Just as October 2021 brought us the, now October 2022 brings us the Surface Pro 9. As part of Microsoft's new Surface lineup, , the new Surface Pro 9 joins the updated and desktop.
For most of its decade-long lifespan, the Surface Pro has maintained a consistent look and feel, with only small tweaks to design, functionality and features. The Surface Pro keep doesn't break that chain, instead adding new CPU options and new colors to what I'd call a mature product.
The biggest overall change is that the Intel-powered Surface Pro and the ARM-powered Surface Pro X are combining into a single product line. The Pro X was a spin-off that looked and felt a lot like the regular Surface Pro, but with a slimmer body and a custom chip called the SQ, which was a collaboration between Microsoft and Qualcomm. Basically it was a slightly custom Qualcomm Snapdragon chip, similar to what you'd find in a phone, and the Pro X was built for mobile broadband use.
The first two Surface Pro X generations used chips called the SQ 1 and SQ 2, respectively. Now, the ARM-based version of the new Surface Pro 9 uses a chip called -- you guessed it -- the SQ 3. While the Surface Pro X line was built around always-on connectivity, it was still operating on 4G networks. The new version, called Surface Pro 9 with 5G, finally adds 5G support.
The Intel version of the Surface Pro is Wi-Fi only, but adds new 12th-gen Intel processors for better performance. The range of available colors has changed, and now includes Platinum, Graphite, Sapphire and Forest. There's also a limited-edition Liberty blue floral pattern option for both the tablet and the keyboard cover.
My favorite part of the Surface Pro line has always been its best-in-class clip-on keyboard. The latest version is available in the same new colors, and Microsoft says it's made with "partially biobased Alcantara material containing at least 12% renewable content that is derived from sugarcane waste." Alcantara, which has shown up on many Surface products, is a rugged but soft-touch material similar to suede-like surfaces found in some boats and cars.
Now that the Surface Pro line has split into two distinct versions (Intel and SQ 3), you'll have to peruse the specs carefully to see which model will work for you. The specs for both, as well as for last year's Surface Pro 8 for comparison, are as follows:
Surface Pro 8 vs. Surface Pro 9/Pro 9 5G
|Surface Pro 8||Surface Pro 9||Surface Pro 9 with 5G|
|13-inch PixelSense display, 2,880 X 1,920||13-inch PixelSense display, 2,880 X 1,920||13-inch PixelSense display, 2,880 X 1,920|
|Refresh rate up to 120Hz, Dolby Vision support||Refresh rate up to 120Hz, Auto Color Management and Dolby Vision IQ support||Refresh rate up to 120Hz|
|11th-gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 or Core i7-1185G7 processor||12th-gen Intel Core i5-1235U or Core i7-1255U processor||Microsoft SQ 3 processor Neural Processing Unit (NPU)|
|Intel Iris Xe graphics||Intel Iris Xe graphics||Microsoft SQ 3 Adreno 8CX Gen 3|
|8GB, 16GB, 32GB (LPDDR4x RAM)||8GB, 16GB, 32GB (LPDDR5 RAM)||8GB, 16GB (LPDDR4x RAM)|
|SSD options: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB||SSD options: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB||SSD options: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB|
|TPM 2.0 chip with BitLocker support||TPM 2.0 chip with BitLocker support||Enhanced security with Microsoft Pluton|
|Wi-Fi 6: 802.11ax and Bluetooth 5.1||Wi-Fi 6E: 802.11ax and Bluetooth 5.1||Wi-Fi 6E: 802.11ax and Bluetooth 5.1, NanoSIM and eSIM11 support, supports 5G (mmWave or Sub-6, depending on market)|
|Up to 16 hours of battery life||Up to 15.5 hours of battery life||Up to 19 hours of battery life|
|1,080-pixel resolution front camera with Windows Hello face authentication, 10MP rear camera for 4K video||1,080-pixel resolution front camera with Windows Hello face authentication, 10MP rear camera for 4K video||1,080-pixel resolution front camera with Windows Hello face authentication and Windows Studio Effects, 10MP rear camera for 4K video|
|2 x USB-C (USB 4.0/Thunderbolt 4), 3.5mm headphone jack, 1 x Surface Connect port||2 x USB-C (USB 4.0/Thunderbolt 4),1 x Surface Connect port||2 x USB-C (USB 3.2); 1 x nano SIM, 1 x Surface Connect port|
The main upgrades are to the CPU in both models. The Surface has also lost its 3.5mm headphone jack (the Surface Pro X didn't have one, but the Intel Surfaces did).
Apart from the limited edition version and the new green/sapphire colors, plus the evaporated headphone jack, this Surface Pro looks and feels like its predecessor. I spent a little time typing on one at a Microsoft demo event, using the Slim Pen 2 stylus and even doing a little cloud-based gaming. I also got to try some of the Studio Effects camera tricks, only available in the 5G version. Better background blurring and the follow-along camera (like Apple's Center Stage) worked well. The eyeball-positioning feature to make it look like you're always staring directly at your webcam didn't seem to do much.
The new Surface Pro 9 ships on October 25 with prices starting at $1,000 for the 13-inch Intel model and $1,400 for the 5G model. Keyboard and Slim Pen 2 remain extra cost.
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