As expected, Surface 3 4G LTE is now available from AT&T Wireless in the United States. But Microsoft also revealed this morning that it will offer unlocked versions of the tablet through its own stores and via other retailers. And Microsoft will even provide AT&T and T-Mobile SIMs if you buy Surface 3 4G LTE from its retail stores.
UPDATE: Microsoft has told me that “the unlocked versions of Surface 3 (4G LTE) will be available in the U.S. through Microsoft stores, authorized resellers and partner retailers in late August.” They apologize for the mistake. –Paul
“Surface 3 brings the best of Surface Pro 3 in a compact and affordable package, and the 4G LTE version will be a great fit for a lot of people who need to stay connected beyond the reach of Wi-Fi,” Microsoft Surface general manager Brian Hall said. “I’m excited to see the availability of Surface 3 (4G LTE) growing and will provide future updates as we have them.”
AT&T revealed a few days ago that it would be the first carrier in the US to offer Surface 3 4G LTE. (This follows the first availability of these devices, in Japan, on July 1. And it went on sale in France, Germany, Spain, and the UK a few weeks ago.) But now that Surface 3 4G LTE is actually available from AT&T, we have a better idea of what it will actually cost.
AT&T is currently only selling one Surface 3 model, even though there are two models for consumers (and more for businesses; AT&T is expanding to include business models later). That is the lower-end version with 2 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. AT&T is letting you buy it outright (sans contract or subsidies) for $600, but I would imagine it is still locked to AT&T. Other options include a 20-month Next installment plan at $30 per month, which requires a new activation and a qualifying monthly data plan, and a two-year contract plan, which costs $500 and also requires a qualifying monthly data plan.
Microsoft also announced that T-Mobile will offer Surface 3 4G LTE to business customers through its @Work channel starting on July 31.
A better bet, I think, is going with Microsoft Store. There, you can find both Surface 3 4G LTE models, the one with 2 GB/64 GB and the upper-level model with 4 GB/128 GB. These versions will be unlocked, and Microsoft says that “Microsoft [retail] stores will also have AT&T and T-Mobile SIM cards on hand to help you connect quickly to your network and get down to work,” which is a nice touch. There’s no pricing online yet as they’re aren’t yet available, but my understanding is that the prices will be the same as elsewhere: $600 and $700, respectively. (Remember this price doesn’t include Type Cover or Surface Pen.)
Microsoft’s retail partners and authorized resellers will also offer Surface 3 4G LTE unlocked.