Microsoft’s first 4G Surface coming ‘in the Spring’

08 June 2017

Microsoft will bring a LTE-enabled Surface Pro tablet to market later this year, helping to make its popular hybrid computer even more mobile than it is already.

While no fixed launch date has been locked in for the 4G ready variant of the new Surface Pro, Microsoft reps indicated that it is expected to ship ‘in the Spring’.

To bring mobile internet to the Surface Pro, Microsoft has added a new LTE chipset and seven antennas across the machine. But to keep the design seamless, the external antennas as coloured the same as the metal chassis, so it is difficult to see where they are on the tablet.

More interesting is that you will have two ways of adding a 4G connection to the Surface Pro; by either inserting a SIM card, or by using an eSIM (or soft SIM) solution. While many will be familiar with SIM cards, the concept of eSIMs is still quite new. Rather than a physical card to identify a device on a mobile network, an eSIM is a software solution embedded in the machine that tells the network which user and account is accessing the system. 

Using eSIMs should come with several benefits. You should, for example, be able to switch accounts far quicker, allowing you to switch local providers, or move networks while you travel, without needing to get your hands on an actual SIM card. Businesses should also find eSIMs more convenient when provisioning network access to staff from shared corporate accounts.

But before we can all jump into this eSIM utopia, we need to wait for the telco operators to take up on the concept, which may take some time given that eSIMs should make it easier for all of us to change providers at will.

Don’t call me 5

The new Surface Pro (sans 4G) will be in Aussie stores from June 16, packed with new hardware, enhanced battery life, but notably missing the number 5 at the end of its name. Don’t call this the Surface Pro 5, call it the 'new Surface Pro'.

Regardless of naming, the new Surface Pro offers improvements over previous models worth paying attention to. Especially Microsoft’s 13.5 hour battery life claim, up 50 percent on the current generation Surface Pro 4. 

Core i5 variants will be fanless, with Microsoft confident that its liquid cooling system will beat the heat, even under heavy processing stress. The top-of-the-line Core i7 models will have a small fan, but Microsoft is promising less noise, given that the fan should only activate during intense use.

Pricing for the new Surface Pro starts from $1,199 for a Core m3 processor and 128GB storage, and ranges across the six available options up to $3,999 for a Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM and 1TB of storage. There’s no word yet on how much extra you’ll need to pay for a system with 4G LTE functionality later in the year.

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