Trying to figure out if you should expect the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 to be revealed soon? While precedent suggested we would see a Surface Pro 8 in 2020 — that didn't happen. And now we've met the Surface Pro 7+, which seems to muddy the waters, as it has a lot of what we thought would happen with the Pro 8.
No matter when it comes, we will compare it against the Surface Pro 7, checking to see if its battery life issues are resolved. Our new Surface Laptop Go review shows that Microsoft is still fighting with endurance.
Surface Pro 8 latest news and leaks (updated Jan. 6)
- The Surface Pro 8 appears to be nearing its release, per an FCC approval.
- After early leaks make no mention of an entry-level Core i3 model, European dealer listings include a Core i3 Surface Pro 8 with an upgraded 8GB of memory.
- LTE fans are set to be disappointed, as a new leak claims only Core i5 variants will have 4G connectivity
- We've seen spec leaks for the new Surface Pro 8 and Surface Laptop 4.
Hopefully, the Surface Pro 8 will take some lessons from each to land in our best laptops list.
The Surface Pro sits in the sweet spot of the Microsoft Surface lineup. It's more affordable than the Surface Book, more powerful than the Surface Go and more nimble than the Surface Laptop.
In 2019, Microsoft added a new member to the family with the Surface Pro X, which promised amazing battery life and luxurious design. Frustratingly, poor performance and compatibility issues with the wide world of Windows 10 apps were a major shortcoming.
Hopefully, the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 can help the company make 2021 a better year than 2020. Here's everything we know (and want to know) about the Surface Pro 8.
Microsoft Surface Pro 8 release date
Since the last Surface Pro was released in October 2019, it means Microsoft has gone over a year without refreshing the hardware -- something it hasn't done since 2016. But considering COVID has made a mess of the world, including manufacturing supply chains, it's no surprise that the Surface Pro 8 has had to be pushed back a few months. Especially not since the exact same thing already happened to the Surface Neo, which is now due next year.
Supply chain issues, like those which have hit the 5G iPad Pro, could also muddy Microsoft's schedule.
Microsoft Surface Pro 8 price
Thanks to years of relatively stable pricing, the Surface Pro 8 price is not that hard to predict, even without any leaks (unlike the Surface Book 3 pricing, which has leaked a lot).
Let's start by examining the Surface Pro 7 and Surface Pro 6. The former started at $749 for a Core i3 model, and the latter started at $799 with a Core i5 CPU.
So let's say the Surface Pro 8 likely starts at around $800. But we're more likely to recommend a unit with a Core i5, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD model, which has typically made the price jump to $1,199.
Except we hope pressure from Apple changes that. The entry-level MacBook Air 2020 packs a 256GB SSD by default at $999, so maybe the Core i5 model we mention above could go down to $1,099 or even $999?
Of course, the Surface Pro 8's price doesn't stop there, as most will customize the tablet to become a laptop. That costs at least $129 (basic Type Cover) and upwards of $159 (Signature Type Cover). Digital artists may throw an extra $99 for the Surface Pen.
We expect all of the above pricing to stay where it was last year, even if we wish it could drop a little (the Surface Pro 7 pushed past the $2,000 mark when fully customized). Maybe Microsoft could provide lower pricing by giving an AMD option, but aside from that, or the above SSD price drop, the Surface Pro 8 is expected to be about as pricy as predecessors.
Microsoft Surface Pro 8 design and features
Since the prototype alleging to be the Surface Pro 8 leaked on eBay, we were disappointed to hear that the tablet's chassis will be the exact same one as the Surface Pro 7 -- limiting the possible hardware upgrades to internal components.
Despite the speculation that the Surface Pro 8 could include wild features Microsoft had patented, including a kickstand adorned with solar panels, it doesn't look like they're coming this time round. Perhaps on the Surface Pro 9, or Surface Pro 10?
Microsoft Surface Pro 8 specs
Two separate leaks from WinFuture's Roland Quandt also claim that the Surface Pro 8 will get LTE, but only on the Core i5 variants. Almost as a compromise, though, the Core i7 variants will get up to 1TB of storage and 32GB of RAM. The more recent of the two leaks also included the 8GB, Core i3-powered Surface Pro 8 for the first time.
These are the configurations allegedly coming to Europe:
- Core i3 8GB RAM / 128GB storage
- Core i5 8GB RAM / 128GB storage (w/ optional LTE)
- Core i5 8GB RAM / 256 GB storage (w/ optional LTE)
- Core i5 16GB RAM / 256GB storage (w/ optional LTE)
- Core i7 16GB RAM / 256GB storage
- Core i7 16GB RAM / 512GB storage
- Core i7 16GB RAM / 1TB storage
- Core i7 32GB RAM / 1TB storage
It's not clear, however, whether these will be the same options that are coming to the U.S. We'll just have to wait and see what Microsoft has planned, but in the mean time we can safely assume that at the very least the majority of these will also be available on this side of the Atlantic.
We'd hoped that Microsoft is seeing how the industry is trending to thinner bezels, and can find a way to give us a screen that's larger than the 12.3-inch display in the current Surface Pro, without changing the chassis or making it bigger. Apparently that's not to be, with the eBay leak revealing that it's still the same 12.3-inch display in the same chassis as before.
Next, let's think about how much of a speed boost that the Surface Pro 8 will get. The Pro 7 features Intel's 10th Gen Ice Lake (10nm) processors, which have since been replaced by the 11th-gen "Tiger Lake" CPUs.
Since the Tiger Lake chips are already here, it makes sense for Microsoft to include them in the Surface Pro 8. After all, since the tablets could potentially launch early in 2021, there's no reason not to use the latest and best chips you can get hold of.
The question is whether Microsoft also allow for shoppers to pick an AMD processor instead. The company allowed that for the Surface Laptop 3, but that laptop disappointed with performance. Hopefully, the gains in the latest AMD chips will provide more performance to enjoy. The eBay prototype suggests Intel graphics are still coming, but a lot can change between now and launch. Prototypes are, after all, not final.
Microsoft Surface Pro 8 changes we want
Hours of additional battery life: The Surface Pro 7's biggest flaw was its seven hours and 52 minutes score on our web-surfing (over Wi-Fi) battery test. That was a huge drop from the Surface Pro 6's 9:20 time. The more-affordable Surface Go 2 beats it by more than 2 hours, posting a time of 11:39. It's also less than the 9:31 time we saw from the MacBook Air 2020 and the 12:39 we saw from the 1080p Dell XPS 13.
More stability: We keep seeing reports of Windows 10 update fails, and one recent update sent the Surface Pro 7 into a series of random shutdowns across potentially hundreds of users. The Surface Pro is a flagship Microsoft device and should be reliable.
Shrunken bezels: This is less about what I want, but more about where the industry is going. Look at the XPS 13's InfinityEdge displays, and the smaller (but still there) bezels on the iPad Pro 2020. If the Surface Pro is still supposed to be an industry leader, it should look like a device released today, not like the model that came out last in 2015.
Stronger sound: As we mentioned above, the patent of an amplifier in the kickstand is certainly appealing. The Surface Pro 7's sound output doesn't impress anyone, and I really hope Microsoft can catch up on volume.