Microsoft Quietly Introduces Surface Pro 4 Model Without a Pen

Posted on January 23, 2017 by Brad Sams in Hardware with 23 Comments

Microsoft has introduced a new SKU of the Surface Pro 4 on its website and oddly, it does not include a pen. If you are looking to buy the lowest end model of the Pro family, the M3 iteration, there is now an option to buy this model without a pen.

If you don’t go for the pen option, this knocks $100 off the price point of the device. Unfortunately, for those who would like to save $100 on other iterations of the Pro 4, a pen-less SKU is not available; Neowin was first to note this change in Microsoft’s sales strategy of the tablet.

Here’s what doesn’t make sense; if the pen is really adding $100 to the price of the Pro 4, why wouldn’t they make the pen the accessories and include a Type cover instead? As of right now, the NFL type covers cost $100 and are significantly more useful with a Pro 4 than the included pen.

By dropping the pen, they are lowering the cost of entry to buy a Pro 4, which now starts at $799 (sans Type cover). We know that price elasticity of the tech industry is high, meaning a small change in price can have a significant change in demand for the good, so a $100 price point drop of the Pro 4 should help to boost sales of the device.

Seeing as the Pro 4 and the Surface Book are starting to show their age and the majority of its PC competitors are running Kaby lake silicon, this maneuver could also be a way to help move inventory as well. For those looking to buy a Surface, now is a good time land a good deal on the hardware but know that that the product will likely be refreshed this spring, possibly in April.

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Comments (23)

23 responses to “Microsoft Quietly Introduces Surface Pro 4 Model Without a Pen”

  1. 1561

    Also, you can get a pen for $46 on Amazon. Seems like a good deal any way you slice it.

  2. 5394

    $699 is the better entry price. Still expensive, but more attainable.

    • 699

      In reply to glenn8878:

      Agreed! I think we will probably see this price drop once newer models are announced, hopefully in the Spring. Of course, I'll be opting for one of the newer models ;) I have a Surface Book base model laptop and love it, but will gladly sell it to finance the newer device.

  3. 3272

    Best Buy has been selling this model with the Alcantara keyboard bundle for 749 all last week. This week it's on sale for 699.00 They have been selling this bundle since before black Friday without the pen. Nothing new about this.

  4. 699

    I use my pen more than others since I'm an artist, but I agree the keyboard is way more useful for everyday computing, etc. I feel this is a good deal, though, especially if people don't want the pen and just want to get the tablet. The older SP3 type covers work on the tablet, too, and you can find a good deal on eBay on those. (If you are a previous Surface owner, you can use your old type cover and pen with the newer hardware.) Also check out the 'returned item' bins at Best Buy. I've found gently used returned SP4 Type Covers marked down about 30% in there, before, and the older ones are always on sale. Also: Check eBay and Amazon.

  5. 180

    I suspect they're trying to offload old inventory before the next device releases. If the pen design doesn't change (and I like the current model a lot) then they can just use those existing pens with the SP5.

    But overall I think it's a mistake in strategy. The pen is a differentiator, and something that I think some users get hooked on. But most are price sensitive enough that if there's a cheaper option without, they'll take it. This is doubly true of the m3 SP4, which is thinner and fanless and so the most natural fit with the pen of all MS's devices.

  6. 6080

    Is this new? At least in Australia, where I am, this was the model all the major retailers were marketing throughout the holiday season and probably as far back as November

  7. 2481

    This is not a smart.  You cannot hook people on the Pen if its not included. Making the type cover cost is a smart add on because everyone will buy it. 

    • 2611

      In reply to harmjr:

      Perhaps this is a way of dropping the price without everyone who recently purchased asking for a refund.  Bundling has hurt MS before -- xbone with Kinect.  MS has nothing to worry if they can ask $800 on a last gen I3 with 4GB.

  8. 7131

    There have recently been retailers in the UK selling Surface Pro 4 without the pen but with a bundled keyboard. This doesn't seem to just be a promotion by the retailer - the units come together in one Microsoft branded box.

  9. 4618

    Hmm, what an odd thing. Standalone, the pen costs only $59 on the same site, so buying the SKU with the pen is just wasting $40...

  10. 7100

    I'm leaning towards the means of moving inventory argument... ...Or a way to fill the void of Microsoft never producing a Surface 4.

    I already have a Surface Book, with a pen, which I use daily. As I am in the market for an auxiliary device, and the Surface 3 is no longer available, I might consider purchasing a low end Surface 4 Pro sans pen. Though, not at the current price point; knock another $100 off the price Microsoft and I'll commit.

    Perhaps in April:-)

    • 7191

      In reply to dcbCreative: knock another $100 off the price Microsoft

      They sell the M3 refurb for only $640. But then you still have to buy the keyboard, unless you don't intend to do any typing. 


  11. 661

    perhaps I should post this in the forum - but I am curious of those that have the M3 version of SP4 - do you have any regrets? I am very intrigued by a fanless device and more than willing to trade performance for one. My main hesitation is the lower RAM and SSD sizes of the SP4 M3 versions... I have a SP3 with I5, 8GB and 256GB, is the step down noticable?


    • 7191

      In reply to Simard57: For the sorts of things I do on a laptop, the M3 is fine. Because of the way Intel's "turbo boost" works, the speed isn't very different from the full-power i5 when doing things like loading web pages. Where you see the most differences are if you were maxing out the CPU over a long period of time. The CPU would likely throttle itself down to remain cool, whereas the i5 can maintain those higher speeds for longer because of the fan. Likewise, for just surfing the web and using a few apps, 4GB is plenty. If you're going to be doing something that requires more than 4GB of RAM, then you probably already know that.
      The only real disappointment I have with the M3 is the battery life. It's not any better than the i5. You would think that if the i5 model can hit 6 or 7 hours of battery life with an i5 CPU that maxes out at 15W, then a M3 CPU that tops out a 4.5W should provide at least 10 hours. Nope! Microsoft must have made the battery smaller in the fanless version, which was definitely a mistake. I knew about this going in, so I wasn't surprised by the mediocre battery life, but I think that a lot of people would be surprised that the low-power model goes through the battery at the same rate as the high-power models.




    • 8172

      In reply to Simard57:

      It all depends on what you need... I have the M3 version and it's more than adequate for what I do with it so for me the fanless and lighter design is a bonus... I read that it was a bit slower than the i5 version but I've never regretted buying the slower version as I haven't had any complaints about performance.

      • 661

        In reply to billreilly:

        my SP3 is my daily machine though my requirements are modest. My main concern is the more limited RAM which will restrict how much of what can run at the same time but I bet I could change my workflow. If there were an 8GB version it would be a no brainer for me


  12. 5184

    It's hard to get excited about the SP4 with all the problems it has had, presumably due to the chipset.  I have one at the office as my primary dev device and it is constantly having issues, such as:

    -  (MS) Bluetooth mouse dropping out for 10 secs at a time at random points throughout the day,

    -  Any wireless USB keyboard or mouse plugged into the dock has periods of lag (does not happen if plugged directly into SP),

    -  Windows can't figure out which external display to place running apps on after unlock about 50 percent of the time,

    -  Nearly every Windows Update that applies at night or weekend results in an unresponsive, hot device with black screen that I have to hard shut down and restart.

    I haven't had nearly this sort of problem with my personal SP3. 

    My advice to friends and family that ask is to leave the SP4 alone, despite any sales, promotions, and product adjustments made by MS to lower the price.  I was bullish on Surface Pro until SP4.  I'm hoping SP5 brings this back in line with the earlier SP reliability.