The Microsoft Surface Pro 7 is arguably the most promising productivity-focused tablet available right now mainly because of its Windows 10 OS and a form factor that is easy to carry around. While it is an outstanding device for those who need it, there are plenty of people who want an alternative, maybe for the added cost of its essential accessories or for the lack of a modern design.
Whatever the case may be, there are quite a few tablets up for sale right now that are capable of catering to a variety of users and their equally varied needs.
Here are the best Surface Pro alternatives across platforms—Windows, iOS, and Android—that you can consider.
The Best Alternatives with Windows
It is particularly hard to find an OS that can help get work done better than Windows on a tablet form factor. What you get with Windows is a full-fledged desktop-class operating system that can potentially take up anything you might want to throw at it. If Surface Pro is not what you want, there are a handful of products that you can look at.
Microsoft Surface Pro 6
Now that Microsoft has launched the Surface Pro 7, the last year’s Pro model becomes its best alternative by default. Frankly, you’re unlikely to find a difference between the two, both in terms of looks and their performance, unless you’re eagle-eyed or your work heavily depends on processor cores. Interestingly, we found out that the Pro 6 offered a marginally better battery life than its follow-up in our standard battery test, but your mileage may vary.
Usually, Microsoft discontinues the previous-gen Surface model after a new iteration is out, but you can still find the Surface Pro 6 retailing at many stores both online and offline, especially in regions where the device gained a lot of popularity. With this, you’re also likely to strike a better deal considering it’s now almost a year-old model. But you’ll still need to buy its essential accessories separately, which further drives up the cost, like it’s been the case with the Pro range.
You can look elsewhere if having a USB Type-C port is a must, but for everything else, the Surface Pro 6 is a great pick.
Microsoft Surface Pro X
To put it in the shortest possible sentence, the Surface Pro X denotes the future of the Surface Pro series, particularly in terms of design. It is possibly one of the lightest 13-inch tablets, which measures just 7.3mm in thickness. Thanks to its thin bezels, the Pro X comes with a design that everyone expected for the standard Surface Pro 7. Nevertheless, Microsoft has made some interesting choices for the accompanying Surface Pen that now charges wirelessly and has a new resting place.
What makes the Surface Pro X such a unique product is its ARM processor that Microsoft has developed in partnership with Qualcomm. The main benefit of this class of processor is that you get integrated LTE support on a Windows 10 machine, which is easier said than done with Intel chips. However, since the platform is fairly new for Windows, only a handful of first-party apps are supported while the popular ones like Photoshop, Premiere Pro, and most games won’t work on the Pro X. You’re better off with the full-fledged Surface Pro 7 or the newest iPad Pro.
Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 3i
To rival the Surface Go 2, Lenovo has got the IdeaPad Duet 3i, which works more or less in a similar way. You’re getting a 10.3-inch IPS panel in 16:10 aspect ratio found on more traditional laptops. The 600-gram tablet has a metal kickstand to let it stay upright without any support, while you can also attach a keyboard to type and use the pointer function if you’re tired of poking the screen.
What’s interesting is that you can use the keyboard with the tablet even when they aren’t physically connected, allowing you a bit more freedom on how you want to use the slate. The Duet 3i runs on an Intel Pentium chip and supports up to 8GB of RAM along with 128GB of storage. It’s also got dual stereo speakers and optional LTE connectivity. Its Digital Pen and the keyboard attachment must be purchased separately. We’re yet to review this device and will update this portion with any relevant update when we do review it.
Microsoft Surface Go 2
If the first-gen Surface Go was good, the second-gen model is even better. While still keeping its compact body, the Surface Go 2 gets a tad bigger 10.5-inch panel, giving you thinner bezels and an overall better tablet to look at. The biggest upgrade was on the inside as Microsoft now allows you to configure the tablet with a Core m3 processor for much better performance over the previous model.
Since the 2020 model retains its dimensions, older accessories, including the keyboard and the Surface Pen, will also work with it. You can optionally get the 4G-enabled model for on-the-go connectivity. For those unaware, the Surface Go 2 keeps the same high-end metal build and kickstand from the Pro models. So, if you don’t want to spend a small fortune on the Surface Pro 7 but would like to have a similar premium feel, Microsoft’s own Surface Go 2 is your best bet.
The Best Alternatives with iOS
Apple iPad is undoubtedly the most popular tablet in the market and with its expansive product portfolio, the company now caters to almost every market tier. The iPad not only has a superior selection of apps available via the App Store, but it also comes with the most extensive software support from the company. Check out our recommendations for the best Surface Pro alternatives from Apple.
Apple iPad Pro (2020)
Apple hasn’t made a lot of changes to its latest Pro line as compared to its direct predecessor. That means you’re still getting that excellent performance, while the graphics performance has increased slightly. The general design of the machine hasn’t changed, though, you’re getting an extra camera on the back along with a LiDAR sensor for better spatial mapping that is useful in AR applications. What makes the iPad Pro a good work machine is the new iPadOS that has undergone significant changes.
The iPadOS brought some major changes for the iPad Pro when it first came out, but subsequent updates have made it even better. It now natively supports mouse input, which is great when you want your usual laptop-like experience. Plus, the all-new keyboard accessory not only lets you hold the tablet at any angle you wish but also has a built-in trackpad. However, the entire package gets expensive pretty quickly as the new accessory now costs a bit much.
Apple iPad Air (2019)
With the latest iPad Air model, Apple has tried to bridge the gap it created between the cheapest iPad and the premium iPad Pro to offer a product that satisfies the majority. It recycles iPad Pro 2017’s design and comes with a 10.5-inch display, sans the ProMotion feature, and features Touch ID, instead of Face ID, for biometric security.
The tablet is as powerful as the latest iPhone XS-series devices with the Apple A12 processor and has a keyboard connector onboard to utilise Apple’s keyboard series meant for the last-gen iPad Pro. With this addition, you will be able to use this thin-and-light tablet for productivity as well, besides entertainment. The iPad Air has gained support for Apple Pencil but not for the latest one, instead, you can only use the older 1st gen Pencil with the new tablet.
The Best Alternatives with Android
Android has, for sure, lost its charm in the tablet space but a handful of companies like Samsung are keeping the spirit alive with their range of tablets for varied use cases. In contrast to other platforms, Android tablets generally offer a wider selection to choose from depending on your particular usage and needs. The below-mentioned recommendations should work in most cases.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6
Taking inspiration from the Surface range, this year’s Galaxy Tab S6 now also has a solution in place to magnetically attach the S Pen, albeit to its back. The best part is that Samsung bundles the stylus with the tablet itself, thus saving you several dollars. If you don’t specifically need a Windows machine, this Android tablet will serve you alright for basic work in a web browser or with MS Office apps.
The inclusion of Snapdragon 855 processor propels this aspect further along with Samsung’s DeX, which is a mode designed to open certain apps in their desktop form. Samsung aims to replace your laptop and for that, an external keyboard is a must. The keyboard accessory for the Tab S6 now has a trackpad which should let you leave the mouse at home. An impressive 10.5-inch AMOLED display treats you well and it has a fingerprint scanner built-in.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S4
Despite being launched last year, the Galaxy Tab S4 remains one of the most cherished high-end tablets in the Android space. Coming from Samsung, you’ll be treated with a top-notch AMOLED display measuring 10.5 inches that is surrounded by minimal bezels. The Korean company also bundles its S Pen stylus with the tablet to further increase its feature set with support for 4096 pressure sensitivity points.
The one thing that goes against this tablet is the lacklustre support for Android feature and security updates. Other than this, Samsung, for some reason, used a generation old processor—Snapdragon 835—which has since been outperformed by another high-end SoC from Qualcomm. Samsung has compensated for this by giving the tablet a premium glass build and by including Samsung DeX, giving you a desktop-like experience on a tablet.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S5e
In the mid-range segment, Samsung recently launched a new tablet for an average consumer called the Galaxy Tab S5e which is a part of the 2019 series of Samsung tablets. Targeted mainly for users looking for an entertainment tablet, the device comes with an excellent AMOLED display that is known to enhance the movie-watching experience and is supported by a quad-speaker setup tuned by AKG.
Even though it is priced in the mid-range segment, Samsung hasn’t compromised on the build quality and has provided a full metal design with the tablet being just 5.5mm thick. You will get a microSD card slot, but it lacks a 3.5mm headphone jack and the support for S Pen. The tablet comes preinstalled with the latest One UI running over Android 9 Pie.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite
The Galaxy Tab S6 Lite is Samsung’s slightly different take on mid-range tablets than what we’ve seen before. As its name suggests, the Lite is closer to the previous Samsung flagship Tab S6 and adopts a few design elements, like the bezel-less front. Even though it uses an LCD panel instead of AMOLED, it’s one of the better ones out there. Its highlight is the S Pen that worked flawlessly in our review. The tablet can magnetically hold the stylus.
However, since the Tab S6 Lite doesn’t support keyboard attachments, it’d get a bit hard to use it as a work machine as you’ll have to carry a separate Bluetooth-enabled keyboard. The device is more of an entertainment and general-use machine with good stereo speakers to back that up. If you like gaming a lot on your tablet, then you might find this tablet underperforming a bit, though the general performance was acceptable.
The Best Alternatives With Chrome OS
You can say that Chrome OS sits somewhere between Windows and Android (or iOS) in terms of how well desktop programs work on the platform. Google’s browser-based OS can open sites and web apps like the Chrome browser on your Windows machine. Those who have moved their entire workflow online should face no problem with Chrome OS, and it can now even run Android apps as a bonus.
Lenovo Chromebook Duet
We recently reviewed a Chrome OS-based 2-in-1 device from Lenovo, Chromebook Duet, which is capable of accomplishing a lot while costing just $280. The best part is that the said price includes the price of the tablet’s kickstand and keyboard attachment — both of which are decently built despite being bundled as free accessories. While the keyboard itself is on the smaller size since the tablet measures 10 inches, we found it quite comfortable to type on, and that touchpad was the cherry on the cake.
Lenovo’s detachable Chromebook tablet comes with a good display, not just for its price. It comes running a MediaTek processor, which we found to work decently well along with 4GB of RAM and up to 128GB of ROM. Being based on Chrome OS, you have the option to download apps from the Google Play Store, while you also get the support for Linux apps. You can optionally get its pressure-sensitive stylus, but our experience with it wasn’t all that good.
- Fast Intel Core processors
- Excellent design with kickstand
- Great keyboard cover
- Long battery life
- Good Surface Pen
- Pretty display
- Big screen bezels
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