Surface Pro 3 vs. Galaxy Note Pro 12.2: Battle of the note-taking tablets

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 vs. Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2

Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 is one of the biggest tablets out there, but it certainly isn’t the only one. The Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 is another massive tablet that specializes in note taking. The Surface Pro 3 may be the more powerful of the two tablets, but the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 gives it a run for its money with its marginally lower price and built-in S-Pen. Let’s take a look at the specs to see which one of these giant tablets wins.


Surface Pro 3


Galaxy Note Pro 12.2

galaxy note pro 12 2
Size 7.93″ x 11.5″ x 0.36″ 11.64″ x 8.03″ x 0.31″
Weight 1.76 pounds 1.66 pounds
Screen 12 inches 12.2-inch LCD
Resolution 2,160 x 1,440 2,560 x 1,600
Keyboard and Stylus

Type Cover (optional – $130), N-Trig Stylus

 No, Wacom S-Pen
Operating System Windows 8.1 Pro  Android 4.4 KitKat
Storage 64GB SSD 32/64GB
Ports 1x USB 3.0, Micro SD card reader, headset jack, Mini DisplayPort, Cover port, charging port 3.5-mm stereo headphone minijack, Built-in speakers, dual microphones, Micro-SIM card tray (Wi-Fi + cellular)
Processor 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i3 2.3GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800/octa-core Samsung Exynos 5 
RAM 4GB of 1600MHz LPDDR3 3GB
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 4400 Adreno 330
Cameras Front 5MP, Rear 5MP Front 2MP, Rear 8MP
Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0 Wi-Fi, 4G LTE, Bluetooth 4.0
Battery Up to 9 hours 9500mAh (Up to 9 hours)
Charger Proprietary Microsoft charger Micro USB
Marketplace Windows Marketplace Google Play Store
Price $799+ $750+
DT Review 3.5 out of 5 Stars 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Design and stylus

Both the Surface Pro 3 and the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 are 12-inch tablets, but the Note Pro is slightly bigger at 12.2-inches. The Samsung tablet has a slightly higher display resolution, so images should appear slightly more crisp on than on the Surface Pro 3.  Still, in our review, we found that the PenTile display of the Samsung tablet left a lot to be desired. The physical dimensions of the Note Pro exceed those of the Surface Pro 3 by a small margin, but at 1.76 pounds, the Microsoft tablet is still a tad heavier than the Samsung, which weighs just 1.66 pounds.

The Surface Pro 3 does come with a built-in kickstand, which makes perfect sense for a tablet this large. The Samsung tablet doesn’t offer any form of support. This was one of our biggest complaints about the design of the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2. However, Samsung offers built-in storage for its very slender S-Pen, while the Surface Pro 3 does not. If you decide to order the Type Cover for the Surface, you’ll get a small loop for your pen that attaches to the keyboard like a sticker. 

Samsung offers built-in storage for its very slender S-Pen. The Surface Pro 3 does not.

This is not an ideal situation. As any good mobile professional knows, laptops and tablets take a beating in our bags when we’re on the go, so it would be easy to detach the pen holding loop from the Type Cover by accident, or lose the pen all together. Providing a space for the stylus in the device may sound like a simple thing, but it’s actually a big deal. In this regard, Samsung wins.

However, when it comes to the stylus itself, Microsoft may have the edge. The Surface Pro 3’s pen is heavier, rounder, and thicker than Samsung’s diminutive S-Pen. It feels more like a regular pen to the touch and has cool functions like click to turn on the tablet and double click to save a document to OneDrive. It also writes very smoothly and the Intel Core i5 processor on our review model responded well to the pen’s input. 

That said, Samsung’s S-Pen, made by Wacom is also fully functional. When you pull it out of the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 it automatically opens up a note-taking app. The Samsung tablet also responds well to stylus input and writes easily, but it doesn’t always keep up to pace with your writing. One huge advantage users of Samsung’s tablet and stylus combo will have is a wide range of drawing and note-taking apps from Samsung and Android geared toward S-Pen users.

The  competition between these two styli is fierce and really depends on your idea of what makes a perfect pen. However, the Surface Pro 3’s pen does write better and more quickly.

Power and performance

In terms of power and performance, the Surface Pro 3 has a clear advantage over the Galaxy Note Pro 3. Microsoft gave its tablet the top-of-the-line Intel Core i3, i5, and i7 processors along with a choice of 4 or 8GB RAM. Samsung’s Galaxy Note Pro 12.2  has significantly less power than it needs to be a true multi-tasking tablet like the Surface Pro 3. Depending on which model you get, the Samsung tablet has either a Exynos 5 octa-core or a Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor onboard and it always comes with 3GB RAM.

The Qualcomm and Samsung processors work well for most of the basic tablet tasks you’d want to perform with the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2, but we found that whenever we had multiple windows open, the tablet became sluggish. The Intel processors on the Surface Pro 3 all but ensure that multitasking is a breeze. Naturally, that high-level of performance comes at a price.

The Surface Pro 3 starts at $799 and to have the full experience, you really have to buy the $130 keyboard, too. Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 is a bit cheaper, though not too much so, at $750. Admittedly, you can find the Samsung tablet for lower prices if you scour the Internet.


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