The Surface Pro 4 was a fine product but had its fair share of issues, many of which took a bit too long to rectify or at least patch up. With the new, numberless Surface Pro, it’s obvious that Microsoft took that feedback to heart.
The battery life has been improved by as much as 32%, based on our testing, in a design that refines the existing template without tangibly adding weight or thickness. Microsoft has also vastly improved the Surface Pen, Type Cover and even the Surface Pro hinge to make it a stronger laptop-and-tablet replacement than ever.
So, let’s find out why the Surface Pro has once again earned our Recommended award and whether it’s the right 2-in-1 device for you. Chances are it is.
Here is the Surface Pro configuration sent to TechRadar Middle East for review:
CPU: 2.6GHz Intel Core i5-7300U (dual-core, 4MB cache, up to 4GHz with Turbo Boost)
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620
RAM: 8GB LPDDR3
Screen: 12.3-inch, 2,736 x 1,824 PixelSense display (Contrast ratio: 1,300:1, 100% sRGB color, 10-point multi-touch, 3:2 aspect ratio)
Storage: 256GB SSD (PCIe 3.0)
Ports: 1x USB 3.0, mini DisplayPort, microSDXC card reader (UHS-I), headphone/mic jack
Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi (2 x 2 MIMO), Bluetooth 4.1 (Low Energy)
Cameras: 8MP rear-facing, auto-focus camera (1080p HD); 5MP front-facing, 1080p HD camera
Weight: 1.73 pounds
Size: 11.5 x 7.93 x 0.33 inches (W x D x H)
Pricing and availability
The new Surface Pro is available now starting at AED 4,499, which offers an Intel Core i5 (Kaby Lake) processor coupled with 4GB of memory (RAM) and 128GB of solid-state storage (SSD).
Running the gamut through Intel Core i5 and i7 chips with more memory and storage, the Surface Pro is also available at AED 6,699 for a Core i7, 8GB of RAM and 256GB storage configuration, all the way up AED 10,799 for an Intel Core i7 CPU paired with a 1TB SSD and 16GB of RAM.
Compared to the latest 10.5-inch iPad Pro, Apple’s tablet starts at AED 2,499 with an A10X processor and 64GB of storage. On the other end of the spectrum, the most heavily-equipped version of the 10.5-inch iPad Pro goes for AED 3,799 and offer 512GB worth storage with the very same CPU.
Like the Surface Pro 4 before it, the new Surface Pro is dealing with sleep issues. A small number of Surface Pro users have described random instances of the computer entering hibernate mode without initiating it themselves. While likely not an issue of overheating, it has become a relatively common bug. The solution, according to Microsoft, is to reset the device back to factory settings.
Peering towards the future, Microsoft’s upcoming, stylus-driven Whiteboard app has leaked ahead of its late 2017 launch. Although this early build lacks the collaborative features set to be offered in the final version of Whiteboard, it did teach us that handwritten Bing searches will be integrated directly into the app.
At first glance, the new Surface Pro looks just like its predecessor, the Surface Pro 4. It has the same gorgeous 12.3-inch PixelSense touchscreen with a 2,736 x 1,824-pixel resolution. But, a keen eye will notice key differences. For one, the magnesium-aluminum alloy frame dramatically more rounded at the edges than before.
If you’ve used a Surface Pro 4 frequently, your fingers will tell the difference before your eyes do.
Another key change comes in the hinge, which has been improved through drawing inspiration from the Surface Studio. The hinge now bends back further than before to a new “Studio mode” that makes for a narrower, 165-degree angle, at which, it’s easier to draw than before.
The hinge looks markedly different, clearly incorporating new parts to make this more dramatic angle possible, but operates in exactly the same way.
The new Surface Pro comes in at the exact same 8.4mm of thickness with its 786g weight remaining unchanged. That’s an impressive feat considering that Microsoft accomplished this while packing a 20% larger battery inside.
Microsoft has also improved thermal design allowing it to make the Intel Core i5 version of the Surface Pro a fanless device.
Sadly, you won’t find any USB Type-C ports which makes the device less future-proof. Ideally, Microsoft would remove the proprietary charging port and add a USB Type-C port that can charge the Surface Pro and be used for connectivity purposes.
Surface Pro also comes with the new optional Alcantara Type Cover which is a marked improvement in comfort over the previous generation, and largely worth the slight uptick in asking price over the microfiber cloth version. The keys feel like they’re deeper set and come back from a press with more force than ever, and the material looks like it will stand the test of time.
Surface Pen gets a big boost
The Surface Pen has also gotten a major upgrade. Starting off, Microsoft has upped the pressure sensitivity of its pen to 4,096 levels of detectable pressure, meaning creators have more control over the width and intensity of their lines in illustrations or designs than before. More importantly, the Pen now sports a much lower latency, meaning that the tip of your Pen has a far lower chance of “leading” the ink on the PixelSense display.
Finally, the Pen also supports tilt detection now, though only through the new Surface Pro – the other current Surface devices will get the support for this feature through a firmware update.
This feature will, again – short of some nifty navigation controls in some apps – largely matter most to true creators that would be concerned about representing tilt and direction of the strokes in their work.
To top it all off, the Pen also comes in new, slick colors platinum, black, cobalt blue and burgundy, designed naturally to match to the available colors of new Type Covers.
There’s no debating that both the new Surface Pen and Type Cover have earned their slight price hikes, but we remain disappointed in the lack of any bundling to save committed customers a bit of money for fully buying in on Microsoft’s products on day one.