Two new 2-in-1 tablets that quickly convert into notebook-style Windows machines have just launched: the shiny new Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) and Huawei’s MateBook E. So how do they compare with the iPad Pro and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S3, two other popular 2-in-1 convertibles?
When it comes to portability, you can’t beat a 2-in-1 tablet as an all-encompassing work device. These machines offer the precision input and convenience of your typical tab, but convert into a makeshift laptop when needed, via a snap-on keyboard.
Two of the biggest such devices in 2017 are the Apple iPad Pro and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3. However, Apple and Samsung’s convertibles now have serious competition in the form of the Huawei MateBook E and Microsoft’s brand new Surface Pro, which boasts plenty of upgrades when compared with the old Surface Pro 4.
How do these best-in-class 2-in-1 devices compare? Read on to find out.
New Surface Pro 2017 vs MateBook E vs iPad Pro vs Galaxy Tab S3: Specs at a glance
|MateBook||New Surface Pro||MateBook E||iPad Pro 9.7||Galaxy Tab S3|
|Ports||1xUSB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort||1xUSB Type-C||1xLightning||1xUSB Type-C|
|Camera||8MP (Rear) 5MP (Front)||5MP (Front)||12MP (Rear), 5MP (Front)||13MP (Rear), 5MP (Front)|
|Processor||Intel Core m3, i5 or i7||Intel Core m3, i5||Apple A9X||Snapdragon 820|
New Surface Pro 2017 vs MateBook E vs iPad Pro vs Galaxy Tab S3: Design
All four of these 2-in-1 tablets sport a very similar design. In each case the device itself is actually a tablet, with the option to connect a soft-touch keyboard that doubles as a screen cover. With the Tab S3, iPad Pro and MateBook E, this cover also helps to prop up the screen to form a notebook-style configuration. Meanwhile the Surface Pro 2017 uses a rear-mounted hinge instead.
Also worth mentioning is the Surface Pro and MateBook can be tilted to pretty much any angle for comfortable operation, while the iPad and Tab S3 are stuck with one angle.
The iPad Pro and Galaxy Tab S3 are however the lightest devices here, for easy one-handed operation.
New Surface Pro 2017 vs MateBook E vs iPad Pro vs Galaxy Tab S3: Screen and media
The new Surface Pro and Huawei’s MateBook E sport similar-sized screens, at 12.3-inches and 12-inches respectively. That’s a step up in size from the 9.7-inch iPad Pro and Galaxy Tab S3 – although Apple’s tablet can be picked up in a 12.9-inch form too, if you demand a bigger device.
All four put out pleasingly sharp, detail-packed visuals. Samsung’s Super AMOLED panel is more vibrant than the other displays here, offering incredibly punchy images, while the iPad, MateBook and Surface pump out more realistic pictures. Any of these machines will do the job for editing images or enjoying movies on the go, however, with powerful stereo audio on offer if you forget your headphones.
Storage-wise, Microsoft’s device offers the most space for your media. You’ll have to pay for it, but you can expand the standard 128GB up to 1TB, while there’s also support for microSD cards. Only the Galaxy Tab S3 here also offers memory card support.
New Surface Pro 2017 vs MateBook E vs iPad Pro vs Galaxy Tab S3: Features and OS
The major difference between these four machines is the OS they run.
Windows is the chosen system for Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2017 and the Huawei MateBook E. This open system allows you to download and use any PC software you find online, for impressive flexibility.
Meanwhile the iPad Pro and Tab S3 use iOS and Android respectively, operating systems designed expressly for mobile devices. Windows does offer a tablet mode, which is more touch-friendly, although its app store is way behind the well-stocked efforts from Apple and Google. However, Apple’s device doesn’t allow the installation of any non-vetted software, while Android (like Windows) lets you make use of anything out there.
As a result, iOS is a lot more secure than the other systems here of course. You don’t have to be quite as cautious when trying new apps, as Apple has already checked them over.
If you’re security conscious, the Tab S3 and iPad Pro will please thanks to their built-in fingerprint sensors. That’s a quick and convenient way to unlock your tablet, while keeping your private stuff secure. The new Surface Pro and MateBook E both use Windows Hello instead, which scans your face using the front-facing camera. It’s a little more awkward and not as fast, but it’s certainly effective.
All of these 2-in-1 convertibles offer an optional keyboard cover, which must be bought separately to actually convert into a notebook-style device. You can also buy a branded stylus pen for each of these machines, to get creative on the responsive touchscreens.
New Surface Pro 2017 vs MateBook E vs iPad Pro vs Galaxy Tab S3: Performance
As the four devices here use different operating systems, you’ll find very different chipsets running the show. However, in all four cases you can expect smooth performance for everyday running.
For instance, while the iPad Pro has half the amount of memory compared with the Surface, Tab S3 and MateBook E, you’ll struggle to make it stammer. That’s because iOS is pleasingly efficient and resource-light compared with the likes of Windows.
Stay tuned for our full reviews of the new Surface Pro and the MateBook E, where we’ll cover battery life, benchmark performance and much more besides.