Microsoft Surface Pro 4 vs. Surface Pro 3
Microsoft's latest Surface may be sharing its spotlight with the new Surface Book, but the Surface Pro 4 still looks like a solid improvement over its predecessor. Let's break down its features and specs compared to last year's Surface Pro 3.
The only difference here is that the Surface Pro 4 is 7 percent thinner than the Surface Pro 3.
The new model ships in two different weights, depending on which processor configuration you go with. The fanless (but less powerful) Core M Surface Pro 4 is 4 percent lighter than the Surface Pro 3, while the more powerful models are less than 2 percent lighter.
Either way, this alone probably isn't significant enough reason to upgrade.
The Surface lineup has had magnesium alloy bodies from the get-go (though it was awkwardly marketed as "VaporMg" during the Ballmer era), and that hasn't changed this year.
Another Surface staple, the kickstand, is back. It's still a dynamically adjusting one, like the one in the Surface Pro 3 (as opposed to the fixed positions model seen in earlier Surfaces).
The new Surface keyboard has a bigger trackpad that's made of glass, improving on one of the Surface Pro 3's weak spots.
Microsoft did, however, make its new keyboards backwards compatible with last year's model – so SP3 owners can pay another US$130 to get the improved Type Cover.
Fingerprint sensor option
Ditto for the Fingerprint ID keyboard. The keyboards built for the Surface Pro 3 don't offer this option, but for $160 you can upgrade the SP3 with the sensor-laden accessory that's launching alongside the SP4.
Capacitive Windows button
Microsoft ditched the capacitive Windows button found on all the older Surfaces, but you can simply use Windows 10's onscreen Windows button in its place.
No color options for the device itself, as the new Surface is still silver-colored. You can, however, personalize your device with your favorite keyboard color option.
Here's a nice upgrade: though the new Surface has the same-sized face as last year's model, its screen is 5 percent bigger. More display, less bezel.
We're looking at another big improvement here, as the Surface Pro 4 has a 24 percent sharper display. This should help out a lot in tablet mode, where you'll hold the screen closer to your eyes.
The Surface Pen is still part of the package, and unlike the iPad Pro's "Pencil," Microsoft's stylus is included in the box.
Pen pressure sensitivity levels
The Surface Pro 3's pen provided a pretty natural writing experience, but the new model has quadruple the levels of pressure sensitivity.
Like the new keyboards, the new Surface Pen is, however, compatible with the Surface Pro 3, so if this were the only upgrade you wanted, you could just pay $60 and use it with your 2014 model.
You still have three processor types to choose from, but this year the fanless Core M replaces the Core i3 in the entry-level slot. If you often perform intensive tasks like photo or video editing, though, you may be better off paying the extra $100 to jump up to the Core i5.
Though the more expensive models of the Surface Book offer NVIDIA graphics, all models of the Surface Pro 4 use integrated Intel GPUs.
If you pony up a minimum of $1,499 (not including the keyboard) you can get a Surface Pro 4 with a whopping 16 GB of RAM.
Fortunately Microsoft cut the 64 GB storage tier this year, offering a more generous 128 GB in the entry-level models.
... and for only $2,699 you too can be the owner of a 1 TB Surface Pro 4.
The microSD slot is still there in the new model.
You can check back later for our full review to get Surface Pro 4 battery life impressions.
The new Surface gets an upgraded rear camera, not that you're likely to want to hoist this gigantic slab around for photography.
The new model sticks with a lone USB 3.0 port.
Cellular data option
Still no mobile data-enabled option for the new model – though you could always tether data from your smartphone, depending on the options your carrier offers.
Both machines run Windows 10 Pro.
The Surface Pro 4 is up for pre-order now, with some models shipping later this month.
After price drops, the Surface Pro 3 now (unsurprisingly) comes out $200 cheaper on the entry-level models. Keep in mind, though, that the keyboard bundle price we're listing for the SP4 is for the standard new keyboard; the one with fingerprint sensor costs an extra $30.
Stay tuned for Gizmag's Surface Pro 4 review (and if you want to revisit the Surface Pro 3, you can check out our full review from last year).
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Correction: The original version of this article had a typo saying that the minimum cost to get the SP4 with 16 GB of RAM was $1,799 (it now reads correctly as $1,499).