Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Preview

Posted on October 6, 2015 by Paul Thurrott in Microsoft Surface with 0

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 Preview

Microsoft painted itself into a bit of a corner with Surface Pro 4 when it pledged last summer to retain compatibility with its predecessors, including the Surface Pro Dock. Well, they managed to surprise us anyway with a Surface Pro revision that features a bigger screen, a thinner and lighter body, better RAM and storage options, improved pen and keyboard options, and two—yes, two—Windows Hello sign-in options.

The basics, of course, are the same. Which is just fine, since Surface Pro 3 was such a great design that Apple and Google are now falling all over themselves to steal all of its best ideas. What that means is that Surface Pro 4 looks very similar—almost identical—to its predecessor. And that you’d have to be something of a Surface expert to even spot the differences, at least from a short distance.

So Surface Pro 4, like Surface Pro 3, is a tablet that can transform into a laptop-like device using an optional Type Cover. It comes with a Surface Pen–which is new, and now offers multiple, removable tips, and comes in multiple colors–and it can be had in a variety of Intel Core processors.


But there are differences. And they are important.

For example, with Surface Pro 3, Microsoft offers Core i3, i5, and i7 variants. With Surface Pro 4, the Core i5 and Core i7 offerings remain, and are of course new Skylake-era designs. But the new low-end model(s) this time around are Core M3 chips. Which, yes, means that there is finally a fanless Surface Pro model.

The screen is a Retina-class 3:2 design, as with Surface Pro 3. But now the screen is 12.3 inches, up from the 12 inch version found in Surface Pro 3. As a result, the bezels are a bit smaller, and the Windows button is gone from the bezel. As important, the screen is better, with Microsoft’s new PixelSense technology powering the pen- and touch-based interfaces and a higher 2736 x 1824 (267 PPI) resolution.


Surface Pro 4 is both thinner and lighter (at 1.69 pounds) than its predecessor. It comes with 4 to 16 GB of RAM, where Surface Pro 3 maxed out at 8 GB. And it can be had with up to 1 TB of SSD storage (up from 512 GB).

Some things haven’t changed. Surface Pro 4 still includes only a single USB 3.0 port, a microSD card reader, a mini-DisplayPort port, 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.0, a Cover Port connector and a power connector that has been renamed now to SurfaceConnect. (This is where the new Surface Dock connects.)


Battery life is rated at 9 hours.

As with Surface Pro 3, Type Cover is separate. But this time it comes in two versions (each with multiple colors): A normal version and one with a Windows Hello-compatible fingerprint reader (for Surface Pro 3, since the camera in Surface Pro 4 is already Windows Hello-compatible). I assume pricing is $129/$159, but I’m still hunting down pricing.

As with Surface Book, I did spend a bit of time with Surface Pro 4 today, but I’ll have more experience in the days ahead. So far so good: Microsoft really didn’t have to do much for this revision, but it did anyway, and I sort of appreciate the attention to detail they’ve put into a product that, frankly, they could have mailed in.

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