iPad Pro 2022 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 9: Which tablet is right for you?

iPad Pro 2022 vs Surface Pro 9
(Image credit: Future)

The Apple iPad Pro 2022 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 9 discussion is one we’ve engaged in even well before the devices were officially announced. Each of the respective companies’ flagship tablets offers the key features you’d expect from a modern slate, including portability and intuitive touch-based functionality. The tablets can also serve as decent productivity machines, allowing you to use them as laptops.

Deciding whether to get the iPad Pro 2022 or Microsoft Surface Pro 9 is an easy decision for those who are entrenched within a company’s ecosystem. If you own devices like the best Apple Watch, best iPads, best iPhones or best MacBooks, then you’d probably opt for the iPad Pro 2022. Conversely, if you’re into Windows and are invested in apps like OneNote and Outlook, then the Surface Pro 9 is for you.

However, if you just want an all-around solid device irrespective of its manufacturer, then choosing which one to get can be somewhat tricky.

We reviewed both the iPad Pro 2022 and Microsoft Surface Pro 9. The former features a 12.9-inch XDR display, 16GB of RAM, 1TB of storage and 5G connectivity, while the latter has a Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, Wi-Fi connectivity and 256GB of SSD storage. As configured, our review units cost $1,999 and $1,599 (respectively).

Since we’ve reviewed each device, we’re able to provide you with all the crucial information you need to make an informed purchasing decision. Should you get Apple or Microsoft’s tablet? Read on to find out.

iPad Pro 2022 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 9: Specs

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iPad Pro 2022 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 9
Header Cell - Column 0 iPad Pro 2022 (12.9 inch)Microsoft Surface Pro 9
Price$1,099 for Wi-Fi model | $1,299 for Wi-Fi + Cellular model$999 (starting)
OSiPadOS 16Windows 11
CPUApple M212th gen Intel Core
RAM8GB RAM (128GB-512GB models), 16GB RAM (1TB-2TB models) 8GB - 32GB (LPDDR5 RAM)
Storage128GB-2TB128GB - 1TB
Display12.9 inches (2732 x 2048 pixels)13-inch (2880 X 1920) PixelSense Flow Display
PortsThunderbolt 4/USB-C2 Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports, 1 Surface Connect port, 1 Surface Keyboard port
Rear Cameras12MP wide, 10MP ultra-wide10MP
Front Cameras12MP TrueDepth1080p
Battery Life10 hours 39 minutes10 hours
Size 11.04 x 8.46 x 0.25 inches11.3 x 8.2 x 0.37 inches
Weight1.5 pounds (Wi-Fi) | 1.51 pounds (Wi-Fi Cellular)1.94 pounds

iPad Pro 2022 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 9: Price

The new iPad Pro 2022 is now available from the Apple online store. The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $799/£899/AU$1,399 while the 12.9-inch iPad Pro costs $1,099/£1,249/AU$1,399, though as these are entry-level models they'll only offer Wi-Fi connectivity.

If you want Wi-Fi + Cellular, the 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $999/£899AU$1,399. The 12-inch Wi-Fi + Cellular model starts at $1,299/£1,429/AU$2,149.

Note that the Apple Pencil 2nd gen ($129) and Magic Keyboard ($349) are sold separately and add significantly to the cost.

iPad Pro 2022

The iPad Pro 2022 has the same pricing as last year's model. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Microsoft Surface Pro 9 is available to purchase from the Microsoft Store with a starting price of $999 /£1,099/AU$1,649. This configuration features a 12th gen Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of SSD memory and Wi-Fi connectivity.

You can also get the aforementioned ARM version for $1,299 /£1,299/AU$2,599. It features a Microsoft SQ3 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD and 5G connectivity.

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 hands-on

The Surface Pro 9 starts at $999 for the Intel version. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The devices have comparable prices. The entry-level iPad Pro is $100 more than the Surface Pro 9 starting configuration. Each has 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. If we factor the cost of peripherals, the iPad Pro jumps to $1,577 while the Surface Pro 9 goes up to $1,278. Based on price alone, the Surface Pro 9 could be more enticing to budget-mind folks.

iPad Pro 2022 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 9: Design 

Design-wise, the iPad Pro 2022 is indistinguishable from the iPad Pro 2021 and iPad Pro 2020. This isn’t a negative since its thin bezels and sleek machined aluminum chassis remain as striking as ever. Space Gray and Silver are the only two available colors. This could be a negative for those who wanted the iPad Pro to feature as many color options as the new iPad 2022.

The iPad Pro 2022 measures 11.04 x 8.46 x 0.25 inches and weighs 1.5 pounds, which is exactly the same as last year’s model. The Magic Keyboard bumps the weight up to 3 pounds, which is just a smidge heavier than the MacBook Air 2022 and Dell XPS 13 OLED 2022, which weigh 2.7 pounds each.

Nothing has changed with regard to buttons and ports. There’s a button along the top right edge (when the iPad is held vertically like a sheet of paper) for locking the screen and using Touch ID, two buttons on the right side to raise or lower the volume and a single Thunderbolt 4/USB-C port on the bottom edge of the device.

iPad Pro 2022 vs Surface Pro 9

(Image credit: Future)

Microsoft didn’t alter the Surface Pro 9’s design in any significant way. To put it more bluntly, this year’s model is exactly the same as its predecessor. We're not exactly opposed to the design since it's still sleek and practical. But it is somewhat boring.

Both Surface Pro 9 models (with and without 5G) measure 11.3 x 8.2 x 0.37 inches and weigh 1.94 pounds. They feature an anodized aluminum body, with a kickstand on the back of the device and a magnetic attach for the keyboard. As before, the Surface Pro 9 is small and light enough to carry around wherever you go.

Color options include Platinum, Graphite, Sapphire and Forest, with the latter three colors only available on Wi-Fi models.

Both devices retain the same form factor as their predecessors — which is to say they look as good now as they always have. However, you could be disappointed if you wanted something different. So in these respects, both the iPad Pro and Surface Pro 9 are equal.

iPad Pro 2022 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 9: Display 

The iPad Pro 2022 we reviewed has a gigantic 12.9-inch mini-LED display with a resolution of 2,732 x 2,048 pixels and up to a 120Hz refresh rate. That’s a lot of screen space for watching your favorite YouTube videos or Netflix shows. And if you’re enjoying HDR content, the gorgeous XDR display makes everything on the screen look even better.

Like the Microsoft Surface Pro 8, the Surface Pro 9 has a 13-inch PixelSense Flow display (2880 X 1920) with a 120Hz refresh rate and 3:2 aspect ratio. The display won’t blow you away but it’s good enough for whatever you watching or working on.

Per our brightness test that involves using a light meter, the iPad Pro tops out at 586 nits with adaptive brightness off. Conversely, the Surface Pro 9’s display achieves an average of 431.6 nits and hits 447 nits around the center of the screen.

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 hands-on

The Microsoft Surface Pro 9 has a 13-inch PixelSense Flow display (2880 X 1920). (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The new iPad Pro’s XDR screen uses local dimming zones for its 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio. Because of that, we looked at how bright smaller regions of the display would get. In our testing, 10% and 40% portions of the iPad Pro 2021's display rated at 1,409 and 1,577 nits, respectively, while the full-screen HDR brightness hit 1,290 nits.

Color-wise, the iPad Pro’s display covered 117.1% of the sRGB color gamut and 82.4% of the more demanding DCI-P3 color space (the closer to 100%, the better). These averages are above the Surface Pro 9's, which achieved 106.1% of the sRGB color gamut and 75.1% of the DCI-P3 color gamut.

In short, the iPad Pro has a brighter and more colorful screen than the Surface Pro 9. HDR also makes Apple's device the winner in this category.

iPad Pro 2022 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 9: Performance 

The iPad Pro 2022 packs the company’s M2 chip while the Surface Pro 9 we reviewed has a 12th gen Intel Core i7 mobile CPU.

On Geekbench 5.4, which measures overall performance, the iPad 2022 scored 1,862 on the single-core portion and 8,500 on the multi-core test. In contrast, the Surface Pro 9 scored 1,633 and 8,541 (respectively).

In our Adobe Premiere Rush video transcoding test, the new iPad Pro took 23 seconds to complete the task. while the M1-powered iPad Air took 22 seconds. It’s somewhat strange that the M2-driven tablet is a hair slower in this test.

The Surface Pro 9 transcoded a 4K video to 1080p using Handbrake in 9 minutes and 34 seconds, which surpasses the time it took the Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 7 to complete the same task (12:18). The Surface Pro 8 took a leisurely 13 minutes and 30 seconds, in comparison.

iPad Pro 2022

Genshin Impact runs smoothly on the iPad Pro 2022. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

We played Genshin Impact on the iPad Pro and found it an overall smooth experience. We saw no perceptible frame rate drops, even during the middle of a battle. Genshin Impact is one of the more graphically demanding games on the App Store, so it’s good to see the iPad Pro 2022 handle it with ease.

On the Surface Pro 9, Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering Storm averaged a pathetic 24 fps at 1080p resolution and an even worse 17 fps at 1920p. Because Microsoft’s machine relies on Intel Iris Xe graphics instead of a discreet graphics card, you’re going to have a rough time playing games locally on the device.

Based on the Geekbench test, the tablets have relatively similar performance metrics. However, this isn’t an indication that these machines offer the same performance across the board. In my own testing, I found no perceptible difference between the two tablets when watching videos or web browsing.

iPad Pro 2022 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 9: Accessories 

The Apple Magic Keyboard ($349) and Apple Pencil 2 ($129) are two useful peripherals for the iPad Pro. The former gives the iPad Pro laptop-like functionality while the latter allows you to write or draw on the tablet.

The Magic Keyboard’s base is sturdy and keeps the tablet in place no matter how hard you type. The floating cantilever design allows you to get the perfect viewing angle.

iPad Pro 2022

Writing with the Apple Pencil is (almost) as good as writing on paper. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The keyboard itself has enough space to let you type comfortably for hours, while the trackpad is both smooth and responsive.

As always, our main complaint about these peripherals is their respective prices. Shelling out an additional $478 (before taxes) stings after you’ve already purchased an expensive tablet.

The Surface Pro Signature Keyboard with Slim Pen 2 is sold separately for $279 on the Microsoft Store.

As with last year’s model, we found the Signature Pro Keyboard to be a vital peripheral. Its keyboard and trackpad are both equally as responsive.

Though some may find the keyboard too flimsy, the keys produce a satisfying click when pressed and they also have a good amount of resistance.

Microsoft Surface Pro 9 hands-on

The Surface Pro Signature Keyboard and Slim Pen 2 are great, if pricy, peripherals for the Surface Pro 9. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Slim Pen 2 is as good now as ever. Its haptic motors do an admirable job of imitating what it’s like to write on actual paper. While you could argue that the thicker and heavier Apple Pencil feels more like an actual pencil than the Slim Pen 2, Microsoft’s faux-pen works as well as intended.

I find Apple's peripherals better than Microsoft's due to their sturdier build quality. However, they're priced much higher. But either way, you'll need to pay more for these peripherals no matter which device you get.

iPad Pro 2022 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 9: Cameras 

The new iPad Pro’s cameras are exactly the same as last year’s model. That’s both a positive and a negative, depending on your expectations.

If you’re inclined to take selfies with a tablet, you’ll be happy to know the iPad Pro’s 12MP front-facing camera will make you look your best. This is also true when video conferencing with co-workers, friends or family members. The 12MP camera on the back also takes solid photos.

In our review, we used the rear camera to take a photo of Manhattan from a rooftop in Long Island City. Even on a cloudy day, the camera delivered an impressive image that was almost good enough to hang on the wall.

The only bummer is that the front camera is positioned on the short edge of the tablet's display. We'd prefer the camera to be on the longer side, which would be easier for video calls, especially with the Magic Keyboard attached to the iPad Pro 2022.

iPad Pro 2022

The iPad Pro's rear cameras take great photos, even when it's cloudy outdoors. (Image credit: Future)

The Surface Pro 9 features a fairly crisp 1080p front-facing camera that will help you look good on calls. It also packs a decent 10MP camera on the rear if you’d like to take photos with this machine.

We tried both cameras in our office and found them adept at capturing images and video. We were particularly impressed by the 1080p front camera, which did a good job of capturing skin tones. The rear camera was almost as good, though the image quality appeared somewhat grainy and washed out compared to the front camera.

The camera quality of both devices seemed comparable to me so it's difficult to determine a winner in this category. So long as you have half-way decent lighting, photos and videos will look good on either slate.

iPad Pro 2022 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 9: Outlook 

Given how similar both devices are in terms of overall features, it's difficult to recommend one over the other to the average person.

Both are great for watching videos, browsing the web or video conferencing. They also each have solid touch screens you can draw or write on. Though we gave the iPad Pro 2022 a higher score than the Surface Pro 9, the latter isn't objectively a bad machine, even if its design is getting stale.

So which is best for you? If you’re on a budget, the Surface Pro 9 is the go-to option, even with peripherals included. If you want an HDR-capable display for watching videos, then the iPad Pro is the better bet. And if you’re married to a specific ecosystem, get the corresponding tablet.

Tony Polanco
Computing Writer

Tony is a computing writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on X/Twitter. His non-nerdy pursuits involve attending Hard Rock/Heavy Metal concerts and going to NYC bars with friends and colleagues. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.