Microsoft is updating its Surface convertible lineup, and the big change this time is in the connectivity department. The Surface 9 Pro has arrived, and after a long wait, it now includes 5G support. The best part is that Microsoft isn’t holding back, as the latest Surface can connect to both the more widely available Sub-6 GHz band and the faster mmWave flavor.
Aside from the improved cellular connectivity, the only other significant change is the processor inside. Microsoft will sell the Surface Pro 9 in two different configurations. The more affordable model is powered by 12th Generation Intel processors (Core i5-1245U and Core i7-1265U) built on the Intel Evo platform. To recap, the Evo badge promises benefits such as instant wake, fast charging, and faster Wi-Fi, as well as Intel’s latest-generation Xe graphics. The second configuration includes a custom-designed Microsoft SQ3 processor.
Microsoft will not reveal the chip on which it is based, but the specifications mention an upgraded Adreno GPU coupled with the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 platform for ARM PCs. The Surface Pro 9 also marks Microsoft’s first introduction of an ARM chip into its mainstream 2-in-1 Windows tablet lineup. The decision also calls into question the future of the Surface Pro X lineup, which resembles the Surface Pro 9 and offers the Windows on ARM experience built on Qualcomm-derived SQ silicon.
5G Surface gets all the love
The Surface Pro 9 keeps the same sleek design as the Surface Pro 8, but adds some new colors to spice things up. Sapphire and Violet are the new additions, and they come with matching Alcantara fabric keyboards made from sugarcane waste. The screen has the same 3:2 aspect ratio as before, with a resolution of 2880 X 1920 pixels and a refresh rate of 120Hz. It is protected by a Gorilla Glass 5 layer, but there is no information on the brightness figures in nits.
Storage capacities begin at 128GB and increase to 1TB. Thankfully, the removable SSD drive (in miniaturized form) is still available, allowing for some storage expansion. The base model has 8GB of RAM, but the top-of-the-line configuration with 32GB of faster LPDDR5 RAM is only available on the Intel model. The SQ3 model has a maximum of 16GB of LPDDR4X RAM.
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Wi-Fi 6E: 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.1, and 5G handle wireless connectivity (via nano-SIM and eSIM). Microsoft promises 15.5 hours of battery life for the Intel model (which sounds ambitious), but the Surface Pro 9 trim with 5G can last up to 19 hours thanks to a less power-hungry ARM chip. There are two USB-C ports, and the Surface Connect port is still present. The front-facing webcam is 1080p, while the 10-megapixel rear-facing camera can capture up to 4K videos. Surprisingly, camera features such as portrait blur, eye contact, and auto framing are only available on the 5G model. The Surface Pro 9 will be available in “select markets” beginning October 25, with WiFi-only models starting at $999.99 and 5G models starting at $1,499.99.