iPad Pro 2022 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 9: Which one should you buy?

iPad Pro 2022 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 9
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The iPad Pro 2022 and Microsoft Surface Pro 9 are both releasing the week of October 24. This will no doubt be an interesting match-up between Apple and Microsoft's flagship tablets. While the Surface Pro 9 is marketed as a 2-in-1 Windows laptop, the iPad Pro is a tablet at its core. But since you can purchase a decent detachable keyboard for each, the two devices could potentially stand alongside (or even replace) the best 2-in-1 laptops.

We have enough official information about the iPad Pro 2022 and Surface Pro 9 to gauge their potential strengths and weaknesses. Or to be more accurate, to start determining which of the devices you may want to purchase.

Here's how the iPad Pro 2022 and Microsoft Surface Pro 9 stack up against one another.

iPad Pro 2022 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 9: Release date and price 

The iPad Pro 2022 is currently available to preorder from Apple's website. It will release on October 26.

The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at $799/£899/AU$1,399. The iPad Pro 12.9-inch costs $1,099/£1,249/AU$1,399 for the Wi-Fi model.

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

Microsoft Event

The Surface Pro 9 releases a day before the iPad Pro 2022. (Image credit: Microsoft)

The Microsoft Surface Pro 9 will be available for purchase on October 25th with a starting price of $999/£1,099/AU$1,649 for the Intel version. The model powered by Microsoft's Qualcomm SQ3 SoC (System on Chip) costs $1,299/£1,299/AU$2,599. You can pre-order one right now via Microsoft's website.

For a limited time, you may also be able to pick up a special edition of the Pro 9 (and matching keyboard) with a laser-etched blue floral pattern. Created in conjunction with London-based design house Liberty to mark 10 years of Surface hardware, this model is no different from any other Surface Pro 9 save for the cosmetic differences.

It's worth keeping an eye out for launch promotions, or if you aren't keen to shell out for a full-priced device, wait a little while and check our Microsoft promo codes for an offer that applies to the Surface Pro 9.

iPad Pro 2022 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 9: Design 

The iPad Pro 2022 series sports an identical design to the previous models, and unfortunately the beautiful mini-LED display remains limited to the 12.9-inch model. 

You'll get the same narrow bezels around the display and lightweight designs. The iPad Pro 11-inch weighs 1.04 pounds and the 12.9-inch model is 1.51 pounds.

iPad Pro 2022 11-inch and 12.9-inch models

Design-wise, the iPad Pro 2022 is very similar to the previous model. (Image credit: Apple)

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.

Color options include Platinum, Graphite, Sapphire and Forest – with the latter three colors only available on Wi-Fi models with more than 128GB of storage.

iPad Pro 2022 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 9: Display 

The 11-inch iPad Pro 2022 sports a Liquid Retina display with 2,388 x 1,668 resolution, while the 12.9-inch version bumps that up to 2,732 x 2,048 and includes a 2D backlighting system with 2596 full-array local dimming zones. 

Both are 120Hz ProMotion displays, and that's important because a 120Hz display can refresh (that is, render a new frame on-screen) up to 120 times per second. The more often your screen refreshes itself the more often it polls for input and responds to that input, which can translate into scrolling and writing (with a stylus or your finger) that feels smoother and more responsive.

Microsoft Event

The Surface Pro 9 has a 13-inch (2,880 X 1,920) 120Hz touch display with a 3:2 aspect ratio. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Like its predecessor, the Surface Pro 9 features a 13-inch (2,880 X 1,920) touch display with a 3:2 aspect ratio. Like the iPads, it too is a 120Hz screen.

New features should enable Microsoft’s slate to better emulate writing with pen and paper. A 720p webcam, omnisonic speakers, directional microphones and Microsoft’s custom G6 chip work together to deliver tactile feedback when writing on the screen. Other features such as Ink Focus in Microsoft OneNote and the new GoodNotes app for Windows 11 supposedly help emulate a more realistic writing experience.

iPad Pro 2022 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 9: Specs 

The new iPad Pro 2022 features an M2 chip, which packs an 8-core CPU that's up to 15% faster than the M1 and a 10-core GPU, which is up to 35% faster. The 16-core Neural Engine can process up to 15.8 trillion operations per second, which is 40% faster than M1, which means better performance for machine learning tasks. 

You get 100GB/s of unified memory bandwidth — 50 percent more than M1 — and the new iPad Pro supports up to 16GB of fast unified memory. All of this power is designed to help with pro-level workflows, including photopraphy, designers, video editors and more. The iPad Pro 2022 is the first iPad that can record ProRes video, and you can transcode ProRes video 3x faster.

an image of a person using an Apple iPad Pro 2022

The iPad Pro 2022 packs the M2 chip, which should make it the most powerful Apple tablet to date. (Image credit: Apple)

The Surface Pro 9 comes with either a 12th gen Intel Core “Alder Lake” processor or a Microsoft SQ3 CPU powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon tech.

Configurations with Alder Lake chips are meant to handle large workloads. According to Microsoft, the Surface Pro 9 offers up to 50% more performance than the Surface Pro 8 thanks to Intel’s latest CPU. Thunderbolt 4 functionality allows for rapid data transfer, docking to multiple 4K displays or support for external graphics cards.

Models with a Microsoft SQ3 processor feature 5G connectivity and have up to 19 hours of battery life, according to Microsoft. The company also says the processor has new AI features that are made possible via a new Neural Processing Unit (NPU). The NPU in Surface Pro 9 is capable of over 15 trillion calculations per second, says Microsoft.

Surface Pro 9 models with Intel chips pack up to 32GB of RAM and up to 1TB of SSD storage. 5G models have up to 16GB of RAM and up 512GB of (removable) SSD.

iPad Pro 2022 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 9: Accessories

As with its predecessor and the iPad Air, the iPad Pro 2022 is compatible with the Apple Magic Keyboard and the Apple Pencil 2. Both peripherals are sold separately.

The Surface Pro 9 is compatible with Microsoft’s Surface Pro, Surface Pro X, Surface Pro Signature and Surface Pro X Signature keyboards. It’s also compatible with the Surface Slim Pen 2, which you can store and charge within the aforementioned keyboards. Unfortunately, you’ll have to purchase these peripherals separately since they don’t appear to come bundled with the Surface Pro 9.

iPad Pro 2022 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 9: Cameras

The iPad Pro 2022 series comes with a Pro camera system that consists of wide and ultra-wide cameras. The 12MP wide camera has a f/1.8 aperture, and the 10MP ultra-wide camera has a f/2.4 aperture and a 125-degree field of view. There's no telephoto zoom, and digital zoom goes to just 5x.

The camera system uses a 5-element lens for both cameras, and there's a brighter two-tone flash. Video recording is available up to 4K at 60 fps, and there's support for ProRes recording at 4K up to 30 fps. 

Microsoft Event

The Surface Pro 9 has standard features such as auto-framing. (Image credit: Microsoft)

The Surface Pro 9 features a pair of cameras. The front-facing camera features Full HD 1080p video. Over on the back, you'll find a 10MP rear-facing autofocus camera that's capable of recording videos at 1080p and 4K.

iPad Pro 2022 vs Microsoft Surface Pro 9: Outlook 

Deciding between the new iPad Pro 2022 and Microsoft Surface Pro 9 is both straightforward and complex. If you're an Apple fan, you'll no doubt choose the company's premium tablet, if for no other reason than because you likely already have a lot of apps, photos and other personal data tied up in Apple's ecosystem. Conversely, if you fancy Windows or have a lot of personal investment in Microsoft's ecosystem (OneNote, Outlook etc) you'll probably go with the Surface Pro 9.

Things get a bit trickier if we look at what each device has to offer. Keyboard peripherals allow you to use the tablets as pseudo laptops, while their respective pens let you write or draw on them. You can use each for video conferencing and both are suitable for watching streaming content. In short, the slates share many similarities.

Performance could be the deciding factor here, but we'll need to test both tablets ourselves to see which is objectively more powerful. However, as we said above, even that may not matter to folks who are locked into a specific ecosystem.

So which is best for you? The short answer is whichever one you want more, because at first blush these two tablets are pretty comparable specs-wise. Real-world performance will be the deciding factor, and we'll wait until we've tested and reviewed the iPad Pro 2022 and Microsoft Surface Pro 9 release to determine which is the more performant Pro tablet. Stay tuned!

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.