iPad Pro vs. Surface Go for Professional Use

I am using Apple products for more than a decade and Apple products were mostly a better choice for me. But as a software engineer, it wasn’t that easy to get over other portable touch-enabled, light-weight computers such as Microsoft Surface Go (which it’s new version just announced).

I was looking for a light portable device to replace my MacBook Pro when travelling. Here are the main features I was looking for:

  1. I need to be able to connect to my servers using SSH anytime from anywhere. (to maintain our running websites or make some changes)
  2. It’s good to be able to replace my notebook at meetings completely with a touch screen and stylus enabled device.
  3. I need a simple code editor with access to my git repositories and the ability to commit and push.
  4. Supporting keyboard and preferably mouse and trackpad is a must.
  5. I’m not primarily looking for the fastest device with highest performance. It is not going to be my main computer.
  6. And the last but not least, I need a device lighter than a 15-inch MacBook Pro to be easier to carry!

The last iPad I had was the legendary iPad 2 from almost a decade ago. Although it’s huge screen was fantastic those days, but to me it was only, well;

That was the main reason that I never convinced to buy any of the new models.

My legendary iPad 2 is working fine as of today! :)

After introducing iPadOS, it started to diverge from being a giant iPhone to a completely new device class between mac and iPhone; which is definitely more interesting. There were some flaws in it such as not natively supporting mouse and trackpad, although you could use a mouse and trackpad by using the touch assistant settings in Accessibility settings on iPad, it wasn’t that user-friendly to be counted.

This all was before the new iPadOS 13.4 update and the new iPad Pro 2020

Surface on the other hand, it’s a nice looking touchscreen device which runs Windows by default, but it supports linux too (which is a very interesting feature). I never own a Microsoft device before and it could be the first one to try. I read a lot about it’s features, benchmarks and reviews to make the comparison easier.

This brought me to this list of pros and cons for both iPad Pro and Surface Go. I didn’t compare them in terms of tech specs because the overall performance is strongly bound to software as well. So I just gone through the features which matter most to me.

Surface Go

Pros:

  • The hardware is able to run Ubuntu linux which was my first choice if I would choose Surface Go.
  • Considering running Ubuntu, I could use almost all softwares that I use on my macOS everyday. (do I really need them on the go?)
  • The stylus is included in the package and I could save 139 Euros just by this.
  • The price is dramatically lower than iPad Pro

Cons:

  • I have an iPhone and a MacBook Pro, I use AirPods as my main earphones and I have my everyday documents in iCloud, disconnecting from Apple ecosystem on-the-go was a no-no for me
  • I was going to replace the original operating system on that device and I wasn’t sure that it could have the desired performance on other operating systems. (In terms of power consumption, hardware support, etc.)
  • In my opinion, Windows is not (yet) touch-friendly (as iPadOS is) and I am quite sure that I would be disappointed if I had to use Windows on my handy portable device for serious work. Of course, I don’t have any idea about touch experience on linux too. So I assume that I won’t have satisfying touch-screen experience on Surface Go.

iPad Pro

Pros:

  • Of course the same ecosystem as my other devices is an important factor.
  • I really liked how iPad Pro and Apple Pencil work together, the performance is just great.
  • The new iPad Pro 2020 (and the 2018 version) have a USB-C port which enables using almost every accessory that I had bought for my MacBook Pro without any upgrades.
  • Support for mouse/trackpad (it used to be listed under iPad Pro cons, but it moved here on iOS 13.4)
  • The iPadOS itself along with it’s multitasking functionalities, split screen, and all the tailored user interactions made it a great device for everyday complex works. (We will discuss this later in details)

Cons:

  • The price is much higher and I needed to purchase an Apple Pencil and later a Magic Keyboard for it separately.
  • I need to pay for some vital apps which their alternative on PC would cost nothing. Such as code editors, Git clients, etc.
  • iPad is not a computer and if I needed to use some lower level features of a computer, there is no way to use iPad for. (But now I can :P Stay tuned for it)

At last, I decided to choose the new iPad Pro 2020, I ordered a cellular model and an Apple Pencil. During the past month, I have prepared it to be able to use it not only while traveling (which it’s not possible due to the COVID-19 situation) but also to use it everyday for my business meetings, server maintenance, browsing web as well as writing this article.

My brand new iPad Pro

I have not received my Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro yet. I will share my experience with it once I used it for some time!

Also I am preparing my next article about the apps that I use and also how I have prepared my iPad to be able to develop web applications, setup and maintain servers or even program Arduino on the go!

Please share your experience if you own either of these devices or if you’ve been luckier to find a better choice!

Stay safe and tuned!

SWE @Facebook, Founder of @YekaStudio and @BeamitDelivery.