Microsoft Surface Pro 4: Everything we know so far

Peter Gothard
clock

When's it out? What's inside it? Where will it sit in the market? We round up all the facts, rumours and insight

The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 went down extremely well with the enterprise crowd, and continues to do so.

Computing particularly enjoyed the device's spacious and legacy application-friendly 4:3 screen, formidable battery life and impressive lightness when slung in a bag.

It's the first Microsoft Surface that deserves an iterative update - rather than a complete redesign - and there are now enough encouraging snippets of gossip doing the rounds to suggest the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 could be a very powerful piece of kit indeed. 

What do we know?

It's mostly a patchwork of rumours from sources at chip manufacturers and "insiders" at Microsoft itself, but it seems Surface Pro 4 will be coming along at an important juncture for both Microsoft and Intel, who will be making the chips that sit inside it.

Windows 10 launches on 29 July, so it's a good bet that "showcase" hardware from Microsoft won't be far behind.

Technology website Digitimes recently reported that the supply chain for Samsung's rumoured order of newer, faster 256GB solid state drives has been notified to begin mass-market component shipments in September.

Along with this is an estimate of finished product delivery for October 2015.

Companies involved in the chain apparently include Pegatron Technology, who have previously produced the Surface hardware itself, Largan Precision and Newmax, who have worked on the cameras, and Ju Teng International, who are responsible for the aluminium chassis.

Digitimes goes as far as stating that the Surface Pro 4 "will feature the same ultra-thin form factor, bezel size and large-size display as the predecessor model".

There are also persistent rumours that a 14-inch model may also arrive at the same time as the standard 12-inch Surface Pro, though this feels similar to the as-yet completely unsubstantiated reports that a "Surface Mini" would show up alongside - or just after - the Surface Pro 3.

Meanwhile Chinese IT news source cnBeta predicts that Surface Pro 4 will launch at a "cheaper price" than previous devices.

CnBeta also suggests the Surface Pro 4 will arrive equipped with Intel's new Skylake processor. This is where things get interesting.

 

The Skylake effect

Intel's "tock" on its 14nm Broadwell processor could be the real game-changer for Surface Pro 4 when the form factor and weight of the Surface Pro 3 are already a good fit for the enterprise user.

Surface Pro 3 is already over a year old, so the improvement from any new chip should be quite noticeable.

However, Skylake should offer 11.3 hours' battery power next to the previous chip's 8.5 hours, lower power but higher yield on the processor speed (10 to 20 per cent now being vaunted), and (finally!) wireless charging thanks to the addition of A4WP.

Apple's latest iPad models - including a rumoured "iPad Pro" - are also supposed to hit the streets in October 2015, and it makes sense that Microsoft would attempt to face off with this potential rival by launching the new Surface at the same time. As opposed to an Intel Skylake, the new iPads will feature either a toughened-up version of Apple's existing 64-bit A7 chip, the new A8X or even a completely new A9 variety.

May the best chip win.

 

Conclusion

Microsoft would be foolish not to show off Windows 10 on a device that ticks all the boxes to position the new operating system as a hybrid tablet and laptop OS. October sounds a reasonable enough estimate, especially if Skylake is to be included.

While we found the Surface 3 (as opposed to the Surface 3 Pro) slightly underpowered for more demanding tasks than simple word processing, a slight price cut and ramped-up Intel mobile processor would make the Surface 4 a formidable rival to any new iPad.

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