Surface Pro 9 Gives Us 5G At Long Last

Microsoft is updating its Surface convertible lineup, and this time, the big upgrade is reserved for the connectivity department. The Surface 9 Pro is here, and after a long wait, it finally adds 5G support to the mix. The best part is that Microsoft isn't pulling any punches here, as the latest Surface can latch on to the more widely available Sub-6 GHz band and the faster mmWave flavor, as well.

Aside from the cellular connectivity upgrade, the only other key change is the processor inside. Microsoft will be offering the Surface Pro 9 in two configurations. The more mainstream model is powered by the 12th Gen Intel processors (Core i5-1245U and Core i7-1265U) built on top of the Intel Evo platform. To recall, the Evo badge promises perks like instant wake, fast charging, and zippier Wi-Fi, alongside Intel's latest-gen Xe graphics. The second configuration comes armed with the custom-designed Microsoft SQ3 processor.

Microsoft won't reveal what chip it is based on, but the specifications mention an upgraded Adreno GPU tethered to the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 platform for ARM PCs. The Surface Pro 9 also marks the first time that Microsoft is bringing an ARM chip to its mainstream 2-in-1 Windows tablet lineup. The decision also casts doubts over the continuation of the Surface Pro X lineup, which looks identical to the Surface Pro 9 and offers the Windows on ARM experience built atop the Qualcomm-derived SQ silicon.

5G Surface gets all the love

The Surface Pro 9 retains the same sleek build as the Surface Pro 8 but adds a dash of new colors to jazz things up. The new additions are Sapphire and Violet, which come with matching Alcantara fabric keyboards that use renewable material derived from sugarcane waste. The screen is still the same 3:2 aspect ratio affair, offering a resolution of 2880 X 1920 pixels and a 120Hz refresh rate. It is protected by a layer of Gorilla Glass 5, but there is no word on the brightness figures in nits.

Storage options start at 128GB and go all the way up to 1TB. Thankfully, the removable SSD drive (in the miniaturized form) is still here, leaving some scope for storage expansion. The base model offers 8GB of RAM, but the top-end configuration with 32GB of faster LPDDR5 RAM is limited to the Intel model. The SQ3 version maxes out at 16GB of LPDDR4X RAM. 

Wireless connectivity is handled by Wi-Fi 6E: 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.1, and 5G (via nano-SIM and eSIM). Microsoft is promising 15.5 hours of battery life for the Intel model (which sounds ambitious), while the Surface Pro 9 trim with 5G can go up to 19 hours courtesy of a less power-hungry ARM chip. There are two USB-C ports, and the Surface Connect port is here to stay, as well. A 1080p webcam sits on the front, while the 10-megapixel rear-facing camera can capture up to 4K videos. Interestingly, camera tricks like portrait blur, eye contact, and auto framing are limited to the 5G model. The Surface Pro 9 will be launching in "select markets" beginning on October 25, with WiFi-only models starting at $999.99 and 5G models starting at $1,299.99.