A credible Bloomberg report claims that Microsoft will deliver a $400 Surface-branded tablet by late 2018. The device would better compete with Apple’s entry-level iPad and would return Microsoft to a market segment it abandoned when it stopped selling the Surface 3.
The report is written by Mark Gurman, who has excellent industry sources, and Dina Bass, a credible reporter and excellent writer.
It claims that Microsoft is “seeking a hit in a market for cheaper devices that Apple dominates with the iPad” and cites people familiar with the matter.
The $400 Surface tablet will feature a 10-inch display, which is considerably smaller than the 12.5-inch display on the current Surface Pro. It will have rounded corners, which are unlike the hard corners on existing Surface tablets, and should deliver about 9.5 hours of battery life. it will be powered by an Intel chipset and will feature USB-C connectivity.
That last bit is important. Microsoft took its first tepid steps to USB-C with the Surface Book 2, which was released last Fall. But the $400 Surface tablet will apparently be the first of Microsoft’s PC to rely on USB-C for power.
There will be versions with 64 and 128 GB of storage, and models that connect to LTE cellular networks. Like previous Surface tablets, it will feature an integrated kickstand. And it will run Windows 10 Pro.
The Bloomberg report doesn’t specify this, but it’s likely that the new Surface is aimed at the cost-conscious education market. Apple recently unveiled an updated $329 iPad for education, and while few schools would ever buy such a limited device, a tablet that could be used as a real PC would be a nice alternative.