Best iPad Pro alternatives available in the US today

Best iPad Pro alternatives available in the US today
It’s almost the middle of October and Apple remains mum on prospective sequels to the 10.5 and 12.9-inch iPad Pros commercially released way back in June 2017. Granted, next-gen devices have started leaking again, but as we approach the holiday season, an official announcement by the end of the year feels more and more unlikely.

After all, it was only a couple of months ago that we were ready to bet the house the Cupertino company’s drastically redesigned high-end tablets would see daylight alongside the iPhone XS, XS Max, and iPhone XR.

If you’re unwilling to wait any longer, you can obviously still pick up last year’s iOS giants. Extremely well-reviewed after their commercial debut, they continue to dominate the market, helped by a lightly refreshed non-Pro 9.7-inch iPad.

Alternatively, you could always buy a decent Android, Windows 10, or even Chrome OS slate. Because sales aren’t exactly thriving, it’s not easy to put together a robust list of iPad Pro alternatives. But here are your best options available today if you’re bothered by the advanced age of Apple’s latest Pro tablets or don’t consider iOS the most optimized platform for a gargantuan screen.

Google Pixel Slate

Join waitlist for $599 and up Google sales




Pros

  • Robust metal design with thin profile 
  • Dual front-firing speakers and two noise-canceling mics for a premium audio experience
  • Unique keyboard with decently tactile and responsive keys
  • Versatile user interface combining the best of Chrome OS and Android
  • Comprehensive processor, memory, and storage options

Cons

  • No headphone jack
  • Chunky Pixelbook Pen
  • Expensive keyboard

Any conversation about a solid iPad Pro rival must start with a detachable keyboard and productivity-enhancing stylus. The Pixel Slate, which is technically not up for grabs yet, ticks both boxes, supporting Pixelbook Pen interaction, as well as pairing with a separately sold Google-made keyboard.

The latter is actually pricier than Apple’s Smart Keyboard, at a whopping $199, featuring love-or-hate circular keys, an etched glass trackpad, as well as doubling as a protective cover, just like the competition. Intriguingly enough, a slightly cheaper third-party option promises to make the Pixel Slate look more like a traditional laptop. 

The Pixelbook Pen is not new, matching the $99 price tag of the Apple Pencil, while also offering pressure sensitivity and tilt support. Basically, your decision to buy the Pixel Slate over an iPad Pro will come down to whether or not you can live with Chrome OS (and Android apps).

You may also want to consider the entry-level configuration is 50 bucks cheaper than a 10.5-inch iPad Pro... with a beautiful 12.3-inch “Molecular” display in tow. But because the Intel Celeron processor is not ideal, we highly recommend you go for a $799 Core m3 or a $999 Core i5 variant. Both of those pack 8GB RAM, with 64 and 128GB solid-state storage respectively.

Whichever model you end up choosing, a pair of USB-C ports will provide a much higher degree of flexibility and versatility compared to Apple's proprietary Lightning connector.

Microsoft Surface Pro 6

Pre-order from Microsoft for $899 and up




Pros

  • Probably the best-looking keyboard accessory in the world
  • No corners cut in the processing power department
  • 8GB RAM in entry-level configuration
  • All-day battery life
  • Unbeatable Windows 10 productivity
  • Headphone jack
  • Facial recognition

Cons

  • No USB Type-C port
  • Significantly heavier than the 12.9-inch iPad Pro
  • No fingerprint sensor

Let’s be honest, the latest Surface Pro redesign has hardly been substantial. But that’s because the 2-in-1 Windows 10 PC was already pretty great. Now it’s slightly greater, powered by 8th generation Intel Core i5 or i7 chips, starting at $899, or 100 bucks more than a 64GB 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

Naturally, Surface Pro Signature Type Covers and Surface Pens are available separately at $160 and $100 respectively. The former is arguably more “professional”-looking and productive than Apple’s Smart Keyboard, not to mention “infinitely adjustable” and extra-stylish, with a luxurious Alcantara cover.

The Surface Pen is no pushover either, boasting 4,096 pressure points, compared to Apple’s unspecified sensitivity levels.

As far as the actual tablet is concerned, the aforementioned extra $100 will buy you twice the internal storage of the entry-level iPad Pro 12.9, a generous 8GB RAM, and a blazing fast i5 processor of the latest generation.

Microsoft Surface Pro (2017)

Buy from Microsoft starting at $649




Pros

  • Timeless design 
  • Timeless accessories
  • Timelessly stellar battery life

Cons

  • Outdated processor options

Yup, this version is still around. And it looks basically the same as the new one, minus the paint job. Obviously, the main reason to choose the fifth-gen Surface Pro over the sixth-gen model is the lower price. $649 in a Core m3/128GB SSD/4GB RAM configuration, or $999 with Intel Core i5 inside, a 256GB SSD, and 8GB RAM.

Granted, these are slightly older, significantly slower chips, but compared to the Apple A10X inside last year’s iPad Pros, they should still perform adequately for day-to-day computing tasks.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S4


 

Pros

  • Premium look and feel 
  • Sharp AMOLED display
  • Samsung DeX support right out the box
  • S Pen is among the best styluses out there
  • Quad speakers with a very good stereo split

Cons

  • Quad-speaker sound just OK
  • Awkward iris scanner
  • Less than stellar camera performance
  • Last year's flagship chipset
  • Software support unlikely to impress
 
Smaller than the Surface Pro and Pixel Slate, this doesn’t feel quite as natural and “professional” when paired with an optional Book Cover keyboard that’s typically available for $150 but often discounted to around $100.
 
On the bright side, the S Pen is included right out the box, and who doesn’t like the S Pen? Just like the Surface Pen, it offers top-notch precision with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, hiding many other proprietary tricks up its sleeve, including translation capabilities, Live Message support for animated handwritten notes, and Screen off memos. 

Another thing the iPad Pro can’t do is turn into a full-fledged PC like the Galaxy Tab S4, which doesn’t require any sort of docking station to access DeX mode on an HDMI-supporting monitor.

By far the biggest flaw of Samsung’s newest flagship tablet is the not-so-new flagship Snapdragon chipset under the hood. The cameras were also found to be underwhelming in our in-depth review, but at the end of the day, who takes photos with gargantuan 10.5-inchers? 

Last but not least, we should probably mention the Galaxy Tab S4 comes with a shiny glass back, which might be an exciting design choice for some, but it can also be very easy to crack.

Lenovo Miix 630




Pros

  • Fanless design running cool and quiet 
  • No need to buy separate accessories
  • Built-in LTE connectivity
  • Windows Hello facial recognition
  • Unrivaled battery life

Cons

  • Bulky design
  • Weak speakers
  • Sluggish SoC
  • Less impressive stylus than some of the competition

“Always Connected” PCs like this one may have not caught on quite how Microsoft and Qualcomm anticipated, but even though the Miix 630 packs the same outdated Snapdragon 835 processor as the Galaxy Tab S4, it's definitely worth considering as a replacement for both your traditional laptop and basic tablet.

That’s because the $900 starting price (marked down to $840) not only includes a full-sized detachable keyboard with backlighting and minimal travel and a Lenovo Active Pen, but 4G LTE connectivity as well. In contrast, the cheapest LTE-enabled iPad Pro variant is $779 with no included Smart Keyboard or Apple Pencil, as well as a 10.5-inch screen.

The Miix 630 sports a large 12.3-inch display (albeit with a not-so-impressive 1920 x 1280 resolution), but perhaps its number one selling point is exceptional battery life. We’re talking up to 20 hours on a single charge, compared to 9 or 10 hours for the iPad Pro family.

Huawei MediaPad M5 Pro




Pros

  • Premium design at affordable price 
  • Stylus with top-notch 4,096-layer pressure sensitivity, tilt and shade features
  • Four loud, powerful, and accurate speakers
  • 2.9 hours to a full charge

Cons

  • Only 4GB RAM and 64GB storage, no upgrade option
  • No headphone jack
  • No hopes for Android Pie update anytime soon

The world’s second-largest smartphone vendor is also the third biggest player of the global tablet market, applying a very similar strategy to the one that’s worked so beautifully for its Android handsets. 

The MediaPad M5 Pro is essentially a cheaper Galaxy Tab S4, with an S Pen-style “M-Pen” included at no extra charge, and a pogo pin-connecting keyboard sold separately. Focused primarily on entertainment and gaming rather than productivity, the MediaPad M5 Pro certainly rivals the iPad Pro’s bass-rich, immersive sound with a premium Harman Kardon-powered quad-speaker system... at a fraction of the price.

The Kirin 960 chipset is a little old, but probably fast enough to keep up with your Netflix binging. The 10.8-incher is respectably compact and thin (although not thinner than the 10.5-inch iPad Pro), promising blazing fast charging and up to 11 hours of endurance between charges.

Microsoft Surface Go

Buy from Best Buy for $399 and up




Pros

  • Tailor-made Signature Type Cover 
  • Killer price point
  • Surface Pen compatibility
  • Full Windows 10 experience on a 10-inch screen
  • 8GB RAM and 128GB SSD option

Cons

  • Slow eMMC storage technology for entry-level SKU
  • Low-res screen
  • No "professional" Intel Core option
  • Heavier than 10.5-inch iPad Pro

Let’s be honest, this little guy has nothing on the iPad Pro. But it might just be affordable enough to justify all the compromises. The sluggish Intel Pentium Gold processing power. The inferior eMMC storage of the entry-level 64GB/4GB RAM configuration. The unimpressive 9-hour battery life. The equally unremarkable 1800 x 1200 screen.

It may all be worth it if you really want a tablet compatible with Microsoft’s winning Surface Pen and a $130 version of the company’s Signature Type Cover with the same luxurious design as the larger model and a full-mechanical keyset.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9




Pros

  • Greatest... S Pen... ever 
  • Dock-less DeX functionality
  • Faster than many tablets and 2-in-1 PCs
  • Incredible camera performance 
  • Long-lasting battery life
  • An engineering marvel from a design standpoint

Cons

  • Expensive 
  • No physical keyboard (duh)

This may sound crazy, but why bother buying a tablet anymore when massive handsets like the Note 9 can do so many of the things the iPad Pro is capable of? Sure, this thing is still expensive, but it’s (slowly) getting cheaper, and it comes with an awesome S Pen as standard.

Of course, the 6.4-inch AMOLED “Infinity Display” is not ideal for comfortable content consumption, but the 201-gram weight definitely makes this preferable to the 469-gram and up iPad Pro for the occasional on-the-fly vlogging session.

Besides, if you need a keyboard and large screen, a single cable can sync the Galaxy Note 9 to an external monitor of your choosing for a surprisingly functional desktop experience.

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21 Comments

1. morgeus09

Posts: 104; Member since: Aug 19, 2018

Surface pro 6 is above them all..

5. gamehead unregistered

I wanted to give the pixel slate the win because of its slightly higher resolution and (I believe) backlit keyboard, but nothing beats windows in the desktop arena.

20. path45th

Posts: 402; Member since: Sep 11, 2016

Surface is not a tablet. Windows 10 tablet mode is a mediocre experience and gets second rate apps. It takes more than just a detachable screen for a device to become a tablet.

2. monkeyb

Posts: 409; Member since: Jan 17, 2018

Surface Pro 6 "Pro's" heavily outweigh the 'Con's". Lack of finger print should not be a con with the world moving in the direction of facial recognition tech. The only thing I wish it had was USB-C for future proofing. Lack of Bluetooth 5 is a con for a device in 2018. But thats about it.

3. Godlymansean

Posts: 337; Member since: Apr 14, 2017

Lotta Cons on that S4 Tab lol

4. gamehead unregistered

I'll take the Pixel Slate or Surface Pro over an iPad any day, but even those are pricey.

6. Irishbeard

Posts: 2; Member since: Dec 02, 2015

This is just an article to make PhoneArena feel better about themselves. 'No headphone jack' as a negative? Hypocrites.

7. skips

Posts: 477; Member since: Oct 04, 2015

as soon as apple releases new ipad without a headphone jack, it won't suddenly be a con in reviews so don't worry guys bout it

8. torr310

Posts: 1645; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

Hopefully there will be an Android tablet with the 7nm Qualcomm CPU and LTE in Q1/2019!

9. torr310

Posts: 1645; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

or with Kirin 980 CPU and LTE alternately.

10. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3100; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Note 9 ftw.

11. NarutoKage14

Posts: 1318; Member since: Aug 31, 2016

Apple iPad 9.7" vs Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.5". Which is better? Can I download videos directly from the internet into the iPad?

21. path45th

Posts: 402; Member since: Sep 11, 2016

There are many apps for the iPad and iPhone whose job is to download from YouTube or any other website that has videos. I use an app called Browser.

12. jonathanfiuwx

Posts: 179; Member since: Mar 10, 2017

Your missing the Chromebook pro

16. japkoslav

Posts: 1498; Member since: Feb 19, 2017

HP Chromebook X2 is probably the most glaring thing missing out of Chrome devices here. It's not available in most countries, but it is one of the best when it comes to what you get for your money.

13. Jrod99

Posts: 713; Member since: Jan 15, 2016

iPad Pro or Tab S4. I’m done with pc and desktop.

19. Peaceboy

Posts: 640; Member since: Oct 11, 2018

Getting ipad pro 11” this fall. The apps for ipad is getting closer to the premium and useful apps of my macbook pro. Ipad is the reason why I don’t ask multitasking, split screen and p-n-p in my iphone Xs max. The quality of products, apps, and services is unparalleled. Gonna love the incoming face id ipad pro.

14. cocoy

Posts: 455; Member since: Oct 30, 2015

I have the Tab S3 but this thing is still sub par compared to iPad pro. I don't think the Tab S4 is closer for the supported apps alone. And it lags after updated to Oreo. Hopefully it will benefit from android 9. The dark theme is also not available, I feel like the OLED screen was not put into good use for its absence.

15. worldpeace

Posts: 3127; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

You can connect any usb/bluetooth keyboard to Note 9. (But I'm still not sure why Note 9 is on this list)

17. darkkjedii

Posts: 30964; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Note 9 in this bunch.

18. Krjal

Posts: 425; Member since: Dec 19, 2013

I'm reading this article on a Samsung Galaxy Book 12 which was my pick for an "alternative". OLED screen, Wacom stylus and Windows lets me do all my design work on the go. Battery life isn't amazing because of the relatively high powered Intel chipset but it's the only downside from my perspective. Oh and it's got a beautiful metal case. None of this glass shenanigans.

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