Surface Go 3 vs. iPad (2021): Battle of the Cheap Tablets | digital trends (2023)

at the beginning of this year,we made a comparisonbetween the original Surface Go and the basic iPad of the previous generation. BothGarbagemimicrosoftthey've updated their entry-level tablets, so we thought it would be appropriate to compare their latest offerings.


  • design and portability
  • Performance
  • iPadOS versus Windows 11
  • value proposal

When we talk about the announcement ofgo to surface 3, we told you it could be a compelling alternative to the new basic $329 iPad. Starting at $400, the Surface Go 3 costs $70 more than the iPad. It's worth it?

design and portability

Surface Go 3 vs. iPad (2021): Battle of the Cheap Tablets | digital trends (1)

Both the Surface Go 3 and iPad 2021 retain the same basic design as their predecessors. In contrast to theIpad mini, the regular iPad doesn't have any of the fancy new features like the boxy chassis, support for the second-generation Apple Pencil, or USB-C connectivity. The Surface Go 3, on the other hand, includes USB-C (though not Thunderbolt 4 like itsBig Brother). That USB-C port on the Surface Go 3 makes it a lot more versatile than the entry-level iPad, which still has a single Lightning connector.


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While the basic iPad screen isn't quite as pretty as the more expensive models, it still has a sharp 2160 x 1620 resolution at 264 pixels per inch. Surface Go has a 1920 x 1280 display with a pixel density of 220 pixels per inch.

Carrying those two pills shouldn't be a problem. The iPad costs £1.07 for the Wi-Fi model and £1.09 for the cellular models. The Surface Go is a bit heavier, coming in at 1.2 pounds. This doesn't include the included accessories, but using them as tablets shouldn't be a problem. Anyone who has to carry a tablet around all day, especially when on their feet, should probably take a look at the iPad Mini.

Surface Go 3 vs. iPad (2021): Battle of the Cheap Tablets | digital trends (2)

Speaking of accessories, both tablets can be equipped with certain add-ons to increase functionality. The Smart Connector on the side makes iPad compatible with Apple's Smart Cover and Smart Keyboard. Surface Go 3 is compatible with Microsoft's Surface Type Cover to provide keyboard functionality. Each tablet also has its own pen input required with Apple Pencil (1st generation) and Surface Pen.

It should be noted that there is no cellular option for the Surface Go 3. The iPad is the only one that supports LTE connectivity on the go. For those who prefer Microsoft, theSuperficie ProXAnd what do you want.


Surface Go 3 vs. iPad (2021): Battle of the Cheap Tablets | digital trends (3)

Our previous evaluation showed that Apple's in-house silicon outperforms Intel's modest offerings, and still holds up. The base iPad has Apple's A13 Bionic, which was originally found in the iPhone 11 series. The Surface Go has either a dual-core 10th-generation Intel Pentium Gold 6500Y or a dual-core Core i3-10100Y. The latest processor is based on the Amber Lake 2018 and features Intel's HD Graphics 615 GPU.

Unsurprisingly, the 2018 CPU doesn't compare to Apple's 2019 system-on-a-chip. It's been hard to find exact benchmarks for the 10100Y, but since it uses an older chipset, we can use its cousin closest, which is the Core i5-8200Y for comparison. This CPU scored 900 points in single-core performance, compared to the A13's score of 1335. Similarly, Apple's multicore score of 3427 beats that of the 1934 i5-8200Y.

It should be noted that both the 8200Y and 10100Y are dual-core CPUs, while the A13 Bionic is a six-core processor. This explains why the multicore score was so skewed. So if you're looking for performance, the iPad is a no-brainer. Apple's silicon can handle heavy workloads like video editing with ease, while the Surface Go 3 is likely to handle lighter loads.

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iPadOS versus Windows 11

Surface Go 3 vs. iPad (2021): Battle of the Cheap Tablets | digital trends (4)

Admittedly, this is probably a preference, as both operating systems are suited to slightly different uses. Apple's iPadOS diverged slightly from conventional iOS for smartphones to create more specialized features for the larger form factor. the last iteration,iPad 15 operating system, Add moreMultitask-Manageincluding the ability to have multiple browser windows side by side. There's also a sturdier mouse mount for those who want more precise input.

Windows 11 underwent major design changes to allow for more touch input. It's almost the opposite of what Apple is doing with iPadOS. Microsoft has increased the touch targets to make the user interface more finger-friendly in general. Touch window handling has also been greatly improved, which is important for a touch-enabled device like the Surface Go 3. All the updates to Windows 11 finally make the Surface line your true potential.

Surface Go 3 runs on Windows 11 Home in S mode. This limits app downloads to the Microsoft Store only. Similarly, iPad apps can only be officially downloaded from the Apple App Store. However, Apple benefits from thousands of apps designed from the ground up for the iPad. That gives the iPad an edge when it comes to dedicated apps, but with the arrival of the Amazon App Store in Windows 11, Surface Go 3 users will have a host of additional Android apps at their disposal.

Let's not forget that Windows 11 is a complete desktop operating system. Although the Surface Go 3 ships in S mode, it can be turned off, allowing you to install almost any Windows app. It also means users aren't constrained by iPadOS's limited window management; While it's better than before, it still doesn't offer the same flexibility as Windows.

value proposal

Surface Go 3 vs. iPad (2021): Battle of the Cheap Tablets | digital trends (5)

Apple's ecosystem is partly what gives Apple its advantage in the mobile market. When you buy an iPad, you get a whole marketplace of third-party Bluetooth keyboards, cases, and more. Additionally, iPads benefit from the massive vertical integration of all of their Apple products, making them work well with other Apple products.

Of course, this is probably subjective to everyone. The benefits of the Apple ecosystem are very real, but they only affect those who have already invested in it. Those who use Amazon Echo devices and/or Google devices and Android smartphones would probably benefit more from the Surface Go 3, unless they prefer iPad performance.

Price is also a big concern for many as these two tablets have to compete on the more affordable front. The 2021 iPad starts at $329, but can go as high as $479 for a 256GB Wi-Fi model or $609 for the LTE model. Surface Go 3 starts at $400 for the Pentium 6500Y model with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of eMMC storage. This can be configured up to a Core i3 with 8GB of RAM and 128GB for $630. The 256GB option is only available to business customers.

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The prices may seem reasonable, but please note that the cost of necessary accessories such as keyboards and dockable pens are not included. The Surface Type Cover is usually a must for a Surface tablet, though Windows 11 can make it easier to use without it.

Apple's entry-level iPad offers a lot of value in the form of its low cost combined with high performance and optional cellular connectivity. Those who haven't invested in Apple's ecosystem probably aren't missing out on much by opting for the Surface Go 3. In fact, the Surface Go 3 could be a great value for those who need a proper desktop operating system and all the flexibility. that comes with it.

Surface Go 3 vs. iPad (2021): Battle of the Cheap Tablets | digital trends (6)

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