At an event in Shanghai earlier today, Microsoft revealed its Surface Pro 2017 device. We reported the leaked images before the event, and it seems they were legitimate. But what are the upgrades to the Surface Pro 2017 that make it any different from the earlier Surface Pro 4? Let’s dig in and find out.
Surface Pro 2017 Key Specs
The first thing you’ll notice is that the processors on the Surface Pro 2017 tablets are now Intel’s seventh generation Core m and Core i Kaby Lake processors, which you’ll now see in several 2017 devices. These were supposed to appear in the Surface Pro 5, but since that device is yet to see the light of day, it’s quite possible that they’ll have a further upgrade to Cannonlake. Who knows – Microsoft could even be considering an AMD Radeon variant, as speculated a while ago.
Kaby Lake on the new Surface Pro provides a boost in two key areas – better performance and better battery life. A 20 percent improvement in performance and 4.5 more hours of battery life (13.5 hours of video playback, according to Microsoft, which means only 1 hour less than the new Surface Laptop running Windows 10 S) certainly make this device deserve a second look.
Strangely enough, Microsoft has kept the same dimensions for the new tablet as for Surface Pro 4 – the Core m3 and Core i5 variants have fanless cooling, so they’re a little lighter, but other dimensions are very similar.
Connectivity is still though a USB 3 port, so no USB Type C on the new Surface Pro tablets. But Microsoft has put out a USB to USB C dongle as an optional accessory in case you need it.
The stylus seems to have been upgraded more than the device itself. It now has 4096 different levels of pressure sensitivity, as well as tilt sensitivity. But it no longer comes with the device. You’ll have to shell out another $99 for the Surface stylus, and the tilt only works on the new Surface Pro for now.
It also comes with Surface Dial support. Surface Dial is basically a control and input device that goes directly on the screen, and works with apps like Sketchable. It came along with Surface Studio, but is now ideal for the Surface Pro as well, with its similar tilt angle.
The kickstand also received a minor upgrade, and you can now recline the Surface Pro to 165 degrees, similar to the Surface Studio’s monitor’s near-horizontal recline angle of about 160 degrees.
The base model Surface Pro 2017 is priced at $799 and goes all the way up to $2,699. According to Microsoft, an LTE variant is due out later in 2017, so if you’re on the road a lot you might want to wait for that one to come out.
Other than that, there don’t appear to be that many upgrades to the new tablet from Microsoft, although the head of Microsoft Surface, Panos Panay, says:
“There are about 800 new custom parts in the new Pro. We did take Kaby Lake, it’s the latest generation, of course. But it’s the integrated SSD on the motherboard. It’s the fundamental architecture changes that we do in Windows and Surface. It brings 13.5 hours of battery. It’s lighter than the previous generation product, and it’s more powerful with no fan.”
Microsoft appears to have thrown a major spanner into the works with this release. While most of us were expecting a Surface Pro 5 to come this year, they’ve dropped the entire numbering system with this new iteration.
Now, the big question remains: Will there even be a Surface Pro 5 released this year? Or will they simply start following Apple’s cue on the MacBook Pro and start tagging the product name with the year of release?