By now we would have known that this is not the Surface Pro 5 we are all waiting for, but it is a close one. The latest version of the class-leading detachable-hybrid 2-in-1 tablet is simply named Microsoft Surface Pro like the Apple New iPad. It has the same dimensions as the Surface Pro 4 and shares peripheral compatibility with that tablet and the Surface Pro 3. What’s new? It has a set of Kaby Lake processors, potentially longer battery life, and a revamped Type Cover and Surface Pen.
At first glance, you’d be forgiven if you think the new Surface Pro looks just like the earlier iterations. It has the same platinum-coloured magnesium alloy exterior, a shiny Windows logo on the back of its kickstand, and the same choice of ports on its sides. It notably still lacks USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, which will have to wait for a future generation.
The Surface Pro measures 0.33 by 11.5 by 7.9 inches (HWD) and weighs 1.73 pounds without the Type Cover, matching the Surface Pro 4 exactly. Side by side, you’ll notice slightly rounder edges around the case, as well as thinner vents for the Core i5 and Core i7 processors, but this is undoubtedly a Surface Pro tablet.
The 12.3-inch PixelSense Display has the same dimensions and 2,736-by-1,824 resolution as the previous iteration, so it will look and feel familiar. Colours are bright, and viewing angles are wide. Other features like an IR camera for Windows Hello login and a rear-facing 8MP camera also move to this generation.
Here’s The New Features
There are more obvious differences once you pop out the kickstand since it now opens to a full 165 degrees, which is about as flat as you can get while still exhibiting a bit of tilt. The difference is obvious when you place the fully tilted (150 degrees) Surface Pro 4 next to the tablet, so it may be worth the upgrade if your Surface Pro 3 or 4 doesn’t recline far enough for your tastes. You can use the tablet with the Microsoft Surface Dial resting on the screen without worrying it will slide off.
The other physical changes are the new Alcantara-clad Signature Type Covers, coming in the same colours (Platinum, Burgundy, and Cobalt Blue) as the keyboards on the Microsoft Surface Laptop released in early May. They cost $169, up from the $129 Surface Type Covers that are still available, but they feel more luxurious.
The new Signature Type Cover clips to the Surface Pro using the same magnetic connector as earlier generations, so it’s compatible with the Surface Pro 3 and 4. Typing on the new keyboard and using the one-piece touchpad have an identical feel to earlier models, differing only in the cushy Alcantara suede-like surface surrounding the keys and touchpad. The keys have 1.5mm of travel, so they’re comfortable during long typing sessions at home on a desk or on a coffee shop table. However, like previous iterations, the kickstand and flippy cover combination isn’t the most comfortable way to type on your lap.
The Surface Pen is included, and it now comes in the same four colours (Black, Burgundy, Cobalt Blue, and Platinum) as the Type Covers and Surface Arc Mouse. Pressure sensitivity has been increased from 1,024 to 4,096 levels. The pocket clip of the previous version is gone, replaced by a stronger set of magnets that let you attach the Pen to the side of your Surface 3 tablet, Surface Pro, Surface Studio, or Surface Laptop.
The Pen still has a right-click button on the side and a shortcut button on its blunt end, so if you’re upgrading, everything will feel familiar.
We’ll reserve our final judgment for when we get the Surface Pro in for testing, but Microsoft is claiming a 20 percent increase in performance over the past iteration, thanks to new seventh-generation versions of the Intel Core m3, i5, and i7 processors.
The company also claims an increase from 9 to 13 hours of battery life, which exceeds the 10 hours, 19 minutes we observed on the Surface Pro 4. That’s amazing, considering the system has a higher-than-full-HD screen and is so thin. We look forward to putting the new Surface Pro through its paces in the coming months.
The new Surface Pro will be available starting July 15, 2017, the same date as the Surface laptop. Pre-orders are available today at the Microsoft Store, Microsoft.com, and BestBuy.com. Check back closer to launch for a full review.