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May 21, 2014updated 22 Sep 2016 11:27am

Surface Pro 3 vs iPad Air

Microsoft's brand new 'laptop replacement' goes head to head with Apple's iPad Air.

By Ben Sullivan

Dubbed by Microsoft as "the tablet that can replace the laptop", the Surface Pro 3 was launched yesterday at a New York press event.

The 12-inch slate packs a full HD display, various options of 4th generation Intel Core processors and up to 8GB of RAM.

Panos Panay, corporate VP of Microsoft, said: "Surface Pro 3 is the tablet that can replace your laptop – packing all the performance of a fully powered laptop into a thin, light and beautifully designed device. You’ll love being able to carry a single device for your next class, workday or weekend getaway knowing you have all the power you need."

The Surface Pro 3’s screen is 38% larger than the Surface Pro 2, and at just 9.1mm thick, it has become one of the thinnest PCs.

Microsoft Chief Satya Nadella said: "Our goal is to create new categories and spark new demand for our entire ecosystem. That’s what inspires us and motivates us with what we are doing in our devices and hardware."

Apple, Samsung, Asus, Lenovo and Amazon have all outsold Microsoft in the tablet category for the last two years.

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Research firm IDC shows that the Surface tablet range took just 1.5% of global tablet shipments in the first three months of 2014.That’s just 640,000 units, down 1.8% from the same time last year.

Nadella branded the Surface Pro 3 as the "laptop replacement" – and compared to it Apple’s lightweight Macbooks rather than a tablet.

Surface Pro 3 specifications:

The Surface Pro 3 has a 12-inch ClearType Full HD display with a 2,160 x 1,440 resolution, and comes with the option of an Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 processor. 4GB or 8GB RAM variants are available, with storage options coming in 64GB, 128GB, 256GB 512GB.


A 5MP camera comes with the Surface Pro 3, and it has a battery life of nine hours at reasonable usage. Ports on the tablet are USB 3.0, microSD card reader, mini DisplayPort, and of course headphone jack and a charging port.

Accessories include exclusive colours in purple, blue, red, cyan, and black, that each cost around £77. A docking station which converts the tablet into a computer costs £119.


292mm x 201.3mm x 9.1mm


800 grams


Screen: 12" ClearType Full HD Plus

Resolution: 2160 x 1440

Aspect Ratio: 3:2

Battery Life

Up to 9 hours of web browsing


64GB or 128GB storage with 4GB RAM

256GB or 512GB storage with 8GB RAM


4th generation Intel Core i3, i5 or i7

TPM Chip for enterprise security


Wireless: Wi-Fi 802.11ac/802.11 a/b/g/n

Bluetooth® 4.0 Low Energy technology


Full-size USB 3.0

microSDcard reader

Headset jack

Mini DisplayPort

Cover port


Windows 8.1 Pro

Cameras, Video and Audio

5.0 megapixel rear-facing camera, 5.0 megapixel front-facing camera

Stereo microphones

Stereo speakers with Dolby sound


Price: Starts at £639

iPad Air

The iPad Air is far lighter than the Surface Pro 3, weighing in at just 469 grams. However, this is mostly because the iPad Air does not have a full USB port, SD card reader and a stand. The iPad’s screen size is 9.7-inch, with 2,048 x 1,536 pixel resolution.

Still living up to its name, the iPad Air is also thinner than the Surface Pro 3, coming in at 7.5 mm.

The iPad Air offers more of a pure tablet experience than the Surface Pro 3, touting portability with barely any compromise on functionality. However, the Surface Pro 3 is close to a laptop replacement, so buyers should be aware of what they want out of their device.

You can’t use the iPad Air as a desktop, unlike the Windows 8.1-running Surface Pro 3, but the 64-bit A7 processor on the iPad does its best to give optimum processing power for size.

In conclusion, the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 offers better performance and functionality, but at the cost of portability and size. If you want to replace either your tablet or laptop, and can afford to splash out some cash, go with the Surface. Apple offers a purer tablet experience with the iPad Air, with an ultra-portable, lightweight model, that still ahs the processing power and memory options to carry out all tasks you can expect to do on a tablet.



169.5mm x 240mm x 7.5mm


469 grams

Display Retina display

9.7-inch (diagonal) LED-backlit Multi‑Touch display with IPS technology

2,048×1,536 resolution at 264 pixels per inch (ppi)

Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating

Battery Life

Up to 10 hours of surfing the web on Wi‑Fi, watching video or listening to music



16, 32, 64 or 128 GB flash memory


A7 chip with 64-bit architecture and M7 motion coprocessor


iOS 7

Cameras, Video and Audio FaceTime HD Camera

1.2MP photo

720p HD video

FaceTime video calling over WiFi or a mobile network

Face detection

Backside illumination

Tap to control exposure for video or still images

Photo and video geotagging

Video Recording

1080p HD

video recording

Video stabilisation

Face detection

Tap to focus while recording

Backside illumination

3x video zoom


Price: Around £399



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