Microsoft’s new Surface Pro X gets better battery life than an iPad Pro — and it runs a full version of Windows 10

  • Microsoft's new Surface Pro X gets 13 hours of battery life — an impressive number for such a slim and light laptop that runs the full version of Windows 10
  • That's three hours more than the Apple iPad Pro's 10-hour battery life. 
  • The key here is Microsoft's new SQ1 chip based on the "ARM" architecture. These chips are often made for mobile devices like smartphones, but the SQ1 chip has been engineered to provide computer-like performance rather that smartphone performance. 
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Microsoft new Surface Pro X tablet/laptop hybrid boasts 13 hours of battery life for "typical device usage" while running the full version of the Windows 10 operating system.

Meanwhile, the iPad Pro with a 13-inch screen — the same size as the Surface Pro X — is rated for 10 hours of battery life by Apple for "surfing the web on Wi-Fi, watching video, or listening to music" on the mobile iPad OS operating system.

I'm not saying that the iPad Pro's battery life is bad. Not at all. The 13-inch iPad Pro is thinner than the Surface Pro X, and it might have a smaller battery (although that's unclear, as Microsoft hasn't listed the Surface Pro X's battery size). 

Rather, I'm saying that the Surface Pro X has an impressive battery life, especially for such a compact and portable device, and considering that it runs the full version of the Windows 10 operating system.

Sure, 13 hours may not actually seem that impressive, as other laptops can claim more battery life. But those laptops are almost always going to be chunkier and heavier. The Surface Pro X's benefit is that it can fit in a backpack or bag without taking up much space or adding more weight. The Surface Pro X is only slightly thicker the iPad Pro and weighs only 1.7 pounds without the detachable keyboard. With the keyboard attached, it might weigh closer to 2 pounds. 

Read more: I tried the Surface Pro X, Microsoft's slim new $1,000 laptop with long battery life, a brand-new processor, and huge potential

surface pro x side
Another view of the Surface Pro X.

Business Insider/Antonio Villas-Boas

The key here is Microsoft's so-called "SQ1" chip, a processor made by Qualcomm that's based on the "ARM" architecture. 

With that in mind, some tech journalists at Microsoft's Surface event weren't as impressed, as ARM chips have shown that devices can get up to 20 hours of battery life. But that expectation comes from mobile versions of ARM chips that you might find in Android smartphones. 

The ARM chip in the Surface Pro X is designed for computers, and it's made to deliver computer-like performance rather than smartphone-like performance, a representative told Business Insider at the Surface event. With that in mind, the Microsoft SQ1 ARM chip soaks up more power than a standard ARM chip. As a result, an ARM-based laptop designed for computer performance isn't going to get the same battery life as a smartphone. 

While the SQ1 chip in the Surface Pro X is designed for computer performance, it won't be powerful enough for heavy-duty tasks like gaming or video editing. But for everything else, like web browsers and productivity apps like Microsoft Office, it's likely all anyone would ever need. 

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