This is a question that’s asked around a lot in digital art communities. It’s a tricky questions to answer in all honesty. The best way to know what’s best for you is to try them both with your favorite applications. But since the reason you’re reading this post is to get the best answer without having to do that, I will try to illustrate the differences between both the best way I could.
The short answer to this questions is:- The Surface Pro 6 is good for drawing, and it runs all sorts of art desktop applications, something the iPad Pro can’t do. Including all the applications the industry uses, like Photoshop. Drawing with it isn’t as natural as the iPad Pro, but it’s so good nevertheless.
On the other hand, the iPad Pro offer one of the best drawing hardware. Drawing with it is very natural, smooth & accurate. The main issue with it is the limitation the App may impose on you. Don’t get me wrong, they are good, but they may not be enough for you in case you are used to art desktop applications. iOS itself may not provide you the same workflow or flexibility the Surface Pro 6 may give you, so keep that in mind in case you opted for it. For simple drawing & sketching, it’s unparalleled.
Both devices have good portability, and can be used everywhere if you like.
That’s the short answer to the question, I will give you additional details on that below. With much more details on the other features that can help you further more decide which device is better than you, including those not related to drawing.
In case you’re hesitated about getting one device or another, the Surface Pro 6 is the safest option to pick. Not only it’s a good drawing device, but it allows you to easily use Wacom devices, as well as all sort of graphics tablets in case you ever needed them (Some Cinitq models have much bigger drawing area, for example).
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Quickly go to:-
- Advantages For The Surface Pro 6
- Advantages For The Ipad Pro
- Drawing Experience
- Supported Drawing Apps
- Screens Resolutions Comparison
- Battery Lives
- Other Features, Microsd Slot, Stands & Keyboard Cover
- And Finally
- See Also:-
- Supports full desktop applications, like Photoshop, Illustrator, Krita, SAI & more. Making it the best device in case you want to work with the industry,
- Has much more ports, and so can be used with more peripherals (has an optional Surface Dock if you ever needed more ports).
- Can have more storage added to it, thanks to the Micro-SD slot it has. You can also add more storage using a USB flash memory or an external HDD.
- Is a better candidate to be you all-in-one device.
- Has a nice built-in stand, which makes it more convenient to use for drawing, as well as other stuff.
- Feels more natural to draw with. Thanks to the Apple Pencil 2.
- Has a better batter life.
- Is the better device when it comes to portability.
It’s always tricky to tell which of two device is better for drawing. Specially for two devices that each has its own followers.
For that reason, I always advice whoever is hesitant between any two devices is to try drawing on both using your favorite drawing program(s) if possible. Since that’s not possible for many, I will list the differences between both in the best helpful way I can here.
The Surface Pro 6 has a good IAF, which is the minimum amount you need to press with the pen for a stroke to appear, you may need a little time to get used to it in case you currently use any of Wacom devices. The iPad Pro has it better here, and feels much more natural to draw with it. Both devices has a low parallax, which is an offset between the cursor and where the stroke appears, in case of the iPad Pro, the parallax in non-existent, as the stroke always appeared right under the Apple Pencil’s tip.
In the case of Surface Pro 6, you may experience some line wiggling when you draw slowly. I don’t think it’s as of s huge issue as it used to be back in the Surface Pro 3 & 4 days. Artists reaction to that range from complaining to not caring much about it. Updating the firmware can help you with that issue if you have it. I personally don’t enjoy drawing when there’s any kind of wiggling (unless it’s caused by my hand, something I can understand).
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As far as I know, we don’t know the pressure sensitivity of the Apple Pencil 2. But it’s good enough as far as we can tell. I am not advocate of having the highest pressure sensitivity on drawing devices, since they can’t practically make much of a difference in drawing experience, and mostly used as a marketing ploy by manufacturers. Besides pressure, the pencil also supports tilt, meaning you can tilt the pen to create different strokes.
Apple Pencil 2 supports wireless charging, which makes it very convenient for a portable device. It can be attached to the side of the iPad with magnet. The pencil isn’t backward compatible with any of the previous iPads, and you can’t use the first generation pencil with the iPad Pro 2018 either. The pencil has no eraser on the back, but you can switch to the eraser by double tapping. This is a nice feature, but it can be triggered accidentally as well.
The SP6 pen requires one AAAA battery to work, which can make it less convenient for some. The pressure sensitivity of it is 4096 levels. It has two buttons on the side, one that switches to the eraser tool, and one that acts as a right mouse button. Such buttons make the pen more convenient to use in my opinion. The pen also supports tilt sensitivity, up to 45°. Unlike the Apple Pencil 2, the Surface Pro pens are cross compatible across the different Surface Pro line, which is a cool thing from Microsoft to do. And likewise, the Surface Pro pen can be attached to the side of it.
Here’s the kind of battery that fits into the Surface Pro pen:-
It’s worth noting that the pen for both devices is sold separately for both.
Since it’s pretty much a portable PC, the Surface Pro 6 supports all the drawing application you can think of, like Photoshop, Illustrator, Krita. And all the animation, 3D & video editing applications you can think of as well. This makes it very easy to use if you work in the industry. It also makes having the same workflow much easier if you want to keep drawing on the go.
Some of the drawing programs you can use with the Surface Pro 6 are:-
- Paint Tool Sai
- Clip Studio Pro
- Sketchbook Pro
Being able to run desktop drawing apps on the go is a killer feature for the SP6 in my opinion.
The iPad Pro supports mobile drawing apps, many of them are quite good to create all sort of artworks. If you already draw on PC, you may find it a bit hard to adapt to the new workflow of a tablet device. If you draw traditionally, but dislike drawing digitally on PC, then you may actually quite like drawing on the iPad Pro way more.
Some of the drawing apps available on the iPad pro are:-
- Adobe Draw
- Infinity Painter
Adobe already announced that they are releasing a version of Photoshop for the iPad. This can boost the iPad’s position among all the other drawing devices, assuming the upcoming version of Photoshop is done well enough to meet our expectations.
In case of the Surface Pro 6, and since it’s a full-fledged PC, you can use all of Wacom devices with it if you ever wanted to, since it has a USB port. Something the iPad Pro totally lacks. You may be wondering why anyone would want to do that. Some artists may want bigger drawing area, and so they may also own a Cintiq Pro or any of the other drawing devices that offer a huge drawing area.
Truth to be told, both devices have a good screen. Good enough to be used for drawing. SP6 has a display resolution of 2736 X 1824, On the other hand, the iPad Pro has a 2388 X 1668. The Surface Pro line always had that weird 3:2 screen aspect ratio. That doesn’t make the screen any worse, and doesn’t exactly affect drawing experience, but you may have black bars in case you decided to watch a movie with it. :D
It’s hard to specify a battery life for a device. Manufacturers tend to give the highest battery life number they could, and the numbers tend to be much higher than what anything you could get from the device. Besides that, battery life totally depends on how you use the device. For that reason, I will completely ignore the official battery lives numbers for both devices.
According to this Windows Central article, you can get 4 hours 30 minutes from the Surface Pro 6 based on their test. You can get more under lower load.
In this Anandtech post, the iPad Pro actually managed to achieve over 10 hours of battery life in their browsing test.
These may not be the best numbers, but they can give you an idea on the battery lives of both devices.
The ports you have on your device can, in many cases, determine how much versatile it is. For some people, they could be one of the things that make or break your experience.
To start with the SP6, it has all the following ports:-
- A surface connect port.
- 1 X USB A 3.0 port.
- mini-Display port.
- Headphone jack.
One USB-A port may sounds very little, but when comparing it to the iPad Pro, it can do wonders. You can connect all sorts of computer mice, keyboards, graphics tablets, printers, scanners, joysticks & an unlimited number of peripheral. If a device can work on your Windows 10 computer, then it can totally work on your Surface Pro 6.
The mini-Display port can be used to connect an external display, without having to use any adapter to connect a display & some other device at the same time (something that’s so common in case of USB-C). However, you still need some adapter to connect it to a HDMI monitor.
The surface connect port allows you to connect your Surface Pro to the Surface Dock. The dock offers you the following ports:-
- 2 X Mini Display Ports
- 1 X Gigabit Ethernet Port
- 4 X USB 3.0 ports
- 1 X Audio out port
That’s a lot of ports that makes Surface Pro 6 an equivalent of a small desktop computer, or at least a laptop.
The surface is charged using the magnetic connector, similar to the one Apple used to use in their Macbook laptops. Unlike the iPad Pro, which is charged using the USB-C port at the bottom. It’s a bit of an irony that while Apple went away from the magnetic connector, Microsoft embraced it big time.
While the SP6 is a beast when it comes to the available ports (compared the iPad Pro, as we will see shortly). The lack of USB-C port is a bit annoying. It’s not a port you actually need nowadays, but I expect it to increase in importance.
Unlike the previous iPad iteration, which used to come with Lightning port. The iPad Pro has USB-C port now, so there’s much more hope to be able to connect USB-C devices in it. So far, there’s a limit to what you can connect to it. Some of the uses of the port are:-
- Connect it to projector, as well as external displays.
- Charge the device.
- Use the port to charge other devices, like your mobile.
- Connect it to your computer to sync & transfer data.
- Connect musical instruments.
That’s an improvement of what we used to see on the iPad in the past, but it’s still considered very little compared to what one regular USB port could do.
Depending on what Apple plan to do, the USB-C port may give you a lot possibilities in the future.
Just so you know, the latest iPad Pro doesn’t come with a headphone jack, something the Surface Pro 6 already has.
The SP6 has a MicroSD slot, which makes it much easier to add additional storage if you ever needed it. It’s also useful in case you want to transfer photos from your camera to it. It also has a built-in stand, something you will appreciate a lot. I have lost count on the times I had to find an object to prop my iPad on just for it to stay in a certain angle. Of course, you can get yourself a case for your iPad Pro to solve that issue.
Both devices have a separate covers that includes a keyboard. In case of the iPad Pro’s cover, the cover makes it easy to prop the device in a similar way traditional laptops can. As you can see here:-
The keyboard cover for the SP6 has keyboard with a built-in trackpad, typing on it feels similar to an actual keyboards too:-
It’s worth noting that both keyboard covers are sold separately.
Apple wants us to think that the iPad can replace a full blown computer. That may only apply to certain kinds of people, and it can happen in the future to a wider range or people, but we are not there yet. It sure has improved a lot in the last few years, but it’s still not suitable for everyone to use as a full-fledged computer.
SP6 is a much better device when it comes to all your computing needs, though the iPad pro is a better tablet, and a great drawing device compared to the Surface Pro, as long as you are okay with the apps for it.
I sincerely hope that this post has helped you device on whether to get a SP6 or an iPad Pro.
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