently defined as anything which the iPad cannot do.

    I personally think that the greatest hurdle here is not just iOS, but also our own mindset and our own reluctance to move beyond the mode of desktop computing and reimagine our workflows for a modern tablet interface.
  13. jlc1978 macrumors 68000


    Aug 14, 2009
    I'd argue it's not about capability but meting needs. A very capable device that does not meet one's needs is useless no matter how capable it is.

    As for a desktop OS, unless it is also designed to provide the same experience and capabilities as the desktop version when running in tablet mode it is also merely a subset of the desktop OS.

    In the end, what counts is what works.
  14. jimmy_uk, Nov 26, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2015

    jimmy_uk macrumors 6502


    Oct 19, 2015
    Id argue that Apple needs to change its mindset if they want to make a pro level device. The restrictions on iOS have helped people of all ages to come to their devices and learn how to use them quickly and easily. But now this operating system needs to grow up for the iPad pro.

    I have changed the way I work to do it apples way for years because the iPad and the iPhone have been the best devices for me (build, screen, reliability, app selection etc). But I've personally been patient and have been waiting for iOS to mature and allow greater freedom to allow me to use the device how I want. The iPad pro could have been the beginning of this change but no, the restrictions are now a huge hinderance for this device.

    Split screen is not true multi tasking how I want it. I can't even run the same app side by side.

    If we can have a stylus (pencil) then why not mouse support?

    Why does the pencil only operate in some parts of the OS but not all of it?

    Large screen, larger area for apps to expanded into? No, lots and lots of wasted space. Can I resize to suit my use? No everything is fixed and formatted how Apple want.

    Just some examples that made me feel annoyed with the pro and made me realise today this is just a bigger iPad (that is twice the price). But if you are an artist or designer this is your new Wacom device replacement that is also a capable portable tablet for less than a cintiq.
  15. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    I'm somewhat in the opposite camp at the moment. I have an iPad air 2 which is the 4th in a string of iPads that functioned as my primary personal computer, a Surface Pro 3 provided by work, and a retina MacBook that I purchased when I decided I needed a new computer for personal use. Of those, the iPad gets by far the least amount of use - primarily by my kids or when I'm flying - and I mostly go between my MacBook and SP3, with me leaning more and more towards the Surface as my primary device as Microsoft has drastically improved the hardware and software over the past several months. I've added the new type cover and pen which are huge improvements over their predecessors - I now think that the keyboard is better than anything Apple is making, and with last week's TH2 Windows update cursor tracking and scrolling are finally on-par with Apple (although it's still missing many key gestures). I don't make this last claim lightly - but this time the improvements to the trackpad are for real - I keep expecting it to glitch or go away but it's flawless.

    Taken together with Windows 10's software improvements, which have massively improved the experience and the battery life, I've been picking the Surface as my primary use machine to the point that I'm considering selling the MacBook. This is an odd turn for me as I've been one of the biggest iPad proponents there is here. What I've been finding is that even though the Surface is heavier and doesn't have quite as good battery life, I really enjoy the larger screen as a tablet and the flexibility to move quickly between laptop and tablet form factor without having to switch devices and the battery is now to the point of being good enough. Throughout the day my Surface goes from tablet to writing pad to laptop to desktop docked at my desk. No, it's not the best at any one of those things, but somehow the device has finally been improved to the point where it's good enough at all of them - even when I have what are considered some of the best individual devices sitting right next to them.

    Even I can't entirely explain this as I've been extremely critical of the Surface as Microsoft has struggled to get it right over the years - and I love my MacBook and iPad, but perhaps it's that the improvements that Microsoft has been making have been pretty much what we, the community of dedicated users, have been asking for over the years. It's developing into a really fantastic device and the improvements are coming at a breakneck pace.
  16. joeblow7777 macrumors 603

    Sep 7, 2010
    The bottom line is that the Surface Pro is a laptop in a tablet form factor, and the iPad Pro is just an especially big tablet. Decide which of those things better suits your needs and that's the one you should go with.
  17. friedmud macrumors 65816

    Jul 11, 2008
    Umm - the Pencil works through the entire operating system. The only places where a Pencil doesn't do exactly the same thing as a finger are where you wouldn't want it to: for instance at the edge of the screen... you wouldn't want to be taking notes and then accidentally pull in the slide over multitasking area from the right edge of the screen because you got too close. The Pencil can just slide right off the edge of the screen and come back and keep going like nothing happened.

    The same goes for resizing split view. Did you know that with split view you can actually rest your hand on the screen in the App to the right and take notes in the app to the left? You can write all the way up to the edge... and everything works perfectly. It's a very well thought out design: as per usual with Apple.

    I also don't know what you mean by wasted space. If you're referring to Apps that haven't yet updated to better handle the large screen... that's already changing. If you're talking about the home screen spacing, who cares? How much time do you spend staring at the home screen? The iPad pro is awesome at having multiple apps running simultaneously... I just use the multitasking gestures to switch back and forth between the 4-5 apps I typically use... Rarely even look at the home screen.

    Overall: it sounds like you should go buy a Surface Pro and see if the grass really is greener. As an iPad Pro owner, I can tell you that the device is excellent and is really well thought out. When was the last time you could say that about any Microsoft product?
  18. Rogifan macrumors P6


    Nov 14, 2011
    Does every iPad Pro owner have to use a Surface too and then choose between the two? Because honestly I have no interest in using a Surface (or using Windows outside of work, where I have no choice). It's unfortunate that "real work" is being defined as anything that can't be done on iOS or an iPad. Or that there somehow has to be this competition between iPad and Surface and one has to beat the other.
  19. Dave245 macrumors 603


    Sep 15, 2013
    That's not what I said, of course not everyone should buy an iPad Pro. I was saying that from my usuage the iPad Pro has replaced my laptop and I believe that Tim Cook was right when he said this. The Surface is a confused product that isn't best at anything, I'm not the only one to have said this, many Surface users have said so. That was my point, in know way am I forcing anyone to buy an iPad Pro that is personal choice, after all we live in a democracy :D.
  20. peterpan123 macrumors 6502

    Sep 24, 2014
    I was considering to buy a SP4 the past three weeks. However, there are two issues which keep me hestitating: 1. No international warranty. I travel often. This is not good. 2. Battery life is about 3.5 hours while that of IPP is about 9.
  21. cardfan macrumors 65816

    Mar 23, 2012
    I agree with the OP and posted similar. But it doesn't necessarily mean get an ipad pro either. Perhaps you don't need either. A regular ipad has advantages over the Pro as well. Still have the surface and ipad pro and kinda thinking of returning both. It's not really providing anything (significantly) better than my present rMBP and ipad Air to where you want to throw down 1.2-1.4k. Especially if you're not really into using a stylus.

    Though I have 27" monitor (same specs as nonretina 27" imac monitor) for an i7 dell 8700 xps pc, I'm thinking of a 5k iMac and shoving away thoughts of surface or ipad. The PC desktop is what I use the most.

    As a sidenote, my 21 month year old son isn't exactly letting me use gadgets without being all over me desperate to get at them..lol
  22. Badrottie Suspended


    May 8, 2011
    Los Angeles
    Just two devices?? You could have tried Samsung View and you said you made a mistake with android tablet I am not sure if you have tried Samsung Note Pro? I hear you have no problem with Android phone.
  23. Fancuku macrumors 6502a


    Oct 8, 2015
    PA, USA
    OP, I am not sure why you even bought the SP4. It sounds to me like you were just curious about it. It's obvious an ipad meets your computing needs. You aren't the targeted user of the SP4.
  24. JeffMorse macrumors regular

    May 12, 2010
    I did the exact same thing as the OP. Loving the Pro. The Surface is very, very nice - just not the best choice for me .
  25. Macalway macrumors 68020

    Aug 7, 2013
    Nice to have a thread for balance. It was a tad....lopsided :D

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