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Apple iPad vs Microsoft Surface RT vs Google Nexus 10 head to head review

Apple iPad vs Microsoft Surface RT vs Google Nexus 10 three-quarter view

When it comes to performance all three of the tablets are very good, with the Nexus, iPad and Surface all using top end components.

However, of the three the iPad is the most interesting, packing Apple's A6X dual-core processor with quad-core graphics. Apple's yet to reveal the processor's exact speed, though traditionally iPad components have clocked in at lower than competing Android devices.

Yet, this doesn't mean the iPad is necessarily slower than the Nexus 10 or Surface RT. In the past despite being on paper slower than competitors, the iPads have managed to offer equivalent or superior performance thanks to their iOS software.

Apple has always used a closed development process when creating its products. The advantage of this is that it lets Apple optimise its software and components to work together, thus meaning they can theoretically match the performance of on paper faster products.

This meant that running against the 1.7GHz Cortex A15-powered Nexus 10, we found Apple's iPad generally offered equivalent to slightly better performance.

The same was true when we tested the iPad against the 1.3GHz quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 T30-powered Surface RT. Here again we found the iPad boasted slightly quicker performance, generally loading videos and launching apps a fraction of a second faster.

That said, this is all based on very basic speed testing. To date there isn't a benchmarking tool that reliably works on all three platforms, making it difficult to fully judge the three tablets' comparative performance.

Winner: The Apple iPad

When it comes to taking photos and shooting video the Microsoft Surface is the worst performer, featuring bare-bones 720p front and rear cameras. Both cameras are pretty dire at taking photos, with images coming out hazier and with poorer colour balance than on the iPad and Nexus.

The reality is that both the Surface RT's cameras aren't really good for anything but video calling.Microsoft Surface RT test shot

Taken on the Microsoft Surface RT

The iPad and Nexus 10 however are slightly better, both featuring 5MP rear-facing cameras. Testing the two, neither tablet's cameras match the stellar performance seen on smartphones like the Lumia 920 or iPhone 5.iPad test shot

Taken on the Apple iPad 

Images taken in normal lighting conditions generally come out fine on both devices, boasting decent enough colour balance levels and being reasonably crisp. However, in more difficult high or low light conditions both are close to useless, with photos coming out hazy and unevenly coloured.Google Nexus 10 test shot

Taken on the Nexus 10

This means that while, if desperate the iPad and Nexus 10 can be used as cameras, we wouldn't recommend it. Luckily the Nexus 10's 1.9MP and iPad's 1.2MP front-facing cameras are more than adequate for video calling purposes.

Winner: Tie between Google Nexus 10 and Apple iPad

Next: Connectivity, storage, battery and price

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Alastair Stevenson

Alastair has worked as a reporter covering security and mobile issues at V3 since March 2012. Before entering the field of journalism Alastair had worked in numerous industries as both a freelance copy writer and artist.

View Alastair's Google+ profile

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