Which has lower latency: Apple Pencil or Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 stylus?

By , Nov 13, 2015

Apple iPad Pro Pencil

Microsoft’s fourth-generation Surface Pro offers stylus and keyboard cover accessories just like Apple’s newly released iPad Pro. Apple, of course, is adamant that the Pencil is the best stylus on the market because it has virtually no lag or delay.

The Apple Pencil takes full advantage of  iOS’s predictive touch technology, the iPad Pro’s special screen design and sensors in its tip that measure every nuanced stroke, angle and pressure.

After putting the device through its paces, El Mundo writer and photographer Angel Jimenez de Luis concludes that Apple’s stylus has a bit lower latency than Microsoft’s, and he posted a video showcasing tracking capabilities of both accessories.

De Luis used the Notes app on the iPad Pro and Microsoft’s OneNote on the Surface Pro 4. He then captured a clip in slow motion at 120 frames per second to really highlight the differences in tracking between the two styli.

Check out his video below.

You can clearly see that the Apple Pencil has a bit lower latency than the Surface Pen on the Surface Pro 4, although Microsoft’s stylus is certainly no slouch either.

When it comes to CPU/GPU speed, no tablet can touch the iPad Pro’s fast A9X chip.

If you put the iPad Pro through its paces using synthetic benchmarks like GeekBench, GFXBench, Sunspider, Kraken and Octane, Microsoft’s speediest Surface Pro is slightly faster in single-core CPU tests thanks to Intel’s Core i5 chip (at the expense of the tablet’s battery life), but the iPad Pro has faster graphics.

iPar Pro Geekbench single-core ArsTechnica 003

iPar Pro Geekbench single-core ArsTechnica 004
Benchmark scores courtesy of ArsTechnica.

One thing the Apple Pencil does that Microsoft’s does not: the stylus is weighed in such a way that it won’t roll away on a table top, and always stops rolling with the word “Pencil” facing upward on the metal band.

Source: Angel Jimenez de Luis via GforGames

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  • Ashy Larry

    *Grabs popcorn.*

  • WiseBlasian

    Until you run out of battery and have to wait 1 hour for it to charge.

    • askep3

      Or 15 seconds???

    • Stefano Polo

      “15 seconds of charging = 30 minutes of battery life” – Official Apple Site

      • theemptyhead

        Artist draws for 4/5 hours continuously. Drawing for 30 mins and waiting for 15 min. is very annoying. Not so productive device.

      • Stefano Polo

        I think this went over your head….for every 15 seconds the pencil is charging, you get 30 minutes out of it…if you do the math, you would need to only charge it for 150 seconds (or under 3 minutes) to get 5 hours of use…..not charge it for an hour like Wiseblaisan is suggesting…

      • theemptyhead

        My bad. But my point is it needs to be charged almost everyday while surface pen don’t need to be charged “replace battery” for a whole year. Samsung s-pen doesn’t need to be charged at all. As an artist you wouldn’t want to be interrupted by your pen and keep worrying about its charge. It’s very bad decision by apple.

      • Stefano Polo

        My guess here is that the reason why this pen needs a battery versus it’s competitors is because of the fact that i can do weighted lines when pressed down and shading when tilted (must have some sort of gyro capabilities like smartphones do). You need a battery in order to do that. If I’m not mistaken, none of the other competing stylus can do these. If this really is a turn-off for you as an artist and you really can’t spare 3 minutes every 5 hours to recharge the pen…you can still use any standard stylus that have been working for iPad for years…..

      • Stefano Polo

        15 SECONDS….not 15 minutes…..

      • Ashy Larry

        Well, his name is ‘the empty head’. You’re not gonna reason with this guy.

      • theemptyhead

        Emptying head is the way to progress as you have space to learn new things. Unlike your head which is completely filled with apple s#it that you can’t think anything other than apple.

      • Ashy Larry

        You don’t owe me an explanation. It’s not like it really matters. Lol

      • Thewhoopimen

        Hey Emptyhead… get with the program. There is 12 hours of battery life on the Pencil. If you are drawing for 12 hours straight and can’t wait for a 3 minute break to get 5 hours… your the one who needs to get your head re-examined.

      • Morgan Freeman

        I had this same discussion with another user about apple’s new mouse. The user was dead set on me being wrong, when it was he who was wrong. Complained that he’d miss deadlines when his mouse dies. I told the guy just charge it for 60 seconds if it comes down to it, and if he was cutting things that close that he couldn’t spare one minute, then he needed to reprioritize his life. He called me names and said I was wrong. This went on for days. Never got through to him to just charge the damn thing at night or weekends. Some people are VERY thick headed and stubborn.

      • Stefano Polo

        That’s exactly my thought. If you’re telling me that you can’t spare 3 minutes every 5 hours to do your job…you need to re-evaluate your life choices…

      • hmmple

        that is true but the way it charges is hideous and they could have made it more practical by making it usable as both wireless and wired for the convenience of users.

        Then there would be a need for a little hole in front of the mouse to house the cable and it would take away from their design I guess…

      • Thewhoopimen

        15 seconds….

      • John Ten

        Empty headed comment. 15 seconds you

    • Chindavon

      Or until you get a clue. lol

  • Plistumichu

    Additional information: on the iPad Pro you can see only curves, but in the Surface you can see some kind of straight lines.
    Is not a minor detail.

    • Iliyan

      I’m pretty sure this is a software thing.

      • Plistumichu

        It would be but on a 4th generation device I would like to see that already solved.

      • theemptyhead

        It can be third party software that are not updated to support surface pen. It’s not ok to conclude on this video without knowing which software they are using.

      • He claims to have used Microsoft’s OneNote app and Apple’s Notes app…

      • Know which variant he’s using? i5/i7 or Core M?

      • Fresh Paint and Autodesk Sketch Book is better with that.

    • Conor

      I have a surface pro 4 and they must have the videos switched. Idk what kind of potato they used in the first video but my i5 surface has absolutely 0 noticeable lag when using the pen. They do not show anything but a small portion of the screen so it is not obvious that they are even running the tests on the machines they say they are.

  • iPhoneWINS

    omg

  • Mr.Coolfreak

    Wow, surface pro 4 beats iPad Pro in benchmarks

    • Thewhoopimen

      considering the ipad pro is using a mobile processor… thats pretty damn impressive it’s keeping up with an i5. Thats when you take a look at the battery life of the iPad Pro vs the SP4 and go… omg 10 hrs vs 3?

  • Snailpo

    Still happy with my surface purchase haha

    • TechnoBuff

      I sold my iPad Air awhile ago and bought a Surface Pro 3, best decision i ever made with regards to tablet purchase.

      • Ashy Larry

        I’d buy a surface if it didn’t run Windows.

      • theemptyhead

        No wonder, your head is full of apple s#it.

      • TechnoBuff

        Then you obviously missed the whole point, which is about what the OS can do on Surface Pro, which is Windows 10.
        Personally,it is just a matter of time before Apple puts a full productivity OS on the IPad,
        The iPad Pro will not save Ipad sales decline in its present state, after the novelty of Ipad is over, the sales decline will continue and drastically at that

      • Ashy Larry

        I didn’t miss anything. And I don’t give a red cent about Apple’s or Microsoft’s sales as I don’t work for nor own stock in either.

        If and when Apple releases such a product, I’ll evaluate it and make my purchasing decision accordingly. Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy may MacBook Pro and soon to have iPad pro.

      • Rowan09

        Why aren’t Surface 3’s and Pro selling like hot cakes then? The iPad is declining because Apple gives people less of a reason to upgrade especially when you can get the latest OS on the iPad 2. While its declining it’s still way ahead of everyone else.

      • @sexyhamthing

        There are literally hundreds of android tablets -_-

      • Snailpo

        I did the same thing this way I could have a full operating system

      • TechnoBuff

        I have a MacBook and the Surface Pro 3 so that i can be fully productive and not impacted by the limitation of the Ipad, To me, the Ipad is a consumption machine and will always be for most people.

  • TechnoBuff

    With reference to other videos and tests on both Apple pencil and Surface Pro stylus. The tests arent quite fair per say.
    Noticeable lag was observed when using Adobe apps compared to other Apple apps on the IPad Pro, which i suspect might be the same for Surface Pro as well.
    Apple apps are optimised to work well with the Pencil compared to other apps.
    So these tests arent exactly comparing apples to apples

    • Mind linking to these other videos you speek of?

      • TechnoBuff

        There is a video on the Verge from the createive director of Vox and as you can see someone has same observation already

    • Snailpo

      I played with a iPad pro today and yeah some programs on the iPad were much more laggier than others as well

  • theemptyhead

    “Slimmed pc” Surface pro 4(128gb) + pen + keyboard + microsoft office = $1300(complete productivity)

    “Streched ipad” ipad pro(128gb) + pen + keyboard – microsoft office = $1400(less productivity)

    Surface pro4 > ipad pro

  • Unknow Unknow

    apencil= ridiculous name just for cover up the reality that is just a stylus
    A pencil = ridiculous $100 for something that only cost $2 in parts and labor in China that’s why Apple is making so much money
    A pencil? A pencil that needs be recharged? Only in America Jeff

  • M_Hawke

    “Microsoft’s fourth-generation Surface Pro offers stylus and keyboard cover accessories just like Apple’s newly released iPad Pro.”

    Uhm, no. It’s the other way around, if you want to be truthful.

    • the hood

      Speaking of truthful, if you keep the end cap on the surface pen it won’t roll away either. I bet if you elevate the tabletop either pen are on to say 45 degrees I bet the Apple pen rolls away first without an end cap Christian you’re just to clever with your comparisons or not so.

  • dalestrauss

    “One thing the Apple Pencil does that Microsoft’s does not: the stylus is weighed in such a way that it won’t roll away on a table top, and always stops rolling with the word “Pencil” facing upward on the metal band.”

    And this is better than having a built in clip that stops the roll AND lets you store it in a shirt pocket?