Mobile Technology

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 vs. Surface Pro 3

Microsoft Surface Pro 4 vs. Su...
Gizmag compares the features and specs of the new Surface Pro 4 (left) and Surface Pro 3
Gizmag compares the features and specs of the new Surface Pro 4 (left) and Surface Pro 3
View 25 Images
Battery
1/25
Battery
Build
2/25
Build
Camera megapixels
3/25
Camera megapixels
Color options
4/25
Color options
Processor
5/25
Processor
Dimensions
6/25
Dimensions
Display resolution
7/25
Display resolution
Display size
8/25
Display size
Fingerprint sensor option (keyboard)
9/25
Fingerprint sensor option (keyboard)
Graphics
10/25
Graphics
Gizmag compares the features and specs of the new Surface Pro 4 (left) and Surface Pro 3
11/25
Gizmag compares the features and specs of the new Surface Pro 4 (left) and Surface Pro 3
Kickstand
12/25
Kickstand
MicroSD
13/25
MicroSD
Levels of pressure sensitivity in (included) Surface Pen
14/25
Levels of pressure sensitivity in (included) Surface Pen
Surface Pen
15/25
Surface Pen
Starting price
16/25
Starting price
RAM
17/25
RAM
Release
18/25
Release
Software
19/25
Software
Storage
20/25
Storage
Trackpad material (but note that the SP4's new trackpad is backwards compatible with Surface Pro 3)
21/25
Trackpad material (but note that the SP4's new trackpad is backwards compatible with Surface Pro 3)
USB port
22/25
USB port
Weight
23/25
Weight
Capacitive Windows button
24/25
Capacitive Windows button
LTE option
25/25
LTE option

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.

Size

Dimensions
Dimensions

The only difference here is that the Surface Pro 4 is 7 percent thinner than the Surface Pro 3.

Weight

Weight
Weight

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.

Build

Build
Build

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.

Kickstand

Kickstand
Kickstand

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).

Keyboard trackpad

Trackpad material (but note that the SP4's new trackpad is backwards compatible with Surface Pro 3)
Trackpad material (but note that the SP4's new trackpad is backwards compatible with Surface Pro 3)

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

Fingerprint sensor option (keyboard)
Fingerprint sensor option (keyboard)

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

Capacitive Windows button
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.

Colors

Color options
Color options

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.

Display size

Display size
Display size

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.

Display resolution

Display resolution
Display resolution

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.

Surface Pen

Surface Pen
Surface Pen

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

Levels of pressure sensitivity in (included) Surface Pen
Levels of pressure sensitivity in (included) Surface Pen

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.

Processor

Processor
Processor

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.

Graphics

Graphics
Graphics

Though the more expensive models of the Surface Book offer NVIDIA graphics, all models of the Surface Pro 4 use integrated Intel GPUs.

RAM

RAM
RAM

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.

Storage

Storage
Storage

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.

MicroSD

MicroSD
MicroSD

The microSD slot is still there in the new model.

Battery

Battery
Battery

You can check back later for our full review to get Surface Pro 4 battery life impressions.

Camera megapixels

Camera megapixels
Camera megapixels

The new Surface gets an upgraded rear camera, not that you're likely to want to hoist this gigantic slab around for photography.

USB

USB port
USB port

The new model sticks with a lone USB 3.0 port.

Cellular data option

LTE option
LTE 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.

Software

Software
Software

Both machines run Windows 10 Pro.

Release

Release
Release

The Surface Pro 4 is up for pre-order now, with some models shipping later this month.

Starting price

Starting price
Starting price

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).

Buy now on Amazon

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).

6 comments
EricP
The SP3 track pad is plastic, but it is coated in glass. It is the best Windows track pad I have ever used, and I expect it will be that way until my new keyboard with fingerprint reader arrives.
phissith
i'd find it had to upgrade to surface pro 4. I mean beside newer processor, I could imagine myself buying Pro 3 tablet only, then upgrade the keyboard and buy a new pen. So all I am missing is the newer processor and .3 inch increase in screen size (yes, I am aware of resolution upgrade). Thinner and lighter but Pro 3 was good enough. I will be saving almost 300-400 still get the new pen and glass mouse pad.
Paul Briers
I hope they improve the reliability. I've had a nightmare with getting the SP3s deployed. We have about 108 where I work and we must have sent back 25 of them as a warranty return. Awful reliability. They run quite hot and our end users have had a lot of problems with them. It has settled down a bit now but for the money they are not great!
ScottNeary
...and why no mobile data? The Surface 3 has a sim slot option!
NateZimmer
Bought a SP3. Can't help my scratch my head over the SP4. Doesn't look like they improved much? The biggest change seems to be the screen DPI. However, high screen DPI yields little benefits on a tablet. One doesn't stream near 4k, have movies in 4k, and programs only have compatibility issues with ultra high DPI resolutions. High DPI however on a desktop does makes sense w/ a large screen(24"+) to add more screen space. Again, higher DPI on a small screen needlessly chews more battery power and causes compatibility headaches. On my SP3 I scaled my res to half the max and have never looked back.
pdmatern
The lack of capacitance windows button is a bummer. I present without a keyboard using programs that takeover the screen (like powerpoint), and sometimes I need to switch programs but don't want to exit or disrupt the view of the extended monitor screen. Hitting that capacitance button is my only way of getting to the taskbar. Doesn't really matter, because windows 10 killed my ability to present without a keyboard on my SP3 anyway. There is no longer any way to bring up the "connect to projector" option (it doesn't even exist as a link in control panel anymore). The only way to do it is to press the windows key + P, which requires a keyboard. How has nobody called them out for this?