Surface Pro (2017) vs Surface Pro 4

It’s been a pretty long wait, but the update to the Surface Pro 4 is here. Oddly, it’s not called the Surface Pro 5 but as you’ll see there are clear reasons for this.

Whether you’re thinking of upgrading from your Surface Pro 4 or trying to decide which device to buy as an upgrade from something else, our comparison of the two hybrids will help you make the right choice.

See our chart of the best hybrid laptop/tablets to buy.

You can pre-order the new Surface Pro now from Microsoft.

What are the differences between Surface Pro 4 and the 2017 version?

Compare the key specifications (see our table below) and you could easily come to the conclusion that very little has changed.

The two tablets look the same, have the same 12.3in screen, selection of ports and – aside from very minor changes – the same chassis.

During the launch, Microsoft said the new tablet was thinner and lighter. However, that’s not exactly true. Its own website lists the same dimensions for the two and, depending in the configuration you choose, the new device is either a couple of grams lighter or heavier than the equivalent old model.

So it’s not thinner and no-one is going to notice that miniscule weight difference. Can you spot which is which?

Surface Pro (2017) vs Surface Pro 4

Not everything remains the same, of course. The main difference is that the new Surface Pro includes the latest seventh-gen Intel Core processors, which also means upgraded integrated graphics.

Battery life is also improved from ‘up to 9 hours’ for the old model to ‘up to 13.5 hours’ from the new Surface Pro.

The last notable change is the new kick-stand hinge which now reclines to an almost-flat 165 degrees. This position is called ‘Studio mode’ and lets you use the Surface Pro like the Surface Studio – it’s a more comfortable angle to use for sketching and drawing.

Other minor improvements are better sound quality from the speakers and more rounded corners.

Surface Pro (2017) vs Surface Pro 4

The Surface Pro 4’s stand allows it to tilt back to 150 degrees – the same as the Surface Pro 3. The extra 15 degrees sounds like a small change, but until we’ve properly tested the two devices, it’s hard to know if it really makes a difference or not.

As before, there’s a choice of ultra-low-power Core m3, i5 and i7 processors. The fanless Core m model is available from launch this time – it came later with the Surface Pro 4.

If you opt for the flagship model with 1TB of storage, that’s an NVMe SSD which should improve performance even more compared to the equivalent Surface Pro 4.

That covers the main tablet, but both the keyboard and Surface Pen have been updated for 2017 as well.

Like the recently announced Surface Laptop, the Type Cover keyboard is now skinned with Alcantara – a man-made suede-like material.

This costs £149 (US$159) and comes in three colours to match the new shades for the tablet: Cobalt Blue, Burgundy and Platinum. They go on sale 30 June, a couple of weeks after the Surface Pro.

Surface Pro (2017) vs Surface Pro 4

The new Surface Pen comes in the same colours, plus black. It costs £99.99 (US$99.99) – yep, it’s not bundled in the box any more - but there’s no confirmed release date yet.

It’s longer than the old Surface Pen and does away with the clip. New is its ability to detect when you’re tilting the pen at an angle (similar to Apple’s Pencil) and can therefore more accurately reproduce the effect of that on screen.

Depending on the type of pen you’ve selected in an app, it could mean you get a thicker line the more you tilt.

Surface Pro (2017) vs Surface Pro 4

Which processors and storage can you get with the new Surface Pro?

The table below shows how the old and new Surface Pro models compare for their main specs.

 

Surface Pro (2017)

Surface Pro 4

Dimensions

201x292x8.5mm

201x292x8.5mm

Weight

768g or 784g 

766g or 786g (Core i5 / i7)

Screen

12.3in PixelSense, 273ppi, 2736x1824

12.3in PixelSense, 273ppi, 2736x1824

Processors

1GHz Core m3-7Y30; 2.6GHz Core i5-7300U; 2.5GHz Cire i7-7660U

Core m3; 2.4GHz Core i5-6300U; 2.2GHz Core i7-6650U

Memory

4GB/8GB/16GB

4GB/8GB/16GB

Storage

128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB* SSD

*NVMe

128GB/256GB/512GB/1TB SSD

Graphics

Intel HD 615 (Core m3); Intel HD 620 (Core i5); Intel Iris Plus 640 (Core i7)

Intel HD 515 (Core m3); Intel HD 520 (Core i5); Intel Iris (Core i7)

Wireless

802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1

802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0

Cameras

8Mp (main), 5Mp (front)

8Mp (main), 5Mp (front)

Ports

USB 3, microSD, 3.5mm headset, Surface connector

USB 3, microSD, 3.5mm headset, Surface connector

Battery life

13.5 hours

9 hours

How do they compare on price?

The Surface Pro 4 has dropped in price now that the new version has been announced, and the Core i7 versions are no longer on sale in the US.

The Pro 4 comes with the older version of the Surface Pen (unless you go for the Core m3 model), so don’t forget to add £99.99 (or $99.99) to the price of the new Surface Pro if you know you’ll need a stylus.

Surface Pro (2017):

  • Core m3, 4GB, 128GB: £799, US$799
  • Core i5, 4GB, 128GB: £979, US$999
  • Core i5, 8GB, 256GB: £1249, US$1299
  • Core i7, 8GB, 256GB: £1549, US$1599
  • Core i7, 16GB, 512GB: £2149, US$2199
  • Core i7, 16GB, 1TB: £2699, US$2699

Surface Pro 4 (UK):

  • Core m3, 4GB, 128GB: £636.65
  • Core i5, 8GB, 256GB: £917.15
  • Core i7, 8GB, 256GB: £1104.15
  • Core i7, 16GB, 256GB: £1231.65
  • Core i7, 16GB, 512GB: £1529.15
  • Core i7, 16GB, 1TBGB: £1869.15

Surface Pro 4 US models:

  • Core m3, 4GB, 128GB (no pen): US$699
  • Core i5, 4GB, 128GB: £979, US$849
  • Core i5, 8GB, 256GB: £1249, US$999
  • Core i5, 16GB, 256GB: £1549, US$1399
  • Core i5, 8GB, 512GB: £2149, US$1399
  • Core i5, 16GB, 512GB: £2699, US$1799

Pre-order the Surface Pro 5 here.

Should I buy the new Surface Pro?

Until we’ve tested and reviewed the new model, our advice is based on what we currently know about it.

It is, overall, very similar to its predecessor. That’s probably why it isn’t called the Surface Pro 5. The new processors mean better performance and battery life, but those are the significant two improvements.

Microsoft says the screen on the new tablet is better, but hasn’t yet specified how.

In the UK at least, the Core i7 versions of the Surface Pro 4 are significantly cheaper than the equivalents from the new range, and they’re even better value because they include a Surface Pen.

If you already own a Surface Pro 4, there’s no real incentive to upgrade unless you’re going from a low-powered model and are planning to buy a Core i7 version.

Microsoft Surface Pro (2017): Specs

  • Windows 10 Pro
  • 12.3in PixelSense display, 2736x1824, 267ppi
  • Up to Intel Kaby Lake Core i7
  • Up to 16GB RAM
  • Up to 1TB storage
  • USB 3.0
  • Mini-DisplayPort
  • Micro-SD card reader
  • 11ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 5Mp front camera
  • 8Mp rear camera
  • 292x201x8.5mm
  • 786g
  • Windows 10 Pro
  • 12.3in PixelSense display, 2736x1824, 267ppi
  • Up to Intel Kaby Lake Core i7
  • Up to 16GB RAM
  • Up to 1TB storage
  • USB 3.0
  • Mini-DisplayPort
  • Micro-SD card reader
  • 11ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • 5Mp front camera
  • 8Mp rear camera
  • 292x201x8.5mm
  • 786g

OUR VERDICT

Until we've properly tested the new Surface Pro, we'll reserve judgement on which 2-in-1 is the best.