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May 23, 2017

New Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) vs Surface Pro 4: What’s the difference?

by John_A

Microsoft has updated its Surface Pro line, with the introduction of the new Surface Pro.

The latest model, which would be the Surface Pro 5 if Microsoft had kept the numbers, packs in more power and a better battery than its Surface Pro 4 predecessor, but what else has changed? Here’s how the new Surface Pro (2017) compares to the Surface Pro 4.

Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) vs Surface Pro 4: Design

  • New Surface Pro said to be lightest Pro ever at 768g
  • Expected to have similar footprint to Pro 4 at 292.1mm x 201.4mm
  • New hinge system on new Surface Pro

The new Microsoft Surface Pro looks similar to its predecessor, but it has a new hinge system on the kickstand which allows it to be used in Surface Studio mode. That means it lays flat to work directly with the new Surface Pen.

Its also lost a bit of weight, touting itself as the lightest Surface Pro ever created at 768g. Presumably this is the case for the more powerful models too as otherwise the Pro 4 is actually lighter by a couple of grams, not that we are counting.

The Pro 4 weighs 766g, or 786g for the more powerful models. This is for the tablet only with no Type Cover included, making it marginally lighter than the older 794g Pro 3. Measurements have yet to be revealed for the new Surface Pro but we suspect they won’t be too far off the Pro 4’s front-on footprint of 292.1mm x 201.4mm.

The Pro 4 features a magnesium chassis measuring 8.4mm thick, which was 0.6mm thinner than the Pro 3. It could have been slimmer still, Microsoft claimed when it launched, but for the sake of keeping the full-size USB 3.0 port in tact that’s about as slim as it could be, which is likely to be the same for the new Surface Pro.

  • Microsoft Surface Pro 4 review

Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) vs Surface Pro 4: Display

  • New Surface Pro and Pro 4 have same 12.3-inch screens
  • Same 2736 x 1824 pixel resolution on new Surface Pro and Pro 4, 267ppi
  • Pro 3 had 12-inch screen, 2160 x 1440 resolution 

The new Surface Pro has the same size screen as the Surface Pro 4, measuring 12.3-inches diagonally, which is larger than the 12-inch panel in the Pro 3 so if you’re considering upgrading from the Surface Pro 3, you’ll get a slightly larger screen in a similar footprint.

The resolution of the new model is 2736 x 1824 pixels, which results in a pixel density of 267ppi. This is also the same as the Surface Pro 4 but slightly sharper than the 2160 x 1440 resolution of the older Pro 3. There are no varying resolution options available for any of the models.

Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) vs Surface Pro 4: Hardware

  • New Surface Pro has Intel Core 7th-gen rather than Pro 4’s 6th-gen
  • RAM options between 4GB and 16GB on both Pro models, SSD between 128GB to 1TB
  • New Surface Pro has 50 per cent more battery life

The new Surface Pro features Intel Core 7th-generation processors, while the Surface Pro 4 features Intel Core 6th-gen Skylake processors, which was said at the time of launch to offer 30 per cent more power than the Pro 3.

The base model of the new Surface Pro features the Core m3 Intel 7th-gen processor, configurable to a faster-yet Core i7 option. The base model of the Surface Pro 4 features the Core m3 Intel 6th-gen processor, also configurable up to a Core i7 version.

RAM options come in abundance too: the entry-level new Surface Pro and Pro 4 both feature 4GB RAM, expandable up to 16GB. This wasn’t a possible option for the Pro 3 as the memory was part of the main board, so couldn’t even be done manually.

The new Surface Pro and Pro 4 storage options start at 128GB SSD, through 256GB, 512GB and even a maximum 1TB option. There is also a microSD card slot on both the new Surface Pro and the Surface Pro 4, however, so paying the extra for the 1TB option might not be worthwhile for many.

In terms of battery, the new Surface Pro is claimed to offer 50 per cent more, at 13.5 hours. The Surface Pro 4 by comparison offers 9 hours and it was one of the things that let it down. There is an 8-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front camera on both the new Surface Pro and the Surface Pro 4, both of which are capable of 1080p video recording.

Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) vs Surface Pro 4: Accessories

  • New Surface Pen
  • New Type Cover
  • Old Type Cover still available, though not clear if compatible with new Surface Pro

The new Surface Pro has the option of several accessories, all of which cost extra with none included in the box. There is a new Type Cover called the Surface Pro Signature Type Cover, which is made from Microsoft’s Alcantara material. It has a magnetic interface, doubles up as a protective cover, comes in three colours and it is compatible with the new Surface Pro, as well as the Pro 4 and Pro 3.

The Type Cover that launched alongside the Surface Pro 4 is also still available. This keyboard also clips onto a magnetic port and doubles-up as a protective cover too. It will also work with the Pro 3 and Pro 4 models, but it is not clear if it will work with the new Surface Pro as yet.

There is also a new Surface Pen, which comes in four colours and offers four times the sensitivity of its predecessor.

The new pen is said to be better than ever, offering precision ink on one end and a rubber eraser on the other, as well as tilt for shading, greater sensitivity and “virtually no lag”. The new Surface Pro also offers on-screen support for the Surface Dial.

Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) vs Surface Pro 4: Software

  • Windows 10 Pro software on both

The new Surface Pro and the Surface Pro 4 are up to date and therefore come with the latest Windows 10 Pro operating system.

That means the full bevvy of software: from Office to Cortana and beyond so one isn’t better than the other in the case of software.

Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) vs Surface Pro 4: Price

The new Surface Pro (2017) will start at £799 and will ship on 15 June.

The Surface Pro 4, by comparison, did start at £749 in the UK and $899 in the US, but it has seen a price drop since the recent announcement, now starting at £675. Both are still more expensive than the Pro 3 however, which started at £639.

Incremental upgrades will each add additional cost, although to what degree it’s not yet known – the official Microsoft Surface Pro page is live, but it was not accepting pre-orders at the time of writing.

Microsoft Surface Pro (2017) vs Surface Pro 4: Conclusion

The new Microsoft Surface Pro is said to be rethought from the inside out. It offers a similar design to its predecessor but it delivers more power and a better battery life, while also being lighter in build. 

It is more expensive though and the Surface Pro 4 has also seen a reduction in price so for some, the older model might be the better option for budget.

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