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I’ve Been Using Mac and iPad for 15 Years. This Is My Experience With the Surface Pro 11

I’ve Been Using Mac and iPad for 15 Years. This Is My Experience With the Surface Pro 11

Two weeks with the Surface Pro 11, part of the first wave of Copilot+ PCs, from the view of an Apple diehard. Here’s our Microsoft Surface Pro 11 review.

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I switched to Mac in 2009 and started using the iPad in 2011. Throughout this time, they’ve been my companions for work and leisure. I use my MacBook for writing, voice-overs, photo editing, and more, while I tend to use an iPad to watch multimedia on the go.

However, I’ve long been intrigued by Microsoft’s Surface Pro. On paper, it seems to offer the best of both worlds: the flexibility of a tablet like the iPad Pro and the power and full functionality of a MacBook, but with Windows. I first heard of this concept when I saw the Surface Pro 11 with Copilot+. It made me think, “What if...?”

I’ve spent the past two weeks using Microsoft’s new device. It’s a fascinating piece of technology, with many highlights and also some drawbacks. Here’s my experience.

Table of Contents (8)

Microsoft Surface Pro 11 Specs


MICROSOFT SURFACE PRO 11

SCREEN

13-inch OLED PixelSense 3:2

2,880 x 1,920 pixels (267 ppi)

120 Hz

Dolby Vision IQ

Gorilla Glass 5

PROCESSOR

Snapdragon X Elite (12 cores)

MEMORY

32 GP LPDDR5X

GRAPHICS

Intel Iris Xe

STORAGE

512 GB SSD

CONNECTIVITY

Wi-Fi 7

Bluetooth 5.4

Nano SIM

PORTS

2 x USB-C 4.0, Surface Connect

DisplayPort 1.4a

Thunderbolt 4

AUDIO

2 x 2 W Dolby Atmos

BATTERY

53 Wh

39 W charger

Up to 14 hours of battery life

CAMERAS

Back: 10 MP, 1440p

Front: QuadHD video

SIZE

11.3 x 8.2 x 0.37 inches

WEIGHT

32 ounces

OS

Windows 11 Home

Copilot+ PC

PRICE

From $999.99

Microsoft Surface Pro 2-in-1 Laptop/Tablet (2024), Windows 11 Copilot+ PC, 13" Touchscreen OLED Display, Snapdragon X Elite (12 Core), 16GB RAM, 256GB Storage, Black, Amazon Exclusive

Design

The first thing you notice when you remove the new Surface Pro from the box is its design. Although the sapphire blue color of my review unit may not be my favorite, the build is elegant and solid without any drawbacks. It’s less than an inch (0.37) thick and weighs 32 ounces.

The iconic kickstand is still present and functions perfectly. I’ve been thinking for a while that it’s an optimal solution that I’d like to see on the iPad Pro. It provides versatile functionality without being obtrusive. It may not be ideal for use on your lap, but it appears to be the best all-around solution.

Microsoft Surface Pro 2024 Image: Xataka
Microsoft Surface Pro 2024 Image: Xataka

The 13-inch OLED display is stunning. Its colors, and especially its deep black, are better than any other LCD panel I’ve seen on a laptop or tablet. The 2,880 x 1,920 resolution provides sharp images, and the brightness of up to 564 nits (in SDR, in HDR, it goes up to 747) makes it visible even in bright sunlight. Additionally, the adaptive refresh of up to 120 Hz enhances the sense of fluidity.

The keyboard is worth special mention. It provides a surprisingly good typing experience for such a thin accessory. The key travel is adequate, and the feel is pleasant. The iPad Pro’s Magic Keyboard also performs very well but is thicker and heavier.

Microsoft Surface Pro 2024 Image: Xataka
Microsoft Surface Pro 2024 Image: Xataka

The keyboard includes a haptic feedback trackpad that works beautifully, with satisfying clicks and precise multi-touch gestures. You can detach the keyboard from the screen and even use it wirelessly, underscoring the key feature of this Surface Pro: versatility.

The Slim Pen 2 stores and charges magnetically on top of the keyboard. You can keep it in view with the keyboard flat or hide it by placing it at a slight tilt, which is a perfect solution. The magnetic attachment of the Apple Pencil to the iPad Pro is elegant, but being able to keep the stylus out of sight is even better.

Microsoft Surface Pro 2024 Image: Xataka

This Slim Pen 2 is great for quick note-taking or sketching, with low latency and 4,096 pressure levels. However, it lacks the accuracy and advanced options of the latest Apple Pencils.

Performance and Power

The new Snapdragon X Elite chip performs really well for most tasks. Web browsing is smooth even with more than 20 tabs open, and editing apps run smoothly, making the whole system feel snappy.

According to XDA Developers, this chip showed impressive performance in multicore tasks in benchmark tests, even outperforming Apple’s M3 in some aspects. However, in single-core tasks and graphics performance, Apple’s chip still has the edge despite being released in the fall of 2023.

This means that the Surface Pro 11 delivers excellent performance for everyday tasks, including web browsing, office work, photo editing, or video playback. However, it doesn’t match the raw power of Apple’s M3 for more demanding tasks such as 4K video editing, 3D rendering, or gaming.

One important consideration is app compatibility. While most popular programs already have native ARM versions or work well via emulation, some notable absences exist. For example, standard video editing apps such as DaVinci Resolve or Blender aren’t available.

Moreover, not all apps designed for ARM-based systems offer the same performance as their x86 counterparts. For example, while Photoshop runs smoothly, I noticed some sluggishness when using advanced tools compared to my experience with them on my 2021 MacBook Pro.

Hopefully, this will improve over time as developers optimize their apps. However, it’s important for professional users to be aware of this potential performance difference.

The Copilot+ AI

The Surface Pro 11 offers exciting AI capabilities through Microsoft’s newly introduced Copilot+ stamp. These AI functions are powered by the NPU integrated into the Snapdragon X Elite. If I’m honest, my testing of these features left me with mixed feelings.

Some features work very well, including background blur in video calls, automatic lighting enhancement, and eye tracking. However, eye tracking artificially enlarges the eyes, which feels somewhat strange. Real-time audio transcription and translation are also impressive, although they’re not perfect.

Microsoft Surface Pro 2024 Here, I was looking toward the bottom of the screen, and the Eye Contact feature was disabled. | Image: Xataka
Microsoft Surface Pro 2024 Here, I activated the Eye Contact function by looking at the same point at the bottom of the screen. The view changed direction thanks to the applied effect, but there was something strange about my gaze. It doesn't feel natural. | Image: Xataka

Other features, such as image generation in Paint (Cocreator) or creative filters for photos, seem limited compared to what various cloud services can do. The generated images are low quality and not very useful. Once I overcame my initial curiosity, I didn’t feel like returning to them. Maybe they’ll be more functional in the future, but for now, they’re not.

The Recall function promised to be one of the highlights of Copilot+. I was looking forward to something like this natively after trying the Rewind app on my Mac. However, I haven't been able to test it because Microsoft postponed its arrival due to security issues. We'll see.

Overall, the potential for AI capabilities is there, but for now, it hardly justifies the purchase of the equipment. However, it’ll be interesting to see how it evolves.

Above All, Versatility

The Surface Pro’s greatest strength lies in its versatility. While this isn’t a new feature, for people who’ve never owned a convertible device, like me, this is fascinating. The ability to use it as a tablet for reading or watching movies and TV shows and then connect the keyboard to work like you would on a traditional laptop with a full desktop operating system (yes, I’m talking about you, iPad Pro) is simply fantastic.

Windows 11 works well in both modes of use, although I miss some of iPadOS’s touch optimizations.

Microsoft Surface Pro 2024 Please ignore my username. It’s my Xbox gamertag. | Image: Xataka

I’ve been really impressed with the front-facing camera. The 1440p camera provides excellent quality for video calls, much better than my iPad or MacBook Pro. The sound quality is also amazing, with powerful and crisp speakers that are more than adequate for watching movies or listening to music without ruining the experience.

I find multitasking in Windows 11 far superior to iPadOS. Having multiple windows open, using apps in the background, and connecting external monitors without limitations has significantly improved my productivity.

Battery, Ecosystem, Accessories

The battery performance is commendable. While it may not be as impressive as a MacBook with Apple Silicon, it still provides a solid 10 to 12 hours of real-world usage, surpassing many Windows ultraportable laptops with Intel processors.

It’s important to note that battery life can vary based on the types of apps used. Native ARM apps consume less battery than those running through emulation. Furthermore, intensive use of AI functions can significantly deplete the battery.

Microsoft Surface Pro 2024 Image: Xataka

The advantage of fast charging is that it allows you to recharge your device quickly, bringing it up to about 80% in just over an hour.

The Slim Pen 2 and keyboard are excellent, especially the keyboard. However, I wish there were more options for cases or docks and a more accurate and comprehensive stylus for users who need it. The Apple Pencil Pro is significantly better and is the type of product that professional illustrators and similar users seek.

Let’s Talk About Money

And we’re coming to the end of this review. A key factor that determines a product’s attractiveness is its price. The configuration I tested is the X Elite, with 16 GB of RAM, 512 GB of SSD, and an OLED screen. It’s priced at $1,499.99. The keyboard and stylus cost an extra $279.99.However, you can lower the total cost if you decide not to purchase the stylus.

While it’s a significant amount of money, this configuration doesn’t appear to be expensive, especially considering its versatility. It’s a high-end product that kills two birds with one stone.

Let’s compare it to a 13-inch iPad Pro with equivalent storage and accessories. In the Apple tablet’s case, the total cost approaches $1,500. However, the iPad Pro operates on iPadOS, while the X Elite has a complete Windows operating system. This makes the X Elite a more comprehensive option, even though the iPad Pro benefits from a better App Store.

Microsoft Surface Pro 11: Xataka’s Opinion

The Surface Pro 11 is impressive and demonstrates the potential of Windows on ARM. Its portability, power, and versatility make it an appealing choice for users seeking a multi-purpose device.

Its notable features include superb design and construction, a stunning OLED display, strong performance in everyday tasks with the Snapdragon X Elite, versatility in usage, and competitive, though not best-in-class, battery life.

Microsoft Surface Pro 2024 Nice touch from Microsoft: The Surface Pro’s SSD is accessible and replaceable without even needing a screwdriver. Simply push the cover to expose it. | Image: Xataka.

On the downside, some apps have compatibility limitations. Plus, there’s a somewhat limited ecosystem of accessories and AI capabilities that are as promising as they are not fully developed.

For individuals transitioning from the Windows environment and seeking a premium 2-in-1 device, the Surface Pro 11 is arguably the best option on the market. It offers the best of both a tablet and a laptop in one device with few compromises.

For those coming from the Mac/iPad world, like myself, it could be an intriguing option, but it requires thorough consideration. The limitations in compatibility between ecosystems and the lack of integration with Apple devices (like the absence of mirroring and the functions it offers for Android phones, for example) are significant obstacles.

If these obstacles were to disappear in an ideal world, I’d gladly sell my Mac and iPad to switch to the Surface Pro 11.

8.9

Design 9.5
Display 9.75
Performance 8.5
Keyboard/Trackpad 9.5
Software 8.5
Battery 7.5

Pros

  • Awesome design and build.
  • Top-of-the-range display.
  • Huge versatility, and an all-rounder device

Cons

  • Copilot+ AI isn’t a good enough selling point.
  • Battery life isn’t bad, but at that price, there’s competition that doubles its power.
  • It’ll need some time to adapt to ARM completely.


Microsoft Surface Pro 2-in-1 Laptop/Tablet (2024), Windows 11 Copilot+ PC, 13" Touchscreen OLED Display, Snapdragon X Elite (12 Core), 16GB RAM, 256GB Storage, Black, Amazon Exclusive

Image | Xataka

Related | Microsoft Surface Pro and Surface Laptop: The AI-Powered ARM Revolution in Windows Has Begun

The device has been loaned for testing by Microsoft. You can check how we test new products at Xataka On and our Corporate Relations Policy.

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