Although the top-end models have had eye-watering prices, it’s hard not to be wowed by the Surface Book. The original had everyone talking about its funny-looking hinge, while the follow-up increased performance and also a new screen size - 15in – to go with the 13.5in model.
We said the Surface Book 2 was “Sublime overkill” but with the relentless march of development there’s always new technology around the corner. And that means that the Surface Book 3 will be better still.
Right now, there are only a couple of shaky rumours about the device which we struggle to take seriously. For example, they say that the device will come only in 15- and 16-inch models and with 16:9 4K displays. And they'll be offered with a Skylake-E Core i9 chip when they're expected to launch later in 2018. Take all of that with the proverbial pinch of salt.
Of course, we can still use past launches to estimate when Microsoft is likely to launch the Surface Book 3, and what improvements it might feature. You can also check out the Surface Go, which has been announced.
When is the Surface Book 3 release date?
The original was launched in 2015, with the Surface Book 2 being announced in October 2017. That doesn’t mean there will definitely be a Surface Book 3 in late 2019, but it’s the most reasonable assumption at the moment.
The company is in no hurry to launch products for the sake of maintaining an annual cycle, though it did release a refreshed model of the original Surface Book in 2016 with more 3D power and a Core I7 processor.
There is the slimmest of slim chances that the same might happen this year with the Surface Book 2, but we’re not expecting that to happen: our prediction is for an October 2019 announcement.
How much will the Surface Book 3 cost?
Using the current model as a basis, expect the next Surface Book to cost a similar amount. Don’t forget there are now two screen sizes, with the smaller 13.5in model starting at £1149 / US$1199 .
You can’t have a 15in version with similar specs, so the cheapest model costs a wallet-pounding £2349 / US$2499.
You’d hope the price of entry would come down if Microsoft offers both sizes again, but it may actually rise. But we hope that Microsoft can find a way to at least keep the base models at the same entry price. As it stands, many of the Surface Book configurations are eye watering, and sometimes more than the equivalent MacBook Pro.
What features & specs will the Surface Book 3 have?
There are a couple of things that are easy to predict. First, it will use a newer generation of Intel processor. It will also – undoubtedly – be offered with one of the latest GPUs from Nvidia or AMD.
All pretty obvious stuff. It would be surprising if the upgraded power isn't partly so the Surface Book 3 can handle the latest VR and AR headsets. Oddly enough, the 15-inch Surface Book 2 has built-in support for the Xbox One wireless controller, despite Microsoft claiming it isn't a gaming machine (it can play high end games, though).
We’re also expecting Microsoft to give the Surface Book 3 at least one USB-C port supporting Thunderbolt 3. The current model does have a USB-C port, but it doesn’t support Thunderbolt which means you can’t hook up an eGPU or drive multiple monitors from the port.
The existing displays are fantastic, and it’s unlikely there will be any significant changes. The 3:2 aspect ratio is a signature of Surface devices, so although some might yearn for full 4K resolution, the displays have a sensible pixel density already, with the 15in model technically having a 2160p screen. It just doesn’t have enough pixels horizontally to show entire 4K video frames which are 3840 pixels wide.
Peripherals are core to the Surface range, particularly as they’re aimed at designers. We could, therefore, see updates to the Surface Dial and Surface Pen in 2019.