Choosing your next tablet without considering one from Microsoft’s Surface Go lineup or an Apple iPad is unrealistic. Microsoft has made great strides with its tablets trying to make up for the Windows smartphone blunder, and who wouldn’t want an iPad? You might know a bit about each, but you’ll find all the relevant info in this Surface Go 2 vs iPad comparison.
Microsoft and Apple are fierce competitors and have been for a long time. The 40-year-old rivalry has always pushed them toward new achievements, so comparing their products with each other has a specific charm. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do.
Product Intro (Surface Go 2 vs iPad)
Surface Go 2
Not the newest from the Surface Go lineup, Microsoft released the Surface Go 2 in 2020. You can choose between two builds depending on the CPU (both Intel) and RAM (4 or 8GB). That’s more than enough for any basic daily task, especially when on the go. A fully loaded, best-build LTE version costs half the price of a fully loaded iPad, and that’s without a keyboard in either case. Keep that in mind.
- Solid in-tier performance
- Built-in stand
- Expandable storage
- 3.5mm jack
- Lower-quality cameras
- Low-quality speakers
The iPad first appeared in 2010. We’ve reached the 10th-gen iPad, and every generation so far has been a great experience. Apple released the latest iPad in 2022, offering it with the A14 Bionic chip, 4GB RAM, and 12MP cameras — both front and back. Its starting price grows quite rapidly as you add features such as cellular or 256 GB storage, additions on the cheap with the superseded Surface Go 2.
- Better display
- Better performance
- Larger built-in storage
- Better cameras
- Less battery life
- Smaller RAM
|Surface Go 2||Specs||iPad|
|10.5” PixelSense||Display||10.9” Liquid Retina|
|1,920 x 1,280 (220 PPI)||Resolution||2,360 x 1,640 (264 PPI)|
|Windows 10 Home S||OS||iPadOS 16|
|Dual-core Intel Pentium Gold Processor 4425Y,|
Dual-core 8th-Gen Intel Core m3 Processor
|CPU||Hexa-core A14 Bionic|
|4GB or 8GB LPDDR3||RAM||4GB LPDDR4X|
|8MP 1080p HD||Rear Camera||12MP Wide camera (4K)|
|5MP 1080p HD||Front Camera||12MP Ultra Wide camera (1080p)|
Up to 11 hours of typical use (Wi-Fi)
Up to 10.5 hours (LTE)
Up to 10 hours of typical use (Wi-Fi)
Up to 9 hours (cellular)
|1 x USB-C|
3.5mm audio jack
1 x Surface Connect
MicroSDXC Card Reader
|9.65 x 6.9 x 0.33”|
(245 x 175 x 8.3mm)
|Dimensions||9.79 x 7.07 x 0.28”|
(248.6 x 179.5 x 7.1mm)
|Wi-Fi – 1.2 lb (544g)|
LTE – 1.22 lb (533g)
|Weight||Wi-Fi – 1.05 lb (477g)|
LTE – 1.06 lb (481g)
|1-year limited hardware warranty||Warranty||1-year limited hardware warranty|
Features Face to Face
Design typically refers to aesthetics, but it means much more here and is definitely in Microsoft’s favor. The Surface Go 2 has a built-in stand that enables you to lean it on itself, freeing your hands to work the screen. That’s without adding a keyboard to the mix. An iPad needs a case or folio keyboard to achieve the same hands-free positioning as the Surface Go 2.
When you look at them from the display side, these devices look fairly similar. Their display bezels are roughly the same size, both are similarly rounded, and both have a front-facing camera positioned in the middle of the screen (landscape orientation). The biggest difference is that the iPad is slightly larger and has a slightly larger display.
Winner: Surface Go 2
Here Apple takes the cake. The iPad’s Liquid Retina Display (LRD) offers a higher resolution and more pixels per inch (PPI). Its colors are more vivid and it’s a nicer display to look at. When you strip away the fancy name and resolution differences, you see that both tablets have LED-backlit touchscreen IPS LCDs. It’s just that Apple’s is better.
Interested in a large screen tablet? Be sure to read our Best Large Screen Tablets guide.
The iPad sounds much better and louder due to its four Landscape Stereo Speakers positioned at the sides. Its microphones are positioned next to each camera. The Surface Go 2 has two 2W stereo speakers with Dolby Audio Premium, but they don’t sound half as good as Apple’s iPad. Even older iPad models sound much better than the Surface Go 2.
Hardware & Performance
Performance is on Apple’s side. The A14 Bionic has six cores, plus four GPU cores and a 16-core Neural Engine packed into it together with 4GB RAM. Windows opted for Intel chips, both dual-core. The Surface Go 2 had two versions according to RAM as well, with 4 or 8GB.
Benchmark results showcase an obvious win for the iPad, with the A14 Bionic outperforming the Intel m3 by 197% and the Intel Pentium 4425Y by 407%. That’s quite a difference, and it justifies the price discrepancy if you ask me.
One thing I’ve never liked about iPads is their lack of memory card support. What you buy at first is what you live with. The latest iPad comes with 64GB or 256GB. In comparison, the Surface Go 2 has 64GB or 128GB, so less at most, except that you can add up to 2TB to your Surface Go 2 by inserting a MicroSD card. You might not need that much storage, but having the option to expand is great!
Winner: Surface Go 2
Is 64GB enough? Find out in our dedicated guide.
Software, OS, and User Interface (UI)
While many apps are cross-platform, keep in mind that these devices offer pretty different environments. To start with, the Surface Go 2 is a Microsoft Windows 10 S device. The “S” signals that you can only install apps from the Microsoft Store, effectively limiting what your tablet can do.
Thankfully, it’s simple to switch out of S mode and use the full potential of Windows 10 on your Surface Go 2 but there’s a catch. The Surface Go 2 is not a very powerful device, and it gets sluggish even when you open too many tabs in your browser or try to enter fullscreen mode on YouTube, let alone with more resource-demanding apps.
The iPad doesn’t have these issues. On the contrary, it turned out to be much faster. The iPad runs on iPadOS 16.3 (currently). No need to unlock it or switch out of anything, all the potential is already there. Nevertheless, you are limited to Apple’s App Store. Not to say that’s a bad thing. If you’re an Apple user, you’ll feel right at home on an iPad.
Another no-doubt win for Apple. The latest iPad features a 12MP Wide rear camera capable of recording 4K video. Its front camera records 1080p video and is a 12MP Ultra Wide camera. In comparison, the Surface Go 2 has an 8MP rear camera and a 5MP front camera (both 1080p). They will get you through your day but they are a far cry from Apple’s.
Accessories & Peripherals
The Surface Go 2 was envisioned as a 2-in-1 device, so you’re going to need a keyboard to take full advantage of its potential. That’s not to say you can’t use it as a tablet only. The iPad isn’t primarily meant to be used with a keyboard. Still, you can attach a folio Magic Keyboard, turning this exceptionally powerful tablet into a very usable workstation, more so than the Surface Go 2.
Both tablets support styluses as well. The iPad supports the 1st-gen Apple Pencil, while the Surface Go 2 supports a variety of styluses. Microsoft’s Surface Pen costs about as much as the 1st-gen Apple Pencil, but there are much cheaper alternatives. The iPad has a single USB-C port, so if you want to hook up more than one peripheral, you’ll need a dock or adapter.
The Surface Go 2, even with its limitations, offers more connection options, including a 3.5mm audio jack, something I’m a big fan of. Nevertheless, it also has only one USB-C port.
Winner: Surface Go 2
Also Read: Our 12 Best Tablets With Keyboards guide.
Both tablets offer similar batteries, with 8,000mAh and up to 11 hours of typical use on your Wi-Fi connection (Surface Go 2) or 10.5 hours on a cellular connection. Apple lists 10 (Wi-Fi) and nine hours (cellular) for its iPad. Keep in mind that this varies depending on how you use your tablet.
Winner: Surface Go 2
Surface Go 2 vs iPad – Quality and Reliability
Warranty & Customer Support
Upon first purchase, you get a one-year limited hardware warranty from Apple and Microsoft. You can extend either through subscription-based warranty deals. Keep in mind that the Surface Go 2 is a discontinued device and that most available units are renewed or refurbished, changing the warranty you’ll receive.
When first released, the Surface Go 2 was priced close to the iPad at around $750. Now, a 128GB Core m3 Surface Go 2 with 8GB RAM and LTE goes for less than half of that. A 64GB iPad with 5G costs more than the Surface Go 2. A 256GB iPad with 5G costs more than double what you would pay for a Surface Go 2 today. Considering how powerful the iPad is, I’d say the price is fair.
You won’t go wrong with either of these two tablets, but the iPad is the more powerful and less sluggish. Using it is seamless, while using the Surface Go 2 feels hindered. You’re always waiting for something. But the Surface Go 2 is priced lower because of these limitations and has been replaced by the next Surface Go tablet. I hope you enjoyed reading my Surface Go 2 vs iPad comparison as much as I enjoyed writing it.