Microsoft has officially unveiled its latest Surface Pro convertible, but the company is clear: this isn’t the previously-denied Surface Pro 5, despite being the fifth major release in the Surface Pro’s history.
Earlier this month, Microsoft’s Panos Panay was adamant that the company was not working on a Surface Pro 5 to replace its existing Surface Pro 4 convertible tablet-cum-laptop. ‘When it’s meaningful and the change is right, we’ll put [the next generation Surface Pro] on market,‘ he explained during an interview. ‘Meaningful change isn’t necessarily a hardware change, which is what a lot of people look for. They’re like, “where’s the latest processor?” That’s not what I mean. I’m looking for an experiential change that makes a huge difference in product line,‘ he added, claiming that the Surface Pro 4 would remain ‘competitive for five years‘ and clarifying that ‘there is no such thing as a Pro 5.‘
Now, less than a month later, Panay stood in front of a gathered crowd to unveil the company’s new Surface Pro – lacking, you may note, the numerical suffix that would have otherwise made it the definitely-doesn’t-exist Surface Pro 5.
The new Surface Pro, not to be confused with the identically-named original Surface Pro, includes a range of claimed improvements. Peak battery life, which varies depending on model purchased, is up from nine hours to 13.5 hours, thanks in part to integrating the SSD onto the motherboard, a switch to Intel’s latest Kaby Lake microarchitecture, and dropping the active cooling fans from the Core m3 and Core i5 versions. The new Type Cover – which is, as usual, not provided as standard with the tablet – comes with the same suede-effect Alcantara covering as its recently-announced Surface Laptop. When used on a desk, the new kickstand allows positioning through a 165 degree range, placing it flatter to the desk to mimic the company’s Surface Studio all-in-one.
The biggest change, however, comes in the Surface Pen accessory. According to Microsoft, the new Surface Pen stylus is ‘twice as responsive as the Apple Pencil‘ with a 21 millisecond response time – down from 45 milliseconds in the previous release – with quadrupled pressure resolution at 4,096 levels. Sadly, the company has also pulled the device from packs: like the Type Cover, the Surface Pen is now an optional accessory and does not come as standard with any model.
Microsoft has opened pre-orders for six stock keeping units (SKUs) of Surface Pro absolutely-not-5, starting at £799 for the entry-level model with Core m3 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD, and topping out at £2,699 for the flagship version with a Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD. The new Surface Pro Signature Type Cover with Alcantara covering is priced at £149.99, with the new Surface Pen not yet priced in the UK but set at a $99 US recommended retail price that will likely equate to £99 on this side of the pond. The Surface Dial rotary accessory, meanwhile, is priced at £89.99.