Microsoft Surface vs. Apple iPad mini, in a nutshell

By Matt Chapman - Jan 30, 2013

With the current influx of available tablets out there, we thought we would have a look at a few of the differences between the Microsoft Surface vs. Apple iPad mini. With both tablets competing side-by-side for sales in the run up for Christmas there is no doubt some people will be left wondering which would be the tablet for them. Here we highlight and compare a few of the features common to both.

Microsoft Surface RT – This is Microsoft’s first venture into the tablet market and although a little slow off the mark, they have certainly arrived on the scene with a serious contender. The external dimensions of the Surface are similar to a regular iPad and measures 10.81×6.77 with a 10.6-inch widescreen display. The OS used in the Surface is Windows RT, a version of Windows 8 designed to work on Arm Processors. Although it lacks certain features this should not be seen as a bad thing, the system is instinctive, fast and smooth and includes a version of Microsoft Office – Office 2013 Home and Student. It does not however include Windows Media Player.

The Tablet itself is available in only one finish, dark grey titanium and is made from a molten magnesium alloy known as VaporMG. There is an option to add a cover to the tablet, known as the Touch Cover, a rugged cover to protect the screen that also doubles as a touch sensitive keyboard. The touch cover is available in 5 colors, and is purchased separately at additional cost of $119 although there have been reported issues of the magnetic connection being so strong the cover itself is being torn on removal.

The limited apps currently available for the RT are only offered through the Windows store and are sadly lacking with a few obvious choices such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, although these will surely come with time and as more developers embrace the RT platform. The Surface features 2 cameras (forward and rear facing), Bluetooth, USB, and Wi-Fi and is available in 32GB or 64GB, and the battery has up to 8-hours life. While the Surface RT sits nearer to a laptop than a tablet in terms of the additional touch keyboard cover attached, it is certainly small enough to transport under the arm or easily in a satchel or side bag as with all other tablets.

The Surface has a starting price of $499 for the 32GB Tablet or $599 including a Black Touch Cover. The 64GB with cover retails at $699. The first video below this article shows a review of the Surface and asks if this new product is more of a laptop or tablet? The video also offers some comparison to the standard iPad as well as demonstrating the durability of the VaporMg casing. You might want to see how the Microsoft Surface RT and Surface Pro compare in our earlier article here.

iPad Mini – Apple’s smallest offering in the tablet arena is proof that size does not always matter. The new iPad mini is small enough to be held and carried in one hand and will easily fit in many different pockets (suits, lab coats, back pockets etc.) The external dimensions are 7.87×5.3 and features a 7.9 display with 163 pixels per inch, the iPad Mini has the same screen resolution as the iPad 2. However, there is already some speculation that Apple are working on a Mini 2 with retina display and could soon make the current Mini seem outdated as we recently witnessed with the iPad 3.

When comparing the Mini to a standard iPad the actual screen size isn’t that much smaller when you take into account the size of the bezels on the 2 models, which you can see in our review of the iPad mini sized next to the 10-inch iPad and iPhone 5. As with most Apple devices the iPad Mini runs iOS 6 and benefits from the vast array of apps available through the Apple store. The Mini features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 2 cameras, and includes Apple’s Siri Voice Intelligent Assistant and is available in black/slate and white/silver with a 10-hour battery life.

Apple’s iPad mini is offered in a number of storage options including 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB with their Wi-Fi plus cellular model starting to ship now. A noticeable difference with the new iPad mini is the decrease in weight, making it ideal for long periods of gaming, more comfortable for bedtime reading and one-handed use. As with the Microsoft Surface, Apple do separately supply Smart covers which magnetically aligns with the mini and is available in 6 colors, these are priced at $39.

As with all Apple devices they are always priced in such a way that at first glance causes the eyebrows to be raised, but people still flock to buy. The starting price for a 16GB iPad mini is $329 with the 64GB retailing at $529. See the second video below for a review of the iPad mini with reference to standard iPad and the Apple Smart Cover.

Pros and Cons – as always issues exist with both tablets, the iPad mini is expensive compared to similar sized tablets, but the OS is proven and available apps far out way apps available for the Microsoft Surface. The iPad mini is lacking the highly praised retina display and runs the A5 chip that was featured in the iPad 2 not the new A6 chip, however the mini is extremely light, portable, and particularly striking but then the Surface with the Touch Cover attached admittedly looks very sleek. The built in kickstand is a great touch although on the RT system, full Microsoft Office suit is not available. The Surface is nowhere near as portable as the mini and apps are limited for the time being. Let us know your thoughts on the 2 tablets and what one would you’d opt for?

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus.

Also See: iPad X release date hype for 2018 after concept

  • Brandon Worby

    side note , why are the posts not in order? I see my post before someone who poster theirs before mine but after someone else who did the same?

  • Brandon Worby

    I just re-read my post. Sorry for the poor grammer. Its late and I am tired? what an excuse. anywho take it as you will.

  • Brandon Worby

    this comparison is not really fair, yes one is smaller and lighter but if your thinking of buying a surface thats not what your looking for. My big issue is that no one is mentioning that the current surface can not do that the future suface can. I want a surface if and only if it can do what the current suffrage can, but with the additions of the soon to come version. And I need at LEAST 3 or 4 hours of battery life. If I get that I am all about it. If not, then iPad here I come. I am guessing the “pro”version of surface will end up needing to be plugged in most of the time and that is not what people want.

    The main issue here is obvious. The future calls for a system of devices that are all interconnected that run the same OS but we are at point where intel cant keep the battery life that people have become accustom to with tablets yet to have what microsoft calls the “great part” of the new hardware/software you need that ability. It just does not exist.

  • kevinfromheaven

    I have to Poo pad. It sucks, the battery life is closer to 3.5 hours when you use any high process apps. it gets pretty hot too. what a mistake! Uggggggg!

    • dr.longaniza

      If you use lots of apps, it’s gonna slow down, if you use heavy processing apps, keep it plugged. If you can’t figure this out, stay with a PC plugged to a wall and sell that poo pad on eBay. The resale value is high.

  • john

    why would you compare surface vs mini….. it should be surface vs ipad 4

  • surface is the way to go for future investment, IPAD mini is entertainment device and no work can really be done on it. I would say IPAD is like big sized phone